Concrete Steps are Done - Thanks Everyone


I posted a few weeks back.
I had a redwood deck/steps leading to my front door and I was tired of having to treat it every summer.
It was all ripped out, and new concrete was poured and the job was finished on Saturday. I am very, very pleased with the results.
Now, I have one more question.
I am going to have someone install a powder coated aluminum railing and handrail. How long do I have to wait to bolt this new railing into the newly poured concrete? I just don't want to crack it.
Many thanks again.
Kate
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If you use Tapcons, Redheads or any stress anchored devices, the concrete must cure for months. The neat approach is to bore holes for the fasteners and use the commercial epoxy made for that purpose to anchor the bolts in place (stainless steel preferred). Contractors routinely do that on even fairly fresh concrete with good effect. With bolts in place the railing can be installed the next day.
Joe
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Joe wrote:

Thank you Joe.
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I know this isn't what you want to hear, but ...........
If they were mine, I'd wait until warm spring. The concrete will be cured. Where you put the holes has a lot to do with it, too. If you put them in from the side into the "meat" of the steps, you can get more strength. If you put them within 4" of an edge, there will be a tendency to crack off. Plan the mounts so the holes that need to be drilled are at least 6-8" or more from the edges. You're going to cry if you crack off a corner of your new steps.
Another way would be to core drill holes (about the size of a can of beans.) and then mount the pipes in them. Trouble with those is that they tend to rust/corrode at the base if you're in cold or wet country. Plus, it will cost you a decent amount to rent a core drill. No big project, and it gives nice results, but ..........
Why aluminum?
Steve, an ex steel erection contractor, who has done a lot of step mounts.
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SteveB wrote:

Aluminum is very popular where I live (Central WA State). It is maintenance free which is what I am looking for.
After drilling four holes for each post, it looks like the screws would have to be drilled in about 2-1/2 inches from the edge of the steps. This does not sound good after reading your comments.
I have two steps, and the railing is small, only 8'long. The left end will mount into the side wall of my home, and that leaves two posts to mount into the concrete.
The guys who did my concrete told me I could install the railing in a week.
Now I am getting mixed reviews, but this is why I posted in the first place.
I need to rethink this.
Many thanks. Great info.
Kate
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Three things: the longer you let it cure, the better. The closer to the edge you drill, the worse. If a corner does come off, it's usually an UGLY PERMANENT WEAK fix.
Steve
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Kate-
I've been following this thread and imo most of the suggestions / advice has been good. Steve B's comments about cracking the concrete are "spot on".
The truth is, concrete cracks (nearly all the time). The key is getting the cracks to form where they don't matter and NOT where they'd be a problem.
The core drilling & set with anchoring cement or epoxy is a very strong method. But setting aluminum directly into cementious materials can cause a corrosion problem.
If your railing is lightly loaded, not a high traffic / high usage application you'll probably be fine.
As Joe mentioned "stress anchored devices" (aks mechanical / wedge anchors) can cause the concrete to crack upon their installation. Small diameter holes (1/4" to 3/8"; maybe 1/2" ) can be drilled fairly close to the edge of the concrete. Your 2 1/2" edge distance is probably ok but young concrete can be a problem esp if the holes are drilled with a large rotary hammer.
If they were my steps. I would go with Steve B's core drill, set a steel pipe stub & slide the alumimum post over them.
If I were continuing with your contractors design, I'd wait at least 28 days, drill with a small (light hammer blows) rotary hammer & set stainless steel bolts using either SIKA Sikadur AnchorFix #1 (super fast set) or AnchorFix #3 (slow set).
Remember, if your contractor was the low bidder (?), he costed in "fast & cheap" to win the job .......potentially not in your long term interest
Bob 35 years mechanical engineering ( within that; 17 years structural research - concrete & timber)
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Using a small diamond drill would have zero impact. I've even used a small carbide hole saw in old concrete and had good results, although not as fast as a diamond type.

Joe
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Yes ....... a fast set epoxy did fail in the Boston "Big Dig" "tunnel" disaster
BUT that was with Boston workmanship & Boston inspection.....plus its a much different application than Kate's railing anchoring
cheers Bob
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fftt wrote:

Wasn't that the method used to hold up the ceiling of the Boston 'Big Dig' tunnels?
If you don't drive up and down the steps, you should be fine.
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fftt wrote:

Thank you Bob. I will print out your great info. for the guy doing the railing job for me.
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My neighbor didn't want to drill into his new concrete stoop so he mounted his railings along side it. His was a flat stoop, only one step up, but his method could be adapted for more steps.
I know you said aluminum, but bear with me, maybe this will give you some ideas.
For each side he used two 8' PT 4 x 4's, built a "picture frame" in the top 32" inches into which he mounted wrought iron spindles.
He then dug 2 post holes and buried the 4 x 4's deep enough so that the decorative part of the railing was the correct height. (We have to worry about 42" frost lines around here.) He buried the posts right along side the concrete steps so that there is no gap between the bottom of the railing and the stoop.
I don't know how well this side-view ascii art will come out, but I'll take a shot. The w's are wrought iron spindles - I think he actually has 5 or 6 - the dashes and uprights are stained PT wood and the s's is the stoop.. I know this looks plain, but he did a real nice job trimming it out and it looks great.
------------- | w w | | w w | <- Railing ------------- |sssssss| <- Stoop | | | | <- Underground | | | |
For your steps, you could add an angled "picture frame" and a third post for the step portion.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Thanks for taking the time to map all of this out for me. I printed it our for the man who will be helping me with the railing. I like the fact that it is mounted on the side of the steps.
Appreciate your time and help.
Kate
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On Sun 13 Sep 2009 11:41:08p, Kate told us...

I missed your earlier posts and would be very interested in how you constructed your concrete steps.
TIA
--
Wayne Boatwright
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