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How to Build Bluestone Steps

Flora Richards-Gustafson

A variety of sandstone, bluestone comes from quarries in the eastern regions of North America. Homeowners often use bluestone because it provides a generally smooth surface for steps, entryways and patios. When you install complete bluestone steps, you must construct it on a concrete footer that is below the frost line to create steps that will last a lifetime. On the other hand, you can use bluestone as a tread on segmental retaining wall risers to create steps or as a veneer over concrete steps to save money.

  1. Measure the size and shape of the area where you want to lay the steps. Determine the height of your steps and tread length. Use these measurements to purchase the appropriate amount of materials. Bear in mind that different brands of materials vary by size and quantity.

  2. Select bluestones that are all the same thickness.

  3. Use the sledgehammer and shovel to remove the existing materials in the area where you want to install the steps.

  4. Excavate at least 14 inches of dirt in the area where you will build the steps. Use the dirt compactor to even out the soil and the level to ensure accuracy.

  5. Use the stakes and mason lines to indicate the level of the base of the stairs and the height of each step with the assistance of the tape measure and level.

  6. Cover the excavated hole and its sides with stabilization fabric.

  7. Add 3 inches of gravel to the bottom of the excavated hole, followed by a layer of wall stones. Lay the wall stones evenly, side-by-side. Add the remaining 3 inches of gravel over and around the wall stones and compact.

  8. Add 1 inch of coarse sand evenly over the gravel and wall stones.

  9. Place another layer of wall stones over the sand. However, fill the area where the top landing will eventually be with gravel. You will gradually fill this area with gravel as you build the steps.

  10. Fill the holes of the wall stones with gravel, compact and place wall stones to form the next tier of steps. Fill the area where the top landing will eventually be with gravel. Continue this process until you reach the desired amount of steps.

  11. Place mortar over the exposed wall stones and cap them with the bluestone treads. Use the level to make sure you installed the bluestone evenly. Place mortar between the gaps in the bluestone, as well, wiping away the excess.

  12. Evenly cover the top wall stones in the landing area, including the exposed gravel, with mortar. Cap the wall stones with the bluestone treads. Fill in the gaps between the bluestone with mortar and clear the excess.