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I have spent 3 days creating this stair and I still don't like to look. The reason is that I have tons of those retaining wall blocks so I have to use them all to create the stair.

The first try was to have 1 block row per step and that was too narrow to walk (only 7" depth). The second try was to put retaining wall cap (8" depth) on top but that was still not long enough for human foot.

The last try is to 'double' the row to 2 blocks and now I have 14" depth to walk. This is acceptable to me as I tested it. BUT now I have a huge problem with somewhat an ugly look. Plus they are not really tight and move around.

enter image description here

This is the block:

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Source: http://www.lowes.com/pd/Tranquil-Flagstone-Concrete-Retaining-Wall-Block-Common-11-in-x-4-in-Actual-11-6-in-x-4-in/3722164

My question is how best to secure and cover the stair?

I have some options:

  1. Use 14x14 (2" thick) concrete pavers to put on top. It's possible but then I am wasting the blocks on the bottom as they are completely covered now.

  2. Fill crushed rocks in between the cracks and leave them be. I know they will fall apart. So maybe I put some retaining bracket in the bottom and top row?

  3. Fill concrete in between the triangle gaps. But I am wondering if the concrete will crack?

  4. Fill in "something else" like gap filler to prevent cracking but also cover the cracks / gaps? I don't know what materials to use here.

  5. Completely pull this apart and buy something else for the stairs. Wasted 3-day.

I am leaning toward Option 4 but just don't know what to buy. Also the color is Tranquil so I don't know if the outcome will look ugly (in a different way).

Please help.

  • I don't think it looks so bad. I would pack that crushed rock in all the joints but leave it about an inch shy, then make dry pack (damp mixture of sand and a bit of portland cement) and pack all joints tight with that. Soak it with a bit of water then dry pack it again. It should set fairly firm and strong. – Jimmy Fix-it Aug 8 '16 at 4:56
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I think they're nice looking stairs... I would suppose that it's not going to sit perfectly still without a stout concrete base, or without some kind of retaining system (like rail road ties or long blocks or something) but I think crushed rock is probably a suitable alternative, too.

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After a couple years, you will probably need to add something to fill it in. Then I might opt for a more ornamental gravel.

Alternatively, you could go for the natural look if you fill it in with soil and grass seed; as grass and stuff begins to grow it will also help it settle and hold it's place.

enter image description here

Since you have angled blocks/pavers... yo could try the (fancy) round stair look.

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  • Wow you guys made me feel a lot better because I thought my idea was stupid. LOL. I like the left one of the 3rd photo. How are they being hold together like that? I didn't see "anything" to retain the blocks. I am thinking about pouring 2 inches of concrete in the 3 edges of each stair so they stay still. Do you think that will work? Or 2 inches will crack? My goal is NOT to have to redo for the next 2 years. – HP. Aug 8 '16 at 22:34
  • @HP. 3rd photo left... it appears that they did use a healthy amount of cement or some mortary material. It's just a picture on internet so I don't know what they used for certain Here's a better pic. – Ben Welborn Aug 8 '16 at 23:27
  • @HP. Yeah, cement will eventually crack but it will still help keep it in place. Sometimes you don't need much of anything to keep it in place (heavy works). I think that if you don't cement it, it should last at least a few years (things like this always depend), or if you do cement it, I could see it lasting a couple of decades. Some maintenance is always necessary. – Ben Welborn Aug 8 '16 at 23:27
  • I am looking for 2 years duration and you said decades. Good then! – HP. Aug 9 '16 at 5:03

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