Natural Stone Steps Information

One of the more interesting and elegant projects you can add to your yard, landscape, and hardscape are steps. If you have an area of your yard that is at higher grade, or a path that travels up or down a rather steep slope, you might consider adding steps to the area. And one of the best materials you can use for these new steps is natural stone.

Note that natural stone is actually a broader category that encompasses many kinds of natural stone. They all share the fact that they are quarried from the earth and cut into the shape you need. Thus, how the natural stone will look, how easy it is to work with, and the price you’ll pay for it will all depend on the specific type of stone you get, from cobblestone to flagstone and everything in between.

The Benefits of Natural Stone Steps

Natural stone offers you many benefits that other materials options, like concrete and brick pavers and regular concrete, can’t offer you. Like the other hardscaping options, natural stone is durable and strong. It will resist the weathering effects of wind, sun, and rain, and you won’t be able to crack the stone or chip it. Think about it – it’s a material that’s stood the test of time for eons, just waiting to get to your yard. You can thus be sure that your natural stone steps will have a long life, so you shouldn’t expect to have to reinstall a new set of steps again unless you want to change up your yard.

Another advantage of natural stone over its competitors is its beauty. Sure, concrete pavers can compete with natural stone in terms of the ‘ordered’ and ‘manufactured’ look, but if you want a material that captures the beauty and disorder of nature, you’ll want to go with stone.

Finally, stone can be cut and shaped into whatever forms you need it. Thus, you’ll be able to build your steps according to your own specifications. If you do like regularity, of course, you can by stone pavers that work much like their brick and concrete brethren. However, if you want a more free form and ‘natural’ looking staircase, as if it were already there in the natural world, you can also go with irregular block and slabs of stone.

Designing With Natural Stone

The main variable when it comes to designing a natural stone step, besides the dimensions (i.e. length, width, curves, size of step, thickness, etc.) is the ‘regularity’ of the project. This largely depends on the kind of stone you buy. If you buy stone that is regularly cut, almost slab or paver-like, you’ll get a ‘regular’ looking set of stoops. However, if you buy irregularly shaped stone, stone that seems to have been ripped straight from the ground with little ‘manufacturing,’ you’ll have an irregularly laid step project. There is of course a continuum as well between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular,’ and where your project sits along this continuum depends on your tastes and needs for the project.

While we can’t give you every single stone type that’s out there, we can at least point you in the direction of some popular choices. What may be available to you will depend on what’s available in your local area. Some popular stone types include: sandstone, slate, granite, limestone, chilton, bluestone, cobblestone, flagstone, and much, much more. Certain natural stone suppliers may also have ‘branded’ types of stone that are particular to that company.

Also realize, besides the different kinds of stone out there, that you can also get different kinds of stone colors and textures, even within the same ‘family’ of stones. This is why it’s important to shop around and see sample products in person. Pictures can lie sometimes, despite best efforts, so it’s always good to preview the stone in person to get a better idea of its properties.

Note that you can also get natural stone veneer and tiles that you can use to face old concrete steps and stoops. This is a great way to capture the beauty of natural stone without dealing with the heavy expense that’s usually associated with it.

Natural Stone Steps Cost

The main disadvantage of natural stone, and one that prevents most interested homeowners from pursuing the material, is its cost. Natural stone prices do vary depending on the kind of stone, but you will pay more than other options, regardless of whether you get finely cut natural stone pavers or ‘irregularly shaped’ stone. Even if you get the stone for sale, expect to pay $100 to $200 per step, or more, for materials and installation. The exact number you’ll pay will depend on the contractor you hire as well as other factors in your local environment.

Building Natural Stone Steps

While you can work with natural stone as a DIY paving project if you have the skills, most homeowners will not want to attempt to build natural stone steps themselves. Instead, they should find a contractor who can do this kind of work.

A word of caution. All hardscape projects – patios, driveways, walkways, and the like – have a certain element of ‘artistry’ involved. In other words, a good contractor is not only skilled at doing the work; he also has an eye for the artistic and aesthetic aspects of the project. This is very true when it comes to natural stone steps, as there’s an art to making your steps look ‘natural.’ So when you’re evaluating a contractor for this work, make sure you see samples of previous job’s he’s done to make sure that he will craft something beautiful and according to your expectations. While natural stone can never be boring, it can certainly be laid suboptimally.

If you want to learn more about patio steps, including how to build them yourself, follow this link.

Concrete Paver Steps and Stoops

One great addition to any front or backyard paver installation is paver steps. Many people have a stoop made out of poured concrete, brick pavers, or other materials, and may want something different. This is particularly the case if the existing installation is in poor condition, or if they are replacing a walkway or patio with concrete pavers. The same concrete pavers, with the addition of coping, can be used on walkways, driveways, and patios as on the steps. This affords the homeowner many opportunities for design given the wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of paving stones available. In addition, there are many places besides the entrance to a home that steps can be used. Other applications include entryways for gardens, courtyards, patios, and pool decks.

Concrete, brick, and natural stone pavers can all be used to create the paver stoop. Each has its own particular look, but all are strong and quite suitable for the job. The only major difference is price – concrete pavers are the least expensive, followed by brick and then natural stone steps. One way to get the look of expensive natural stone without having to use the entire brick is to use a stone veneer or thin tiles. These tiles will cover the surface of the stoop without being the thickness of normal pavers.

The Benefits of Paver Steps

Using paving stones for steps is very advantageous for many of the same reasons as for any project. Four will be highlighted here: first, pavers are slip resistant, which is important for people climbing up and down steps. Second, they are durable, and will withstand years of traffic and weather. Third, the presence of pavers so close to the home is often a unique and desirable addition, increasing the looks, function, and ultimately the value of the home. Fourth, pavers, or even thin pavers over concrete, are very beautiful and add a certain amount of class and elegance to the entrance of your home.

There is one minor drawback to installing these pavers – they can be expensive. Certainly not as expensive as natural stone steps, but pavers cost will be expensive nonetheless. However, you will pay for quality if you want it – taking a look at the typical aged concrete stoop will often make you believe this very quickly!

Designing your Paver Stoop

There are some aspects of pavers steps design that are unique to the particular project. When planning your project, you should clearly calculate the width, length, and height of your steps. Remember when building steps with pavers that safety is paramount, and steps should neither be too narrow nor too high. The dimensions of your steps will be important when you select the pattern of pavers that for your stoop. You will want to select a pattern that can be successfully used on the steps of the particular dimensions you’ve chosen. Some good patterns for stoops include the running bond pattern and irregular pattern. Circle kits are usually not acceptable because the area is too small.

Stoops can be installed at any entrance of your home, either front, back, or side. They can be installed in concert with a patio, walkway, pool deck, or other project. Note that steps and stoops can also be constructed throughout your yard wherever there may be a significant change in elevation that a simple paver path cannot handle alone. For instance, you can build patio steps to connect your patio to another part of your yard.

Note that the structure underneath does not have to be made from poured concrete – other options to exist, such as retaining wall pavers, concrete blocks, and more. Consult with a contractor to find the best available options for your project.

Installing Paver Steps

Unlike some outdoor pavers projects, stoops are generally not great candidates for DIY paving work. They can be complicated to install, especially if a concrete foundation needs to be formed and poured first.

Still, a minor stoop replacement may be doable as long as the job isn’t overly complex. The main steps of installing a new paver veneered stoop is to first grind down the concrete surface so that it flat and even. Then, new trenches must be excavated if new steps or risers are to be added to the existing structure.

Here are some additional tips: first, your approach will depend on what stoop already exists. It is possible to veneer steps rather than build one from scratch. If you do decide to follow this method, make sure that the heights of the bricks won’t be different, as you’ll want to make sure that the step from the home to the stoop isn’t too high, or that the paving stones don’t stick up higher than the entrance, creating a tripping hazard! An amazing guide to installing your own paver steps can be found here.

Finally, you may have to add accessories to your steps, like a hand rail, if they are very steep. When you ask someone how to build steps with pavers, also ask where you can obtain these rails.

In most cases, though, you’ll want to hire a contractor to do the work for you. This is especially true if the stoop is high or contain many steps. Since people will be walking up and down these steps, you want to make sure they don’t present a tripping hazard – better to be safe than  sorry.