Ugly old concrete entry steps to front door.

chester_grant(6)June 4, 2006

The steps to my house are ugly and the footing for the iron railing is broken - which means the iron railing is a safety hazard with no secure base.

The question is how can I rejuvenate concrete steps?

I guess I could have them resurfaced with thinnish paving stones......there are 5 steps by the way which means one has to go up 3 feet or so. I also wish to eliminate the iron railings and replace them with painted white wood railings (of the type typical on verandahs) as white wood is more in keeping with the white vertical post already there. Could I build wooden steps over the concrete?

Any other suggestions?

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nativenut(z7B GA)

On the safe side, there are many synthetic stone and brick products with which you could face the concrete. There are also the tiles, but they need to be suitable for outdoor use. If you want to go a little wild, try mosaic, from pebbles to glass tile, you could go as crazy or conservative as you would like. Any combination of these could be used. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 9:04AM
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punamytsike(9b FL)

What are the other colors of your house, style? I would first try concrete staining. Liquid iron gives nice rusty brown look. It is very inexpensive and if you do not like it, you can then re-tile, build wood over it or what ever. There are other colors of acid stain but they cost a little more as well.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 9:45AM
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I wonder whether this Thinstone product - see below - will take foot traffic?

Here is a link that might be useful: Thinstone

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 5:30PM
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I have decided to cover the concrete with either bluestone or granitr treads. The bluestone is "thermal" which reduces the propensity to slip on it (its soaked with water and then flamed to pop the surface). The question is would granite treads be better than bluestone???

(notes: .....bluestone is cheaper but for an entranceway cost is not my conecern. The risers will be New England fieldston probably).



Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 6:11PM
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Love bluestone--putting in lots of it, but you should be aware you shouldn't put salt on it and it can chip (so can granite, but chipped granite just takes on more character).

What are the other materials on the property? Are you doing a walkway as well?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 7:55PM
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Yes - I decided that I might as well do the walkway as it affects the "foundation" of the first step of the entry steps. I am tearing up a crummy weeedy brick walkway and putting in bluestone with cobblestone (narrow 3" nor 6" width) retainers.

I now have three hundred or so old bricks - what can I dod with them?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 10:29PM
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list them on craigslist...someone is always looking for old bricks!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 10:36PM
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peregrinekt(z6 Connecticut)

where are you located in new england? I would love some old bricks!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 9:44AM
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Question on walkway - the guy I am paying for the contract and who is doing the work is going to lay 1" bluestone flagstones on stone dust. However its my understanding - I checked with some stone compmnaied for backing - that 1.5" is the thickness required for laying blustone flags in stonedust. Am I being unrealistic?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 8:48PM
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no, you are not. 1 inch bluestone is certainly cheaper, but I wouldn't use it. bluestone comes in different grades and color should check it out and make sure you are getting what you want. if funds are unlimited because it's the entrance, why not rip it all out and do it right (instead of refacing the steps).

we are putting a walkway in now. we removed a concrete walkway and found what looked like a foot worth of "lava rock" underneath it. even the mason wasn't exactly sure what it was (and where the heck did they get lava in new england???). we excavated all of it, placed 6-9 inches of gravel/stonedust compacted in 3 inch lifts, and are using 1.5 (min.) - 2 inch thick pieces (a few are even thicker).

your walkway will be as good as its base. here is an article i read online that describes one method for our area:

Here is a link that might be useful: this old house stone patio info

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 10:42PM
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I see from the article that I am being sold a total pup. The b....d doing my job is certainly not doing a deep enough base either. Its nowhere near 6 inches. There had been a brick walkway before with maybe an inch or two of sand underneath which he is using as his base. So I will get a base of maybe 2 inches and I live in Zone 6 which obviously means frost heaves.......

I would guess that most people like me get "hack jobs" done through ignorance. The guy doing my job was recommended by one of these stone yard places.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 3:05AM
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Now the guy I "hired" has gone off with half my money and taken all the bluestone for the walkway that I paid for. So now we cannot use the front door as the entry is by way of a muddy track instead of a walkway - the guy says he never agreed to install a "base" for the stone walkway. Geeze, anyone knows that its standard practice to install a base for a path or patio - not jsut lay stoes over bare eath - in a frost zone at that. But its my mistake for assuming that the guy was a "pro" - I did not haveg in writing that there will be a base of "x" inches and the stones would have thickness of at least 1.5 inches. Also the cobblestone retainer stones are so loose (owing to shoddy cement work) that some can just be pulled up or knocked over by hand...But how do I get my money back?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 10:26PM
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How much money did he walk away with?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 12:16PM
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How disgusting. You may want to take him to District Justice.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 2:55PM
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I paid him $1550 for materials...and I have none of the material for the entrance pathway that I paid for. A check of the BBB didnt list his guy at all. As for the legal side of it I have nothing but an oral contract - the only thing in writing is the check he cashed for material.

I have had to put down some stepping stones so we can get hop to the front door - necessary as we have had torrential storms for three days.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 11:09PM
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What an awful mess Â

One suggestion that has proven helpful to me in sorting out certain disagreements in the past. Go ahead and sit down and write an account of what happened. Record your memory of conversations, the days / hours he worked, etc. Keep notes brief and clear. Even the posts here are evidence of your intentions to create a safe entrance that added value and beauty to your home. You may have other notes, e-mails, etc. that refer to your project and your intention in hiring a "pro". The point of this exercise is to leave your options open. You may decide to do nothing, learn from the experience, and, as my Dad used to say, "overwhelm the problem with money". But, should you decide to pursue a fair resolution, having things in writing  even after the fact  will help.

Next, make a decision about legal advice. The funny thing here is that you would again be accepting assistance from a pro. Twice in recent years I've needed a lawyer's opinion. My upbringing schooled me to avoid litigation like an unseemly plague, so the need was only pursued with great reluctance. In the first instance, one involving a need to sort out an issue with a government agency, I lucked into a lawyer who was willing to "coach" me in what to research, letters to write, and keeping a careful record. I paid her absolutely nothing. That matter took about 12 months to resolve. Courts, litigation, almost always take much longer.

If I were you, I think I'd be feeling like I'd been robbed. We hire a pro to do professional work. It's an assumption, but I don't know if it holds as a legal standard. I can tell you that in gathering quotes from three companies that do paving work for a project at my home, not one of them suggested anything less than a 8" to 12" inch base.

The area we wanted paved had been a gravel bed (previous owners) and my spouse wanted to know if that material could be reused somehow. Looking back, I suppose that was an open opportunity for abuse, which none of the contracters we spoke to was willing to take. As one of the contracter's put it, "Even if this gravel were usable, I want to do the job right from base to finish  We'll clean it out, start from scratch, and get the grade corrected in the process."

Since then, I've read quite a bit here at the LD forum, so I've heard chapter and verse a few times on installing paths and patios. With very rare exceptions, and even those are debated, the base is the thing. Without it, the beauty, function, and durability of the finished surface is compromised. As you stated  for your entry you wanted things done right. That should have included the standard base for a well-built and beautiful entrance pathway.

Hope things work out well and soon Â


    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 1:52PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

One of the effects of the internet is to enable us all to collect more information than previously, and the effect on local workers is that they are always being second-guessed by customers who would have simply trusted them before. And in all fairness, while there is always a best way which in this case would be a solid base, there may be many iterations below that that would hold up even in your climate, depending on area drainage. I'm guessing yours won't be the first relationship to go awry when the worker is putting in what might be "good enough" while you are researching "best."

I wonder if you can repair this relationship without litigation and still get your walkway. No doubt he'd prefer not to leave an unhappy customer behind and perhaps just needs an opportunity to save face about it. I'm assuming you can contact him... perhaps he can exchange the bluestone he's taken for some 1.5" stock, and perhaps you can come to an agreement about how thick to make the base if you are willing to pay him for some extra time. Or perhaps he'd rather lay it on the existing base (hmm, condition of previous - was it brick? - will give you and him hints about this) and agree to repair it if it heaves.

Trying to call and negotiate seems like a no-lose option to explore.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 10:15PM
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tinamcg(Z5b Kansas City)

We just had our hideous concrete walk and front stoop resurfaced in a flagstone pattern. I was skeptical because it's a spray-on system that uses a stenciling method, but we were really happy with the overall result. Unfortunately, the contractor applied the sealer before the product had fully dried, and now we have blotches to deal with. He's going to redo part of it this week.

Overall, though, I think this is a nice solution to nasty looking concrete. Our stoop and front walk had sunken a bit and were cracking badly, so first we had to have it all mudjacked and repaired.

I would love to post before and after pictures, but my digital camera died as soon as I took the 'before shots. See the link below to the manufacturer of the system used by our contractor. Honestly, I was surprised the surface didn'thave a fake look to it when it was finished.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stardek concrete resurfacing

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 1:54PM
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karinl et al:

I tried this negotiation (you have me by the balls) approach.. ...I even dug up the earth in the walkway tract and went to Home Depot and purchased bags of Stage 1 and Stage 2 base material for the project. I called the guy and said that I had dug the base and had the base material sp PLLLEASE come nad finish my project - he said he would come and finish the project and gave a time and date....hasn't shown for 4 days. My guess is that he was just waiting for the check to clear.....

What I have NOW done is get a stonemason recommended this time from my realtor (who sold me my house and will get a commish when I move again). The guy came around and told me that the uncompleted job would (a) have been shoddy owing to the use of substandard concrete to hold the cobblestone retaining wall in place (substandard just to save $2.50 a bag!); (b) the poor base; and worse still (c) not to code as the last step was a different height from the rest of the steps on the entranceway AND half of the walkway was less than the 3 foot width minimum code.

So I got a quote from him which was much cheaper than the previous quote (which had been for a "dry" lay) but this time for a concrete base and lay (apparently not a good idea on a front entrance to tramp loose stonedust into the house?). So while I have been screwed - I have on my rally cap and might come out OK even with a lighter wallet.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 6:05PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Can you stop payment on the check?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 6:07PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Did you have a contract with the first fella? I'm guessing you didn't. I'd get one this time. A contract is the only thing that can get you your money back in court. But I'd also still report the first guy to your chamber of commerce, the stoneyard that recommended him, and anyone else that makes referals. He definitely should not get away with no repercussions.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 11:46PM
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better business bureau too--i always look people up there

Here is a link that might be useful: better business bureau

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 9:46AM
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