I need to build some semi circle steps, going from patio doors (1200 mm opening) down into the garden (800mm drop). I guess they will need to be out of concrete, but unsure of the mix, strengthening, filler using say breeze block and wether I build each step on top of each other, or build the full height first and then the next step butted up against the full height step?
Jay, first of all some thoughts on your steps.
Keep in mind that one day you will want to sell and these steps will influence the sale of your property. The buyers may well be old and frail.
Steps need to be shallow and wide and constructed and finished to high quality.
The shape will be made with plywood?
And as concrete is heavy and wants to spread all over your garden the shuttering has to be strong enough to hold its shape.
Concrete is stronger than any other building material, so infilling is merely a way of saving on the cost.
You will want the riser part of the steps to look perfect.
This means spending some time on each step making sure the concrete is compacted down and there are no ugly holes in the front of the steps.
Probably the best way to start is with the top step, this enables you to support the plywood by knocking stakes in the ground and bracing them to hold the shape.
Repeating the system as each step sets and shrinks away from the plywood - don't rush this. Leave the plywood in place until you are sure the front of the step won't be spoilt when you remove the plywood. (A useful tip, cover the step side of the ply with cling film to get a clean break.)
You want these steps to wear well and to be frost proof.
A three to one mixture of mixed aggregate/ballast and cement should do the trick.
Only mix as much water as cement by volume.
Eather soak the ground well with water before placing the mix or better lay plastic on the ground to stop the water leaching out of the mix and taking the cement with it.
This will avoid cracking. Cover the mix with soft sand and keep damp for ten days after laying.
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