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Old 09-19-2008, 11:14 AM   #1
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


The situation: There is a door that exits the basement of our house. After the door opens there is a small 3x3 landing and 3 steps that head upwards and exit onto the yard. There is a drain in the landing at the bottom of the steps just outside the door (it looks to be filled with gravel). The steps are borderd by a box of cynderblocks that are covered with cement. The steps are made of cynderblocks covered with cement as well.

The problem: The yard gets a lot of shade and there is mold and moss all over the steps. The concrete on the steps is breaking apart revealing the cynderblocks which are facing upwards so that stuff is falling in the open parts of the blocks. The landing/floor where you step when you walk out the basement door is also covered in moss and mold and looks very pitted.

It would be easy to break apart the old concrete and put down some quickcrete but I dont want to cause more of a problem. I think the first step is to rent a powerwasher and clean it up but Im not sure what I should do after that. Any suggestions?

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Old 09-19-2008, 11:23 AM   #2
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


First - Cleaning the mess will give you a chance to see what you are facing.

The block can easily be capped with 2" (1 5/8" actual) or 4" (3 5/8" actual) high solid units mortared in place.

It sounds like a general drainage problem with a drain in the lower landing. You should find out if there is a pipe in the drain for drainage or just a rock/gravel bed.

Dick

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Old 09-19-2008, 11:37 AM   #3
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


Thats a great idea. Is this something you can get at a place like home depot or is it more specialized? And is there something that can be done about the moss beside pressure washing?

I have dug a little bit and I think it is just gravel. The drain hole has a small metal grate over the top of it. It looks like the edges where the grate sits are crumbling apart.
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:00 PM   #4
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


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Thats a great idea. Is this something you can get at a place like home depot or is it more specialized? And is there something that can be done about the moss beside pressure washing?

I have dug a little bit and I think it is just gravel. The drain hole has a small metal grate over the top of it. It looks like the edges where the grate sits are crumbling apart.
Instead of pressure washing, which could/would blow out all the concrete, you can buy a gallon of deck cleaner and spray it on. Then, just a brush and scrub. Then, hose off.

Bleach, water, and detergent combo would work also.
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:37 PM   #5
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


Im going to get a picture of it, but the person who tried to repair this before me tried to create a cap over the cinderblocks that box in the stairs by troweling on the concrete. It looks like they used some type of wooden form but it looks sloppy (has a nail sticking in it). I suppose that could be broken up and a new solid cap could be placed over it? is that the idea?
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:46 PM   #6
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


gruntma -

Tat is way it sould have been built AND the way it should have been repaired.

just a tip - do not make the cap dead flat. Give it a very slight slope to shed water and possibly oversize to let the water drip off on the low side.
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Old 09-20-2008, 02:53 PM   #7
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


Here are the pictures of the staircase. I removed some of the cement that was loose and I found cinderblock beneath. It looks like they covered the top of the blocks with cement to make the stairs. I will clean it as recommended. Here are the questions I would like to ask the group:

1) Since the blocks seem to have shifted should I try to fix them (it might mean breaking them up and putting in new ones) or shoud l just mortar a cap in place?
2) Is there a website where I can learn more about how to do this?
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Last edited by gruntman; 09-25-2008 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:00 PM   #8
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


This is what I have done so far. Once I started knocking off the old concrete I was committed. Ran into a patch of quickcrete or something similar but just worked on it for a while with a masons chisel and hammer.

1) Should I just cap the hole thing off with standard 2 inch high caps from HD or cap the front with the standard caps (because it is a step) but use more decorative caps with a rough face on one side (like you might use to cap off a wall) for the sides. If this will look stupid please let me know.

2) Should I install a one-piece slab for the stairs?

3) once I finish the job shoud I cover the cinders with some type of sealant to prevent moisture from seeping into that space?

Thanks fof the tips.
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Last edited by gruntman; 09-25-2008 at 08:30 AM.
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Old 06-06-2009, 08:17 AM   #9
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I have reached a point where I have to make a decision on the steps. They are made of cinder blocks and are not the same size. The have shifted over the years. Do I remove them with a sledge hammer and start over? What would you cover the steps with? (I live in the NE where it snows alot).
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:10 AM   #10
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


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I have reached a point where I have to make a decision on the steps. They are made of cinder blocks and are not the same size. The have shifted over the years. Do I remove them with a sledge hammer and start over? What would you cover the steps with? (I live in the NE where it snows alot).
I think you can keep the foundation supports, but may want to insert rebar and pour concrete inside the holes. Once that is done, you can put slate over it as trim. If you don't like the look of the cinderblocks, you can use retaining wall blocks.

For the steps themselves, I would make a mold for the stairs, insert rebar, pour concrete, and then put slate over it.
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:27 AM   #11
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


Bluestone slabs make very effective and attractive step surfaces.
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Old 06-06-2009, 03:47 PM   #12
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OK -those steps are great. I just repointed my front porch and it came out nothing like that.

Here are some pictures of the steps. I think these really show the problem. The cinder blocks are not level and I think if I pulled really hard they would come out. The flat parts of the cinder blocks (where you step) are not even the same size on the same step. The last guy who repaired this just laid out a bunch of concrete on top of it.
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Old 06-06-2009, 04:17 PM   #13
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


Now that you're this far, just knock those 12 blocks (and whatever's under them) outta there, simply put up two form boards,and just pour two new steps.
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Old 06-06-2009, 05:17 PM   #14
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Never built steps before but I'll give it a try. I'll try top find a DIY thread on building forms.

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Old 06-06-2009, 08:06 PM   #15
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Rebuild concrete steps leading to basement


Once you're done, you might be able to prevent the moss from building-up again by thinning the canopy of the trees shading the steps.

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