Loose or broken stone steps are a common complaint all homeowners have. The problem of your stone steps becoming loose and falling apart can be a little tricky to fix.
We’ve come up with tips to help you find the best and easiest ways to securely set your stone steps in place–while providing secure, even footing on which you can safely step when you go up and down your house’s front entrance or backyard patio.
1. Use an epoxy adhesive
Some contractors prefer using two-part epoxy adhesive for this type of repair. It bonds well with the natural elements on top of the step and the mortar base they are built on.
Mix one part adhesive with one part resin according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying a thin bead underneath the stone step.
2. Try the chalk line trick
If you don’t have epoxy adhesive or resin, mark a level chalk line between the top of the step and the ground–use this as a guide for letting mortar dry to an ideal height. Create a small wooden form around your step by attaching wood stakes at its corners. Pour in quick-drying cement while adding water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Take care to fill each side equally so that it dries completely level.
3. Use the drill and pin method
Use an inch-thick, smooth board and hammer drill bit into your brick or another masonry surface. Then drill holes just deep enough for anchoring pins into place beneath your stone step. Be sure to measure the width of your step so that your board is the appropriate size. Drill a hole through each corner and each side of your wooden form–as well as one in the center of each face. Slip bolts through these holes from bottom to top. Place washers on them from above and spin tight from below. Using a wrench, turn bolts clockwise until they press against the underside of the stone. Fill in empty space with cement or another grout mix before leaving to form overnight to allow mortar to dry.
4. Try brick bumpers
Cut two pieces of two-by-two inch lumber into strips 18 inches long by one and a half inches wide. Next, nail brick blocks across their flat surfaces flush with one another at staggered intervals between 12 and 18 inches–until you have around eight or nine blocks. Place bricks under the step where it wobbles. Then, sit on the step to compress them while turning a half an inch metal bolt into each brick to secure them in place.
5. Use stone wedges
Remove any flaky mortar from between stones with a chisel and hammer or grout saw. This will form grooves for small, roughly triangular stone wedges along the cracks between stones. Wedges should point downward so they push out against lower edges of other stepping-stones above when placed near seams inside grooves. Secure wedges in place–apply a layer of thin-set mortar below and press firmly.
6. Try extra-strong cement adhesive
Mix together two parts Portland cement, two parts sand and one part masonry adhesive in a tub–with enough water to make a thick but pourable mixture. Pour or scoop the mix into cracks between stones while wearing rubber gloves. If the space is too large for pouring, force the mix through it using a stiff piece of wire. Allow 24 hours for the mortar to dry before walking on it again.
7. Use wood wedges
Drive wood wedges behind loose stone steps one at a time. Press them tightly against lower edges of other stepping-stones above when placed near seams inside grooves. The wedges will work their way between the stones and expand as they absorb moisture from rain or fog.
8. Replace loose stones
Remove individual loose stones and replace them with matching ones from a hardware store, zoological supply house, garden center or stone dealer. Make sure you know the type of stone your step is made of before attempting this repair method.
9. Glue loose stones
Mix epoxy adhesive with an activator according to instructions on the product’s label. Then, apply it into gaps between stepping-stones on your outdoor stairway. Press matching new stones into place on top of adhesive while wet. Allow it to dry thoroughly before walking on the steps again.
10. Fill in seams with grout
Fill in cracks and crevices between individual stepping-stones on your outdoor stairs–use commercial concrete or masonry grout mix according to package directions. Wait one hour and apply a second coat over it until all gaps are totally filled in. Place plastic sheeting (with tape) over the newly repaired area overnight. Remove it early the next day once the grout is dry. Allow the grout to cure for 48 hours before walking on the stone stairs again.
If none of the above steps help restore a stone step to its original condition, or if it is too large for any of these techniques to be effective, consult a masonry contractor. Contact Ray Arnold Masonry today for all your masonry needs.