How to Build Stone Steps in Your Garden Area

Table of Contents

Skill Cost Estimated Time
$10 and up N/A

Picture stepping through the back door, down some classy stone steps, and onto a path that winds away among your lovely garden. If that's an idea that greatly appeals to you, you may be interested in learning how to build stone steps. Building stone steps may seem daunting, but with the right knowledge, tools, and action plan, it can be a fun and rewarding project that elevates the overall look and usability of your outdoor living space.

In this blog, our experts from Stone Center will go over everything you need to know about how to build natural stone steps, leading to any area of your house beautifully and functionally covered with landscaping stone, even on an incline. From selecting the right stones to laying them out, we've got you covered.

Why Choose Natural Stone Steps for Your Garden or Outdoor Space?

Many advantages are offered by natural stone steps over regular pavers for your particular project.

  • Durability: Natural stone is durable, oppositional to any kind of weather, and so considered the best option for outside stairs which will be used daily.
  • Visual Appeal: The unique textures and natural colors of stone create a beautiful focal point that enhances your outdoor space and can even boost your property value.
  • Customization: Natural stone steps can be tailored to your specific project, ensuring optimal functionality, safety, and a design that complements your landscape.
  • Slip-Resistance: Stone's natural texture provides excellent slip resistance, making your steps safer in wet or icy weather – a major plus compared to standard pavers.

3 Recommended Material Options for Building Stone Step Treads

3 Recommended Material Options for Building Stone Step Treads

Consider using thick landscaping stones 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. Top-rated recommendations include:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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-gray hue that can complement a variety of design styles.

Tools Required for Building Natural Stone Slab Steps

To construct stone steps successfully and safely, specific tools and materials are essential:

  • Shovel and pickaxe
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses and gloves
  • Rubber mallet
  • Plate compactor (optional, but helpful for larger projects)
  • Chisel and hammer (for shaping stones, if needed)
  • For the base, use stone chips or gravel
  • Bedding sand and a rubber mallet
  • Masonry saw or angle grinder (for cutting stones, if needed)
  • Sealant (optional, depending on the type of stone used)
  • Stone sealant (choose one based on your type of stone
  • Mortar or concrete for securing the stones

4 Considerations When Calculating the Rise & Run of Your Stone Steps

4 Considerations When Calculating the Rise & Run of Your Stone Steps

Prior to starting the excavation process, it is crucial to engage in thorough planning and calculations. This step is essential to ensure the safety, ease of navigation, and compliance with local building regulations for your stone steps.

Here are some key factors to take into consideration:

1. 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.

  • Thickness: Choose slabs thick enough to handle foot traffic and the elements.
  • Depth: Ensure each step is deep enough for a comfortable stride.
  • Number of Steps: Calculate how many steps you'll need based on your project's height difference.

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.

2. Measuring the Stone Staircase Run Length

building stone steps
Building Stone

The first step is to determine the distance for the overall run (horizontal length) of the staircase. 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.

3. 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 (total rise).

4. 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.

5 Guidelines on How to Make Stone Steps in Your Garden

5 Guidelines on How to Make Stone Steps in Your Garden

Now that you've prepared your plan and gathered your materials, the exciting part begins — building your stone steps!

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create your vision into a beautiful reality:

1. 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. Remove all grass, plants, and debris that might interfere with the foundation. Consider calling local landscaping companies for assistance with this step, especially for larger projects on slopes where additional excavation may be required. 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 stairs, which could cause damage or instability over time.

2. Lay the First Natural Stone Step Slab

With the foundation complete, a layer of stone chips and 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 first slab. If necessary, a small retaining wall can be built to ensure the slab is appropriately supported, especially on slopes. 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

While carefully laying down each subsequent stone step, make sure that each step is aligned and leveled. Additionally, it is crucial to slightly tilt each step forward. This slight tilt helps the water to flow down the stairway instead of pooling on each step. Before moving on, make certain that each stone is even and level 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 the 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 (Optional)

To enhance the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space, consider incorporating decorative rock steps into your landscape design. Below, you'll find a few rock steps ideas to inspire your own creation.

  • Flower Beds: Enhance the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space by planting vibrant and fragrant flowers on both sides of the stairway, adding a captivating touch of nature's beauty to your surroundings.
  • Arches: Consider constructing arches that frame the stone steps leading to the entryway, thereby enhancing its inviting and cozy atmosphere.
  • Natural Transition: Design your stone steps to blend beautifully with your landscape – try adding a border of mulch or low-growing plants for a natural transition.

How Much Should You Expect to Pay for 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:

Stone Material Price Range Color Pros Cons
Bluestone $15 - $30 Blue-grey Beautiful blue-grey shade
More expensive option
Flagstone $15 - $25 Natural Natural look with irregular shapes
May be uneven underfoot
Precast Concrete $5 - $10 Multiple options Most affordable option Less attractive than natural stone
Limestone $20 - $30 Various (leaf patterns) Classic look in various colors
May have unique leaf patterns
May be susceptible to staining
Sandstone $10 - $20 Brown, red, gray, yellow, white Wide variety of colors
Relatively affordable
May be softer than other stones
Slate $20 - $30 Smooth, fine-grain Smooth, fine-grain surface
Elegant look
May be slippery when wet
Granite $20 - $35 Multiple options Extremely durable
Recommended for outdoor use
More expensive option

Keeping Your Stone Steps Beautiful: Simple Maintenance Tips

With a little regular care, your natural stone steps will stay in top condition for years to come. Here's how:

  • Prevent Buildup: Regularly sweep away dirt, leaves, and other debris to keep your steps looking clean.
  • Rinse Away Grime: Use a hose or pressure washer to remove stubborn dirt and prevent stains.
  • Stop Weeds: Remove any weeds or grass growing between your stones to maintain a polished look.
  • Check for Damage: Inspect for loose or damaged stones and make repairs promptly to prevent further issues.
  • Protect with Sealer: If recommended for your stone type, apply a sealant periodically to help repel stains and weather damage.

Let Stone Center Make Your Stone Step Dreams a Reality!

From choosing the perfect stone to expert installation, Stone Center is here to guide you every step of the way. Here's how we can help:

  • The Stone of Your Dreams: Explore our stunning selection of natural stones, including bluestone, flagstone, and more. Our experts will help you find the ideal fit for your style, needs, and budget.
  • Stress-Free Installation: Want to DIY? We support you! Need help? Our skilled team will ensure your steps are safe, beautiful, and built to last.
  • Budget-Friendly Solutions: We offer regular promotions, discounts, and flexible financing options to help make your project affordable.
  • Promotions and Financing: We believe everyone deserves a beautiful and functional outdoor space. We offer promotions, discounts, and financing options to make stone step projects more affordable and easier to budget.

Thinking about adding stone steps to your outdoor space? We'd love to help! Contact Stone Center today – our friendly team is ready to answer all your questions and get your project rolling.

Let's Make It Happen!

Imagine the satisfaction of building beautiful stone steps that transform your outdoor space! With our expert tips, quality materials, and the right support, you can create a stunning and long-lasting feature that adds both style and safety to your home.

Don't hesitate to reach out to Stone Center with any questions or to get expert help with your project. We're excited to help you choose the perfect stones, get professional advice, or even schedule installation. Our goal is to help you achieve your dream outdoor space, one beautiful stone step at a time!


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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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