When you think of accidents around the home, it’s likely that electricity, fire and water are the dangers that spring to mind. However, slips and falls rank ahead of all these for causing injuries. Whether you have a black spot, like a dodgy set of steps, or you know you should undertake maintenance more safely, here are a few ideas and techniques to protect you, your family and visitors.
Stairs are where falls and accidents commonly occur, so it makes sense to do all you can to make them safer. This set of steps is covered in slippery moss and dirt, has no balustrade and the final step down to the ground is much bigger than the rest. Time for a safety makeover!
Gather your supplies
Landing posts, 1210 x 88 x 88mm primed treated pine (2)
House post, 960 x 88 x 88mm primed treated pine
Stair post, 1600 x 90 x 90mm H4 treated pine
Handrail, 138 x 42mm primed treated pine
Side rails, 138 x 42mm primed treated pine
Bricks, for existing 300 x 300mm pavers
You’ll also need
Pressure washer; pencil; angle grinder with concrete-cutting blade; power saw; drill; 25mm spade bit; 12mm wood bit; 12mm masonry bit; M12 x 150mm AnkaScrews (2 per post); socket spanner; post-hole digger; spirit level; straightedge; quick-set concrete (2 bags); 100mm galvanised wood screws; exterior PVA glue; Selleys Plasti-Bond filler; undercoat; Dulux Weathershield Semi Gloss (we used Vivid White); wheelbarrow; brickie’s sand; cement; trowel; shovel; rubber mallet.
Use pressure washer to remove dirt and moss from steps.
Mark position of posts with pencil. You will need 1 at wall of house, any corners and top and bottom of steps. Insert extra posts if you have long distances between these points.
In order to securely fix landing posts to bricks, use angle grinder with concrete-cutting blade to cut a notch in concrete steps. Make end of notch flush with bricks.
Cut 1 landing post to length. Cut outside corner off bottom of post to soften edge. Measure and mark post for AnkaScrews, with 1 screw going in concrete and another into centre of a brick. Use drill fitted with 25mm spade bit to drill 15mm-deep countersunk holes at these points. Switch to 12mm wood bit to continue all the way through post.
Place post in position and, using 12mm masonry bit, drill top hole into concrete. Insert AnkaScrew and tighten with socket spanner. Using spirit level, make post plumb, then drill lower hole into brickwork, insert screw and secure. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 to install other landing post.
Measure and mark house post for AnkaScrews so they go into centre of bricks at top and bottom of post. Countersink, drill holes and attach to wall as you did for landing posts, using spirit level to make plumb.
Cut stair post at least 50mm over length. At bottom of steps, use post-hole digger to dig a 300mm-wide hole 500mm deep. Place stair post in position, make plumb and bolt to step.
Mark centre of top of post at top of steps. Put straightedge on side of post at this mark running down to post at bottom of steps. Make straightedge parallel to steps, then scribe line of straightedge on posts. Unbolt posts and cut along these lines, then reposition. For stair post, half-fill hole with water, pour in concrete and mix.
Cut handrails to length. Predrill and fix to posts using 100mm galvanised screws. Mitre join at corner and screw across it to keep it together. Where horizontal and sloping handrails meet, bisect the angle between the 2 and cut handrail accordingly. Apply exterior PVA glue to all joins.
Screw first row of side rails to posts 82mm up from landing. As with handrail, mitre joins at corner and bisect angle where sloping and horizontal side rails meet. Cut accordingly. At stair post, make end of side rail flush with face of post. Attach remaining rows of side rail with an 82mm gap between them.
Use Selleys Plasti-Bond filler to fill all screw holes. Leave to set then sand smooth. Apply undercoat to filled areas and let dry, then apply 2 coats of selected colour of Weathershield Semi Gloss.
Excavate and level area where step is to be constructed. The ground should be about 110mm plus thickness of paver below finished level of new step.
In wheelbarrow, make a mortar mix of 4 parts brickie’s sand to 1 part cement and add water. Mix should be wet enough so it holds its shape but is not runny.
To provide a guide for your bricks, lay out pavers along ground 290mm in front of riser of last step. Use trowel to spread a generous bed of mortar. Press first brick down into mortar against pavers. Top of brick should be thickness of paver plus 10mm (for mortar) below finished level of new step.
Butter short edge of next brick and lay against first so they are same level and in line. Repeat to lay following bricks. Make final brick finish 10mm from end of pavers. Place spirit level on top of bricks and tap with rubber mallet to make level if necessary.
Spread more mortar and lay bricks behind those already laid. As they will be covered by pavers they do not have to look good, just be level with first row. Shovel more mortar in to fill gap between bricks. Leave to set.
Mix up more mortar and lay on bricks to make a 10mm thick bed for pavers. Lay pavers on bed so they overhang bricks by 10mm. Use rubber mallet to tap pavers into bed and make level. Leave to set.