Manufacturers combine cement with other materials such as gravel, sand and water to create a concrete stair. They place the mixed concrete into a mold called a form that will provide the stair its shape. The cement stairs harden in a chemical process called hydration.
Knowledge of specific terminology is necessary when building concrete steps. The riser is the vertical part of the stairs, which are called "open stairs" when the risers are missing. The tread is the horizontal portion of the stairs and generally must meet the same specifications as the floor. The nosing is any part of the tread that protrudes over the riser beneath it.
Cement stairs are commonly measured in several ways. They are:
- The rise height is the distance from the surface of one riser to the surface of the next.
- The tread depth is the distance from the edge of the tread (including the nosing, if any) and the riser.
- The slope of the cement stairs is the ratio given by the total height of the stairs divided by the total length of the stairs. This is sometimes expressed as the pitch angle, which is given by the inverse tangent of the slope of the stairs.
Build concrete stairsMany specific factors determine a stair's proportions but as a general rule the riser height should be between 4 and 7.5 inches. The tread depth generally becomes longer as the risers become shorter. The tread depth should be at least 10 inches long with 7.5-inch risers and increase to 19 inches for 4-inch risers.
Buy precast concrete stepsIt is possible to order precast concrete stairs in the desired configuration. They are hollow and much less likely to settle than solid concrete steps. Additionally, precast concrete stairs are cast in one piece and therefore have no joints or gaps.
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- The variance in riser height should be low when building concrete stairs. Many building codes require no more than 1/4 inch difference between the shortest and tallest riser because people become accustomed to the risers being at a certain height.