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Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out

 
 
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:14 PM  
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Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


This is a home I've worked in off and on for about 4 years.

The house sits on a reservoir, and has a basement walk out down to a sea wall. The driveway off of the main level has a high concrete curb sitting on a block retaining wall with a hand rail, and a stair way at the back corner which goes down to the sea wall and dock.

As you can see, the original handrails were improperly core drilled too close to the outside edge of the curbing. Freeze and thaw has made quite a mess.

The stair treads look to be cast blocks that were set in place with the block retaining walls. The walls themselves are in good shape but there's been some erosion of the paver driveway near the stairs.

My concrete guy and I are trying to come up with the best repair solution--which will probably be poured treads that canteliever out from the block wall 4-6 inches to give a little more meat for the handrail drills.

The issue we're trying to work around is where the stairs meet the block retaining wall. (There's currently a 1" or so gap from the edge of the tread blocks). I don't want to pour up to the wall because it's just not going to look good.





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Old 07-31-2010, 09:15 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out




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Old 07-31-2010, 09:38 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


All I know is that always happens when the posts are core drilled into concrete.

They pop or rust off.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:43 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Plus I don't see how you are going to form the step treads and pour them.

There is no way to support the forms, stakes or kickers.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:48 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


It's going to be a challenge, to be sure. Long props down to the ground.

The main problem is the irregularity of the block retaining wall. It's going to be hard to form up against it for a clean line.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:59 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


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Originally Posted by ChrWright View Post
It's going to be a challenge, to be sure. Long props down to the ground.

The main problem is the irregularity of the block retaining wall. It's going to be hard to form up against it for a clean line.

I can't imagine trying to pull the forms and being able to rub the faces out.

They are against stone slabs?

I worry about what kind of voids there are under those caps.

He would have to scribe the forms to the block and put in expansion.

It would look sweet with stamped treads.

I would love to watch that pour.

On a side note, I have had to form steps up for the guy my brother works for because apparently most creter's have issues with math.

Here is who he works for: http://www.wilmerconcrete.com/
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:08 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


I think it was no accident that
they precast the treads.
It looks like the best solution.
PorRock or some non-shrink
grout that is mounded/slightly raised?
Combined with the most rust
resistant posts....
They can last if the water doesn't
pool and start the rust.
The expansion of corroding iron
is as destructive as freezing water.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:09 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Why don't people use aluminum for the posts instead of steel, steel does not do well set in concrete.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:11 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Sell him on limestone!
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:15 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


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Sell him on limestone!
That stuff grows on tree's around these parts huh Neo.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:19 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


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That stuff grows on tree's around these parts huh Neo.
Welllll....
under them!
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:20 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Might have to look at some kind of slab material again, as I'm starting to agree with Neo they were the best choice. The hard part of is the core drills and keeping them from blasting out the edges again. Not even sure if these handrails can be salvaged either.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:24 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrWright View Post
Might have to look at some kind of slab material again, as I'm starting to agree with Neo they were the best choice. The hard part of is the core drills and keeping them from blasting out the edges again. Not even sure if these handrails can be salvaged either.
I don't think the cores
were the problem.
I think they under filled,
or didn't use non-shrink,
or both.
No way do you want to reintroduce
pre-corroded iron into the situation.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:25 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Stainless is sexy, and nautical!
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:30 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


I looked at this for a while before commenting, IMO

I think basically along the same lines, the existing railing is shot,

And it appears the best alternative is to remove those slabs, and set new slabs.
Go with wider ones as you originally thought, so it gives it a bigger margin between the railing and the outer edge.

Just thinking out loud here,

But my pool ladder is stainless, and it doesn't rust up, been working great for 20 years.
It sets down into pockets, and tightens against a wedge, via a 3/8's bolt.

Seems you should be able to rail it with a similar product. ??


The way its setting now, looks very dangerous.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:36 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrWright View Post
Might have to look at some kind of slab material again, as I'm starting to agree with Neo they were the best choice. The hard part of is the core drills and keeping them from blasting out the edges again. Not even sure if these handrails can be salvaged either.
I was pretty negative about poured steps too

If there is some way to drive a sleeve for posts before you set the slabs and then put some color matched OSI around the "brushed aluminum" posts.

Maybe you could save the cable and put a new rail on top then.

I do think limestone is a good call Neo.

You could weld where the posts slip inside the sleeves and then have a decorative cover over that joint, where it covers the caulk joint and the hole in the tread.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:50 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


Instead of a core drill how about welding plates to the bottom of the posts and surface mounting them? I have a 10' b-ball goal in my drive for several years mounted like that with no issues.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:11 AM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


I would replace the laid block treads with concrete.

If this were mine .. I would be completely rid of the laid block treads .. I would then cleat a 2x4 vertical, placed diagonal running in line along the bottom of the risers .. this would anchor the form work on that side. I would then mount my outside stair form to it. You can adjust your reveal accordingly. (don't worry .. those blocks aren't going to go anywhere)

No need for kickers, as I would dowel the inner blocks and use tie-wire tied to the dowels (#4 rebar) across and inside the stair to be poured, to the outside form to keep it from possible bowing from the weight of the concrete. (i would then just clip the wire off as I stripped/rubbed it out)

You'll want to keep this light, so using construction grade 5/8 plywood for your stairset (for the outside form) form material would be best (risers would be cut to width, 2x8 cut down to 6 1/2" to 7 3/4"). I also would use screws (3/4" torqueshead) to put it all together .. makes stripping it out a lot easier too.

If you've got a 1' tread, the risers would help greatly in helping to hold it all together. (The risers would be cleated to the inside block)

It's hard to sit here and try to explain it all without actually drawing a picture .. I don't have a scanner or I would.

This isn't something that has to be difficult really .. I know some guys get all wigged out when they see a radius, coupled with this kind of block work, but it's not such a bad deal really, as depending on how you set this up, one could easily rub radius into the finished product to match the laid block.

As far as the rail .. don't waste your time with it. Metal railing is, in so many cases, just like wood .. it only rots slower. Fasten the metal railing on to the edge of the treads by "bolting" it down only after the treads have had enough time to cure properly.

As far as pouring it? .. well, I don't know how far from the truck this all is or could be. If it's something that needs to be pumped, you'ld want the operator to ramp it down a bit. Or you could consider using a smaller 3" line pump ..

At any rate, I absolutely would have no trouble setting this up to pour ..
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:24 AM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


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Plus I don't see how you are going to form the step treads and pour them.

There is no way to support the forms, stakes or kickers.
You wouldn't use stakes or kickers with something like this in the first place .. it would all be self supporting ..
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:07 PM  
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Re: Concrete Problems - Handrails Cracking Out


I don't think the location of the cores & subsequent rails were the problem necessarily, but hte fact that there are hollow, mild steel pipes imbedded is the REAL problem.

I've mounted quite a few steel railings like this before, as my cousins run a welding/fab shop, and I do the installations for them. Hollow pipe, especially with all the open holes required for cable rails, is sure to hold water at the base.

Here's a mere suggestion as to how I would probably approach this situation. Take what you want and leave the rest.

- Saw all of the railings off flush with the treads. Take the existing railing sections to a decent weldign shop and have them weld either a square or round (could be 4" x4", or 4" dia, or w/e size you think looks good, but I'd suggest a plate thickness of 3/8" to 1/2") to the bottom of the existing posts. Right above the plate, they should drill a weep hole in each vertical post. To the bottom of the post, they would weld a 1" rebar about 8" or so long, at least long enough penetrate the tread & a little bit of the top course of the retaining wall. This way, you allow a path for the water to exit the post, because it will never be waterproof, above the concrete, as well as have a stout connection into the wall. The plate will also aid in setting the posts into wet epoxy or non-shrink grout, as it will hold the post at your intended height. The plate will also hide the core hole & fill.

- I personally wouldn't want to form the risers into the 3 sided block face. Too much scribing IMO to keep concrete from running out the bottom. Plus, it's one more element your mixing into the wall. I know I've seen those treads before, and have no reason to believe that they're not still available. If you can't find them wide enough to do in one piece, do it in 2 or 3 pieces? I think you could even leave some of the existing in place IF you weren't worried about the material matching perfectly right away. Or you could mix the new material with some of the existing to create some kind of pattern, or random mix.

- The top curb, I would either re-form & pour, or add one additional course of block and use a matching retaining wall cap. Some overhang is good here, but I really don't think you need 6"+ for the railing to work. I've done a few curved railings like this before, and they always get impressively tight when the grout hardens compared to just a straight railing.

- A few other options would be to scrap all the railing sections currently in place, after using them to make new ones of course, nad going with all new material in SS or aluminum, but obviously it's going to cost a heck of a lot more money. You may also be able to salvage the existing, have them sand blasted, and have the weld shop send them out to be galvanized. BUT, whatever you do, I would not suggest setting the pipes directly into the concrete again.

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