Deck steps are typically the last stage in the deck building process. During this phase, step building includes securing the steps to the ground. You have a few choices for attaching them safely. The method we explore in this blog uses a concrete pad to create a landing. Follow these helpful tips and advice to successfully build a concrete pad.
A Concrete pad can be as thin as 1-2 inches thick. However, keep in mind thinner pads crack easier in freezing weather. We recommend building a slab that is 4-6 inches thick. You’ll also have measure the span of the steps from the first step to the bottom. This measurement needs to be accurate so that the steps line up perfectly with the concrete once set. Also, consider weather. Even though concrete feels hard after a few hours, it actually takes at least a week to completely dry. Make sure you plan the project on days with warm, dry forecasts.
The first step involves preparing the ground. Topsoil should be excavated. Next, build a frame with four 2×4” boards. Make sure the frame is set in place level. The frame creates the outline, or form for the concrete pad. Wooden forms work as temporary guidelines. The form gets removed later. You can assemble it by nailing the corners together. Once your frame is in place, mix the concrete and get started.
Building the Concrete Pad
Pour the mixed concrete into the form. As a helpful tip, mix the concrete at the right consistency for best results. Make the mixture wet enough to work with, but not liquidy. The next step is leveling out the concrete. Use a screed board to smooth out the top of the concrete until it’s level. Your screed board needs to be as wide as the frame. It’s important that it span across the entire pad. Drag the screed board back and forth until the concrete is even. Take your time when you screed the surface. Next, smooth out the concrete by using a float. Floats come in wood, steel and magnesium. Scrape across the pad lightly in an arcing motion. Continue smoothing the surface until it is no longer wet. When the concrete starts to dry, lighting drag a broom across the entire pad. This creates a nonslip surface.After the area is smooth and brushed, use a mason’s trowel to separate the concrete from the frame. Wedge the tip of the trowel between the concrete and the form. Then, work your way around the form, slicing about 2 inches deep. After you create the separation, take your edger and round off the corners. Sharp corners chip faster than rounded corners. Lastly, insert the two anchor bolts into the prepared concrete. Give your pad at least a full day to dry. After 24 hours, remove the forms. As a reminder, the pad is not yet completely dry yet. Give it a full week before standing on the pad.Attach the post anchors to the bolts. Both the posts and the stringers screw into the post anchors to secure the steps to your concrete pad.For more on this topic, check out Importance of Building Strong Deck Steps