Concrete in wedding cake steps? Bad idea?

Miranda

Well-known member
Jan 20, 2008
161
Northeast Florida
Currently my wedding cake steps weight compartments are filled with pea gravel and water. I am considering filling them with quickcrete or portland cement to make them a bit heavier, and to reduce potential for spillage and algae growth inside compartments. Good idea? Bad Idea? If I do this, should I mix it first, or put it in dry and add water as I go?

Link is to a site with density info http://www.simetric.co.uk/si_materials.htm
 

PoolGuyNJ

TFP Expert
May 20, 2007
3,192
South Central NJ
Portland needs something to bind too as an aggregate. I think Ready-Mix would be better. The steps will need to be removed first so the cement can harden. Depending on the compartment, you will want a way to remove the cast concrete weights you're making so the steps can be removed when required. Sometimes a wax coating, like paraffin, or silicone spray coating will do it.

Scott
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,447
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Wouldn't it be simpler to just find some hefty river rocks to put in instead of the gravel? Or if there's room, ceramic tiles? Those things are heavy. You might be able to find some hideous ones real cheap at a tile store on the closeout table.
 

kplaster

Bronze Supporter
Jan 24, 2010
620
Randleman,NC
Put Brick's in it....I had a set of step's onetime I had some brick laying around it worked and after 8 yrs of use I throw it away an the brick still looked good!!!
 

Txmat

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 18, 2010
424
San Antonio
Another way to make it removable is to find plastic containers that will fit the shape and then fill with cement. That is the way we make anchors for buoys. We put cement inside gallon milk bottles. I would go for rocks or bricks. Should OP be concerned about the water chemistry with adding cement, bricks, or rocks ?
 

Bama Rambler

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2009
22,969
SouthWest Alabama
Actually a better option would be sand and water. Sand is heavier than pea gravel per volume and will pack together better too. Water is needed to displace the bouyant air in the spaces. We used to add calcium carbonate to the water in tractor tires to make the water heavy so you could do the same thing if you wanted to. That way if it ever ruptures all you'd add to your water is a little sand and some calcium.
 

ShockerLU3

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2010
80
Toms River, NJ
I made weights for my stairs using 3" pvc and sand. Cut the pvc into 2' lengths, put an end cap on, fillled it with sand and water, put the other end cap on. I then tied it to the back of my stairs with nylon cable ties. Works pretty well and the whole thing is plastic so its easy to clean at the start of the season. Perhaps you could play with the pipe sizes and lengths to fit your ballast box.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,447
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
The picture makes it much easier. Fill it up with sand then glue it closed. Sand stays in, algae stays out.

Wait... what are they made out of? PVC is easy to glue. Polypropylene and polyethylene aren't.
 

AnnaK

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 15, 2007
1,138
Eastern Pennsylvania
Have a look at our step weights, it may give you some ideas. The process we describe on our Website uses sand but we changed to QuickCrete this season. Using step weights such as these allows you to put the steps in or pull them out by yourself—a one person job, if necessary, and you don't have to get in the pool to do it.
 

Miranda

Well-known member
Jan 20, 2008
161
Northeast Florida
Richard320 said:
The picture makes it much easier. Fill it up with sand then glue it closed. Sand stays in, algae stays out.

Wait... what are they made out of? PVC is easy to glue. Polypropylene and polyethylene aren't.
I wish I knew the difference.....LOL, it is a translucent slightly flexible plastic...the same stuff my kayak is made of if that makes any sense
 

Miranda

Well-known member
Jan 20, 2008
161
Northeast Florida
AnnaK said:
Have a look at our step weights, it may give you some ideas. The process we describe on our Website uses sand but we changed to QuickCrete this season. Using step weights such as these allows you to put the steps in or pull them out by yourself—a one person job, if necessary, and you don't have to get in the pool to do it.
I don't have a shelf or space under the bottom step on which to rest weights. The bottom is wide open. The ballast compartments bolt to the inside of the steps and removing them is not convenient, because you need a screwdriver on the outside and a wrench on the underside. Installing the ballast boxes is even harder in the pool, since there are holes to line up underwater. Scuba gear would help. I don't need to winterize, so I will just be leaving them in. Just trying to decide if i'd have less air/algae potential if I used quickcrete instead of sand/water.
 

Titus

Well-known member
Jun 3, 2010
47
Nevada, TX
When installing my wedding cake steps, i went to Home Depot and bought 2 5 gallon buckets with lids, 2 bags of quickcrete, and a bag of pea gravel. Each bag got a bag of quickcrete and water, mixed a little runny, and then I stirred in pea gravel until I was to the top of the bucket. Waited about 3 hours, snapped the tops on, and lowered them into the pool. From in the watter, I placed them in the steps, and a slowly maneuvered them into place. They have been like that for over 2 months now. The steps have not moved and the chemistry is unaffected.
 

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