An ongoing series by the Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board by Ron Block O walls, steps, walks & driveways a stair rises six inches, the comfortable tread width is 14 inches--(6 plus 6) plus 14 equals 26. Stairs that don't follow this rule often have a path around them because they are uncomfortable to use and people avoid them. An elegant finishing touch to outdoor steps is the cheek wall, often found on older concrete stairs around town. These walls, formed on either side of free-standing stairs, create a clean, distinct transition between the stairs and the lawn. They should be considered if you are creating or redoing concrete stairs, as they complement the style and era of many of the houses. Many Mt. Lebanon homes were created in the early automobile era, and the "three-car family" had not yet arrived. This can create parking difficulties in today's world, and it is tempting to widen the family drive to accommodate numerous vehicles. It is important, however, to carefully consider the impact on the house's setting and the effect on the street. Many homes have fine green lawns that set off the architecture and create a park-like neighborhood effect. If every house were to widen the single-track driveway to a double width, much of that pastoral effect would be lost. Also lost in a driveway widening is a good portion of the planting strip, the green ribbon that gives a pleasant edge to the street and creates a place for the street trees. If a driveway widening is unavoidable, consider just widening the front portion for an extra car, leaving a landscaped area the rest of the way to the house. Mt. Lebanon is full of exceptional architectural detail and careful aesthetic design, in its buildings and in its landscapes, and we all can do our part to preserve, protect and enhance it on our properties whenever possible. utdoor walls, steps, walks and driveways can have a big effect on the appearance of our dwellings. They are part of the first impression people have of the property, and their style and condition matter to the overall picture our house presents to the street. Walks should be proportionate to the size of the house, and the landings should be large enough for people to wait comfortably for the door to be answered or to say their goodbyes without stepping onto the lawn or down the steps when the door is open. Materials used in the walks, landings and driveway should be uniform or coordinated and be in harmony with the overall architecture and landscape. Driveway walls often appear from the street to be the "foundation" of the house, and it is important to choose materials that are sympathetic to the house's style and materials. Natural materials like brick and stone may seem more expensive initially, but their qualities generally create a more pleasing result and they age more gracefully than some of the pre-formed concrete products. Properly laid walls have lines that are level horizontally, not lines running with the topography. This takes more time and more effort, but the results are more satisfying. Good drainage is the most important component of proper wall construction, and keeping walls in good repair is important for aesthetics and for safety. If a wall is leaning outward it eventually will fail. If water cannot easily escape, it will eventually push the wall over. Fixing mortar on the front will not fix a wall if the real problem is coming from behind. Outdoor stairs can be more generous in width than indoors stairs, if space permits. However, for comfortable stairs, the following rule applies: "Twice the riser plus the tread equals twenty-six inches." If Go for the Gold Marshall Goldstein, Realtor Sandy Goldstein, ABR, e-Pro Call on the GOLD TEAM of Sandy and Marshall Goldstein Our team provides you with exceptional service in every aspect of selling your home or helping you purchase one. 412.854.Sold x 215 724.941.9400 x 215 412.721.0306 cell 1190 Gallery Drive McMurray, PA 15317 www.sandygoldstein.com Sandy@Sandygoldstein.com GoldsteinMarsh@aol.com www.mtlebanon.org 15