How to Lay A Patio
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How to Lay A Patio

Laying a patio can be relatively easy if you follow these few simple steps.

It is customary to arrange a patio next to the house so you can easily dish up drinks and meals. Nevertheless, other considerations may influence the choice of where to lay it. For instance, it might be more appropriate to build the patio in a sunnier position, or closer to where you hoard the garden chairs and loungers.

Planning the Patio

  • Draw a scale plan of your garden on graph paper and make photocopies. Use these to sketch different layouts for the patio.
  • Decide what basic type of patio paver to employ. You could use paver bricks, but it is more straightforward and faster to lay paving slabs.
  • Arrange to use whole slabs wherever you can – adjust the design of the patio to match the dimension and contour of your slabs in order to reduce cutting.
  • Patio areas often seem quite different in full-scale – so prior to making a decision, set out the plan on the ground using garden string.
  • The kind of foundation you need to lay will be influenced by how you expect to use the patio. A sidewalk for intermittent use can be laid directly on a base of sharp sand. A patio for regular use is more effective laid on dabs of mortar placed on a base of hard-core.
  • Excavations result in in a remarkable volume of soil. Use the soil to construct a rockery or raised bed elsewhere – take this into account in the planning stage.
  • If the patio is against the house, you need to excavate the ground so that the surface of the patio is at least 150mm (6 inches) lower than the damp-proof course.
  • Establish whether you need to fit slabs around drainage culverts and manhole covers – if needs be, rearrange the slabs to avoid cutting.
  • Do you want to include outdoor lighting? If so, it may be prudent to have cables placed before laying the patio.

Choosing Your Patio Surface

There is an extensive range of paving slabs to choose from, in numerous shapes, sizes, and colours. Nearly all paving slabs are fabricated from concrete but have an attractive finish – some are smooth, some textured, some moulded to resemble natural riven stone.

Preparing the Patio Site

  • The initial task is to level the site. This includes removing all vegetation and at least some topsoil. If your patio is to be laid next to the house, it must slope away from the building in order to shed rainwater.
  • A good slope to aim for a patio is approximately 16mm drop in level for every metre distance from the house wall (5/8 inch for every 3 feet).
  • Remember that the patio surface must finish at least 150mm (6 inches) below the damp proof course and the paving should preferably be just below the level of any adjacent lawn so that the grass can be cut without damaging the blades of your lawn mower.
  • Measure out the perimeter of the intended area and mark it with garden string tied to wooden pegs.
  • Remove topsoil down to a level suitable for the foundations plus the thickness of the paving.
  • Foundations will need to be 50mm (2 inches) in firm well-drained soil, and 100mm (4 inches) in clay or peat-rich soils

Making Sure the Slope for the Patio is Correct

  • Cut a number of wooden pegs 300mm (1 foot) long.
  • Measuring from the top of each peg, mark them with the depth of the foundation.
  • Hammer a row of these marker pegs across the high side of the site. The top of each peg should be level with the top surface of the proposed foundation and will be the first datum points.
  • To find the required slope, secure a 16mm (5/8 inch) block of wood to one end of a 1metre (3 feet) straightedge. Place the other end of the adapted straightedge onto a datum point and use it with a spirit level, to determine the height of the next row of pegs. When the straightedge reads level, the tops of the pegs represent the slope.
  • Now excavate the ground to the level of the marks made on the sides of the pegs.
  • Fill in the required depth of hard core foundation material and tamp firmly into place

Laying Patio Slabs

  • Commencing at a corner of the patio, put down five dabs of mortar-one for each corner of the slab and one in the middle - then lay the first slab onto them, tapping it into place with a rubber mallet.
  • Lay the second slab in the same way, using off-cuts of hardboard or thin slivers of wood as spacers between the two slabs.
  • Continue laying slabs from the corner. Employ the spirit level with the adapted straightedge that you used to prepare the site, to ensure the paving has the correct slope.
  • When all the patio slabs are laid, get rid of the hardboard spacers, and brush a dry mortar mix into the gaps, then lightly sprinkle with water to allow it so set.

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How to Lay a Patio

A patio made with natural stones can bring out the elegance and splendor of your garden. If you have a vacant lot or a wide open space in your backyard, then, this is the perfect spot to install a patio.