Step it Up! Concrete Stairs and Walkways

Concrete walkways or sidewalks add safety, value, and curb appeal. A beautifully designed lighted walkway and sidewalk system makes a statement and graciously welcomes visitors. Smooth concrete walkways provide safe walking surfaces without dirt or gravel. While the standard plain gray sidewalk is commonly chosen for safety and budget reasons, adding pattern and color affords a pleasing entrance to any home. During recent decades, concrete creativity has surpassed boring and forged ahead with exciting options. Afforded by changes in concrete usage and style, landscape and concrete designers have eagerly taken on new challenges designing aesthetically pleasing entrances which increase home sale prices and property values.

Most concrete walkways or sidewalks are approximately four inches thick with cost varying from $6 to $12 per square foot.  Larger elaborately designed walkway systems are attractive, convenient, increase property value and will cost more than a simple basic sidewalk. Plan accordingly for budget and schedule changes. Spend some time researching ideas and options. For ultimate ROI and curb appeal, secure a reputable concrete contractor and hire a skilled landscape and concrete designer. Prior to the project start, check for references, licenses, certifications, and proper insurance coverage.

Concrete steps or stairs, have surpassed previous standards, style and quality options. Whether the choice is to use precast steps or poured concrete steps, both have advantages and disadvantages. Modern precast step systems include solar lighting options and improved pre-cured surfaces. Precast steps are convenient and suitable for most residential applications. Though precast steps are environmentally friendly because they arrive onsite already formed and cured negating onsite cement mixers and cement dust pollution, they are expensive and require specific measurements. Precast step systems do not fit nor suit every residence. In addition, precast steps are heavy and they require lifting equipment to avoid work injuries suffered by concrete workers. Poured concrete steps may use wood or metal frames and can be designed to custom fit specific residential needs. Poured concrete steps require solid planning and accurate measurements. But, the advantage of a quality custom fitted step system outweighs the messy mixing, pouring, drying and curing process.

Some homeowners have physical handicap needs which require design specifications that may not be served by using preformed concrete steps. Poured concrete steps use common materials and tools such as, safety glasses, gloves, wood or lumber, a saw, framing square, tape measure, hammer, shovels, a level, concrete mix, a water sprinkler, edger, wheelbarrow, line level, tamper, plumb bob, broom and other tools. Weather-permitting, allow five days for planning, layout, and curing time. DIY pros should consider hiring a licensed contractor skilled at working with poured concrete and precast step systems. Prior to purchasing materials, consult local building codes and homeowner association guidelines. In order to pass a certified building inspection, reinforced (rebar) concrete steps should conform to local building codes.