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How to lay your new patio!

Before you start

A patio is a permanent garden feature, and although it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy being outdoors, you need to carefully consider where it should go. For example, an area facing south or south west will get the most sun during the day and early evening.

You will need to make a detailed plan. Measure & mark obstacles that you can’t move, such as doorsteps and drains. Draw out planted areas and map out where slabs will go; avoiding material wastage.

Now, transfer your plan into a full sized layout on site. You can use string lines and pegs to do so, and check that the proportions are correct and complement the garden. You’ll need to know the size of paving slabs you need in order to incorporate them into the design.

If the base for your patio is already firm and secure, double check that it’s level and sound before you begin work.

How to lay a patio

  • If it joins your house, the final patio should be 15cm lower than the damp proof course. Mark this area with pins and a line before it’s paved.

  • You can use a large square to check your corners of the patio are 90 ° square.

  • Use a spade to cut into the outlined grass area. Once the patio has been marked like this, the string lines can be removed.

  • The final patio should sit 1cm below the grass. Dig out the area first to allow 10cm of hardcore, 2.5cm for slab layer and slab depth.

  • You can now drill in the pegs at 1m intervals around the edge. Fix treated timber to the peg. Check that the patio area slopes away from the house.

  • Rake 10cm of hardcore level across the patio area and make a solid base by compacting it with a sledgehammer.

  • Make sure the slabs fit well across the area. Begin at the corner and work along.

  • Remove slabs when happy and evenly level out 2.5cm of slaplayer with a rake – one bag will be enough for about three slabs.

  • Sprinkle slab layer with water, using a watering can. Rake the whole area level once more.

  • You can now begin to lay the slabs properly, starting along the edge of the area. You may need help lifting larger slabs.

  • Ensure the slab is lightly bedded into the slablayer. Use a rubber mallet and tap gently into place.

  • Depending on how much infilling you want to do along the joins, butt slabs tighly together of leave a slight gap.

  • To keep the width of the gaps between slabs the same, use an offcut to use a spacer.

  • Use a spirit level to keep checking the level and gradient across the site as you lay the slabs.

  • Now all your slabs are laid, leave the slablayer to set for 48 hours. Cover the area with plastic sheeting to protect from poor weather.

  • If slabs are not tightly butted together, use a dry mortar mix to infill the gaps.

  • Spread the mix over the slabs and use a soft broom to brush the mix over the joints.

  • Once all joints are full of dry mortar mix, use a pointing trowel to firm the dry mortar between the slabs.

  • Again sprinkle water across the patio from a watering can.

  • Instead of mortar mix, you can use kiln-dread sand as a finish for the joints. Spread on the area and brush into joints. Leave this to settle for a few days and then repeat it.

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