• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to create durable, beautiful stone steps.

    Steps:
    1. Measure and mark the porch for the location of the new stone stairs.
    2. Dig out the dirt in front of the porch to a depth of 24 inches, or until reaching well-draining soil.
    3. Add about 4 inches of ¾-inch crushed stone to the bottom of the hole. Spread the stone evenly with a shovel.
    4. Compact the stone base with either a hand tamper or gas-powered compactor.
    5. Add another 4 inches of stone, and compact again. Repeat until the hole is completely filled with compacted stone.
    6. Cover the compacted stone base with landscape fabric.
    7. Spread about 2 inches of stone dust over the landscape fabric, then compact it with a hand tamper. Be sure the stone dust is a bit higher in the back to provide the proper pitch to the steps.
    8. Lay two 4x4s across the stone dust bed, then set the first granite step into place using a forklift, if necessary.
    9. Use a long pry bar and third 4x4 as a fulcrum to lift one end of the granite step and pull out the 4x4. Repeat to remove the opposite 4x4.
    10. Check to ensure the step is centered on the porch and the correct distance from the front of the porch.
    11. Install short granite fillers, called cheeks between the rear of the step and the porch. Tap down the cheeks with a rubber mallet.
    12. Fill in the space behind the step and between the cheeks with crushed stone. Compact the stone with a hand tamper.
    13. Cover the compacted stone with landscape fabric and stone dust. Compact the stone dust with a hand tamper.
    14. Use a small sledgehammer to drive a ½-inch-diameter x 18-inch-long rebar pin alongside each granite cheek. Leave about 2 inches of each pin protruding from the ground.
    15. Slide the second granite step into place on top of the first step.
    16. Check the pitch of each step with an 18-inch level. Be sure the steps pitch down slightly away from the porch.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Moving the heavy stones is the only difficult part
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    Video Directory

    Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • wheelbarrow
        Wheelbarrow
      • pointed shovel
        Pointed shovel
      • tamper
        Hand tamper or motorized compactor
      • flat prybar
        Long pry bar
      • 4x4s
        4x4s
      • mallet
        Rubber mallet
      • sledge hammer
        3-pound sledgehammer
      • two-foot level
        18-inch level

      Shopping List

      Granite steps and cheeks

      ¾-inch crushed stone

      Landscape fabric

      Stone dust

      Two ½-inch-diameter x 18-inch-long pieces of steel rebar, used to pin the granite cheeks in place