When you are building your porch or deck one of the last things you will need to do is build your steps.
You have many choices you can attach your step stringers to your rim joist of the deck with a header and then use a ground contact rated pressure treated footer at the bottom or you can go an additional step and pour a pad at the bottom of your steps and attach your post and stringers there.
Here we will be installing a concrete pad.
As you can see the first thing you need to do is measure how far away from the deck your pad needs to be to line up with the finished steps. (first time builders might actually want to build the steps and put them in place to find the location.)
Once you find this dimension you build a frame out of 2x4s to serve as the form for your concrete.
The most important thing is that this pad needs to be level so if you are choosing scrap lumber for your frame make sure it is straight.
Build the frame by nailing the corners and then dig away the topsoil and grass where you want to place it.
Once you have it level you can anchor the corners if needed with some wood stakes.
Now that you have the location of the pad you can mark where the bottom posts for the stair railings will be placed.
You can see in the first picture that where the post will sit (red arrow) we have dug down about a foot deep to provide a footer for the post to sit on. This is important because we will be using L shaped anchor bolts and attaching the post to the concrete with a steel post mount.
Now that the hole is dug you can begin mixing your concrete.
It is important to make the mix wet enough that you can work it but not so wet that it seems liquidity. Less water is always the best thing and you should add a little water then mix then add a little more until you get the right consistency.
Fill the holes that will support the posts first then fill the rest of the form with concrete.
It will probably take you a few batches to fill the whole thing.
You should use a scrap 2×4 to screed and level the surface of the concrete pad.
Trawling the pad to a smooth finish is a good idea to make sure things are level but when you are finished you will want to use a broom to scratch the surface and give it a non-slip texture which is very important in the rain and snow.
Finally we can insert our post anchor bolts and dress up the outside of our pad with a edger traul.
Measuring for the anchor bolts needs to be done pretty accurately but the post mount does hav an adjustable feature that will let you fix any problems later.
In this final picture you can see the post anchor that is placed next to the bottom of our stairs. The bolt that we inserted earlier is tightened through the hole on the top and the post rests about an inch off the concrete so the bottom won’t rot. Always use Hardened Joist hanger nails when nailing steel anchors to wood.
So, this is pretty much all you need to do.
Because the pad is small we did not use rebar but if you were making a larger one you would probably want to use rebar netting which looks like thick fence material. Rebar netting can be placed in the hole of the form and then supported about half way up in the air with broken concrete or rocks before you start pouring your stair pad.