So, you’ve decided that you want to lay your own patio. That’s great! Laying a patio can be a fun, rewarding project that you can complete in just a weekend.
Of course, it depends on the size, shape, and whether you can get hold of enough supplies and materials in advance.
But if you’re looking for a quick guide on how to lay your own patio, read on!
How To Lay A Patio For Beginners
This guide is going to assume that you have never laid a patio before. If you have some experience, please bear with me – the steps may be slightly different for you, but the overall process will be similar.
Planning your patio
Before you start any work, it’s important to plan out your patio. It all depends on what you will be using the patio for and also what type of patio furniture it will be housing.
For example, if you plan to do a lot of entertaining and have a large patio space, you might want to consider including a bar area or even a small seating area.
If you’re just looking for somewhere to put a few plants or some outdoor seating, then your patio can be a lot simpler in shape and size.
You also need to decide whether you are going to have a gazebo or pagoda in the middle of the patio, or if you are going to have a paved area with borders.
The most basic method to create a patio that fits your needs precisely is to draw it out to scale.
You may then plan in patio planting ideas such as beds, edges, and pot positions from the start, as well as space for any outdoor kitchen ideas you might have.
You can also make the patio’s boundary using rope in your own yard to get a better feel for the dimensions.
What is a good size?
The size of your patio largely depends on how much space you have in your garden and whether or not you want it to dominate the garden as the main feature.
A patio’s size should be determined based on how many people it may regularly accommodate – and generally, that means around 25 square feet of space per person. If you have a family of five, your patio size will need to be 125 square feet.
Related: How Often Should I Pressure Wash Patio Furniture?
Create zones when designing a patio
It’s just as important to plan the various areas of your patio indoors as it is outside. If, for example, the outdoor dining area is best positioned near to your kitchen doors and you need to plan some shade into your design.
You may also want to build a lounging area, surrounded by flower pots or scent-led flower bed ideas such as aromatic herbs or fragrant climbers, for example. If you’re fine with using your patio freely, zoning it isn’t crucial; but if you’re planning a patio that will be used in various ways on different levels, then some careful thought is needed.
The following are the three things to consider in determining whether or not to add a patio: how you intend to utilize your patio; where it will look best in your entire garden design; and if it is overlooked or not. Make sure you include these key points in your plan.
Choosing your materials
Choosing the right material for your patio is really important and something you want to give a lot of thought to. Things to consider are budget, type of use, location of the patio and size.
If it is going to be a small patio, then you can push the boat out a little. However, if the patio is going to be considerable in size, then you’ll need to think about the most cost-effective way of doing this is.
Every material also has its own characteristics and qualities, some of which may be more desirable to you.
You have the choice of using either – Porcelain, Granite, Limestone, Slate, Sandstone, Concrete:
Related: What Is The Best Paving For Patios?
Porcelain is a great option since it blends together traditional and modern designs and is available in a range of colors. Its fresh look and strong durable surface make it a perfect choice for high traffic areas.
Related: Textured Porcelain paving
Granite is a very durable stone that can last up to 100 years, it’s stain-resistant and doesn’t require sealing. It combines both strength and beauty and is available in a range of colors.
It is usually available in a range of dark colors like black and grey, but can also come in lighter shades.
It has a low water absorption capacity so is perfect for outdoor patios. Don’t forget, this stone has been used for centuries, so you know it will last.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is a popular choice for patios, as it is easy to work with and has a natural look and feel to it. However, it’s not as durable as other stones so may not be suitable for high traffic areas.
It’s popular because it is one of the more affordable stones and is available in a range of colors.
Related: Is limestone paving better than sandstone?
Slate is another popular choice for patios as it is very hard-wearing, doesn’t require sealing, and comes in a great range of colors – like blue, green, and purple. It’s also a good option if you’re looking for an antique look.
It is certainly one of the more fashionable materials you can use as it happens to be trending in popularity at the moment.
Brazilian Black Slate is the most popular of the slate family.
Related: Do Slate Patio Slabs Scratch?
Sandstone is a sedimentary stone that is usually a creamy color with swirls of different colors running through it. It’s a very popular choice for patios as it’s durable and easy to work with, but can be quite expensive depending on where you buy it.
Indian sandstone is the most popular choice at the moment due to its natural charm and durability.
Concrete is not only a very affordable option but is also one of the most durable materials you can use for your patio. It can easily be stained or painted in any color you like, and you can even add textured finishes for extra style.
Once you’ve picked out your patio materials, think about the profile of your patio. Modern, elegant themes call for smooth and flat profiles, whereas riven profiles have a more rustic vibe to them.
Related: How To Clean Your Concrete Patio (Without A Pressure Washer)
Laying a patio will take a lot of heavy lifting, so please remember to take regular breaks and keep hydrated. It’s also a good idea to have someone help you out, especially if the patio is going to be a large one.
Here are some other safety tips:
- If you are using concrete, always wear safety goggles and gloves when mixing it.
- When mixing concrete, wear protective shoes (ideally steel toe-capped boots), gloves, and a dust mask.
- If you plan on using a vibrating plate compactor, wear ear-plugs.
- When mixing wet or dry cement, be careful because it might irritate and burn the skin. If any cement comes into direct contact with the skin, wash it off immediately.
- Lifting patio slabs carefully is vital. If the slab is too heavy, ask for assistance from someone.
- For more information and instructions on how to lift hefty weights, visit the NHS’s helpful guide.
How to lay a patio: step-by-step
Step 1 – Get your Patio Laying Tools:
I recommend making a copy of this list before you start. The reason why I suggest this is if you are missing any of the tools listed below, it will seriously slow down your progress.
Here’s the tool list:
- Measuring tape
- Spirit level
- Ball of string
- Chalk line
- Shovel or spade
- Wooden pegs or steel bars/pins
- Large trowel for spreading mortar
- Small trowel for pointing
- Cement mixer (you can hire this)
- Rubber mallet
- Cut-off saw
Step 2. Measure the area where you plan laying the paving slabs
Begin by determining how much paving is required and measuring the surface area to be paved.
The size of your planned patio space is usually measured in square feet. Simply multiply the length by the width of the patio space you intend to build to get this number.
For example: The space measurement of this area is 150 square feet if your planned length and width are 15ft and 10ft.
To figure out the area of your paver, multiply the length by width and divide by 144 (this is the number of square inches in a square foot).
For example: If the measurement of your planned patio area is 25 meters squared and your paving slab is 12 inches x 15 inches, multiply 12 x 15 = 180, then divide this by 144 which is 1.25 sqft.
Determine how many paving slabs you’ll need for your project by dividing your entire project area by the total surface area of your paving slab.
For example: 150 sqft divided by 1.25 sqft = 120 pavers.
Step 3. Check your measurements against your plans
After you have measured out where you will locate the paving, it’s always a good idea to pause and double-check your measurements before starting to avoid any costly mistakes.
If you’re using a ball of string, tie one end around a peg or nail and use the other end to draw a circle on the ground. If you’re using chalk, snap a line between two stakes that are 6 inches away from each other.
Step 4. Dig the area for your patio laying
Once you have confirmed your measurements, start digging out the area where the patio will be located. Dig 150mm into your patio area.
Be sure to remove any sod, topsoil, or tree roots as you dig and save them to put back later when you’re finished.
Step 5. Throw out a layer of hardcore
Once the excavation is complete, it’s time to start laying your hardcore.
Hardcore is a generic term used for crushed stones of various sizes and can be bought from most builder’s merchants.
It’s important to lay a good layer of hardcore before you start laying your paving slabs, as it will provide a stable foundation and help prevent any future heaving or movement.
Step 6. Layout the Paving Slabs
Once the hardcore has been laid, it’s time to start setting out your paving slabs.
Lay a compacted sub-base of 100mm of Type 1 MOT hardcore. This will help to level the surface and provide a solid foundation for your paving.
If you’re using a vibrating plate compactor, wear earplugs.
Step 7. Start Laying your Paving Slabs
The final layer is the paving slabs. If your patio is aligned with your house, start by laying the slabs that will be nearest to the structure. Using a rubber mallet and a string as a guide, tap down each slab one by one using your foot. To protect the slabs, place a thick piece of wood beneath the mallet.
Try to leave an 8-15mm gap between slabs.
Step 8. Add a mortar bed
The mortar bed, which is the final layer, is there to keep the slabs stable. Make the mixture by combining four parts sharp sand with one part cement and adding water little by little. The mortar should be moist rather than runny.
Using a trowel, spread it out and level it. The mortar bed should be 30-40mm thick and able to support the slabs as they sit 6-10mm above the surface of the bed.
Step 9. Secure the slabs
The slab should be cured for 24 hours after it’s laid. The mortar bed should have solidified after this time, and you can fill in the gaps with mortar.
This is known as “jointing,” and it prevents the slabs from shifting. You may either make a cement mortar (three parts sand and one part cement) or a resin mortar such as Joint-It.
A pointing bar should be used to smooth cement mortar after it has been pushed into the gaps between dry slabs with a trowel, compacted, and then smoothed. Wet slabs are required for resin mortar and need to be brushed in.
Allow another 1-2 days for the mortar to set. Learning to lay a patio is most successful when you’ve done it before.
Preparing thoroughly will enable you to create a patio or walkway that you’ll be proud of, and that you’ll be able to enjoy with your family and friends for years to come.
Step 10. That’s it!
Congratulations, you have now successfully laid your patio! Just be sure to give it a few days to set before using it.
Now that you know how to lay a patio, the only thing left to do is get started! Whether you’re creating an outdoor oasis for yourself or a beautiful walkway for your guests, follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way in no time. Happy paving!
Laying a Patio Against your House
The important thing to remember when building a patio next to your house is to ensure it slopes away from the structure.
This is to prevent any water damage or seepage that may occur as a result of rain or melting snow.
To slope your patio away from the house, you’ll need to create a “drainage layer” using either a permeable membrane or a layer of crushed stones.
The drainage layer should be located at the bottom of your patio and should slope towards an existing drain or water course.
If you’re not sure where your drainage system is, it’s best to consult with a professional before starting construction.
Laying a Patio on a Slope
If your patio is located on a slope, you’ll need to take extra care when laying the paving slabs. This is because they may move or heave as a result of the incline.
To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to create a sub-base that is level and stable.
The best way to do this is by using a layer of Type 1 MOT hardcore. The hardcore should be laid on top of a layer of damp proof membrane to prevent any water damage.
If your patio is particularly steep, you may also need to use a mortar bed to secure the slabs in place.
Make sure the mortar bed is at least 30mm thick and that it can support the weight of the slabs.
Laying Paving Slabs on Gravel
If you choose to lay your paving slabs directly on gravel, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First, the gravel should be a minimum of 50mm thick and should be free of any large stones or debris.
Second, you’ll need to use a weed membrane to prevent any unwanted vegetation from growing up through the cracks between the slabs.
Finally, you’ll need to make sure the slabs are well-anchored in place. This can be done by using either paving slabs with mortared joints or by using a concrete screed.
Related: Which gravel is best for patios?
Laying Paving Slabs on Concrete
If your patio is situated on top of a concrete slab, you may choose to simply lay the paving slabs directly on top. However, if you want to ensure that they are level and stable, it’s best to use a paving slab foundation.
To do this, you’ll need to excavate the existing concrete slab to a depth of at least 100mm.
You can then lay a layer of Type 1 MOT hardcore followed by a layer of the damp proof membrane. The paving slabs can then be laid on top of this foundation.
If your patio is particularly large or heavy, you may also need to use a concrete screed to provide extra support.
Make sure the screed is at least 50mm thick and that it can support the weight of the slabs.
Related: How do you make concrete look new again?
Laying Paving Slabs on Top of Grass
If you want to lay your paving slabs directly on top of grass, there are a few things you’ll need to take into account.
First, you’ll need to make sure the grass is a minimum of 50mm thick and that it’s free of any large stones or debris.
Second, you’ll need to use a weed membrane to prevent any unwanted vegetation from growing up through the cracks between the slabs.
Third, you’ll need to make sure the paving slabs are well-anchored in place. This can be done by using either paving slabs with mortared joints or by using a concrete screed.
Fourth, you’ll need to make sure the drainage is adequate. This can be done by creating a perforated drainage layer at the bottom of your patio or by installing an artificial drainage system.
Related: How To Get Rid Of Grass Between Paving Stones
Laying Paving Slabs On Dry Mix
Paving Slabs are best laid on a bed of dry mix mortar. This is a mix of sharp sand and cement, which is used to create a solid foundation for the paving slabs.
The ratio of mortar can be as low as 1:10 (1 cement, 10 sharp sand), or as high as 1:3, depending on the amount of foot traffic you expect, and what the sub base is like. For most applications, a ratio of 1:2 (1 cement, 2 sharp sand) will be sufficient.
To create a bed of mortar, start by mixing the cement and sharp sand together in a wheelbarrow or on a flat surface.
Then, using a trowel, apply the mixture to the sub-base. Make sure to leave a slight slope (1-2%) so that the water can run off. Finally, lay the paving slabs on top of the mortar and press them firmly into place.
Related: What is the best mix for laying slabs?
How To Point A Patio With Sand And Cement
The ideal combination for pointing patios is a 1:4 ratio of concrete and sharp sand. You can use a 1:3 ratio only if your patio has already been established on a solid foundation.
To start, mix the concrete and sharp sand together in a wheelbarrow or on a flat surface.
Then, using a trowel, apply the mixture to the joints between the paving slabs. Make sure to press it firmly into place and to get into all of the cracks and crevices. Finally, allow the mortar to dry for 24 hours before walking on it.
Related: When Is The Best Time Of Year To Pressure Wash Your Patio And Driveway?
How To Lay A Patio Without Cement
The key to laying a patio without cement is to use a good-quality paving slab foundation. This will ensure that the slabs are level and stable and that they won’t move or crack over time.
To create a paving slab foundation, you’ll need to excavate the existing surface to a depth of at least 100mm. You can then lay a layer of Type 1 MOT hardcore followed by a layer of the damp proof membrane. The paving slabs can then be laid on top of this foundation.
If your patio is particularly large or heavy, you may also need to use a concrete screed to provide extra support. Make sure the screed is at least 50mm thick and that it can support the weight of the slabs.
Related: How long does concrete need to cure before freezing?
What depth of sand for paving slabs?
The depth of sand in which you’ll place your paving slabs should be between 1 and 1.5 centimeters deep, with a gap of roughly the same size between each slab. You may also want to leave 5-10mm worth of space between the slabs themselves to allow for expansion and contraction.
Can I lay a patio myself?
Yes, absolutely! A patio is easy to build and the materials are readily available at hardware stores. To start, dig down any grass or plants to about 10-15cm for the foundations. Next, lay down a layer of ‘hardcore,’ which is rubble and brick that has been broken into smaller pieces.
What should a patio be laid on?
The best base of a patio is crushed stone (often referred to as hardcore) which is a mixture of different sizes of crushed stones. The top surface should be compacted using a vibrating plate compactor, if possible before you start to lay the slabs. If this is not possible, then use a good old-fashioned spade and your feet!
When choosing the slabs for your patio, make sure to consider the weight. Heavier slabs will require a stronger foundation than lighter ones. You can buy pre-made paving slab foundations at most home improvement stores, or you can create your own using Type 1 MOT hardcore and a damp-proof membrane.
Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as each product varies.
Does my patio need drainage?
Yes, your patio does need drainage. Water that accumulates and puddles near the foundation can harm its stability. Water that collects and pools near the base of your house might cause structural damage over time. This water, over time, creates pressure on your foundations, pushing it in, and causing fractures.
Sloping a concrete patio or walkway is critical to providing the drainage your patio needs. A gentle slope of 1 inch per foot is a good rule to follow, but you may need to vary this depending on the slope of your yard and the amount of rainfall in your area.
To create a drainage channel, use a piece of metal edging or landscape timber. Place it along the perimeter of your patio and make sure it’s pressed into the soil so that it’s stable.
Then, using a shovel or post-hole digger, create a trench along the edge of the edging that’s deep enough to hold water. Finally, backfill the trench with gravel and tamp it down firmly.
Is a patio or deck cheaper?
A concrete patio is cheaper than a wood deck because concrete is more affordable in bulk. The thicker the patio, the cheaper it will be per square foot. A deck requires more material (wood) and labor, so it is more expensive. However, a deck can last longer if properly maintained.
When choosing between a patio or a deck, consider your climate. A concrete patio is better in cold climates because the surface doesn’t expand and contract as much as wood does, which can lead to cracking. In hot climates, a wooden deck is a better option because it doesn’t get as hot as concrete does.
A patio is also much easier to clean than a deck. All you need is a hose!
Related: How To Clean A Wooden Deck Without A Pressure Washer
Related: How To Clean Your Patio Without A Hose (Step By Step Guide)
How can I make an inexpensive patio?
Using concrete, gravel and pavers is a great way to make an inexpensive patio. You can buy a few different colors of pavers to create a design, or use one color for a more uniform look.
Concrete is the least expensive material to use and is perfect for creating a simple slab patio. Gravel is another cheap option and can be used to create a more rustic look. Just make sure the foundation is solid before starting!
Can I reuse concrete from old projects?
Yes, you can reuse concrete from old projects, but you’ll need to remove any metal or other objects embedded in it first. Concrete can be broken down into smaller pieces with a hammer or chisel, or you can use a mortar mixer to create a new batch.
Related: Reclaimed council paving slabs
Now you know the basics of patio laying, it’s time to get started on your own project!
Make sure to choose the right materials and follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely. And don’t forget to slope your patio for drainage!
Have you tried creating a DIY patio before?
Share your tips and advice in the comments section below.