View Full Version : Concrete Step Help?

Dick Strauss
09-12-2007, 6:01 PM
Here's the situation...

I need to put a new step in that measures 108"x14"x6". The form for the step is three sided since the back of the step will be against the porch. The new step will be placed over a freshly sealed year old asphalt driveway. The local concrete guys don't want to mess with that small of a job. I've been putting this off but need to get this completed in the next few days.

Question #1 - How do I keep the form from moving without harming the driveway (if possible)? I thought about putting small nails into the 2x8 frame and clipping the heads off. That way I can push or pound it into the driveway to keep it from moving. Is there a better way?

Question #2 - How do I keep the concrete from oozing out of the form around the bottom and across the back? I thought about using masking tape or duct tape to form an L-shaped piece. The tape would attach to the inside of the form and the asphalt inside the form. Some of the tape would be left behind under the step once completed. Is there a better way to do this?

Thanks in advance,

Eric Gustafson
09-12-2007, 6:24 PM
Here are some suggestions:

Anchor the form with sand bags laid against the form holding it to the wall. I liked the nail idea too. Or you could hammer a stake from the inside of the form. What you don't see isn't there, right? ;)

To keep the concrete from oozing out, put foam weatherstrip on the bottom of the form. Good luck!

Mark Hubler
09-12-2007, 6:43 PM
I would build a 6" tall form using a strip of 1/2" ply and a 2x6 (5 1/2"). The form would be attached to the asphalt with a few 16p double headed nails (pre drill the holes first), through the plywood. The plywood also helps make the form stiffer. To make a tight seal against the existing surfaces, I would use some foam tape - thickness depending on how rough the surface is, foam rod can use be used, Home Depot carries both. I would keep the concrete mix as stiff as possible; not too much water.

For professional installed work, the forms are stripped after a couple of hours and the exposed vertical surfaces are finished - a stiff broom works great for this.

You might consider doweling into the existing concrete so the step does not move. I would also recommend into a #4 rebar down the center of the step; this makes a big difference in strength. You may also think about putting a little bit of "lamp black" concrete color so that the step is not too "white".

David G Baker
09-12-2007, 8:54 PM
I don't know if they are available in your area but in Mid Michigan you can purchase pre-cast concrete steps. No muss or fuss except finding a way to haul them home, unload them and set them in place.

Matt Meiser
09-12-2007, 9:05 PM
Milan Vault, just north of Dundee on Ann Arbor Rd (just to make things confusing) makes the precast variety. There's another place in Toledo that I've heard ads on the radio for, but their name escapes me. However that is pretty long and probably difficult to haul even if they can make it. On top of that you'd have to worry about leveling it.

If it were me, I'd probably put some rebar vertically into the driveway in the middle just to keep it from moving around. You could probaby tie your forms off to that with some wire or something else that you could just leave in the concrete forever. Another option would be to run some 2x4's across the driveway to lock the form against the wall.

David Micalizzi
09-12-2007, 11:07 PM
Here is how I would handle this situation. You donít say what the porch is made of so Iím assuming it is block or concrete. You can attach a 2 x 4 to the porch vertically at both ends of the proposed step outside of where your form will sit with two 16 common double head concrete form nails. These are typical called duplex nails and are used to nail dimension lumber together for forming concrete. The double head makes them easy to remove when striping the forms. You can get them at any home center. Then nail or screw your form to the 2 x 4. I do this all the time and fasten forms to concrete and block.

Here is how you can nail in block and concrete the same as if it is wood. Hold your material to the wall in the spot you want it. Then take a hammer drill with a 3/16Ē masonry bit and drill through the 2 x 4 and in to the block or concrete deep enough to sink a 16 double head nail to the first head deeper is better. If you are going to fasten to block the web works best but any place will do. Now with the material still in place stick two pieces of mechanics wire a little longer then the nail into the hole you just drilled. This is the same wire used to tie rebar together. Make sure the wire is long enough to stick out of the hole a little bit. You can bend the ends over then drive a double head form nail into the hole and fasten the wood. It is amazing how strong this attachment is. It can easily be removed later because of the double head.

It is important to use a 3/16Ē bit and a common size 16 nail because what you are doing is wedging the nail in the concrete hole you just drilled. The wire makes it just snug enough to hold very well. It will also work in asphalt but the bond is not as strong as in concrete. I would not worry about the concrete leaking out of your form if you attach it as I have directed. If there are highs and lows in the pavement you could place a piece of ĹĒ foam or backer rod under your form and this will fill in the gaps, then nail a 2 x 4 down to the asphalt the same way with the wire and the 16 common duplex nail. Then attach your form to the 2 x 4.

If you mix your concrete a little stiff it should not leak out of the form. Also, you do not want to add to much water to the concrete when you are mixing because this is what causes shrinking and cracking. I often hear people talking about pouring concrete really concrete that is done correctly is placed not poured, something that is poured is a liquid. You donít want to water down concrete to the point that it just runs all over the place. I would put two #4 rebar in the form length wise as well for strength. If you donít have a hammer drill you could rent one or borrow one from someone. Hope this helps.


Dick Strauss
09-13-2007, 7:42 PM
Thanks for all of the suggestions and help! I love this place!

David B and Matt,
Thanks for the suggestions but I already checked that route. Precast won't work because...
1. the slope of the driveway will leave a gap at the back of the step allowing leaves and ice buildup to form behind.
2. their is a rolled raised edge at the driveway/porch interface so the precast piece won't be evenly supported
3. No precast steps are 6" in this area (unless custom $$$$)

Here is where I stand...

All form boards have been scribed and cut to match the contour of the driveway while giving a 1/4-5/16" drop over the 14" width. The old brick fascia behind the step has a skim coat of cement (the bricks were severely cracked). I have some D-channel weather stripping that I planned to use on the bottom of the form to seal it to the asphalt (the D-channel will compress to ~1/16"). There is no way to properly anchor the form to the remaining brick fascia on the right side of the porch without destroying the mortar or bricks. On the left end I left the form board long (to wrap around the porch corner into the flowerbed) and have a stake and wedge made to hold the form in place. I have lots of weight on the frame corners and around the frame including brick, logs, etc. I marked the frame outline on the driveway with chalk so that I know if it shifts. I have two 1/2" pieces of rebar that run lengthwise to within 4" of each end. I also have four rebar support hangers (risers?) as well as (4) 10" rebar pieces wired across the long ones width wise to keep the rebar in place during the pour.

Am I forgetting anything before the big day tomorrow???

Thanks again,

Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 8:18 PM
Am I forgetting anything before the big day tomorrow???

Wear old clothes and shoes... ;) DAMHIKT! :)

Matt Meiser
09-13-2007, 8:37 PM
Better go to Harbor Freight and buy a cheap tarp too:

7-Day Forecast for Latitude 41.91N and Longitude -83.56W (Elev. 640 ft) (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Ida&state=MI&site=DTX&textField1=41.9104&textField2=-83.574)

At least the chance of thunderstorms is going down, but Murphy is not your friend.

Dick Strauss
09-14-2007, 8:41 PM
The step is poured and roughed up a bit (broom finished). I mixed the concrete right next to the form on the tarps figuring I'd spill less that way. I also sealed the tarps to the form and the driveway with lots of masking tape.

Tomorrow I'll remove the form and probably apply a thin coat of cement to cover the voids and give it a nice look.

Got it covered! Right now I've got plenty of disposable clothes.

I use old shower curtains for tarps. I had 3 or 4 curtains folded in a bag for just such a situation. I also used some 6 mil poly I had folded in the same bag. Old plastic table cloths from family picnics also work well if doubled.

Thanks for all of your help!!!