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How to Guide for Laying a Patio

Patio

Laying a patio is an extensive activity; however, you can take it as a DIY project and complete it at a relatively cheaper cost. You must ensure to familiarise yourself with different aspects of how to lay a patio. This includes tools and materials you may need, plus the steps required to design and create an aesthetically appealing patio.

If you want to add a deck or make some upgrades to your existing one, this post is for you. This guide will explain the steps for laying a patio and the aspects you must consider before and after the activity.

Is Laying a Patio a Difficult Task?

The steps involved in laying a patio are straightforward yet time-consuming. However, like most DIY projects, thorough planning and preparation will help you complete it conveniently.

First, you need to identify where you would like your new patio. Draw a detailed graphical image of how you want the patio to look. Then, include all relevant measurements and mark any permanent features, including house, fencing, etc.

Once you have a plan ready, it’s time to dry lay the slabs out in a preferred design. This is a brilliant method to visualise how your finished patio will look. Just ensure to double-check all the measurements and adjust where necessary. You can also take a picture of this layout for future reference.

If your patio is going to be directly next to the house, its surface must sit at least 150mm below the damp-proof course of your home. The quick steps to lay a patio are as follows:  

  • Digging 150 mm deep into your patio area.
  • Assembling a 100mm of compacted sub-base.
  • Cover the entire area with at least 40mm of concrete mix.
  • Placing your paving slabs at least 15mm into the spread concrete. There should be at least a 10mm to 15 mm gap between each slab.
  • Leaving the slabs to set for the next 24 hours.
  • Fill the gaps between your paving slabs using concrete mix.

Tools You Will Require

Here are the common tools you will require to lay a patio.

  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Spirit level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tape measure
  • Pegs and string line (optional)
  • Cement mixer (optional)

Materials Required for Putting Down a Patio

The four materials you need are:

  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Sub-base aggregate
  • Paving slabs

A quick tip – if you are wondering what type of sand you must use with the cement to create a concrete mix, use sharp sand. It is perfect for a patio or a garden as it will prevent rats or moles from tunnelling their way underneath your paving slabs.

Four Steps to Lay a Patio

Follow the four steps to lay your patio.

1.     Prepping the area

Before you contemplate placing the paving slabs, you must prepare the area. In case you are upgrading the paving slabs, dig them out. You must dig the entire site to a depth of 150mm and ensure the soil in the area is evenly compacted.

It is now time to tip in your sub-base and rake it into a depth of 100mm. Do not forget the entire is flat, smooth, and firm.

2.     Creating Concrete

Prepare your concrete mix of 1 part cement and 3 parts. Now add water to create consistent dough. You can also use a cement mixer, a bucket, or a large tub. Ensure that the mixture is thick enough by picking some of it up and moulding it into a ball.

When you let it go, the ball should retain its shape. It should not fall apart or ooze any water. You will also make sure to make enough concrete mix to cover an even layer of 40mm thickness in the entire area.

3.     Laying Your Patio Slabs

Before you start laying the patio, make sure to dampen them. This way, they will not dry out on the concrete too soon. Next, lower your first patio slab into the desired position. Once you have laid it into the mix, gently tap it from all sides using a rubber mallet. This will help the patio slab to grab the concrete and stay fixed in the desired position. Ideally, it should sit at least 15mm into the mortar.

Repeat the same method for all slates while leaving a 10mm to 15 mm gap between each slab. Once all the pieces are in their desired position, spray water over the whole area until it’s saturated. Now leave your newly laid patio for the next 24 hours.

4.     Finishing Touches

At the final stage of laying a patio, you must apply some finishing touches. For this, you will be using a trowel in order to fill any gaps between the paving stones. Make sure you do not leave any residue on the patio slab’s surface.

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips when laying a patio.

  • Paving slabs are very heavy. Therefore, getting extra help as two people can make it easier to lift and move the slates and avoid any back injury.
  • Always make sure to wear suitable gloves and footwear when handling the cement, sand, and slates. If you have a wacker plate, always make sure to wear steel-to-capped boots and ear defenders.
  • Always wear a dust mask, safety goggles, and gloves when handling or mixing mortar, and cement
  • Dry and wet cement can cause mild to severe skin irritation. Therefore, always make sure to wash your skin and hands with water and soap.

Aftercare Tips

  • Patios are easy to maintain and hard-wearing. However, you must ensure to brush and wash them regularly. This will stop any build-up of algae and help prolong their lifespan and keep your patio in top condition.
  • The slab joints are vital to the stability of your paving. Therefore, you must look for any gaps and fix them as soon as possible. Fill the appearing gaps using cement and remove any breakthroughs of weeds.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to lay a patio in your back garden, it is time to get started. Visit the nearest DIY store to get all your material, have the paving slabs delivered to your doorstep, and you are all set for laying a patio in your back garden.

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