In spring 2013 Hammerhead Stoneworks built a stone staircase to provide entrance into a lovely home in Arden, North Carolina. We were replacing a set of wooden steps that were rotting. A poorly planned drainage plan had left the wooden steps sitting in a puddle. As we did our demolition, we discovered that water had wicked to the very top of the steps and the wood was overrun with ants. The wooden steps had been coated in stucco, which likely worsened the problem, as it didn’t allow the wood to ever dry out. As part of our work, we remedied the drainage problem, installing a french drain immediately next to the steps. We cut a path through the concrete walkway, to lay a pipe to convey the water out into the yard. We filled the path with cut stones that echo the step treads, instead of a concrete patch, giving the fix and design cohesion.
The steps are mortared. Hammerhead’s stock-in-trade is drystone work, but we use mortar when the project calls for it. I felt like the formality of the entrance, the details like the caps and overhangs and the size of material in use all signaled that mortar was the better choice. We used sandstone from Tennessee, which has such a wonderful range of colors and is the flattest stone around.
After we finished in the spring, we had an amazingly soggy summer. I checked in with the clients and was happy to hear that the area was draining great and that everything was doing fine!