Concrete stair treads by Downing Designs are available in any custom color, shape or thickness. Our ultra-strong concrete mix design allows us to integrate any color you desire into the concrete stair treads, and are a durable mix designed to look terrific now and down the road with the inevitable wear and tear upon them. Since we use sand, cement, fiber, pigment, water reducing admix, it allows us to polish the surface smooth and pre-abrade the surface. Many precast concrete stair treads use large aggregates (rocks) that spot the surface, especially over time when the first layers of the concrete are abraded off. We do not. In Florida the large aggregate is white limestone rock chunks. They will show once the initial layers gave been eroded…NOT GOOD! What you see is what you get…now and down the road. This is critical to matching decor in commercial and residential spaces. Make sure you know what your mix design is …otherwise it could be quite a surprise. We always ship a sample that has been cut with a saw to show you the innards of our concrete.
We use hair fine fibers in our mix design to knit the concrete together. This fiber concrete matrix is proven extremely strong. Interestingly in Japan, fiber is used as a primary reinforcement in place of welded wire mesh and/or rebar. Rebar prevents big chunks of concrete from breaking off, but fiber actually prevents large cracks from occurring, and then spreading. These fibers are stronger than steel. With tensile strengths of 240 ksi, this means our concrete will flex under loads that would cause other reinforcement methods to fail. They bond within the concrete on a molecular level (hydrogen bonding) to the cement particles. Truly a superior technical advantage.
Our custom concrete stair treads and steps are a proprietary blend that exhibits tremendous compressive and flexural strength.
We polish the surface to attain a safe slip-resistant “bite” even if they are wet. They are acid-washed and sealed permanently with penetrating sealers to maintain their good looks. We never use or recommend epoxy/plastic sealers for high use treads…it will eventually wear off leaving zero protection and will look not pretty in unprotected areas. Much like porcelain tile, our concrete stair treads will maintain its looks over time.
We recommend 2″ thick minimum for concrete stair treads on up to 4″. Often railings are through-drilled and mounted onto these treads, and it is smart to have a thick chunk of concrete to distribute the weight load per sq inch where the railing is mounted. We can mould into the edges post holder notches as well.
Colors. We use a white portland cement and sand as our base concrete stair tread mixture. It is more expensive and stronger than grey portland cement, and produces a color akin to light canvas. From there, we can add pigments in a computer-controlled mix design to match any color you specify. We usually communicate color by using either Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams colors. When selecting colors for your concrete stair treads, we recommend using light to medium colors to be more forgiving of inevitable traffic tracking in dirt from outside. Dark colors concrete stair tread will hide dirt better than light concrete. Just as we do for our precast concrete countertops, we can place seashells, glass pieces, metallic logos etc. at strategic points in the mould as well to fully customize the appearance of the concrete steps.
We pour the steps in huge slabs, polish them and then cut to size. This keeps color identical for each concrete stair tread. We can pour large landings as well. Please note that these large pieces are very, very heavy, and must be placed with the aid of forklift, lull or other powerful equipment. Make sure your concrete stair tread installation plan allows for this machinery access.
We usually put a 1/2″ round-over on the leading front edge of the concrete stair treads to make them comfortable even on bare feet. This also disperses energy should a heavy object fall upon the stair treads reducing the chance for chips. If chips should occur, we can recreate the exact formula and patch the affected area. If you prefer to have an abrasive metal safety nose for your stairs treads we can incorporate them as well. Some are even luminescent for better safety at nigh
These concrete stair treads are commercial and residential rated. Any thickness and profile you desire are available. Often it is desirable to pour the concrete stair treads “hollow” on their interior so they fit onto the steel stair structure like a hat to conceal the steel work.
Our concrete mix is extremely strong and will last for decades of use. These pictures from Hydrologic in Sarasota and Tampa show almost no signs of wear and tear after 1 year of opening. ..they look unchanged by the daily use they receive from contractors, designers and clients.
Just like our concrete countertops, our concrete stair treads can withstand the daily use, and is a testament to their rugged, smart construction technique, as well as the sealing process.
Cleaning. Cleaning concrete stair treads is easy…warm soap and water, and bleach as needed w 25% bleach/water solution. Simple!
Design note. Ive never had a client ask for this, BUT…It might be interesting to make a sequence of concrete stair treads where each has its own custom color….e.g. lets say 10 steps…perhaps start at bottom with light grey…advancing to the top which is dark grey…advance the color mix 10% so that each tread is unique and the colors flow in sequence from light to dark as you go up the stairs. Or do a staccato of one light, one dark as the concrete stair treads progress up the stairs
We can also embed metal logos into the steps to further customize the look.
The steel backbone for the steps must be strong and the flat…this may seem obvious, but steel can often warp after welding. Often when we place our steps extra grinding of welds and bowed steel must be done in order to flatten the stair step supports. Otherwise we would have to use a lot of shims (not pretty) and is also presenting an uneven support base which can lead to uneven stress and concrete cracking.
Attaching stairs is done with strong epoxy we love the Sika Hi Mod 31 epoxy which sets hard as a rock in 45 minutes, has a peanut butter consistency so it stays where we place it, and bonds well to concrete, metal, wood, erc.
It sets to over 16000psi compressive strength which is very hard and maintains its bond for a very long time.
Shipping is done in secured foam padded crates, fully insured to your jobsite.
We usually add an extra step to order to ensure continuity on jobsite should any damage occur…this alone has saved the bacon of more than one GC when their metalworkers abused one of our steps…they were absolutely shocked when we told them “No problem…I made extras”.
We also offer custom textured glass stair treads as well…see our blog for pictures of this.
Jeff Downing, Downing Designs, (813) 784-5211