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Excavate the Base Trench and Stair Location

Document imprimable.pdf

  • From the base stair riser location mark the remainder of the stair risers and remove the soil to meet the base material requirements. If more soil was removed than necessary during excavation, replace it with wall rock during the building process. Any excavated soils that are replaced will need to be properly compacted. If organic or wet soils are present in the base trench they must be removed and replaced with granular material.
  • After the stair location has been excavated, you will prepare your base and base course just like any other wall. Click here for more information
  • Compact the base trench making a minimum of two passes with a plate compactor.
  • If a drain pipe is required in your project, continue the placement of the pipe in the trench for the base course. Click here for more information
  • Place a minimum of 6 in. (150 mm) of wall rock in the base trench and rake smooth.
  • Compact the wall rock making a minimum of two passes with a plate compactor.
  • Check for level, and adjust as needed. Click here for more information

Install the Base Course

  • Place the blocks with the raised front lip facing up and near the front of the trench.
  • Check each block for level from side-to-side and front-to-back. Verify the proper position of the base course by examining a string line across the back of the blocks. Make adjustments as necessary.
  • Fill in the area in front of the blocks with on-site soils. This will keep the base course blocks from shifting while filling and compacting.
  • Fill the hollow cores and at least 12 in. (300 mm) behind the blocks or more to accommodate the next stair riser with wall rock.
  • Use infill or approved on-site soils to fill in any additional areas behind the wall rock. The stair tread area must be level with the top of the base course of blocks.
  • Use a plate compactor to compact the wall rock starting directly behind the block and working in a path parallel to the wall, working from the back of the block, over the stair tread area, to the back of the excavated area. Always compact in 8 in. (200 mm) lifts or less. Click here for more information on Compacting

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Install First Stair Riser

  • Measure the distance for the placement of the first stair riser making sure that the blocks are parallel with the base course in front. Place the blocks on top of the compacted stair tread area making sure to allow for 6 in. (150 mm) of wall rock behind the blocks.
  • To ensure the blocks will be level with the corresponding wall, place a block on the wall as a reference point and level from that block to the blocks being used for the stair treads.
  • Level and adjust as necessary.
  • To curve the wall out from the stair location, break the wings off the backs of the blocks and place then tight together, following the layout on your approved plans.

Backfill and Compact

  • Fill in the area in front of the first stair riser with a small amount of wall rock. This will keep the blocks from shifting while filling and compacting.
  • Fill the hollow cores and at least 12 in. (300 mm) behind the blocks or enough to accommodate the next stair riser with wall rock.
  • Then compact and level the wall rock as previously done.

Additional Steps

  • Repeat these steps for each stair riser.
  • Once all the steps are in place, install the selected stair tread material to finish your stairway.


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