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Old 07-26-2018, 10:05 PM   #1
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Need masonary advice so I can go camping!

I have to fix the bottom step on my S&B porch before I can go camping again!

I was hoping to just lift the blue stone tread off, clean up some grout and mortar, and reinstall with new grout and mortar. NOT.

After lifting the tread, it was obvious that the riser bricks were mostly loose. So I pulled out everything that wasn't solid and cleaned out the sand that was used as filler. The sand was very wet, which concerns me as I expect it contributed to the degradation experienced in my Michigan winters. The degraded bricks run one course below grade. At the bottom is a solid slab of what looks like concrete. The concrete is not perfectly flat.
So as a permanent fix, I am considering pouring in a bunch of concrete filling up to grade with an asphalt expansion strip facing the front walk. Once the concrete sets, I'll set two courses of brick to be the face of the riser. Once the brick mortar sets, pour in more concrete up to the top of the two courses of brick. Then finally once the last batch of concrete sets up, new mortar, set the blue stone tread (two pieces), and finally grout the gap between the blue stone pieces and the porch it self and re-grout the bluestone on the second step.
Also, I'll lay some rebar in the concrete, mostly because I have some laying around from another project.
For any masons out there - will this work as a solid long term solution? Any suggestions for improvement?

Some additional info - there is a partial gap under the bricks leading up to the second step (left side of picture). I suspect this was done on purpose by the mason who did the work. Also there was a lot of dirt/sand under the mortar the bricks were set in. When the house was built, the two steps had different rises. So when I had some other work done on the porch I included fixing the steps as part of the job. The mason put the steps back on with the original rise sizes. When I told the general contractor that it was still wrong, the contractor had the steps re-done....

Hopefully the picture will post right side up...
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Old 08-02-2018, 11:10 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorSam20500 View Post
I have to fix the bottom step on my S&B porch before I can go camping again!

I was hoping to just lift the blue stone tread off, clean up some grout and mortar, and reinstall with new grout and mortar. NOT.

After lifting the tread, it was obvious that the riser bricks were mostly loose. So I pulled out everything that wasn't solid and cleaned out the sand that was used as filler. The sand was very wet, which concerns me as I expect it contributed to the degradation experienced in my Michigan winters. The degraded bricks run one course below grade. At the bottom is a solid slab of what looks like concrete. The concrete is not perfectly flat.
So as a permanent fix, I am considering pouring in a bunch of concrete filling up to grade with an asphalt expansion strip facing the front walk. Once the concrete sets, I'll set two courses of brick to be the face of the riser. Once the brick mortar sets, pour in more concrete up to the top of the two courses of brick. Then finally once the last batch of concrete sets up, new mortar, set the blue stone tread (two pieces), and finally grout the gap between the blue stone pieces and the porch it self and re-grout the bluestone on the second step.
Also, I'll lay some rebar in the concrete, mostly because I have some laying around from another project.
For any masons out there - will this work as a solid long term solution? Any suggestions for improvement?

Some additional info - there is a partial gap under the bricks leading up to the second step (left side of picture). I suspect this was done on purpose by the mason who did the work. Also there was a lot of dirt/sand under the mortar the bricks were set in. When the house was built, the two steps had different rises. So when I had some other work done on the porch I included fixing the steps as part of the job. The mason put the steps back on with the original rise sizes. When I told the general contractor that it was still wrong, the contractor had the steps re-done....

Hopefully the picture will post right side up...
Hire a mason contractor, and go on your way, with your money why are you doing it? Who else has massaging seats in there TV.
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Old 08-02-2018, 11:27 AM   #3
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There are epoxy and polyurethane based mortars that might be a good choice. You might see if there is a commercial/contractor supplier of paving materials, bricks, mortar, etc. and see what they have and what they recommend.

An excellent forum for a question like this is garagejournal.com which has users from all sorts of backgrounds including building construction related to automotive. Guaranteed to gets lots of good info. there.

I have to wonder if bricks are a poor choice for steps due to the high amount of water they are subjected to and the effect of freeze/thaw. Some other material might be better or plain or colored or stamped concrete. Our front porch and steps were done with 2" high stamped concrete but this needs to be done by a concrete pro.

Don't forget to come back with some photos so folks can ooh and aah at your work!
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by myredracer View Post
There are epoxy and polyurethane based mortars that might be a good choice. You might see if there is a commercial/contractor supplier of paving materials, bricks, mortar, etc. and see what they have and what they recommend.

An excellent forum for a question like this is garagejournal.com which has users from all sorts of backgrounds including building construction related to automotive. Guaranteed to gets lots of good info. there.

I have to wonder if bricks are a poor choice for steps due to the high amount of water they are subjected to and the effect of freeze/thaw. Some other material might be better or plain or colored or stamped concrete. Our front porch and steps were done with 2" high stamped concrete but this needs to be done by a concrete pro.

Don't forget to come back with some photos so folks can ooh and aah at your work!


Definitely interested in your solution/resolution.
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Old 08-05-2018, 10:55 PM   #5
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Job done, start the ooh and aahing ...
I followed my original plan....

Bought several bags of crack resistant concrete (it was on sale for about the same price as regular). Filled the bottom of the step area to grade. I let the concrete sit for about an hour and then broomed the surface to give it a very course texture and let it set / harden overnight. This was about 4" deep. The next day I set the two brick courses that are the front face of the step. After about an hour, I gave the brick face a good brushing with a medium brush to get that carve out you always see in brick. I let the bricks set overnight. The next day, I filled the area behind the brick with more reinforced concrete up to the top of the bricks. Again after about an hour, I broomed the surface to create a very course surface. The next day, I mixed up more mortar, put a thin coat onto the concrete and back buttered my bluestone. Added more mortar on top of the concrete and raked it with 3/8" toothed trowel. Dropped on the blue stone and made sure the top had an appropriate slope to loose water. After letting the mortar start to setup, I went back and added additional mortar as grout to the joints between the two stones and between the stones and the brick riser leading to the second step.

All told, I spent under $20. I did check on getting a pro to do the work, called several only one was interested in such a small job and wanted at least $350 - he never actually came out. So I have covered a good part of my gas bill for our trip out to the Grand Canyon and Albuquerque.

Something I noticed, the blue stone as originally installed by a pro had next to no mortar on the bottom. The stones were held in place by gravity and the small amount of mortar holding it to the riser for the second step. So by coating the entire bottom of the stone with mortar, I'm sure it is going to stay in place a lot longer.

After finishing the bottom step, I reset the pavers in the walk. They were way out of level and graded wrong. I think it looks pretty good.
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