Pre-Production and Design
Our process begins with the raw drawings that the client’s architectural and design team provides. Typically, they provide a building drawing that may or not have sufficient detail. If not, our design team jumps in to fill in the gaps. Depending on where the construction project is in the building process, we may go to the job site to take our own measurements. When we have all the dimensions and information we need, we create our plans and submit them to the architectural and design team for approval. Then we’re ready for the production phase.
The first step of fabrication is to craft the formwork. This step in the process has to be perfect because the concrete will pick up any detail in the formwork. There are many different ways to go about this. Usually, we’ll make a reusable form out of wood, steel, rubber, or plastic, depending on the desired shape and design of your stair tread. We prep it for the concrete, ensuring it’s absolutely watertight so the concrete will set well. Basically, we’re making a tiny bathtub for the concrete.
The concrete mixture we prefer to use is based on CSA, calcium sulfoaluminate. We don’t use Portland cement as often. CSA is both more environmentally friendly and cures faster, so it’s better for everyone involved.
When the formwork is perfect, we start casting the concrete. Depending on the situation, it’ll take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days before the concrete stair tread is ready to be removed from the formwork. At this point, we process the treads to your desired finish. Finally, we add any abrasive nosing and do any polishing, acid washing, or sandblasting requested by the client. Now it’s time to seal and crate them for shipment to the job site.
Installation isn’t terribly complex. Every job is different, but they all boil down to similar steps. We take the pieces to the job site, set them in place, ensuring they are straight, level, and in-line, and adhere them down with either an adhesive or by bolting them down. If we use an adhesive, we typically go with a polyurethane construction adhesive or an epoxy. We often install the treads using a gantry crane. This enables us to install the heavy concrete stair treads in the safest and most efficient way possible and avoid any injuries to our team.
In many cases, we are also installing the landings. In those cases, we install the landings first, before the stair treads.
That’s it! Once the job is completed, we send you a care guide for your concrete stair treads. They can be cared for using the same methods as concrete floors.