Brownstone Front Stoop Reno

We haven’t written anything for a while but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been hard at work or hiring other people to work hard!

Last spring we decided that we could not stand our crumbling and peeling front stoop anymore.  The steps got a lot of damage from our contractors bringing in materials in and out of the building and it has probably never been redone since it was built.  As the paint chipped away so too did the materials underneath.

Front of Building

Front of Building when we first bought the place – not in bad shape

Whenever we used the ground floor entrance debris would rain down on us.  Under the stairs was even worse and the smell can only be described as rat death.  There was a large hole that we filled with rocks to prevent rodents from coming up from what we think was the sewer.  When we first purchased our building we did find one dead rat under there.  If that isn’t gross enough, we found animal bones from either rat carcasses or from chicken bones being dragged into there for dinner.


After our interior renovation they were not looking too good.



Ceiling in the entrance was disintegrating.

We took bids from masons recommended to us from a local Google-group that we belong to.  We checked all of the references of the one that we considered and physically went to see the steps that the front runner completed because we’ve learned our lesson on selecting contractors.

The first step in restoring the stoop was to chisel out the brownstone substance (not really genuine brownstone).  Afterwards it looked like this:



Then they clear that away and put a cement scratch coat that looks like this:


Then we waited until the spring for the cement to cure.  We were fine with this because we had stairs that were not leaking and potentially causing foundation problems, and under the stairs was nice and clean.  This process took about four days total for this stage.

When spring arrived the mason came back to put some test colors on the stairs for us to choose and then they put on the finished coat.  They started in the morning and did a few steps at a time so they would be dry by the time we got home from work.  This stage took about four days.



Waiting to dry


Looking good!

stoop done

I took this after photo but not at the right angle to see the neighbor’s damage.

We went with the original design of the steps to match the others on the street.After another week they came back and scrubbed and rinsed the steps and now they look great!

The workers also did a pretty good job of cleaning up afterwards.  They did leave our iron window bars that were under the stair out and someone stole them but we’ve yet to have the perfect contracting experience.  If you put anything metal out front in Brooklyn, it might get stolen.

BUT just when we thought it was all done, we got a call from our neighbor who said the workers cause damage to his building.

pete bulding

Our mason said that this area was intact when he left.  The problem with these old buildings is that as soon as you touch something, something else falls apart.  While we had no doubt that it was intact when he left (and we would have noticed this!), the fact that we did this work definitely was the cause of our neighbors section becoming more vulnerable.  We also suspect that the neighbor might have poked the area a bit.

A tip to remember when doing any kind of renovation is to take lots of before photos of your property and any adjoining a neighbor’s property so that you can prove what it looked like before if you have to.

The mason was great and came back and fixed it so everyone was satisfied.

Now we have to deal with wrought iron railings and fence because they look even worse with the new steps.

If you want cost information for a project like this feel free to message us.


We did not get a discount for writing this post but maybe for the next job so please mention that you saw this post!



29 thoughts on “Brownstone Front Stoop Reno

  1. Wow, great work on your brownstone. I hope you don’t mind, but would you be willing to share ballpark costs, what it cost you to do the extension?



  2. Hi, love the blog! I’d also like to know the cost of this stoop reno. Husband and I recently became a brownstone owner and would like to get our railing redone eventually. Many thanks!

  3. Hello
    Thanks for this article. We have a brownstone in east Harlem where the roof under the stairs by the door and inside the closet is constantly raining sand. We are now looking at ways to solve this problem. Thank you for including the name of your contractor. Can you send an email on approximate costs?
    We appreciate it

  4. Your site has been very informative as we’ve been embarking on our own renovation. I was hoping you could email me the general cost of a stoop restoration. Ours is in roughly the same condition. Also have you started work on the railing yet (I would love to know if the same contractor was able to perform the work and the cost of that as well). Thanks!

  5. Hi there,
    I just came across your blog since we’re getting ready to embark on restorations, renovations, architect searches, contractor searches…ugh. We have a 100 yr old brownstone that needs exterior repair as well as interior. We’d like to get the cost for the brownstone work as well as any other resources that you were happy with. Meanwhile, I’m going to scour through all of your posts. 🙂

  6. Thanks looks amazing great blog can you let me know ballpark cost? Also did you get the metal door under the stairs replaced? any recommendations for that? thanks.


    • We got bids from between 8-15k from 3 vendors. We did not replace door under the stairs but we need to repair our wrought iron gate soon so ironworks will be in future posts.

      • Hello, We came upon your blog.

        We are interested in the work that you had done on your stoop. We own a townhouse and have to (unfortunately) open up our stoop which will lead to rebuilding.

        Can you provide a ball park figure on the cost for you to rebuild your stoop? I know some time has passed since you posted. But, hopefully you can assist 🙂

      • It was approx 10K to redo the entire stairs and under the stairs including the doorway there. We got 3 quotes and there were all relatively the same.

  7. Angela – Thank you so much for this very informative article. I am in the process of interviewing contractors to do my brownstone steps. Please send me Z Abedin contact information. Thank you.

  8. Hi — is it okay to replace the railings once you’ve already done the brownstone steps? Or will that damage the masonry so better to do railings first?

    • Hi Michael. We did not replace our railings so I am not sure. I would guess do the railings at the same time. I would consult a professional mason.

  9. Not sure if you still check this, but if you do — Now that’s it’s been a few years, how is it holding up? Would you recommend that company?

    • Hi Krysten, we moved a few years ago (see our last couple of posts) but we did check this company’s references and went to see the work he did. Let me see if I can find out from the new owners. Also, as with all construction, you have to be on top of people and point out issues immediately.

      • I’d also be interested to hear/ see how the steps are holding up! We’re considering a similar repair. Thanks!

    • It was a while ago now but I recall 10K. Not cheap! This included stairs and under the stairs, which was pretty disgusting.

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