How to Build Paver Steps to Patio

Paver steps have a certain charm that can instantly add a welcoming vibe to your patio. These pavers can come in different shapes and sizes and can be made from ether stone, clay, or cement – giving you enough options to choose from.  

But having a professional to install paver steps for you can cost quite a fortune. Luckily, you can build paver steps on your own with this simple tutorial.

Materials and Tools:

Before we begin with this tutorial, you should make sure that you have all the necessary materials gathered already. This project requires a lot of patience and focus, so having all the things you need at arm’s length will help keep your head in the game. It also saves you a lot of time by keeping you from having to run back and forth to your local hardware store.

Here are the materials and tools you need to build your paver steps:

  • Pavers of your choice, which may either be made of clay, stone, or cement
  • Cement adhesive
  • Polymeric sand
  • Whisk broom
  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Rubber hammer
  • Hoe
  • Hand tamper or plate compactor
  • Landscape fabric
  • Stakes
  • String
  • Hand brush
  • String level
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk or spray paint, or any material you want to use to draw outlines with

Step 1: Plan Your Steps

Before doing anything, you must first have a solid plan for what you want to achieve.

At this point, you probably have already decided what paver material you want to use. But there’s more to planning than just deciding if you want stone, clay, or cement pavers.

The first thing you have to do is to outline where you want your steps to be located. Ordinarily, all you need is a tape measure to help you with assessing the necessary dimensions of your steps. You can then draw a rough outline of its borders using chalk or spray paint.

If your patio rests on a slope, this process can be a little trickier. To make it simpler for you, you can stick two stakes on the highest and lowest points of where you want your steps to be. Then, tie each end of a string to each stake.

With a string level, measure the height difference between stake one and stake two. This will help you determine the height of each step, the number of steps you need, and other similar factors.

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Step 2: Plan Your Retaining Walls

Retaining walls serve as a path where rainwater flows through to avoid causing erosion. That is why having retaining walls is a necessity if you’re building stairs – and this is especially true if you’re building your stairs on a slope.

You can use the plan for your steps as the basis of your retaining wall. Take note of the height difference from the bottom of the first step to the highest point and the width of the entire pathway. You can then choose how thick you want your wall to be, or what materials you want to use for it. Similarly, draw a rough outline based on where your walls are to be located.

For a more uniform appearance, I suggest that you use the same material as what you intend to use for your pavers.

Step 3: Begin Excavating

Now that you already have a solid plan for your paver steps, you can now begin with your excavation.

Based on the plan you originally mapped out, determine the combined area of your steps and its retaining walls. Try to remove as much dirt as you want, but keep in mind that this is where you will lay the base for your steps. Ideally, about seventy percent of the base pavers must be underground.

However, a factor you might want to consider is how strong the foundation is, and this would greatly depend on the soil you have in your patio. If you don’t think your foundation is strong enough, you can dig deeper – probably around eight to twelve inches below ground level – and add gravel as your paver base.

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Step 4: Tamper the Surface

Once you’ve excavated the area, and added gravel as necessary, you can now begin to flatten the surface.

With a hand tamper, push the ground to make sure it’s completely compact. This ensures that you will have a solid foundation for your pavers. In the case of wider areas, you can also use a plate compactor if that would make the job easier for you.

After this layer has tampered, put a layer of landscape fabric over the area and once again place crushed stone or gravel on top of it. Repeat the tampering process on this new layer. This layer will aid with draining water under your steps.

Use a level to make sure that the foundation is evenly flattened.

Step 5: Lay the Base Pavers

Laying the base pavers is probably the trickiest part of building paver steps to your patio. You have to make sure that each block is evenly in place – one uneven base block can completely ruin the rest of the structure.

Begin by mixing the necessary ingredients to create your paver adhesive. We often use a mixture of water, sand, and cement to create this adhesive.

With a trowel, place about a quarter of an inch-thick paste onto the ground where you will be laying your base. Once you’ve troweled the adhesive, carefully lay down each block of your pavers.

Don’t forget to check if each block is perfectly leveled so as not to waste your hard work. If you notice that a block is not in place, simply use a rubber hammer to correct it into position.

Step 6: Build Upwards

Now that you’re done with your base pavers, you can now proceed with laying on the rest of your steps into place. Since these blocks are often made evenly, you don’t have to worry much about how level they are with each other. Nevertheless, you can always do so to avoid any tripping.

Similarly, use the base pavers as the basis for where you will build your retaining wall around. Use the same process of layering the adhesive and the blocks until you complete your wall.

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Step 7: Cover in Sand

Once you’re satisfied with how you layered your steps, you have to add a layer of polymeric sand all over your steps. Sweep the sand all over your steps and make sure that it completely covers the joints between each block.

The polymeric sand will serve as an additional layer of protection from possible erosion, therefore keeping your structure sturdy despite regular wear and tear.

After you’ve covered the steps with sand, flatten it once again with a hand tamper or plate compactor.

And that’s it – you have successfully built paver steps to your patio.

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