Last, but not least – the bottom deck step

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.


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