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Old 06-15-2018, 06:45 PM   #31
retiler
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Jad, earlier you mentioned a 4K cost for the precast concrete. Saw online prices more in the range of $1000 for a 6 step by 6 foot. This included installation. If I were to rip out the steps and put in a new precast set in, then the $1000 model would do close to what I would want (I actually need a 7 step). Do you have a url for the $4k quote?

Thank you repeating your comment about the ANSI A118.15 standard. First time around it went completely past me. It did not occur to me that they would create technical standards that were not transparently clear to a non-pro DIYer. Why bother with standards if a reasonably sensible consumer would make this mistake? It said exterior thin set. How much more explicit does it need to be?

I was wondering as well how having precast concrete stair might have changed the scenario. With precast you can have heating elements placed into the concrete. IF during each snowfall or ice storm etc when a freeze thaw were to occur, one were to first use the concrete heater below the slate tiles, then perhaps the tiles would have a greatly extended life span.

I have given additional thought to my idea of a precast concrete overlay as a workaround for my problem and it seems to me to be a ridiculously great idea. The precast concrete concrete could rest only on the existing stairs with perhaps a 1 foot down hangs from each of the sides. This would give the sides a finished look as well as allowing for fastening with concrete screws etc.. Meaning the entire stairs would be a continuous water barrier.

I could then add a matching concrete layer to the porch area.
We are also have problems with settling on the approach to the stairs.
My idea is that we could now have an attaching piece of concrete that could
project out perhaps 3 feet from the bottom of the stairs. This would be amazing! We could attach the two piece of concrete with concrete screws and then the exact slanting and tilting of the surrounding ground would no longer matter. People could walk on a nice level surface from the attachment from the leveled precast concrete on the steps without knowing the true topography. To finish it off I could then add a 3 foot railing to the left and the whole releveling job could be avoided! We were quoted $450 to do the leveling alone and this did not even include lifting up the large side stones. With my concrete extension idea I could save most of the $450.

Also with the overlay I would not need to remove the existing stairs and supporting stones. That would be a big expense and a big job.

With what I have in mind, all that would be needed is to cut off the railings
slide in the concrete and reattach the railings to the new concrete. The only
tricky part is making the concrete a nice snug fit. However, even this is not strictly required. I could push the concrete overlay a few inches out of true alignment and it would make no actual difference, except it would mean that
the overlay would fit with near certainty.
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Old 06-15-2018, 06:52 PM   #32
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Here is the rough plan for the precast.
Please no sarcastic comments, this is only a rough plan.
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:00 PM   #33
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I'm on the board of a condominium. Over the last 10-years or so, we've had to replace more than one set of concrete steps. Installed, they're now closer to $4K. It might be a regional thing, but our managing company does get multiple bids and we then make the selection.

The actual cost of the new steps is a lot less, but tearing out the old, carting it away, then setting the new one in place significantly adds to the overall costs.

WHat's likely to be a local price, can't say for you. Call around, get some quotes and maybe a reference or two, then decide.

Electrically or hydronically heating things outside for snow melt has some advantages, but can get costly. If you research those systems, you'll find that they get specified in a series of classes based on their ability to melt the snow and how fast. The least comprehensive class will slowly melt snow over several hours or more. The most aggressive one has sufficient capacity to keep snow off of the surface under almost all conditions (like might be used at a helicopter landing pad at a hospital), or somewhere in between. Electrical systems generally can't achieve the highest class and usually require hydronic heating.

One thing that might work would be DitraHeat from Schluter, but I'm not positive it would really be suitable for that purpose...the sensor is designed for interior use, but maybe with a different sensor/thermostat. I'm sure that there are systems available for this as you'll see them installed if you look for them. I've not looked into them deeply for a long time.
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:35 PM   #34
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Jad, what do you think of the idea of simply overlaying the precast concrete on top of the existing stairs? This seems like a massively great idea. No removal.
A fast and simple install.

Admittedly I still favor the retile idea. I will ask around for some quotes and for the guarantees and see what the local pros have to say. It would be a smallish job to retile, though some local firms seem motivated for even small projects.

The one concern that I had with the electric idea was mixing water and electricity.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:01 PM   #35
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John, I'll come to Ontario and install new slate for you. Then, I'll write you a 20 year written warranty. The only catch is that it's gonna cost you 25 thousand dollars for me to install it.

If I remember correctly, here in Texas we have to stand behind our work for 1 year. I don't know what the laws are in your area but I doubt you'll get anyone to give you a warranty saying anything will hold up in your harsh climate.

I wouldn't install anything over your old slate. That makes my tile job only as good as the previous installers. If his comes loose this winter, so does mine.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:02 PM   #36
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The place I retired from had electrically run heat cable for snowmelt around the entrance...works fine. They all use a GFCI circuit.

I've no experience with repair jobs on concrete. One thing to keep in mind is in trying to maintain the rise step to step...if it's off, it becomes a safety hazard, and it doesn't take all that much difference to happen, either.

You could try some other stone tile. To achieve some traction, I'd consider a flamed finish. There are all sorts of granite tile out there aside from grey, from white to black and green to blue and almost anywhere in between. Expect around $10/sqft just for the tile, though.

You cannot reasonably expect to heat treat slate. When naturally occurring, it takes millennia and huge pressure...not something that would be easy to replicate.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:17 PM   #37
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Davy, thanks might just take you up on your offer.

My main motivation would be to see how much of the guarantee they would feel comfortable with. Hopefully I will be able to see a little bit behind the scenes and have an idea what the actual experience of these tiles is like. The great part is that I can just walk around the neighborhood and see what people have on their stairs. I could develop an idea of how durable the tiles were by just asking around a bit.

My big hope had been to avoid replacing something over the slate and instead go with replacing the existing places where the slate tiles detached with new slate tiles. Hopefully this time with more attention and maintenance so that they could last longer. My neighbor disputed it but I would have guessed that there could be some sort of waterproof sealent that might be applied annually to try and keep the water out from the joins.

Our builder did seem somewhat hopeless about our weather. He was a non-native Canadian; he had no clue about our winters.
His native climate was quite a bit warmer than Texas. In Canada we might only have one pleasant weekend in a whole year. What I found very odd was that our builder jumped on a plane on our one nice weekend in the year and flew somewhere warmer. Canadians live for that weekend. Sort of like Waiting for Godot; usually the pleasant weekend doesn't even happen even after you've waited the year.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:21 PM   #38
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Jag, yes that is the whole thing with tile: as soon as you try and fix it the entire alignment is thrown off. I though that we had everything good for alignment but then I realized that the bottom step would then also be out. I just wished that there could be some way of rotating out of tile into a replacement of similar depth. My big idea had been concrete resurfacing, though the contractor we spoke to had stories about concrete resurfacing. Yet, the video I saw online showed a fairly fast and easy job resurfacing some steps.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:46 PM   #39
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Find a concrete resurfacer who guarantees his work
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:07 PM   #40
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Thank you for joining the conversation Houston Remodeler!
I found your statement somewhat cryptic.
Did you mean find a concrete resurfacer who will guarantee the work (meaning good luck with that) or more find a concrete resurfacer who will guarantee the work (meaning words of wisdom to follow) or other?

Yes, the concrete resurfacing did seem like a highly appealing way out of our tile problem. However, when I was online I came across videos saying that concrete resurfacing can simply result in annual reapplications of resurfacers. Concrete takes on water and then will go through a freeze thaw cycle as well.
For us it would still be needed to grind out the thin set which could require some exertion.
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:17 PM   #41
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I meant the latter. Tiling may not be the best solution, esp with slate which is porous. A vitrified tile would be optimal.
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:40 PM   #42
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Houston, what is your take on the guarantees that I could expect from the local retilers? 20 years might be somewhat unreasonable, though I am not so sure that 5-10 years would be.

I might be able to dig around some of the technical data for my area. I would love to know how long slate exterior tiles would be expected to last here.
One problem of course in asking the people who have tile on their steps about their experiences is that these are ones who have been selected to have a good outcome. All those who had a negative result would have went to an alternative such as stone.
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:44 PM   #43
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John, if you would add your geographic location to your User Profile it would appear in each post and help folks who might want to answer some of your questions.
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Old 06-15-2018, 10:41 PM   #44
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A porcelain tile is nearly impervious, so it, by itself wouldn't absorb enough moisture to be a problem. But, your existing steps probably do not have any slope to them, and that means water would pool on top. Some of it will get beneath the tile. That's one reason why getting as close to 100% coverage underneath is so critical.

There is no way to ensure a tiled installation and grout will end up water tite. Even in a shower, that's not what happens. The tile is a decorative, wear surface, not waterproofing.

A good application of an ANSI A118.15 thinset and a nearly impervious tile, and maybe an epoxy grout (not sure if they are rated for exterior use), and you'd have a more reliable installation. Some stone is nearly impervious, some that you'd think would be, isn't. Even granite, depending on the type, can absorb moisture.

You have to address more than one issue:
- permeability of the tile and thus, its resilience to freeze/thaw
- quality of the setting materials - choosing one rated for those conditions
- slope to help prevent standing water that just complicates the whole situation
- the suitability of the tile and grout for freeze/thaw
- the condition of the concrete steps themselves (cracks, level, railings, etc.)

Last, may be the coefficient of friction as you don't want to slip and slide off of even just a wet surface, let alone one covered in snow or ice. Many porcelain tiles may be too smooth. A natural stone tile like a granite can have a honed or flamed surface that would give it a bit of tooth...you certainly wouldn't want a polished stone there IMHO.
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Old 06-16-2018, 08:45 AM   #45
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We have slate porches and steps in Wisconsin under snow every winter that are over a 100 years old. I redid a large commercial one in IL reusing the same slate that was installed in 1897 (FT. Sheridan Officers Club). That was 30 or so years ago, and it is still there too.
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