How to Build Porch Steps From Landscape Blocks

A porch without steps is like a house without a door. Create an attractive, durable and welcoming entryway to a porch by erecting stairs with stacked, tiered and mortared landscaping blocks. Typically installed to build retaining walls, landscaping blocks are ideal for creating stairs, as they are designed for vertical arrangements. For the novice, landscaping blocks also allows the home builder to bypass the many steps involved with pouring concrete steps, such as building forms and pouring cement.

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Step 1

Measure the height of the porch and divide that measurement by the height of the landscape blocks to find how many steps are necessary. Multiply the total number of steps by the depth of the landscape blocks to find out how far out from the porch the steps will extend. Plan the width of the stairs to be at least 2 blocks wide for comfortable treading.

Step 2

Dig a hole in the ground where the steps will go. Dig the hole slightly larger than the determined overall depth and width of the steps. Make the hole 6 inches deep. Level and compact the bottom of the hole with a hand tamper.

Step 3

Fill the bottom of the hole with 3 inches of gravel and tamp the gravel. Place a board with a level on top of the gravel to ensure an even bed.

Step 4

Make the mortar. Combine 3 parts sand, 1 1/2 parts cement and 1 part lime in a wheelbarrow or a bucket. Lime will add plasticity and strength to the mortar. Gradually add water until a thick, pastelike consistency is created.

Step 5

Cover the gravel layer with a 3-inch layer of mortar, spreading the mortar with a trowel.

Step 6

Set the first course for blocks into the mortar. Spread 3/8-inch layers of mortar between the blocks. Tamp blocks gently with a rubber mallet to help them settle and lay a level over the top to check evenness.

Step 7

Spread a 3/8-inch layer of mortar on top of the first course, stopping just before the front row of blocks. Lay the second course of blocks, subtracting one row of blocks from the front to create the first step. Add 3/8-inch layers of mortar between blocks. Continue upward until the last course is achieved.

Step 8

Smooth down all exposed mortar joints by running the end of a wood dowel or a jointer tool down their lengths.

Step 9

Cover the steps in plastic sheeting, and mist the stairs occasionally with water for at least three days to ensure that the mortar dries gradually and without cracking.


Mason Howard

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.