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Upgrading existing concrete steps with Brick Veneer
November 18, 2018
Upgrade the exterior and add curb appeal to any building by adding brick veneer to cover your existing steps and patio.
Preparing the Footing for Brick
First, dig out the footing needed for the brick if one is not there already. If you are in a northern climate be sure to dig deep enough for frostline. The footings need to be 8 inches deep and at least 4 inches wider then the masonry wall they will support. If the original footing is in good condition and large enough to use your in luck!
Determine how much spacing you need to allow the brick wall to wrap the concrete. Drive stakes into the dirt they will serve as a guide for the pouring of the footing. You want to finish your brick with the courses of the brick wall even top and bottom.
When the brick you are using are oversized you must be sure to account for this during layout. If not you may finish at a height higher than the existing concrete porch. In masonry it is critical to double triple check before proceeding. Mistakes are better left home.
Spread several inches of crushed rock to the footing to provide and excellent base for the wet concrete. Pour the concrete so that the top finishes flush with the marked stakes. Using pre-mixed concrete is the easy when having to mix by hand. A shovel and wheelbarrow work great for making concrete yourself. If you do want to make your own blend be sure to mix 1 Portland cement to 2 sand to 4 stone or gravel each number being a equal part. Tamper the concrete with a garden come along and rake so that it is even with your mark. Do not smooth your concrete rather leave it rough for better bonding with the brick mortar. If necessary be sure to reinforce the footing by placing a couple of number 5 rebar. They may need to be doweled into existing concrete.
If you are not certain about the condition or age of the home it is probably in your best interest to go forward with having the new concrete footing reinforced with rebar. Check to see what the local building code is in your area. Additionally be sure to not rush the setting of the concrete. Let it cure for at least 24 hours before starting the brickwork.
Determining Brick count
Estimate how many brick will be needed by finding the complete square footage of the brick work. Be certain to multiply length by the height. Now multiply the total square footage of wall by 7 and also you will want to always figure a percentage for waste. To figure the brick count for the top of the steps or whenever the brick are laid in paving position multiply the total square footage by 4 and a half.
Type M or S masonry is suitable for brick masonry. To make type S masonry combine one part cement with 3 parts sand. For type M masonry 2 1/2 parts of sand mixed with 1 part masonry cement. 125 bricks laid should be figured per bag of cement.
Choosing the Right Brick for your job
If you live in an area where the brickwork will be subjected to freezing and thawing its crucial that you buy brick specifically produced for walkways. Check to see that the brick you choose does in fact conform to ASTM C 902(pavers).
Laying the Brick for your step/patio
Your layout lines are everything in masonry especially brick. Be sure to dry bond out your brick and pull a tape measure to ensure your accuracy. Double check yourself by pulling measurements form both directions and determining a center point. Make sure to layout with yours cuts placed in obscure positions.
Chalk out around the steps where the edge of your brick face will be while allowing 4 1/2 inches for the width. Lay out the bricks dry across the back and the front of you steps. Be sure to space the joints of the brick so they are uniform and even. Allow your top paving bricks to hang over on the sides an inch to create a drip edge. Spot brick on your corners and pull a line so you have a guide for your bricks. Continue to lay the brick courses in mortar but stop 2 courses short of the front steps.
The next step is to lay the brick across the front of the porch. Go slow and be sure to fix any needed problems.
We recommend finishing the exposed mortar joints with a barrel striker. This ensures compression of the joint and will help weather seal the joint. However a flush joint may be desired in which case compaction of the joint before finishing the joint is essential. Fill any holes with good mud not yet hard. Once the mortar sets the work can be brushed off which tends to help further smooth the joint.
To allow for expansion the mortar joint against the home Should be void of masonry and backfilled with weather proof caulking.
Constructing the Brick Steps
Now the project is ready for the building of the steps. Be sure to allow a 1/4" of slope on each of your treads. Additionally we will need to allow for a 12" tread which is one and a half brick. Again the front brick on the tread should over hang the riser brick by 5/8" to allow for a drip edge.
If there is a need for additional depth in order for the steps to work out evenly, a concrete block may be used as a base. Be certain the block is below the existing grade mark. To ensure the base of the steps will be solid and not full of voids, fill the hollow cells of the block work with mortar and ssraps of masonry.
Once you have laid several brick on each side of the steps for your guides, begin the remaining fill brick by stretching your mason line across the steps and laying the rowlock brick. Be sure to space the joints again prior to laying ensuring the sizing of the joint. In order for the steps to have a long life and not crack, fill all holes in the joint and be sure to double butter. When laying the brick try to remove the excessive mud without being a smear artist.
Let the brickwork set and cure before cleaning with a mild masonry detergent. The work should be left to sit for at least several days before cleaning. Safety procedures need to be followed when using masonry detergents. It is important not to have the cleaner come in contact with your skin and especially the eyes.