Monday, March 08, 2010

Fixing the front steps

I really like interlock, but it has a problem that the stones can sometimes become uneven after couple of years. Fortunately, we haven't really had this problem, except at the top landing of the steps by the front door. This is the before photo. The stones are uneven around the perimeter, where the the smaller stones abut the larger border stones.

So I started out by taking out the uneven stones, which I lined up on the edge of the porch.

This photo is a composite of three images, because the camera doesn't have a wide enough angle to take in the complete view of the steps. I had to lift quite a number of the stones to relevel them - all the stones that I adjusted are indicated with an 'x'. I used construction adhesive for the large border stones -- landscapers use that to help lock all the stones together into one massive structure. I realized, when I was looking at this photo, that I put a few stones in upside down. They are indicated with a 'z'. Fortunately that isn't too obvious, and it's not horrible to look at even if you do notice it.

In order to compact the base under the interlock stones, you put a piece of wood on top of the stones and bash it with a hammer to compact the base. Using a piece of wood prevents the stone from breaking. You can see that I beat the tar out of the board that I used for this purpose. (It's complaining, "Ouch!")

After I re-leveled the stones, I had to fill the cracks. Landscapers use polymeric jointing sand to fill in the top half inch of the gaps because it holds the stones in place but remains flexible, doesn't blow away in the wind, and inhibits weeds. Polymeric sand has some kind of binder, or glue, in it that does the trick. It also is coloured, so it gives the path a more uniform colour, as you can see from this photo of the step.

I applied the polymeric sand to the path also. Here's a before and after photo, so you can see how it improves the look of the path.



After you apply polymeric sand, you are supposed to mist the path lightly so the binder in the sand can set up. Well, I don't have the hose out, because it is still officially winter, so I shoveled some snow onto the path. That should do the trick.

Oh yes, the wonderful thing about a self-cleaning oven is that it just leaves some ash in the bottom of the oven that you need to vacuum out. Easy peasy!


Anonymous said...

I am told that using the self-cleaning element to clean the stove can double you power bill. Maybe you will get a big surprise.

Mark said...

I think that story is pure fiction! For sure, using the self-clean function will increase your bill because it runs the oven at a high temperature (I think it is 500F or 550F) for something like 4 hours.

On the other hand, if you run the self-clean function in the winter, all the heat will go into your house so it is not wasted energy... :)