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What finish fill for the timber steps I just built??

Stacey Collins
11 years ago

Whew! I just finished building a flight of 17 timber-framed steps up a hillside. Ten freakin' tons of crushed gravel moved by hand uphill... I am soooo worn out!

I filled each step (cedar riser and cheeks) with the crushed gravel, well tamped down, to about 1" from the top. I'd assumed I would use "stone dust" as my finish material, since the pictures of it I'd seen were fairly nice-looking, and my neighbor had offered me the pile of it in his yard for free.

(FWIW, our "crushed gravel" is the road base material, fines to 3/4" gravel.)

However, I just went to get a wheelbarrow full, and the stuff he has is very light and, I don't know how to describe it: loose?? I put some in a step and tamped it down, but it remails loose, easy to move when it's walked on. I was assuming it would be more like the crushed gravel, which makes a nice HARD, packed surface.

My thought was that a hard, packed surface would be easier to shovel snow off in winter without shoveling away a loose fill. (If snow shoveling wasn't an issue, I'd have used something pretty and nice-sounding like pea gravel.)

This project is already over budget, and it's totally DIY, so something really spiffy like flagstones/slate isn't in the cards, at least this year. (I also just finished laying in a slate flag side walkway, which came out beautifully!)

So what should I use? Is my neighbor's stone dust atypical? If I go somewhere else can I find some that'll pack hard and flat?

Or do you have any other suggestions?

Thank you!!!

(as soon as I get the steps filled, I get to proceed to the fun part of planting around it ...)

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