Building steps with stone ??


I have some very basic questions about building outside steps, using stone materials, either river rock or some type of slab stone.
These steps would be about 18 feet long, with a rise of approx 10 feet. These are very approx figures, and are included just to give a perspective of what I am planning.
I live in a mountain area where the frost-freeze level, in the worst of times, can go down nearly three feet.
How does one go about building steps like this ? Does each and every step point have to have a three foot footer ?? This would seem to be such work and expense that I can't see anyone building a set of steps like this.
For most steps made out of stone, do people normally building concrete forms first, and then lay the stone on that ??
I know these are green questions, but I would appreciate some basic information on these points please .
Thanks for any input and direction !!
--James--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

In places where the ground moves I see folks using big hunks of rubble stone so it can jostle around and still stay put. The problem with that is you either need some fairly regularly shaped stone or you need stone mason skills.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It depends on how much work and money you want to spend now, how much effort you want to put into maintenance later, and how regular you want the steps to be. Also how much of a hurry you're in, and how steep a slope you're looking at. And whether you have to meet code.
If all you want is an easy way to get up and down the slope without tearing it up and turning it into a rapidly eroding gully, then one technique would be to dump a couple truckloads of mixed rubble rock on the slope, and let it settle for a year or two, and then go back and shift just enough rock to make steps. If you don't have a lot of water running down the slope, you can skip this part, and set your steps in regular dirt.
Anchor the bottom with a big chunk of rock that won't move on you as a landing, and build up the rest of the steps with about 1/3rd of each step resting on the back of the one below, with rubble shoved underneath to level them. Use rocks that are at least 2' long, 3" thick, and have at least 1 flat face that's twice as big as your foot. MOST of each step should be anchored in the slope, not on the step below. Run the stairway diagonally to get the slope you want. I recommend as shallow as you can manage, around, 30% grade, even if that means digging in a switchback.
What you're really doing isn't so much making stairs as making a path, and paving it. It only looks like stairs because you're setting each paving stone level, overlapping the one below, instead of trying for a continuous slope.
There will usually be steps that rock a little bit, and you'll end up going back every few years and re-setting some of the steps. After a while the thing will stabilize and you'll get better at it, and there will be less maintenance.
If you're after something that's more like formal stairs, with a railing, 7" risers, and 10" treads, then yeah, I think you'll need to excavate out to below the frostline, and either pour concrete or build a masonry foundation. It would be easier at that point to put in concrete pillars, and build wooden steps down those.
--Goedjn
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.