Prefab concrete steps, usually referred to in the industry as precast steps, are poured and finished at the manufacturers site and brought by truck to the customer. They can be custom built to fit any home or business.
There are a few advantages of prefab steps over pour-in-place steps. The biggest advantage is much quicker installation with no formwork, pouring, or cure time before use. Just set in place and they're ready for use. Another benefit is the concrete being cast in a controlled environment. Being able to control cure time ensures optimum strength. Also, being able to use intense vibration in a concrete mold allows the steps to be poured with lower water:cement ratio which increases strength.
Another advantage is the guarantee of a nice, clean finish. When pouring on site, there's never any guarantee with final finish and appearance as there are many uncontrollable variables that affect concrete. With prefab steps, you don't have to worry about the craftsmanship of a hired contractor or your own abilities. You can also be assured that all tread and riser measurements will be accurate.
Prefab concrete steps don't have to plain gray concrete. There are many decorative options available depending on which company makes them. They can be molded to resemble stone, brick, slate etc. Choosing colors is also an option with most custom built steps.
When oderering steps, you'll need to know how many steps are needed. To determine this, measure from the bottom of the door frame (or top of the porch) straight down to the ground. Now divide that number by the riser height. Some companies offer 5, 6. or 7 inch risers while others offer only one size. Then you need to decide how wide you want the steps. If more than two risers are needed, then it's recommended that you go with at least 5 feet wide steps for safety reasons. Of course the company making your steps can help with size and design. Many of them can also come out and custom design steps to suit your needs.
The most important task on your part is getting the base for the steps prepared and ready when they arrive. Obviously, the best base would be a concrete slab on top of concrete footings, whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor. This will hold the steps in place. Because the ground moves and shifts overtime, the steps will eventually move as well if not on a solid foundation. But the minimum preparation needed is leveling the ground.
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