When deciding to use brick veneer on steps, first, understand the definition of veneer as it pertains to brick. For most building materials, such as wood, veneer refers to a thin layer attached to some form of base material. But even full sized brick can work as a veneer. Basically, the word "veneer" distinguishes brick used as a facade attached to a frame. Veneer bricks are not load bearing, unlike a brick wall that carries weight and has no other frame.
Veneer Brick Pavers on Solid Steps
Use brick pavers and tiles to cover steps that are built with relatively stable, solid materials such as concrete or block. You typically install them using mortar to adhere the bricks to the steps with a finer grout, or mortar, in between tiles. The type of tiles, pavers or brick veneer used in this application are specially formulated for walkways. They are denser and harder than many brick veneer products. Generally this type of brick veneer sells under the name "paver" rather than "veneer."
You can apply a veneer of brick to your solid concrete or block steps. But, as it turns out, the products labeled as "veneer" may not be the best brick for the job.
Applying brick pavers to steps constructed with traditional lumber framing is not a good approach. While well-built wooden steps can last for generations, their tendency to shift and settle makes veneering more difficult. As the steps settle, cracks in the mortar between brick become common and require frequent repairs.
Brick Veneer versus Solid Bricks
Brick veneer is not always the ideal product to use for covering steps. While it has all of the visual characteristics of a brick, it is typically lighter and more fragile. You can use brick veneers on the fronts of steps, in a non-load bearing capacity, giving the appearance of brick. But you might rather use a product designed to withstand foot traffic on the tops, or treads, of your steps.
Your option then is to replace existing steps with solid brick steps. Generally, you build this type of step on top of an existing concrete base, or one that is poured for the purpose. Solid brick steps give the desired effect, provide solid permanent access and require less maintenance than brick pavers, or other veneering methods.