A front entrance should be the most welcoming part of a garden and ‘floating’ steps leading up to the front door certainly lend maximum appeal. Make sure the size of the steps is in scale with the size of the door – a double door requires wide rectangles that make a bold statement.
What you need (per step)
shutterboard (22 mm thick), 5 pieces, as follows:
1800 mm x 100 mm (x 2)
750 mm x 100 mm (x 2)
800 mm x 100 mm (x 1) – brace
10 kg PPC cement
4 bags river sand
4 bags stone (19 mm crushed)
1 bag plaster sand
Step 1. Floating steps should be made in situ, especially when they are long rectangles. Start by compacting and levelling the area.
Step 2. Make a box mould using the shutterboard. Ensure it is perfectly straight and measure the inside to make sure the size is correct for the finished step. Nail the brace in position across the top of the box in the centre. This stops the mould bulging when the concrete is poured in.
Step 3. Mix together 4 parts stone, 4 parts sand and 2 parts cement. Add water until the mixture reaches a pouring consistency. Pour it into the mould and pack it down using the float. Make sure that the corners are filled. As you work the cement will rise to the top and form a smooth layer.
Step 4. Tap the edges of the box with a rubber mallet to remove any air pockets. Leave to cure for at least a week (preferably longer) before removing the mould.
Step 5. Plaster the step using 3 parts plaster sand and 1 part cement mixed with water. Use a float to make a smooth 10 mm layer on the top and sides of the step. Use a corner trowel dipped in water to neaten the edges. When the plaster finish is nearly dry, smooth it over using a float in circular motions. Seal with a concrete sealer if necessary.