Rebuilding Front Stoop With Pavers

I would like to go from this:
http://img829.imageshack.us/img829/2252/3046.jpg
to something like this:
http://images01.olx.com/ui/9/71/99/t_1290217636_139676299_5.jpg
The upper slab is in great shape, but the smaller slab on the step is cracked and the 1950's brick facing in deteriorating.
The steps from the walkway and then up to the top slab both have a 7 1/4" rise. The step into the house has a 9" rise.
Feel free to tear this plan apart if need be:
1 - Remove the lower step, but leave the main stoop in place 2 - Reface the main stoop on three sides with landscaping blocks, ending 3 3/8" higher than the existing slab. 3 - Place sand and pavers on top of the existing stoop, reducing the rise up to the threshold to about 5 1/2".
Existing 9" rise minus (1" sand + 2 3/8" pavers) = 5 5/8" rise to the threshold.
4 - Build 2 steps (blocks and pavers or caps) with a rise of about 6" each to reach the upper level. That's one more step than I have now, to compensate for the higher stoop.
Note: The other part of the plan is to remove the bushes on both sides of the stoop and use matching landscaping blocks to build raised planters across the front of the house. The dimensions of the planters will be dependent on the design of the stoop, so I've need to know if my stoop plan make sense first.
Any suggestions (including other design ideas) are most welcome.
Thanks!
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On Sun, 17 Apr 2011 08:04:52 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

Pavers on steps and porches should be mortared in, not set in sand, Other than that I think this could work. They do make 2 thicknesses in most styles, thick ones for the sand bed, thin for mudding in.
I just finished the pavers on the last wall around my pool deck (yup I put pavers on the wall). It was just because I ended up with thousands of them. It is actually an interesting look, sort of a 3d world adobe brick kind of thing.
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That's a helluva first step out the front door. You have the right idea to add an additional tread.
As gfret pointed out, stoop pavers should be set in mortar. The only reason to use sand is to save a few bucks and make repairs easier. With a stoop and mortar, the few bucks is a non-factor and the repairs should be minimal if not non-existent.
I'm not a fan of pavers and smaller blocks for treads and anything with a nosing. You probably should investigate the cost of some bluestone treads. The additional weight of a single tread means you'll need help setting it, but it also means that it's far less likely to break loose. The 12x12 paver blocks that are sold for treads rely on the adhesion of the mortar to counteract the uplifting force that occurs when someone steps on the nosing (or rolls a hand truck with a load over it). Over time that tensile force breaks down the bond and the tread blocks loosen up. There's also fewer joints with a single stone tread, and that pretty much eliminates water getting into the joints. If you live in a cold climate, that's death to the tread blocks.
One last caveat - ice melting salt and unit masonry don't play well together.
R
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The 9" step into the house has been there for the entire 25 years I've lived here (and for the 30+ previous years, as far as I know) so it's not the reason I'm raising the stoop.
The facts that the slab on the step is caving in, the brick facing is falling apart and the railing is rusting out are the real reasons.
We've been wanting to pull the bushes out for years and I happened to drive past a house where they have a stoop and planters like I described. I picked up the wife, drove her over to see it and we agreed it was time to do something, especially after what this winter did to the step/bricks.
Thanks for the tips on the treads. Pavers weren't my real desire for the treads but I hadn't thought that far ahead yet. I still working on the overall layout at this point. I may not even use pavers on the stoop, but if I raise it at all, I'll need to compensate for the height via the steps. I'm thinking that the higher I raise it, the easier it will be to get 2 "normal sized" steps instead of just 1 big one.
One of these days the morning temp will start with something higher than a "3" and I'll want to get to work, so it's time to get the plans finalized.
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On Sun, 17 Apr 2011 08:04:52 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

In general I like the idea, because I like the paver look, And it might work for you, if you provide a good foundation for what you add and mortar it in. I'm far from a mason, but it seems to me you might have to anchor the additions to the existing slab. Otherwise I can see the additions separating away from the slab from any ground settling or frost heaving. Mortar easily gives way to lateral movement. But I don't know your location. Another concern I would have is rails. The second picture shows a good drop should anybody trip or fall. I suppose you could attach rails to the additions, but I don't know. Okay, I'll say it. I wouldn't do it. I'd get a new slab poured to the dimensions desired, rails bedded in the slab. And when you add up the costs it might be a wash anyway. You could pave the top and face the sides of the new slab to get the look you're after. Or just pave the top and plant around the sides. BTW, I've got a similar stoop, a bit bigger, and have an expansion in mind. I have an awning over it and will have to get a bigger awning, while you have the overhang to expand under. I can expand about 5 feet left and 3 feet right before I hit a window. Intend to make it more a porch than a stoop. Might pave the top and planter the sides. Thanks for the paver idea. I'll keep that in mind. BTW, I had bushes as you do and pulled them. That's another story.
On one side to replace the bushes I put in a terraced (2-levels) planter from the porch to the side of the house, using landscaping block. No mortar. All the same landscaping block, but I used cheap cinder blocks under the high terrace to get the landscaping blocks to height. Height is dependent on house facing. In my case concrete foundation height under the face brick. I made sure dirt height was an inch lower than the brick, but with eaves and gutters I have about 18 inches of overhang. I've got yellow brick, you've got white shingling. Keep rain splashing up dirt in mind. Worked well, except the high terrace blocks got askew after about seven years, so we had to dig out some dirt to straighten them up, and pack dirt back in. It's nearly all annuals in there anyway.
--Vic
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