Creating Porch Steps

Porch steps typically lead from your walkway up to your front door landing. There is both an art and science in designing them so that they are welcoming and at the same time function well.

You might be in a situation where you are starting from scratch, or perhaps you are looking to re-do your steps. Below is design information on both situations.

Creating a New Porch and Steps

One of the first things to do is get some elevations. You need to know the grade changes for 3 different areas. These would be inside your house, the area where you are tentatively visualizing the bottom of the steps to be (where the actual walkway will begin), and where your driveway meets your walkway.

These are general areas and you might need to acquire other close by points as the design develops. The reason to know this information is so that you can determine how many steps you will need and to assure that your walkway is not too steep.

Here are some other things to know:

  1. the landing at your front door can be as wide as you like
  2. front landing depth should be a minimum of 4', if possible
  3. steps should fall within an acceptable height range
  4. an acceptable walkway slope is between 2% and 5% - aim for 2% or 1/4 inch per foot

There are many different materials you can use for both the porch steps and the landing. Paving costs differ greatly, but once you have the design, you can determine costs of using different materials.

For more detailed pricing information, I encourage you to look at my new book on landscaping costs.


Re-doing Existing Porch Steps

Do you have an existing porch landing that you are happy with but your steps are in poor condition? The material you decide on for the new steps should look well with the existing porch. That does not mean that they have to be the same though. They just have to go together, and speaking of this, they should also look well with the siding on your house.

  • A concrete porch landing will go well with bluestone treads and stone risers, particularly if your house is a neutral color.
  • A bluestone porch will also look good with bluestone steps.
  • A brick porch can also use bluestone treads. Here, the risers can be stone or brick.


Do I Have To Remove Existing Porch and Steps?

There are times when porch steps and/or landings have just had it. They might be falling apart or cracking...or maybe you are just ready for an updated look. I often get the question as to whether the entire porch has to be removed and re-done, particularly if it was done in concrete.

You can apply a new material over the paving that is already there, as long as this paving is in excellent condition and the height changes will work.

I came across this great video on re-doing porch steps and the landing itself. Stone set in concrete was used as the paving material.

I think this was a great job and excellent video, particularly the following:

1. Good Stone Color Blending
I loved the brownstone with the shingle regarding color blending. Color matching is always important when selecting hardscape materials. Well thought out choices always make for a better project.

2. Drainage
They pointed out necessity of pitch for drainage - perhaps this is why the original porch failed! Correct drainage will help produce a long lasting project. Make sure that the porch and steps themselves pitch away from your house at 1/4" per foot.

3. Porch Steps and Landing - Removals
It was shown how the entire stoop did not have to be removed.This saves a ton of time, effort and money. As indicated, only the top portion of the concrete was removed to allow for the brownstone.

4. Tread and Riser Joints - Placement
I was impressed by the thought that went into lining up face stone joints...or not lining up I should say! When lining up treads or risers, make sure that the joints are placed so that they do NOT line up. They should alternate. For example, where you see a joint on a tread, the next step down should have joints placed evenly to the sides of it to make for a well laid out design.

5. Blending of Paver Walkway and Porch Stone
The pavers for the walkway looked well with the other stone materials and the house shingles. Ok, I would have preferred the brownstone for the walkway. However, this would have been a lot more expensive and I think the pattern and color of pavers selected works very well.


A natural concern of designing porch steps and selecting materials are the costs. Take a look at my book on landscaping costs with costs of specific materials (and more).


Landscaping Costs
Find out what actual parts of a landscape cost. Plants, different paving materials, steps, pools, ponds, lighting, and more are all listed along with many photos to show examples!

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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