How To Build a Patio Using Pavers or Patio Blocks
The Old Patio Needs Work
As long as your plan is not overly complex, installing a paver patio is a project you can do yourself without hiring a professional landscaper.
- Patio planning and layout
- Purchasing Patio Materials
- Excavating The Patio
- Laying Paver Base and Sand
- Installing Paver Bricks
A good patio plan will help to ensure that your project stays within budget and will move forward without delay.
When you are done with your patio plan you should know:
- the approximate size of your finished patio
- the style/type of paver bricks or patio blocks you want to use in your patio
- the paver pattern you will use
- the number of pavers you will need
- the amount of paver base and sand needed
- the project tools you will purchase
- the project tools you will rent
- what additional materials you will need such as paver edging, landscape fabric, grass seed, etc.
- the location of your underground utilities (if any)
STEP 2 - PURCHASE TOOLS AND ORDER MATERIALS
Call Diggers Hotline (811) and arrange for them to come mark the locations of your underground utilities. You do not want to sever a gas or electric line while digging your patio.
Below is a list of the tools and materials I used on my patio project.
Patio Project Tools
- Wet saw (portable or stationary)(rent or purchase)
- Round point shovel
- Square point shovel (optional)
- Flat trowel
- Garden rake
- Line level
- Large Hammer
- Masonary chisel
- Compactor (hand or powered)(purchase or rent)
- Hatchet for tree roots (optional)
Patio Project Materials
- Crushed limestone paver base (local landscape supply)
- Concrete (coarse) sand (local landscape supply)
- Paver bricks, patio blocks, stone, or other (Home Depot)
- Landscape fabric (Home Depot)
- 1" outside diameter PVC pipe (2 lengths) (Home Depot)
- Paver edging & stakes (Home Depot)
- Grass seed mulch combo (Home Depot)
STEP 3 - BEGIN EXCAVATING
Excavating the patio is one of the most time consuming and labor intensive aspects of a patio building project. If your project is small you can dig by hand. For larger projects you may want to rent a mini-excavator or skid steer. The mini-excavator is not overly complicated to operate and can be used for other tasks such as hauling the pavers, paver base, and sand from the front of your home to the patio site.
To determine how deep to excavate, add the paver base (4"), plus the sand layer (1"), plus the height of your pavers (2 1/2") =
4" + 1" + 2 1/2" = 7 1/2" deep.
* For proper drainage slope your patio away from the house 1" drop every 8 feet.
* Excavate an additional 2" on all outside edges of your patio to allow for installation of paver edging.
In the picture above the patio has been excavated with the proper slope for drainage away from the house.
STEP 4 - ADDING PAVER BASE, SAND, AND PAVERS
To help gauge the correct amount of paver base insert stakes at opposite ends of the hole. Starting with the stake in the upper left corner (use picture as reference) measure up 4" (the depth of the paver base) and make a mark. Use a string and a line level to mark all other stakes. *Remember to retain the correct amount of slope away from the house. To do that you will have to measure down from level.
* It is recommended that you add, wet and compact the paver base 1" - 2" at a time. Once the paver base has been completely compacted, you can remove the stakes.
STEP 5 - INSTALLING THE PAVERS
The final step before laying the pavers is to temporarily install the paver edging followed by a 1" layer of coarse sand. Do not pound the edging stakes all the way into the ground as you may want to tighten everything up after the pavers are in.
Once the edging is installed, place two PVC 3/4" inner diameter (1" outer diameter) pipes on the paver base. Check the level of the PVC pipes to make sure they are sloping away from the house. Shovel some sand onto the PVC pipes then use a long straight board to compact and screed the sand smooth, using the PVC pipes as a guide.
As you move the PVC pipe to new locations you will need to fill in the voids left behind. To do this add some sand to the void then use a flat trowel to smooth it off.
It is likely that you will need to cut some pavers when installing your patio. You can either rent a wet saw or purchase one. I purchased a Dewalt saw. You can read my review of the saw here Dewalt DW861W Masonary Saw Review.
If the starting point of your patio is accesible after sand has been laid, you can screed all of your sand out before adding pavers. Otherwise, lay a small amount of sand, screed, then install some pavers and repeat.
After paver installation check the tightness of the edging. If loose make necessary adjustments and restake. If you are using "L" shaped stakes, make sure the "L" faces the paver bricks. This will hold the edging against the pavers much tighter.
The patio is finished, the only job remaining is landscaping next to the patio. If you are replanting grass, backfill with good quality soil and spread a grass/mulch combo product. * Step-down the soil then loosen the very top with rake. If you do not step-down the soil as you backfill, it will sink over time.
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