Since I put on the aluminum decking umpteen years ago, the deck has lacked a permanent bottom step. I didn’t exactly know how to tackle it – whether to add a series of stones, a floating step, or some sort of hybrid. Well, sometimes the best solutions just take time. As I have faced the front of the deck in 5/4″ Ipe, I thought that Ipe should be used for the top of the steps. For the base I decided to form two piers out of concrete, bridged by two 4×4 cedar cross beams.
The concrete? – 6000psi concrete (Sakrete). Overkill? yes, but it produces a nice and tough finish, that is fibre-reinforced, and resistant to freeze-thaw cycling. So I built a plywood mold that has two insets for the 4×4 cedar joists to joint the two piers. Between the two insets is an island with an embedded ¾” copper pipe, used to join the two cedar bridge pieces to the pier. The piers are 11½” cubed.
To join the 4×4 cedar joists to the pier, I used a ½” stainless steel threaded rod.
Adding the 4×4 cedar cross beams :
Now the Ipe will go on top, bolted into the cedar cross beams.
The bottom three inches are below the pavers, but at 70 lbs (32kg) a piece, these piers are not going anywhere.