How To Lay Your Own Patio
Imagine finishing work and relaxing at home on a fantastic new patio, enjoying the warm summer sun. Imagine lazy sunny afternoons, enjoying the delights of the garden with a glass of wine, while burgers sizzle on the barbecue. If you’ve not got a patio, or you have one that has seen better days, then you are seriously missing out on both fun and relaxation as well as a transitional space that links the outside of your home with the inside
Laying a new patio can initially seem quite an easy and straightforward project. It can be, but it is quite arduous and labour intensive so it’s not a job to be undertook likely. However, it can be a very rewarding project to work on, especially if you plan and prepare well and complete it to a very high standard. Want to have a go? Here’s our beginners guide to laying a patio.
Stage One: Planning Your Patio
When undertaking any DIY projects, planning correctly can be the difference between success and failure. Once you have decided exactly where you want to build your new patio, you will need to draw a plan. This will need to include all the measurements of the area as well as anything that is in the near vicinity that could affect the laying of the patio. Your plan doesn’t need to be pretty, but it does need to be accurate.
Tools for Building your Patio
Once you’re happy with the design and are confident that your dimensions are correct, it’s time to think about the tools you will need for the job. Depending upon exactly what sort and size of patio you are lying will dictate the exact tools you will require, if you have the following list you will be covered for all eventualities.
- Rubber mallet
- Spirit level
- Tape measure
- Cement mixer (optional)
- String line and pegs (optional)
Stage Two: Preparing the site and the slabs for the patio
Firstly, you need to mark out where you intend to build your patio by laying down pegs with string between them. Next, you need to start digging the area to a depth of approximately 15 cm. While doing this, you need to remove any former paving or plants and turf that are present. Once this has been done, use a spirit level to check for any weak spots in the soil. Ideally you need it to be equally compact across the area, so if there are any softer spots, you may want to lay some more soil to ‘compact in’ the area.
Laying some hardcore is the next step. You can buy this from all good builders merchants and you should ensure that you level the hardcore with a good quality plate compactor to a depth of approximately 5 – 8 cms.
Paving slab preparation
Next, you need to prepare your paving slabs. Depending on the size and shape of your patio, there may be some slabs that need cutting. You can get this done professionally if you’re not a confident disc grinder user. If you are, remember to follow all the appropriate safety instructions as disc grinders can be dangerous if not used correctly. If there is only minor alterations that need to be made to the paving slabs than a traditional hammer and chisel should suffice.
Stage Three: Laying the patio
Now you’re ready to begin laying your patio, the first step is to mix some bedding mortar. This should consist of five parts building sand to one cement. This will act as the bed on which you will lay your paving stones and will also act as a land stabiliser and will help to stop weed growth. The bedding mortar should laid at around 5 cms depth.
Next is the actual laying of the paving slabs. It’s crucial that you lay the first slab perfectly aligned to your string guideline. Use blocks of wood and a hammer/mallet to align and lay your paving slabs in line as well as ensuring that you leave a 1cm gap for joint lines. You should also continually use a spirit level to ensure that your patio is level, although if you are laying your patio right next door to your house, you should try and make it gently slope away from the house.
Once you’ve laid your new patio, that isn’t where the hard work ends! If your patio is going to be a place where you entertain and have lots of barbecues, you may want to consider a permanent brick built barbecue. These can really add a whole new dimension to your patio and make it that little bit more functional.
Perhaps the most important task however once you have laid your patio is to choose your patio furniture. There’s a whole host of options these days from traditional patio tables and chairs to garden sofas. There’s also garden lighting and heating options that you may like to consider, especially if you’re planning to entertain and enjoy your patio at night.
Thanks to PumaLandscaping who are a landscaping and gardening company based in Edinburgh who contributed this article.