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Old 11-02-2019, 04:29 PM   #1
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Problem making concrete stairs


I have a handyman that is helping me make a retaining wall and concrete stairs. So far we have the wall just about finished and ready to fill the 12" block with concrete and form up and pour the concrete stairs.

The project is on hold right now until I can get some answers to a few questions.

We made a footer two feet wide and about 18-20 inches deep with 5/8" rebar.

The stairs will be about 3 feet wide, so they will have 12" of block underneath the one side and gravel and compacted dirt under the other two feet.

We planned to pour the concrete into the block and the forms for the stairs at the same time with rebar attached to the stairs and the block cavity.

I am worried that the two feet of the stairs that only have gravel and dirt under them will not be supported as well as the 12" that have block and a footer underneath.

Is that going to be a problem?

I feel that we should have made at least another 12' block section underneath the other edge of the three foot span for the stairs.
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Old 11-02-2019, 05:10 PM   #2
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


Where will the stairs go and how High and why not wood?
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Old 11-02-2019, 09:16 PM   #3
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


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Where will the stairs go and how High and why not wood?
No wood--want something that will last longer.

See photos for measurements.
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Old 11-02-2019, 09:28 PM   #4
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


I would put the footing and build the matching walls and build the stairs on both walls.
Then you would be able to back the inside with sand.
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Old 11-02-2019, 10:47 PM   #5
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


I'd be more worried about the wall than the stairs. 6' high with an undersized footing (see attached not to scale). You need to backfill gravel and a drain to alleviate as much pressure as you can.

I could see the far side of the stairs that is supported by grade moving separately from the side supported by the wall. Especially when it starts to lean. Also, if the blocks are dictating the "stringer," then you have 12" treads with 8" risers? And the risers will be in front of the CMU (no finished end on those blocks). It may be difficult to get a clean edge if the stair concrete is flush with the wall face. But more formwork if you overhang it.
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Old 11-03-2019, 04:58 PM   #6
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


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I'd be more worried about the wall than the stairs. 6' high with an undersized footing (see attached not to scale). You need to backfill gravel and a drain to alleviate as much pressure as you can.

I could see the far side of the stairs that is supported by grade moving separately from the side supported by the wall. Especially when it starts to lean. Also, if the blocks are dictating the "stringer," then you have 12" treads with 8" risers? And the risers will be in front of the CMU (no finished end on those blocks). It may be difficult to get a clean edge if the stair concrete is flush with the wall face. But more formwork if you overhang it.
Thanks for your reply. I'll have to get with my helper about your suggestion. He seemed to be somewhat lost when he was figuring out the stairs. My main concern was the way that the stairs were going to be partially on top of the CMU and partially on top of compacted dirt and gravel.

We planned to apply Bituthene 4000 on to the walls that are to be back filled. The wall that is attached to the house is right over a newly installed French Drain that we just finished. We plan to back fill with some gravel and some dirt. That way any water would flow right into the new French Drain. (see my other post about the French Drain)

We felt that the walls would be strong enough with 12' block, 5/8" rebar and the wire block lock that have been used. Then all of the block is going to be filled with concrete. The top layer of block will be capped with concrete and 5/8" rebar.
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:01 PM   #7
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


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I would put the footing and build the matching walls and build the stairs on both walls.
Then you would be able to back the inside with sand.
That was my first thought. But can it be done as an afterthought? Would the two walls/footer need to be connected to each other somehow?
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:31 PM   #8
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


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That was my first thought. But can it be done as an afterthought? Would the two walls/footer need to be connected to each other somehow?
The normal is to drill in to the old footing and epoxy the rebar into it.

Rotary hammer drill about 7"
Others here would know more about block, I have not worked with it and don't know what they would do about tying into it. If know one comes along start another thread with that question.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:17 AM   #9
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


When you backfill, make sure you wrap your gravel with drainage fabric, like your french drain.
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Old 11-05-2019, 10:39 PM   #10
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


The more that I ponder on this project the less I like the idea of using concrete. At this point it seems like I will really be getting into a lot more work if I try to fix the mistakes that I have made. If I stay with the original plan of using concrete I will need to dig out another area for a second parallel footer and build another set of blocks in order to pour concrete stairs between the two footers/walls.

Using wood may be a better alternative.

I was at a friends hangar today and I was looking at the stairs that he had built (at my suggestion) to go from the main floor up to the top of his man cave. He uses the upper area for storage. Whoever made the stairs seemed to do a great job. There are three stringers with nice handrails on either side. If I used that design I could attach the center stringer to the existing block that we have already put in place. The steps would be 36" wide so the stringers would probably need a support post at the middle point pulse one more post at the top outer area.

The wall that we have built is about 6 feet tall. The stairs at my friends hangar goes up much higher than that. I measured the stairs for my wall and it looks like I would need ten steps. I have attached some photos with measurements on them. Sorry about the sideways photo this program has a problem! See what you think.
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Old 11-05-2019, 11:15 PM   #11
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


That corner does not appear to be square so you need a plan for that.

If there is a patio going in and a side walk above, they both need to go in first before you can measure and do the math for the risers.
The stairs you measured is what you are after but the math dictates. And the treads you would use 2 2x6s instead of a 2x12 just because you are outside.
You will need to bolt a ledger to the block so some filling with concrete would be a good idea.
Beside the house would make more sense for space used.
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Old 11-06-2019, 08:09 AM   #12
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


6' tall = 72"

72" Height divided 8" Rise = 9 stairs.

9 stairs x 10" tread/run = 90"

90" tread/run divided 12" = 7.5' or 7'-6"
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:28 PM   #13
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


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That corner does not appear to be square so you need a plan for that.

If there is a patio going in and a side walk above, they both need to go in first before you can measure and do the math for the risers.
The stairs you measured is what you are after but the math dictates. And the treads you would use 2 2x6s instead of a 2x12 just because you are outside.
You will need to bolt a ledger to the block so some filling with concrete would be a good idea.
Beside the house would make more sense for space used.

Good info--thanks!

I never thought of putting the stairs next to the house. I'll have to knock that around in my head for a while--thanks for the reply.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:31 PM   #14
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


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6' tall = 72"

72" Height divided 8" Rise = 9 stairs.

9 stairs x 10" tread/run = 90"

90" tread/run divided 12" = 7.5' or 7'-6"
I assume that if I go with wood I will need to make the stringers myself?

I checked HD and they only had 8 step stringers and they did not give any specs for rise or run.

Last edited by fred93; 11-06-2019 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 11-06-2019, 04:52 PM   #15
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Re: Problem making concrete stairs


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I assume that if I go with wood I will need to make the stringers myself?

I checked HD and they only had 8 step stringers and they did not give any specs for rise or run.

They will have one size fits all and they don't fit all and everyone cuts the bottom off taking them off code.

You do all the math off the height 72/8= 9 but 8 is just to big for code so you redo that with 10 72/10= 7.2" and the bottom riser would be 5.7"
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