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Concrete Step Inserts

8 inch step liner insert form


Using a step insert to complete your decorative concrete project is a wise choice. A poorly finished riser on a step or porch will detract from the best stamp job. When approaching a step, a person’s eye is naturally drawn to the vertical portion (riser) of the step and we all know first impressions are important. When step liners are used in the proper manner, that same job will be stunning. The relief and level of craftsmanship simply cannot be obtained by pulling the form early and trying to apply texture at that point.

Walttools step form liners are incredibly detailed and mimic hand-crafted stonework, slate, or even wood. Concrete form liners for steps will leave you with satisfying clean lines and a high level of realism.

How to Use Step Inserts:  The first step to creating decorative concrete steps is the framing and bracing. This can get fairly in depth depending on the step design being implemented (pyramid style, curved, rounded etc.). Here we are only touching on modifications you may have to make to standard framing techniques to accommodate step liners. Walttools step liner collection is sized to fit standard lumber 2X4”, 2X6”, and 2X8”. In actuality, the width of our liners are 3.5”, 5.25”, and 7.25”. One modification you will almost always make is the bottom step, if poured separate from the slab, it will need to be taller to bring itself into proper alignment with the slab, such as step height plus at least 3.5”. The difference here is you need to fill that bottom void with a 2X4” and then set your liner on that. If you don’t fill the void the concrete will fill under the step form and protrude out farther then the liner. It is not pretty, better then plain concrete, but details make a big difference. If that mistake was made, you could saw cut it back then chisel a bit and the slab will cover the edge.

Decorative concrete steps are created by inserting the rubber concrete step liner into your formwork before pouring. The liners are placed in the formwork flush to the top. The formliners can be held in place with trim nails through the face or screws from the back. Make sure the screws are short enough so they do not go through the texture face of the liner. Next the concrete step form needs to be released. You can use liquid release, powder release or Formshield(a water based release agent) on the step insert depending upon your desired aesthetics. Integral color could be used as the base color and it's added directly into the mixer or ready mix truck. Next, place the concrete in the mold you created with the form work and decorative step inserts.

You might encounter a situation where the grade drop doesn’t fall into the standard lumber size. For example if your decorative risers have to be 6.5” and your inserts fit a 2X6 which is really 5.25”. You will need to cut a piece of lumber for the height difference between 6.5” and 5.25” which equals 1.25”. Nail the 1.25” piece to bottom face of the 6.5” form. The decorative step insert will fit atop this filler piece and flush to the top of your framed riser. This results in your step face to be slightly extended (cantilevered) out in comparison to the 1.25” strip. This effect is quite stunning, even preferred by many. Another tip you might want to follow is to cut the formwork bottom edge to a 45 degree angle to allow more access to concrete underneath when finishing. This is especially useful when the elevation strip is used. It allows you to finish the tread closer to the riser before pulling the forms (this is definitely helpful when texturing tread.)

You may need to lay down stiffer concrete first, take care not to have the stiff concrete come in contact with faces or come to the top. This is just in case you have multiple steps. Do not just use highly flowable concrete because most likely they will bow, blowout, and or overflow. Top off the stiffer concrete with some flowable (add water or plasticizer to mix). Careful with the plasticizer, it can create bug holes and unwanted voids. Have a person available to vibrate and tap form edges to release any trapped air and improve the continuity of the face.

It is recommended to create a border around the step that resembles the step insert texture. A hand groover and a texture skin can accomplish this. It will not be needed if the entire step is a seamless texture that relates to the face. The border adds character and a dimension of class that can be colored separately with stains. Texture and or stamp the treads as much as possible before formwork removal. Forms could be left on if it is only one step or stoop.  Otherwise, remove the formwork as soon as the concrete is sufficiently set up enough. Carefully remove the forms and concrete step liner. You will want to slightly wiggle it, then go straight back. Lifting up before the liner completely clears will take concrete with it. Now you will need to detail and texture the tread directly below where the formwork blocked you. If powder release was used take care to not trowel it in the surface when you detail that area. This will affect the decorative concrete step coloring. While the concrete is still very green you can use some extra concrete from the pour to patch any holes or pull-outs that may have occurred. Touch-ups or patching can still be done the next day or when convenient. If you need to touch up later, then using the appropriate bonder and or patching compound is key. Additional coloring and antiquing of the step can be accomplished with concrete stains or our antiquing agent - Tru Tiqu wash after the pour. You should apply a high quality sealer and an anti-slip additive to protect your beautiful steps .

Hundreds of successful concrete professionals use the Walttools step insert line. They are proven tools that will speak for themselves.

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