Sunday, October 28, 2007

Keeping in Step

Two and a half years ago when we bought our house we bought two pallets of pavers for a project parallel to the driveway. This was a planter with a couple of juniper bushes and ugly white gravel. There was also an old basketball hoop on a bent post. Adios to the hoop and gravel and a couple of yards of dirt. Addition of filter fabric and crusher fines, then sand and the pavers and we had a beautiful new space.

And we had a good load of pavers left over as well.

Many moons ago I stacked these pavers against our front porch to create an additional step (Gerry complained that the porch slab was too high for a single step - and she was right). I stacked pavers at each end to create short pilasters and it looked kind of cool if a bit uneven.

I have since drawn up plans for the steps many times, in several configurations. Then with family coming for Thanksgiving this year we decided to make the installation permanent.

We had to buy a few more pavers (not many). Other than that I had crusher fines, sand and filter fabric left over from a back yard project from this past spring. I got some pressure treated wood for edging and that was it. Well actually we did shell out a bit more (a bit more than we expected too) on some landscape lighting to be included in the project.

We started the work last week Sunday - it was colder than Cheney's heart outside and we were both bundled to the hilt. We dug and compacted and laid filter fabric and laid crusher fines and sand and placed pavers nice and tight in place. It was tricky work because the stoop slab slopes away from the porch for drainage, and it twists to match the lateral slope of the driveway slab. But I needed to have the back of the pavers on either side of the stoop (the "wings") level so the new pilasters would sit plumb (my temporary installation these past two years always included tilting pilasters). The result is that the step I added now has two "faults" in it where its slope is discontinuous. It was either that or allowing the pilasters to tilt.

We completed the work yesterday (Saturday). It was an all day affair and we are both sore today, but it was well worth it.

Most of the plans I came up with earlier included the use of mortar between the pavers. But one thing I love about pavers and landscape masonry in general is that these things are usually laid dry (without the use of mortar). That works great for the ground level wings we laid last weekend, but not as well for the steps or pilasters. They tended to shift a little here and there and I needed to occasionally put things back in place or risk pilasters falling down, or folks tripping on a loose step paver.

But I really didn't want to use mortar. For one thing it's more of a mess to work with, but more importantly I just like the dry laid look. So we used Gorilla Glue. The instructions say it will work on masonry. They say it's waterproof (it can be used on under-water parts of boats). In fact, water is the catalyst that activates the glue.

So we glued our steps and pilasters together. You can see some whitish foam oozed out between the pavers in a couple spots. I'll clean that out today (a screwdriver does the trick nicely), and you won't even know that these pavers aren't laid dry.

Each pilaster has a small light placed near the bottom to illuminate the steps. Additionally we added five landscape lights in the planter to the right of the steps. We're going to plant ivy next to each pilaster and let it grow where it will.

Bonnie and I are very happy with this project. And we're closing up shop on outdoor projects for the year.


Mindy said...

REALLY NEAT -- great job!

EAPrez said...

GREAT JOB. I am sooooo impressed. It looks really nice.