How to Build Stone Steps in Your Garden Area

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Are you looking to add a touch of elegance and functionality to your garden while also enhancing its beauty? If so, you might be interested in using a local Ohio company such as Stone Center for more information on how to build stone steps.

Building stone garden steps may seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be a fun and rewarding project that elevates the overall look of your outdoor living space. In this blog, our experts will go over everything you need to know about how to build natural stone steps on a slope that are both beautiful and functional. From selecting the right garden stones to laying them out, our experts from Stone Center have got you covered.

Why Choose Custom Rock Steps Over Standard Pavers for Your Stone Stairway?

Outdoor stone steps over standard pavers can offer several benefits:

  • Natural stone slab steps have better grip and durability, especially in harsh weather conditions.
  • They provide a unique and stylish look that can complement your garden space.
  • Stone steps can be tailored to your specific project, ensuring optimal functionality and safety.
  • They often have a longer lifespan than standard pavers, saving you money in the long run.
  • Natural rock steps are more slip-resistant than standard pavers, reducing the risk of accidents on your property.

Recommended Material Options for Building Stone Step Treads

how to build stone steps
Building Stone

Consider using thick stone treads for your project, which will provide a sturdy, durable foundation. Stone Center offers a range of products and we're equipped with options to suit any aesthetic preference.

  • Buff Sandstone Rockface Treads

This material is an ideal option for those looking for a natural, earthy look. Buff Sandstone Rockface Treads are made from high-quality sandstone and have a naturally rough texture that provides excellent traction. As the name suggests, they have a warm, buff color that works well in many landscaping designs and raised garden beds. As an added bonus, these stone slab steps are extremely durable and can last for decades with proper maintenance.

  • Caspian Creme Treads

These stone steps are made from high-quality limestone and offer a variety of shades of beige and white. Caspian Creme Treads can add a contemporary and clean look to any project such as when used to create a little retaining wall. They're also slip-resistant, making them a safe option for steps or around your fire pit area. Additionally, this is a cost-effective option compared to some other materials.

  • Thermal Bluestone Treads

Thermal Bluestone is a popular choice for garden steps or stone steps leading to gardens due to its natural beauty and durable nature. It's made from a type of sandstone that's been heated to high temperatures, giving it a unique, textured surface that provides excellent traction. It has a blue-grey hue that can complement a variety of design styles.

Tools Required for Building Natural Stone Slab Steps

natural stone steps diy
Tools for Building Natural Stone

To build natural stone slab steps, you'll need the following tools:

  • Shovel and pickaxe;
  • Level;
  • Tape measure;
  • Safety glasses and gloves;
  • Rubber mallet;
  • Plate compactor;
  • Chisel and hammer;
  • Masonry saw or angle grinder;
  • Sealant (optional, depending on the type of stone used).

Calculating the Rise & Run of Your Stone Steps

Let's walk through the process of determining the height and depth of each stair step to ensure the fieldstone stairs are safe and comfortable to navigate.

Figuring Out the Stones You Need

Planning an outdoor stone stair requires careful consideration of the overall design as well as considering the construction practicalities. For example, it's important to ensure that the stone slab's thickness is suitable for the job. For outdoor steps, stones should generally be 6" and 7" in thickness, but this depends on the height and weight they will bear. Additionally, step depth should be between 12" and 18" to ensure a safe and comfortable pathway. With these specifications in mind, select stones that fit with the overall aesthetic of the entire backyard and coordinate with any other hardscaping elements.

Measuring the Stone Staircase Run Length

building stone steps
Building stone

The first step is to determine the distance for the overall run of the staircase. It is essential to take the measurements horizontally for precise results. Measure from the anticipated surface of the top step to the corresponding point above the bottom step (above the ground level perpendicular to it). This can be done using a ruler, shovel, or any other basic gardening tools long enough to reach up to the full height required.

Measuring the Stone Staircase Rise Distance

When building natural rock steps, it's important to mark the spot on the rod that's level with the future top step's base. This will allow you to measure vertically from what will be the bottom step's base to the top step's base.

Calculating the Number of Stone Step Slabs

To determine how many steps you need for your natural stone staircase, simply divide the total rise by the slab thickness.

Next, divide the total run measurement by the number of steps calculated above to determine if the step depth falls within the recommended range of 12-18 inches. If there's a bottom step that is level with the ground, subtract one from the total number of steps and adjust the tread accordingly to ensure it matches the rise. Of course, if you have questions about calculations, we are always here to help.

How Much Does It Cost to Build Natural Stone Steps?

The cost to build natural stone steps varies depending on several factors such as the type of stone, the size of the staircase, and the difficulty of installation. Stone steps on a slope can increase the difficulty and cost of installation. Natural stones like Bluestone, Flagstone, and Limestone provide a high-end look but can cost you more. Meanwhile, precast concrete is the most affordable option but doesn't provide the same look and feel as natural stone.

Below is a list of popular natural stones used in building outdoor stairs along with their approximate cost per square foot.

  • Bluestone: This type of stone is known for its blue-grey shade and ranges from $15 to $30 per square foot.
  • Flagstone: This kind of stone offers a natural look with its irregular shapes and thickness. The cost is around $15 to $25 per square foot.
  • Precast Concrete: It is the most economical choice at about $5 to $10 per square foot.
  • Limestone: This classic natural stone comes in a variety of colors and has leaf patterns. The price point is about $20 to $30 per square foot.
  • Sandstone: Sandstone comes in many shades, including brown, red, gray, yellow, and white. The cost is around $10 to $20 per square foot.
  • Slate: It’s known for its smooth, fine-grain surface. The price point is approximately $20 to $30 per square foot.
  • Granite: This natural stone is known for its durability and resilience, making it an excellent choice for outdoor use. The cost ranges from $20 to $35 per square foot.

Final Thoughts

Building stone garden steps adds not only function but also beauty to any outdoor space. By following our guide, you'll be able to build a beautiful and functional outdoor stone stairway in a short amount of time.

Remember to choose the right stone type, apply proper installation techniques, and invest in high-quality materials to ensure a sturdy and long-lasting result. But we know that regardless of how many videos you watch on this topic, you might prefer to leave the task to a professional team. This is where we come in! Be sure to contact Columbus Stone Center today for quality materials and excellent service.

How to Make Stone Steps

Whether you're an experienced builder or a beginner looking for a new challenge, this guide will walk you through how to make flagstone or fieldstone stairs that are durable and long-lasting.

#1 Prepare the Foundation

stone stairway
Prepare the Foundation

The first step is to dig out the surface area where the stair will be constructed to ensure it's flat and level. It's essential to remove all grass, plants, and debris that might interfere with the foundation. You can consider calling local landscaping companies for assistance with this. Once the surface is level, the space for drainage must be created by digging a trench at the base of the stairs. The drain tile will allow water to escape and prevent it from accumulating under the stair, which could cause damage or instability over time.

#2 Lay the First Natural Stone Step Slab

stone slab steps
the First Natural Stone

After the drainage trench is complete, a layer of stone chips bedding sand should be placed to create an even and stable surface. The crushed stone also provides a good base for the mortar, which will be used to secure the stone slab in place. As soon as the foundation is ready, it's time to lay the slab. If necessary, a small retaining wall can be built to ensure the slab is appropriately supported. Careful attention to detail when laying the first natural stone step slab creates a solid foundation for the rest of the outdoor stone stair.

#3 Lay Down the Rest of the Steps from Bottom to Top

stone for steps
Steps from Bottom to Top

Along with ensuring each step is flush and level, it's also essential to tilt each step ever so slightly forward. This slight tilt helps the water to flow down the stairway instead of pooling on each step. As each stacked stone slab is placed, it's crucial to double-check that it's flush with the surrounding steps. The gaps between each stacked stone can be filled with mortar, gravel, or even leftover stacked stone depending on the design.

#4 Secure the Stones

how to make stone steps
Mortar between flat stones

The gaps between flat stones should be filled with mortar, leaving enough time to dry thoroughly per the manufacturer's instructions. By taking these steps, each outdoor stone slab can be adequately secured for long-term, durable use.

#5 Decorate Your Natural Stone Steps

stone garden steps
Natural Stone Steps

Decorating your natural stone steps can add an aesthetic appeal to your outdoor space. Here are some rock steps ideas to consider:

  • A flower bed can be created on either side of the stairway, adding a splash of color and fragrance to your outdoor area.
  • Arches can also be built to frame the stone steps, creating an inviting and cozy entryway.

It's also essential to consider how the stone steps fit into the surrounding landscape, such as creating a natural transition between the stone steps and the grass.


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Jon Smiley

Jon, the owner of Stone Center, is a knowledgeable expert in natural stone products, specializing in various types of stone for landscaping and architectural projects. Passionate about promoting the beauty and versatility of natural stone, Jon aims to use these blogs to inspire readers with creative ideas to upgrade their homes.

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