Introduction

concrete steps clad in stone
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Though you may wish you could take a sledgehammer to those drab concrete steps tarnishing your home's curb appeal, we have a better plan. Veneer them in handsome stone to turn your embarrassing entry into a welcoming focal point. This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers will tell you it takes at least one strong buddy to place the bluestone tread caps and that you should check your local codes about riser heights. He'll also show you, on the pages that follow, the simplest way to tackle this value-boosting project.

Granite veneer: New England Thinstones' Chesterfield Square & Rectangle, about $12.50 per square foot, and corner stones, about $15 per linear foot; New England Thinstones. Treads: 1½-inch thermally treated bluestone, about $13 per linear foot; Fairfield Stone and Landscape Supply. Landing pavers: 1-inch thermally treated bluestone, about $7.25 per square foot; Fairfield Stone and Landscape Supply. Mortar: Quikrete Veneer Stone Mortar, about $5 for an 80-pound bag; QUIKRETE
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    Tools List

    • utility knife
      utility knife
    • flat prybar
      pry bar
    • circular saw
      circular saw to cut the trim board
    • metal cutting snips
      tin snips to cut the steel lath
    • powder actuated nailer
      powder-actuated nailer and nails (Masonry nails may suffice on newer, softer concrete)
    • hammer
      hammer
    • masonry hoe
      plastic bin and hoe for mixing mortar
    • garden hose
      hose to rinse the mixing bin between batches
    • notched trowel
      finishing trowel with a 3/8-inch notch
    • angle grinder
      grinder fitted with a diamond masonry blade
    • mason's chisel and maul
      mason's chisel and maul
    • brick hammer
      brick hammer
    • Natural-bristle chip brush
      chip brush to apply acrylic bonding agent
    • mason's trowel
      brick trowel
    • grout bag
      grout bag
    • masonry striking tool
      striking tool
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level
    • mallet
      rubber mallet

    Shopping List

    work gloves for handling steel lath and stones

    2½-gauge steel lath

    stone veneer mortar

    acrylic bonding agent

    self-adhesive flashing

    canvas drop cloth and painter's tape
    for creating the layout stone veneer Get about 20 percent more than you need for the risers and sides of the steps.

    bluestone treads Add 1½ inches to the finished width of the steps (including lath, mortar, and side veneer stones) for the overhang at each end. Have your supplier "torch" the ends and front edge of each tread for a more finished look.

    bluestone pavers Measure the landing and have your supplier help size the stones to include the correct overhangs, grout lines, and a gap against the house.