It's not good because it's old, it's old because it's good.
             — anonymous


















Copyright © 2017
The L'Enfant Trust, Washington, DC

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Alterations to Historic Exterior Stoops

Exterior stoops on historic properties can be found in a number of materials and styles. Most historic properties have stoops in either wood, stone, concrete or cast iron. The original materials used for stoops should be retained and repaired whenever possible. If replacement is the only option, careful consideration and research should be given to the most appropriate material for your property.

In recent years a trend of cladding concrete stoops with flagstone or slate has swept across Washington's historic districts. The "dressing up" of concrete stairs with a stone veneer may seem like an easy and attractive fix, but these materials often require expensive repair and/or re-cladding at surprisingly frequent intervals. Flagstone and slate are typically not among the materials used historically for stoops and may detract from the architectural and historic integrity of the property. In addition, the blue, green, and purple shades of flagstone and slate can interfere with the existing color scheme of the property. In all cases, special attention should be given to the color, thickness, and texture of materials used on front stoops.

Figure 1

Important points to remember when considering alterations to exterior stoops:

  • Flagstone, slate, and for some properties brick may be inappropriate as replacement or cladding material for concrete stoops.
  • If you no longer have the original stoop, look to neighboring properties for original materials or sympathetic alterations.
  • New stoops should not detract from the overall historic character of the building. Ask yourself: Are the proposed alterations in-keeping with the historic character of the building? Are the proposed materials and colors found elsewhere on the property? Are the changes at odds with the original materials used on the property?

Figure 3

Figure 4

Historic Material

Guide to Replacement
and Alternative Materials


Wood; concrete; or possibly brick

(i.e. brownstone, granite, limestone, marble)

Stone; pre-cast concrete or Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) made to resemble stone. Replacement material should have no visible mortar joints.

Cast Iron

Cast Iron


Concrete; pre-cast concrete; or GFRC. Replacement material should have no decorative nosing on treads and should remain unpainted.

As an alternative to in-kind replacement of poured concrete, you may want to consider repairing your existing stoop with a concrete repair product such as Aboweld (, an epoxy adhesive paste used for repairing and re-building existing vertical surfaces without molds. This material fills cracks and permanently bonds with concrete and stone for durability and a uniform appearance.

Figure 5

For buildings protected by the Trust, changes affecting the exterior spaces, including color changes, require the Trust's prior written consent. See and click on the "Owners" tab and again on Request for Change Form.

Lauren O. McHale
Director of Preservation

Carissa Demore
Intern, Historic Preservation Master's Degree Candidate



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