Steps and Paths

Curb appeal

The path up to your home has much the same role as your driveway: it's a functional and aesthetically pleasing way to welcome guests and give them a first impression of your home. The design of your pathway and steps should complement your home but should also meet your needs. If you've got small children or family members with mobility issues, you'll need a smooth path with very few steps - or none at all - to make entry to your home safe and easy.

Advertiser Links for Steps

Pathway Designs

The path to your home should work well with the design of your driveway - try to match materials or colors to give a unified look to your home. For example, if you have a patio at the front or back of your house, use the same stones to pave your pathway.

Brick and stone are popular pathway materials but should be carefully installed to eliminate raised corners or uneven stones that can be a tripping hazard.

Stamped concrete is also a popular choice as it allows the path to be contoured and flow easily from the driveway to the house. This type of concrete is also a popular choice for do-it-yourselfers as it's fairly easy to install and is quite durable. The design of stamped concrete makes the path look like it's brick or stone, without the work and cost.

If you're opting for a real brick pathway, be sure to check the weather rating on the paving bricks you choose. Bricks are fired for different lengths of time and at different heats depending on the outdoor temperatures they'll need to withstand when installed. Older bricks may add character to your walkway, but they're generally softer and are more likely to crack.

What to Look for in Steps

The steps to your home need to withstand a lot of wear and tear. Not only are they constantly exposed to the elements, they also get tramped across every time anyone comes into or out of your house. Concrete steps are a sturdy option that can be built with heat coils to melt off ice and snow. Because stairs need to be perfectly flat and have to sit snug to your house, have a professional mold and pour your concrete steps.

Wooden steps are another popular choice that are easy to clear of snow and can be painted or stained in any color to match your home. If you live in a snowy area, stain is a better choice for your outdoor stairs as paint can peel or flake very easily. Painted wooden stairs can get very slippery when wet, so consider fastening strips of gripping material to the stairs to give your guests sure footing.

No matter which kind of stairs you choose, a hand railing is an important addition. A hand railing can help you steady yourself when you've got a full load of groceries and can help the very young and very old get safely up the stairs.

If someone in your home uses a wheelchair or motorized scooter for mobility, a yard ramp can make getting into and out of the house much easier. Yard ramps should be installed by a professional as the angle of the ramp needs to be mild enough that the chair or scooter can move along it safely and easily. If your house is highly elevated, the ramp will need to be longer, and likely with a few turns to keep the angle mild enough for safety. If you don't have the space for a yard ramp, look into outdoor elevators that can withstand the elements.

Getting into your home shouldn't be a challenge for your or your guests. Look for pathway designs and stairs that complement your home while meeting your mobility needs.

Add your comments
Add your comments:
Read Comments
Your Home DIY