If you've ever seen a set of granite steps, you know their natural beauty enhances the home's appearance. If you own a set of granite steps, you’ve experienced their durability, low-maintenance and long-lasting quality. If you've ever installed a set of granite steps, you know they're heavy. So heavy that in order to install them, a 55,000 pound truck with an 18-foot bed and crane bolted to the back needs to deliver them to the site. That crane can reach 28 feet with about 4,000 pounds (phew!) In order to get these beautiful, durable, long-lasting (and heavy) steps to look the way they do, Swenson Granite Works personnel are trained to install them using certain tools, including straps, clamps, shims, and chisels.
It’s not too often that you’re able to witness all the hard work that goes into installing a set of granite steps. Luckily for Swenson, Kyle Poirier Landscaping documented the installation process for a residential project in Chichester, New Hampshire using Woodbury Gray granite steps from the Swenson Granite Works Concord store so we could share the behind the scenes footage that shows you exactly how it’s done.
Swenson Granite Works Crane Truck Driver/Operator Walter Marsh worked with Kyle Poirier Landscaping to install the four 6-foot Woodbury Gray granite steps with a 6-foot x 3-foot landing, as well as 4-foot granite steps for a 70-foot walkway.
“This was a challenging site because of the elevation,” said Poirier. “There was approximately 5 feet of difference between where the walkway started at the driveway to the 7 inches below the door threshold,” he explained. Although challenging, it was a job well done. Here’s how it all happened.
OLD STEPS REMOVED
First, Kyle Poirier Landscaping removed the old brick steps and preserved the existing concrete slab. If the slab wasn’t there, they would have had to pour a concrete pad, due to the weight of the granite steps. Since the old steps varied in thickness, the height from the slab to the door threshold needed to be adjusted to get the desired 7-inch rise into the house from the soon-to-be-installed granite step set. Poirier achieved this by adding 2-inch thick pavers to the pad.
GRANITE STEPS DELIVERED
Walter Marsh from Swenson Granite Works arrived with the big truck.
“I had a skid-steer on site, but it would have been challenging to use it, so I was able to have Swenson come with their truck to set the steps and everything came out perfectly,” said Poirier. “Walt had all the right tools to make this set look absolutely perfect.”
When the team at Swenson loads the truck at the store, they put the platform on the bottom, then the steps and lastly the fillers on top. Marsh explained, “When I install a set of steps, I leave the platform on the truck and take the fillers and steps off first and put them on the ground. Then I separate the steps and fillers. I use clamps to hook onto two fillers, then I pick them up and set them down. I then grab my steps and set them down.”
The first (and longest) two fillers were placed on each side of the pad, and then the first step was put down. “I leveled or pitched this bottom layer — I usually pitch it 1/4 inch per foot,” said Marsh. This allows for proper water runoff away from the home’s foundation.
The fillers were placed and then the front step followed. This process was repeated. During the process, the materials were constantly pitched and leveled to achieve perfection. Marsh noted, “I usually measure at least 15 times.” Plastic shims were used to adjust everything in order to get it all exactly where it needed to be.
When it was time for the platform to reach the top, Marsh set the platform down using straps. He put a piece of hardwood in the front to hold it up just enough so that he could pull the straps out. “I had to push it back a little bit and bar it back evenly on each side,” said Marsh. If a set of steps isn't completely even on one side, Marsh will use stainless steel rollers to move it easily to get it exactly where it needs to be.
Marsh left the fillers out on the sides roughly half an inch. Then after the platform was set, he used a chisel to remove the excess granite, ensuring a crisp edge. “I also used the chisel on the steps themselves to make sure that everything was perfectly in line,” he said.
After about an hour and 45 minutes from the arrival of the truck, the installation for this set of Woodbury Gray granite steps was complete.
Interested in having a set of granite steps installed at your home? Call or visit your local Swenson Granite Works store. Steps can be installed any time of the year, as long as the ground is not too frozen and the pad is able to be prepared.
Available in stock and custom sizes, steps and treads enhance both contemporary and traditional designs. Download the Steps and Treads Spec Sheet to see options for stone types, colors, sizes, weights, finishes and styles.