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Old 09-08-2016, 11:14 AM   #1
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Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


Hello! I am very new here. I am starting a new project and looking for some help. My front steps were falling apart and after talking to a couple of contractors decided to do it myself. I have been doing a ton of research and I think I mostly know what I'm doing (famous last words). I have torn down the old steps and the footer is almost ready to start building back up. Before I start though I have some questions.

I attached some pictures of the work area.

The new steps will be brick, basically I'm rebuilding what was there. I'm trying to figure out how I'm supposed to attached the new steps to the house. I have found brick ties that I cant link to, but they are called Simpson-Strong-Tie-22-Gauge-Brick-Tie-100-Pack-BT-R100

Is that all I need? Those seem to be designed to keep brick against wood. My steps are going up against the concrete block foundation, so those don't seem right.

Also, I'm familiar with corner blocks to set a string line to use to make sure your bricks are straight/level, but what do you do when one side of your brick line is up against the house? a corner block doesn't work here because there is no corner.

I would describe myself as EXTREMELY handy (my first house was a "fixer upper" where I literally tore every room down to studs and sub-floor and rebuilt from scratch- including electrical and plumbing). Masonry is where I have the least experience though.

I have more questions, but those are the first that come to mind. Any help is appreciated.
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Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)-rg4kngih.jpg   Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)-n9zevpjh.jpg   Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)-dc95ejsh.jpg   Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)-8lkrubdh.jpg  
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:00 PM   #2
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


I think your're in over you're head.I know this is a DIY forum,but this type of work is a bit more complex than it looks on a youtude video.
Do you really want to spend the time and money it will take for this project to see it fail after the first winter?
Wish you the best.Just saying?
You will have to rent some equipment .Consider the costs of that plus the time you will spend.Hire someone that will knock it out in 1 1/2 days and be done with it.
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:29 PM   #3
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


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I think your're in over you're head.I know this is a DIY forum,but this type of work is a bit more complex than it looks on a youtude video.
Do you really want to spend the time and money it will take for this project to see it fail after the first winter?
Wish you the best.Just saying?
You will have to rent some equipment .Consider the costs of that plus the time you will spend.Hire someone that will knock it out in 1 1/2 days and be done with it.
...wow. I'll be sure to send you pictures when it's done then. Thanks for the help.
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Old 09-08-2016, 03:31 PM   #4
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


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Those seem to be designed to keep brick against wood. My steps are going up against the concrete block foundation, so those don't seem right.
No they are not right. Those just keep a brick veneer wall from tipping over.
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Old 09-08-2016, 04:44 PM   #5
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


Please do.I was not trying to discourage you but from your post I'm thinking it may be a little over your head.
Will be looking for an upgrade after the first winter with your new steps.
I do wish you luck and hope all turns out well.I don't care about pics when it's done just would like to see a pic after the first winter.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:24 PM   #6
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


Sorry have to agree.
I'd never want to see steps attached to the foundation.
Foundation needs to be water proofed behind the stoop.
Any I've had done had a full slab pored under the stoop, how deep it's anyone's guess without a location
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:09 PM   #7
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


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Sorry have to agree.
I'd never want to see steps attached to the foundation.
Foundation needs to be water proofed behind the stoop.
Any I've had done had a full slab pored under the stoop, how deep it's anyone's guess without a location
I didn't tear up the footer. That's still solid (and 36" down per NJ code requirements). Likewise, I didn't touch the perimeter of concrete block that's built up to ground level because that is still solid as well.

The original steps shared some concrete blocks with the house foundation (you can see where these were cut in half when the steps were demo'd. This is why I'm assuming I need to attach the new steps to the foundation (to prevent a crack from forming between the house and the steps where water can get in). I was under the impression this was a DIY forum where people helped each other out.

I get this is a bigger job than most people would take on. I'm not most people. I know what I can handle, and I know where my knowledge is limited, which is why I came here looking for advice. I guess I came to the wrong place. Thanks anyway.
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Old 09-09-2016, 06:08 AM   #8
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


Don't take off yet, I can see you're not in over your head. You have my kind of confidence and that's a good thing.
Maybe someone else will chime in.

I'm no expert but a cold joint in the mortar between the block and new bricks wouldn't be sealed anyways, so I'd imagine a small gap with caulking would be in order?

As for your string line, tack a piece of lumber to the wall or something to tie the string to.
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:34 AM   #9
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


I am not sure why you want to tie the new bricks to the house. From the photos, it looks like you have an existing footer for the steps. Does the footer for the steps tie into your foundation or is it independent.

You say you are in essence rebuilding what was there. First question is , what was the issue that made you rip out the existing steps???
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Old 09-09-2016, 08:50 AM   #10
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


Brick ties are typically used to attach brick veneer to a stud wall, or similar. It is not necessary to attach the brick steps to the house, there are advantages to not attaching the brick, in that the house and the steps are likely to move differently, so tieing them together can lead to cracks at the connection.

As long as the foundation soil is well compacted, and suitable for foundation support, you should get very little movement of the foundation, hence little to no movement of the steps. You can always caulk the gap between the house and the steps.

As to construction, I have tremendous respect for quality masons, the work is surprisingly difficult to get right. I suggest you purchase a book on basic masonry, there are dozens of them (I own at least three), which will walk you through the basics of preparing the foundation, mixing the mortar, installing the bricks, keeping everything lined up and level. The hardest part is keeping everything lined up, in my experience at least. You can set all the string lines in the world, but it is difficult to get the bricks to set perfectly, and if you have to painstakingly adjust each one the project will take a really long time. An experienced mason is something to see, they butter the bricks, set them, tap them maybe once or twice, on to the next brick. I have never had any such luck, my brickwork takes too long, the bricks never line up perfectly, my back starts to get sore, etc. But I admire your enthusiasm, go for it. You may want to buy a low cost rotating laser level to help you line up the bricks as you go, they are commonly used on commercial projects, but could be useful to you. I got one at a big box store for under $50, has been tremendously useful in deck building, staircases, and foundation work. Good luck.
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Old 09-09-2016, 11:30 AM   #11
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


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I am not sure why you want to tie the new bricks to the house. From the photos, it looks like you have an existing footer for the steps. Does the footer for the steps tie into your foundation or is it independent.

You say you are in essence rebuilding what was there. First question is , what was the issue that made you rip out the existing steps???
The footer is tied into the foundation of the house. It's solid concrete with concrete block on top, forming the perimeter. The old steps shared some blocks with the house, which you can see in the attached picture, during demo, these were broken in half to make the house flush.

The old steps were rips up because they were coming apart. There were multiple cracks where water was just getting in and making things worse. The limestone could be pulled off by hand, as well as a bunch of bricks. I could have patched it, but it would have been a band-aid and looked terrible.
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Old 09-09-2016, 11:34 AM   #12
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


If anyone is interested, this is the full album for the steps: http://imgur.com/a/PsaOX

And this is the before/after of my first house: http://imgur.com/a/ZSRPQ Almost no contractors used, I'm proudest of the kitchen.
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Old 09-09-2016, 11:42 AM   #13
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


Nice job on the first home.
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Old 09-09-2016, 03:45 PM   #14
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


Your confidence reflects your abilities. Good job on the first house.
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:07 PM   #15
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Re: Rebuilding my front steps (huge job)


What about making the steps out of concrete, and then using a brick facade to dress them up?
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