August 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm #156646Stephanie SmootParticipant
I need to add a step or two to manage a grade change on a patio. I remember hearing that you should never put only two steps in the landscape. Also heard same about putting in single steps. I would think a single wide step would be ok as long as it is visible and placed in a logical well lit spot. Not sure why two steps are a problem-rythym? Please share your thoughts about steps.August 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm #156655Daniel Miller | RLA, LEED APParticipant
For steps, it’s always safe to use the 2R(isers) + T(read) = 24″ – 27″ — that formula gives steps a well proportioned, non-awkward and safe feeling when being used
I tend to try to steer clear of the single step because it usually ends up being a trip hazard — but that being said, if the grading dictates that say a single, 6″ riser is all that’s needed then I’d rather have a single riser at 6″ than two (2) risers at 3″ a piece. If it’s a private residence/patio — there’s a lot more leniency in something like that.August 30, 2012 at 10:53 pm #156654mark fosterParticipant
As I learned it, a “step” is a tread, which would imply 2 rises from one surface to another? This is ok. The trouble comes when you have a single rise between two surfaces– I never do this.
I have never heard the two step/tread rule….sounds like advice from someone who has never designed in tight spaces 🙂August 31, 2012 at 11:19 am #156653Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
It is a patio, not a walk way. A single elevation change is not uncommon on a residential deck or patio as are two risers in a set of steps (three risers can require a railing that many like to avoid). You should be cautious with any elevation change in a patio because they are gathering places where people often are interacting with theier back facing the drop off which leaves them vulnerable to stepping backward off of the edge.
Whenever possible, strong visual cues should be incorporated in the design to alert people of the drop – planting bed, change in surface material, ….
It is assumed that you have looked at the feasibility of absorbing the grade change at one end or the other (or splitting the difference) of the patio to avoid the break.September 2, 2012 at 10:57 am #156652Trace OneParticipant
Never one step, is what we learned – it’s weak design, and a trip hazard – and I disagree with Danile Miller, two 3″ risers are better than one six inch riser Two three-inches sound nice. Don’t know where you go the idea that to risers is veboten, Stephanie – for the pace issue, two is definitely preferabel to one.
There is a marvelous long staircase on the UPenn campus that has long treads (four feet, even six feet) and very short risers (2inches, three inches) over perhaps one hundred feet distance, and I swear the designer worked it so that every step up is on the opposite leg – what a fun staircase it is, both up and down, and you additionally feel like you are getting a little yoga on your back, as you go from one foot to the other, at the risers..I love it..September 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm #156651Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Curbs and landings are very common and safe single elevation changes we all see and experience almost every day. There is a safety issue associated with an unexpected elevation change. The key is to make sure that it is not unexpected.
The safety issue of a drop off all the way across an uninterupted patio is very difficult to mitigate, but when access to the different levels is controlled the single transition, or step, is not unexpected. This can be done in strong ways such as a railing, but also in softer ways such as planting beds separating the two levels except at access points. A different color stone or change in pattern along the edge of a transtion is a good additional subtle reinforcement.
Having two steps is simply the same thing. It makes the elevation change obvious which reduces the hazard.
The difficulty with a patio is that people are not moving in a particular direction, so visual cues need to be periferal so no one steps backward or sideways over the edge. A single patio transition coming from under a roof overhang with columns is quite safe with periferal reinforcement of the roof and columns while a full width patio step can easily take you by surprise.. Just a three foot wide bed with shrubs on the lower side between access walks can make all of the difference …. if you have the space for beds. The bed can also be sloped to meet grade at top and bottom so there is no drop off at all.
A single step is weak on its own. Good design can strengthen it. There can be lots of ways to do that depending on circumstances. Other times the situation is too limiting.September 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm #156650ncaParticipant
Its pretty common for a patio to be 6-8″ above adjacent grade, perfectly fine. The one step rule is intended more for high traffic walkways in my interpretation and interiors, though you see it all the time in interiors too. I agree with andrew, use a larger stone, planting, or paving pattern to distinguish the step if necessary.September 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm #156649Jason T. RadiceParticipant
You can certainly place a single step or a set of stairs in a landscape, especially on a patio. It is fairly common to do so. It is not recommended to do so on a means of egress for reasons of the general public not being able to see it in an emergency, but it is exempt in a private residential application on the means of egress. Off the means of egress, it is no problem whatsoever. You do need to make sure that the step is at least 4″ and more more than 7″, which can be tricky using certain modular building materials. You also need to generally maintain a 11″ tread, with a 13″ for single tread stair. None of these are to be considered an accessible route.September 3, 2012 at 12:44 am #156648Jason T. RadiceParticipant
Sorry…no less than 4″ and no more than 7″ for the risers. and the risers must be consistent. Single tread is 13″ min, more than one tread, 11″ minimum.September 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm #156647Stephanie SmootParticipant
This is all good advice regarding how to handle a 6-8″ grade change in a residential patio. I was considering the patio at the top to be the “step” even though according to Mark’s definition, it isn’t really a tread, it’s the patio. I agree with Mark and others, therefore, that it would be very easy for someone to back into that single 6-8″ riser and trip. I can put a contrasting tread on top and narrow the travel space with planting to telegraph the change. I may also see if I can get the client to go with a ramped transition rather than a step. You don’t usually see that in a residential patio though but it might make it easier to wheel in the kegs. Thank you everyone.
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