Brick Front Steps- What to do, repair, replace...

squeaky13May 8, 2011

Hi-

I have a predicament here... we have frequent problems with our brick front steps. The problem stems from the fact that we live in Massachusetts, in a NORTH facing home. The bricks NEVER see direct sun.

We have repaired the steps 2x now, and when repairing, both times the contractor said that its a mess underneath (loose sand??) and was afraid that if we really did a heavy duty repair job, the whole thing would fall like a deck of cards.

We do not have a huge budget for repair/replace, we were thinking something that is durable, can handle the frequent icing and storms, and the fact that its north facing (its often a thick sheet of ice in the winter and we have to go out our garage. We would like to eventually put up portico, but its not in the budget at this point.

Would love some suggestions on what to do, and approx budget we should expect. We also have a brick walkway, that is in good condition and we'd like to keep (?) Ideas? Suggestions?? THank you

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WendyB(5A/MA)

My mother had the exact same problem for years and she kept having them repaired. They really became a hazard because eventually they weren't level and even. At least yours don't look like a hazard. Its probably from ice melt on the mortar. Even the low-toxic stuff still eats thru mortar.

How about some type of stone slabs/treads on the horizontal parts and leave brick risers to visually tie into the walkway. blue stone?

Whether or not the entire structure needs to be ripped up or not to do that is beyond me.

After my Mom sold her house, we rode by a year later and saw new steps on the house.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:51PM
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dfaustclancy

We had the same problem. My husband hired a Brazilian team of landscapers to rip out the brick and to add granite slabs with blue stone fronts. Looks fabulous and goes well with the brick walk which we retained. The whole job cost like $1200 and we are thrilled with the result! Go get a few estimates, you will be surprised at what folks are willing to do these days.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 12:44AM
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diggingthedirt

If you're at all handy, you should be able to repair the mortar between the bricks yourself - any hardware store will have the materials, which you can mix in a bucket. If the structure isn't sound, though, it will be a continuous job to keep replacing the mortar.

We had brick steps that were very similar to yours; we eventually replaced them with a wooden structure that has more of a "landing" where you can put down groceries etc while fishing around for the keys. It's not quite a deck, and it's not exactly beautiful, but it's handy and workable. The cost was much less than for a brick entrance, and although I'd eventually like to go back to brick, it's worked out well for us.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 12:47PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

We have a front stoop paved with flagstone that also faces due north. Before we had the entire top redone, we also had horrible problems with ice because the stoop didn't slope the right way. Since we had it redone, so the water just runs off, the ice problem has totally disappeared. I can't tell from the pictures whether or not that is a problem here,
but given the history of the stoop, it sounds like a good possibility.

BTW, what is under mine is normal concrete block, mortared together with an enormous, unnecessarily huge, amount of mortar, at least according to the mason who had to take off a layer to adjust the top.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 1:29PM
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squeaky13

Thank you for your feedback. So its recommended to do a granite? Is blue stone (with grout) going to be a problem?

I do think that there is no slope, and that adds to our woes. We have no portico or overhand, so the icicles just drip right on the front walk way, adding to the mess.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 9:29AM
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