DIY: Building Rustic Stone Stairs for Your Hardscaping

DIY: Building Rustic Stone Stairs for Your Hardscaping

Fall is an incredible time to complete the hardscaping you want in your backyard. There are less blooming plants and flowers to build around, and you have less landscaping work to complete anyway. If you are looking to build a simple set of stone stairs or a walkway in your backyard, this guide is for you.

There are a lot of different ways to complete these tasks, and it is certainly not something you have to do yourself. However, if you like the idea of building some of your own hardscaping projects and want a more simple design, this is definitely the guide for you.

What Materials Should You Use?

The materials you use for your outdoor hardscaping projects will really determine what aesthetic the final outcome will have.

Using a more rustic material like stone or natural wood will give your hardscaping a more cozy and primitive look, which is ideal for some gardens and homes. If you would like something more modern, you can use materials like treated wood, smooth, cut stone, or concrete.

This particular guide is going to focus on the more natural, rustic projects, but if you want to build something a little more modern, this is a great guide.

The material  you choose is completely up to you and what you want your landscaping to look like at the end. Depending on the area you live, also consider what materials flourish best in the weather you experience all year round.

Make sure that you consider pricing and your budget as well. For example, building concrete stairs is almost twice as expensive as going with natural stone. Depending on the amount of work going into the project and the materials you need to purchase, your bill can change drastically. Doing it yourself will of course decrease the cost, but it’s good to be aware of what you are spending beforehand.

Building a Simple Stone Stairway

Here is a great step by step guide to building a very simple, beautiful stone stairway for your outdoor area.

For this particular project, you will need the building material of your choice – the guide we shared is using a natural looking stone. The area that you are putting the stairs and the calculations that we go over later will determine how much of this material you will need exactly. It is typically about 8” of rise and over 12” of run.

In order to figure out the exact rise and run you will need to lay the stone you are using, measure out horizontally from the last potential step’s face to the first potential step’s face. Make sure that you are keeping your measurements as horizontal and level as you possibly can. This measurement will give you the overall run distance of the staircase.

After you have completed that last step, measure up vertically as level as possible from the base of the potential first step’s future position, all the way up to the top of the future top step. Depending on how lengthy these stairs are going to be, you may want to use a long string or piece of wood over a level to measure this out.

Now that you have those two measurements, take the rise measurement and divide it by your desired rise of each individual step. This will give you the exact number of steps you need to complete the staircase. Once you have the number of stairs, divide the overall run length by this number, minus one for the top step (this will be integrated into the level it reaches), and you will be able to see if your run for each individual step is appropriate for what you want.

For the base of your stairs, make sure that you have an area that is at a slightly higher level than the surrounding land and that it can drain properly. If you are unsure about the drainage, consider installing a drain tile.

Once you have your spot picked out, you will want to compact the area for the first step. This can be done with a manual compactor or a gas powered one depending on the size of your stone.

After putting the first step down, make sure the face of the step is a little lower than the back of it. Give it between a half to full inch, and it should settle within a year or two. This allows water to run off each step to drain without damaging and/or flooding your new staircase.

At this point you should have enough room behind each step being laid down and an extra 6 inches to a foot which will need to be filled with ¾” clean stone to allow moisture to drain easily. Make this drainage material slightly higher than being flush with the last step, and compact as you go until you reach your desired height before placing the next step. Continue this until you have completed the staircase!

Our Final Thoughts on DIY Hardscaping

We hope you found our guide helpful and inspiring! If you are looking for someone to complete this task or you just have landscaping/hardscaping questions, feel free to contact us at any time!

Are you going to be attempting your own hardscaping projects this fall season?