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How to Set Up Radius Concrete Steps

By Elle Di Jensen
Round steps provide a unique look that stands out from the ordinary.
beach stairs image by Kenneth Summers from Fotolia.com

If you’re planning on replacing a set of concrete steps or building a brand new set all together, you can get a unique look by constructing round steps instead of the expected squared steps. The setup is similar to setting up a typical set of stairs, with a few variations -- the biggest difference being the riser forms you use. By pouring radius steps rather than square steps you’ll give your staircase a fresh look that will stand out from the rest of the neighborhood.

Tamp the soil in the area where your steps will be set up using the compaction machine. This will assure that the ground is packed and won’t settle any further, reducing the possibility of the steps sinking.

Measure the distance from the bottom of the doorway to the top of the soil surface below. Divide that measurement by 7 inches (the height of each step). This will determine how many steps you'll need to form. For example if the measurement from the doorway to the ground is 3 1/2 feet, you will need to form six steps (42 inches divided by 7 inches equals 6).

Secure one sheet of plywood on either side of the area where your steps will be. Pound two or three stakes along the outside bottom edge of the plywood to hold them in place.

Outline a pattern for your steps on the inside of both plywood forms using a level and a pencil. Start at the top of the first form and draw a 2-foot landing tread and a 7-inch rise, then a 12-inch tread and 7-inch rise, and continue on down until you have the outline of six steps. Start at the top of the second form, as well, to make sure your steps will be even.

Find the center of your staircase by measuring between the two plywood forms. Drill a hole into the foundation every 1 1/2-feet down along either side of the center, starting just below the surface of where the top step will be. The holes should be 1-foot apart from each other, making them 6 inches to the right and left of the center mark.

Insert a re-bar pin into each hole, pounding them in with the hammer.

Put fill into the space between the forms, leaving some room on all sides so that the concrete will entirely cover the fill.

Cut the hardboard or Masonite to create your riser forms using the skill saw. You will need six strips 7-inches high, and the length will be determined by how wide your staircase is and how curved you want your stairs to be. If the staircase is 4-feet wide, then you will want the riser forms to be 4-feet, 6-inches long for a moderate curve.

Secure the riser forms to the plywood forms following the step pattern drawn on the plywood. Start at the top of the forms and use the grabber screws to attach the riser forms. Use two screws for each side of each riser to make sure they won’t move when the concrete is being poured.

Pound a metal stake into the ground beneath the middle part of each riser form, using the longest stake for the top step and working your way down with shorter stakes for the subsequent steps. The stakes only need to be pounded into the soil about 2 inches down. This will support the forms at the point where they bend so that the forms won’t sag and your steps will be level.


Things You Will Need

  • Compactor, available at a rental shop
  • Tape measure
  • 2 sheets of ¾-inch plywood, 6-feet long by 5-feet high
  • 6 wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Drill with a 2-inch concrete bit
  • 2-inch re-bar pins, 4
  • Fill material, such as straw, bricks, or large-chunk gravel
  • Skill saw
  • Hardboard or Masonite
  • Power screwdriver
  • 24 grabber screws
  • 6 metal stakes


  • Adjust the length of your riser forms to manipulate how rounded your steps will be. Making the forms longer will make your steps more round and making the forms shorter will minimize the rounded look of the steps.
  • The metal stakes will need to be varied in length, with the longest one being approximately 38-inches long, and each of the other stakes consecutively 7-inches shorter than the one before it so that you have a stake the appropriate height to support each riser form. If you have trouble finding the correct lengths of metal stakes, you can purchase a wooden 1-inch-by-2-inch strip and cut it to the correct lengths with a saw.
  • As the concrete is poured into the forms, you'll need to remove the metal stakes that are holding up the middle parts of the riser forms. Although the concrete will be wet when you remove the stakes, it will be dense enough to support the light weight of the riser forms.

About the Author


Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.