In this guide you will learn how to veneer existing concrete steps with pavers. In this example, a new step was also added to permit access from two sides. Although interlocking concrete paving stones are shown in this example, clay brick pavers could be used for the same purpose. No special tools, other than normal paver installation equipment, are needed. By following the instructions carefully, you can easily convert unsightly concrete steps into a bright new entranceway that matches a new paving stone walkway or driveway!
Preparing old concrete step for veneer
Remove old railing if necessary, grind off high spots, ragged edges and uneven concrete bulges with masonry wheel grinder. After cleaning entire surface with PAVE TECH 's Paver Prep acid cleaner, thoroughly rinse and let dry.
Preparation for new step to be added
Excavate 6" to 12" deep in the area where new step is to be added. First compact subsoil, then lay down geotextile fabric if extremely poor soil. Fill and compact 3/4" minus crushed aggregate in this area to a level, that when new step construction is done, the height of all materials used in the new step construction equal the same height as the finished elevation of the existing step (7'' to 7- 1/4" riser is preferred). Mix damp sand with small amount of portland cement and trowel a thin (1/4") layer on top of this compacted new base to establish a smooth, even bedding course. Cut riser units from masonry retaining wall blocks or concrete masonry blocks to fit. Note: there are several types of masonry retaining wall units available for such use as well as split face or textured, colored concrete masonry blocks.
Adding new step risers
Lay out and set in place all riser units to be used as new steps, including corner units (cut to fit, if necessary). Average tread depth is 11-1/2' to 12". Install units using PAVE TECH'S Masonry Adhesives between all units and also on the back surface if it is in contact with existing concrete steps. Tamp new units to match elevation of existing steps when necessary. If retaining wall units have pre-drilled holes, pound spikes into base to hold units in position. Drill new holes if necessary and anchor as above. Check to see that entire new step is level and square to the existing structure.
Veneering riser units on existing steps
Cut 2" thick face shells off of matching riser units for veneering existing concrete steps. Note: these will be the same type of masonry units as used for new step risers. Miter corner pieces and start veneering riser areas using PAVE TECH'S masonry adhesives in-between and on the backs of all units, making sure all riser units are level with the top of any adjoining steps. Continue veneering the risers
PAVE TECH'S Masonry Adhesives are ideal to glue masonry units to each other or to concrete steps. It remains permanently flexible under all temperatures and stretches up to 6 times its cured size without losing bond. Initial set time varies with temperature (normally 24 hours in 70ºF temperatures, up to 72 hours in colder temperatures). Use Shimz to hold vertical veneer pieces in place until initial set is established. This does not mean that steps are ready for traffic yet.
Preparation of border (tread) units
Select pavers for border, inspecting bottoms and edges of pavers for burrs and loose material. Pavers should be flat and true, and must be of absolute uniform thickness. Cut pavers at 45º angle for corners using a 3/8" average overhang as standard.
Laying border (tread) units
Layout corner (mitered) pavers and several regular border pavers (dry) starting at the most visible corner, maintaining a 3/8" average overhang. Using a marker and straight edge, draw lines as a guide for laying these border units chalk lines are also helpful to maintain straight lines. Starting at the corner, glue the mitered pavers, then the balance of pavers, using no more than a 1/4" bead of PAVE TECH'S Masonry Adhesives in an "s" shaped pattern on the bottom of each paving stone. On border units, it is recommended that all sides of pavers also be glued. Stay 1" to 2" away from any exposed//leading edge with adhesive.
Continue laying border units
Complete gluing of all border pavers from corner to corner, cutting only when necessary to fit and always at the least noticeable area. Maintain a level height by using small wedges or a few grains of sand to keep units true and level, using a wooden or rubber mallet to tap and set pavers.
Laying pavers on top step behind border
Start interior paver pattern with factory edge pavers, if available. Work from a front, most visible corner. It is not always necessary to glue in pavers laid behind the first two "locked in" (glued) borders. Cut pavers where necessary to maintain a tight, accurate fit. Check regularly for even height of pavers, check finished surface with a level.
Laying of remaining steps
Start on the next step down by cutting mitered corner units for the border. Try to maintain bond lines with the top step. Follow the same procedures for laying border and step units. Remember to check for straight and true lines,evenness of height, straightness of edges, and the 3/8" average overhang as recommended above. After PAVE TECH'S Masonry Adhesives are thoroughly dry spread dry sand over the top of pavers and sweep into all cracks and crevices in-between and in back of pavers and risers. It is sometimes helpful to tap the pavers with a mallet to help settle the sand.
Veneering existing steps with thin-cut pavers
In some cases, the threshold of an existing house door at the entranceway prevents the use of full thickness pavers to veneer existing steps. When this occurs, the owner need not forego plans to "tie in" the existing concrete step with new paving stone walkways, etc. By following the steps below, a "thin-cut" veneer can integrate the old step into an attractive match with the new look! Some manufacturers today offer 1" thick pavers for these applications but size, shape and color is limited.
Determine clearance and cut pavers
When the necessary thickness of pavers has been determined, they should be sliced (thin-cut) on a diamond masonry saw for use on all flat areas of the steps. Remember to always cut pavers as thick as possible. Full thickness pavers will be used to veneer all vertical riser areas and lower treads.
Preparing old step for veneer
Follow same procedure for preparing old step, smooth out uneven concrete surfaces and clean the concrete step as described.
Layout of step pattern
Carefully lay out border pattern around perimeter of top step. Note: in this example, a single soldier course of hollandstone pavers was used. Include the added thickness of full size pavers used as the vertical surface veneer in your allowance for the border. Snap a chalk line and mark with a permanent ink marker. It is always advisable to lay out the pattern "dry" to see how it will look before proceeding.
Veneering riser areas with full thickness pavers
Veneering risers (the face of the steps) should be done before any gluing of thin-cut pavers is started. Using PAVE TECH'S Masonry Adhesives, glue full size pavers onto vertical surfaces, making sure that top pavers are level with the top of the step. Use Shimz and extra pavers to hold this veneer in place until initial set takes place.
Gluing thin-cut pavers at border
Starting next to the house, use PAVE TECH'S Masonry Adhesive to glue the thin-cut border soldier course across the back width of the step. Using less than a 1/4" bead of adhesive, spread in an "s" shaped gluing pattern on the pavers is recommended. Keep adhesive 3/4' - 1" distance away from any edge.
Laying paver units in center portion behind border
Next, glue in center portion (inside marked border line) pavers in the pattern and type chosen. In this example, hollandstone pavers (same color as border pavers) were laid in a herringbone pattern. Cut pavers where necessary to maintain symmetry. Check often with level to stay "on the bubble" and keep lines straight and true.
Gluing balance of border
Continue gluing the thin-cut border pavers around all edges, either mitering the corner pieces or laying a straight soldier pattern at the corners. Do not attempt to glue sides of thin-cut pavers; use less than a 1/4"of PAVE TECH'S Masonry Adhesive on the bottoms only as recommended above.
Finishing the job
Continue veneering all steps using same layout, veneering, thin-cut border and pattern gluing procedures, as described above. It is still necessary to spread sand in the cracks and crevices of a veneered step project where thin-cut pavers have been glued.
1. Surface preparation: surfaces should be structurally sound and free of dirt, oil, release agents and other residues. Do not apply types 1 or 2 to damp or wet surfaces.
2. Application: apply when surface temperature is between 35ºF and 120ºF surfaces should not be below freezing.
3. Tooling: exposed beads may be tooled by dipping finger in soapy water. Let finger "float" lightly over the lumps to smooth the bead out.
4. Repair: repair of previously applied material may be done at any time. Newly applied pave tech adhesive will actually weld itself to the previously applies material.
5. Sealing: must cure 30 days before applying any sealer; otherwise the surface will remain tacky for two weeks or more, depending on temperature.
6. Cleaning: surfaces, tools and hands may be cleaned with pave tech's cleaning solvent, orange-based cleaners, mineral spirits, or paint thinner. (if using mineral spirits or paint thinner, be sure to wash your hands with soap to remove residual cleaning solvent.
7. Storage: if there is product left over when finished, wrap the entire nozzle in saran plastic wrap. (note: polyethylene wraps will not keep the adhesives from curing in the nozzle. Saran plastic wrap works best.)