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Masonry Steps to Front of House

Philip555's picture

The front steps to our house have bluestone treads and some kind stone risers.  The concrete grouting between the treads and risers is basically gone and the face of the steps (viewing from the street) has the stucco and backing material crumbling.  At this point one of the treads is completely loose.

My question is - what should be done?  Remove and reset all of the treads in fresh cement and grout and fill in face of riser with fresh cement and stucco?   A couple of masons have quoted $800-$1200 to do this (in NY State).  Does this seem reasonable? There are 3 treads 36" wide and a landing about 3x3.  Is this sometnig we can tackle ourselves? 

Will this kind of repair last or do we need to demo and start oveer?

Thank you.

Can a lasting repair be done? (post #186516, reply #1 of 2)

Can a lasting repair be done? Yes!

Can you do it? again, yes.

Is it worth $800- $1200? idunno, is it?

Will the contractor do a lasting repair? idunno.

The process:

  1. Remove all bluestone without breakage.
    You can skip this step if you're just going to redo the loose pieces.
  2. Remove all grout/thinset from bluestone
  3. Remove all grout/thinset from base
  4. Remove grout from between riser stones
  5. Prepare base for new thinset
  6. Replace bluestones and regrout risers

1a) Get a stout, 3" x 6" x 3', chunk of oak and a 16# sledge. Hold the 3" edge to the side of the blue stone and give 'er a good whack with the sledge. Repeat around and around the stone till she gives up her hold.

1b) See and Drill small holes conpletely under the stones about 2" OC. Flush them out with water from the inside out, then with air, also from the inside out. Immediately fill with the expansive agent from the inside out and wait.

2, 3, & 4) Mason's hammer, small sledge and mason's chisel, grinder, wire brush, dremel, lots of grerase, (elbow.) Clean old grout out to at least 3/4 depth around the riser stones. 

5a) I prefer to rent a buffing hammer with a good sharp head and completely buff the area to receive the bluestone to a new surface. Do NOT do this to the bluestone. See 5b. A concrete buffing head looks like an old fashioned meat tenderizing hammer face. Lots of little pyramids in a grid.

5b) Thouroughly saturate the area to be prepped with water, broom dry and wait for the "wet" sheen to go away, then saturate it with a 50/50 mix of water and swimming pool acid for 180 seconds (3 minutes,) Then flush the area with water for 3 minutes. Also do this to the bottom surface of the bluestone.

6) use a 1/2" skip trowel under the landing and a 1/4" skip trowel under the steps to apply the thinset. Use any water resistant tile grout between the riser stones. You can undercut the bluestones before the thinset sets up by about 1" and fill that with the grout to help waterproof and for appearance.

While any good job will require all 6 steps, your contractor may use different methods of accomplishing them.

A Pragmatic Classical Liberal, aka Libertarian.

I'm always right!
Except when I'm not.

It should be stated that (post #186516, reply #2 of 2)

It should be stated that brick/stone steps generally have a relatively short life (before coming loose or spalling) in areas where hard freezes are common.  Certainly there's a difference based on the quality of the workmanship and materials, but it's rare to see a set of such steps that don't have at least minor problems after exposure to the weather for 5-10 years.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville