How to lay the perfect patio
It’s great to get outdoors during the summer, and relax on a warm evening after a long day's work, with a cool drink, or in the company of family and friends, on the garden patio.
Creating a beautiful paved area in the garden doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Whether it’s a task you’ve tackled before, or your first foray into landscaping, with some careful planning and preparation you could be enjoying the fruits of your labour with a glass in hand sooner than you think.
Whether you’re after a clean contemporary style or a rustic cottage garden, the variety of materials available means you can create any look, says Rex Nye from independent builders' merchant D.W.Nye.
From reclaimed natural sandstone to the latest porcelain tiles and man-made blocks, once you’ve made your choice it’s time to start planning your perfect patio.
Rex has listed the vital steps to creating a perfect patio;
Get the foundations figured out
Getting the correct measurements is essential to making sure you order the right amount of materials. Drawing a plan of your proposed patio space will help to achieve this.
To prepare the area you want to pave, start by marking it out by pegging and stringing the borders and preparing the soil. The more time spent achieving a completely flat surface, the better the result will be. Ideally you should dig to a depth of 15cms and remove any clumps or roots from the earth. Adding more soil on top and compacting it will help to create a level surface. Once completed, lay a 10cm hardcore sub-base on top and use a spirit level to ensure it is flat.
Cutting the paving slabs
Before laying a concrete base, you should cut your slabs in preparation so they can be positioned whilst the concrete is still damp. Cutting slabs will vary greatly in terms of difficultly depending on the shapes required and the materials selected. Bear in mind that porcelain tiles must be primed with a bonding agent prior to laying and that a suitable tile bench should be used for cutting. Stone paving can be cut with a disc grinder.
Create a concrete base
Once you’ve cut the slabs, put down a layer of concrete onto the hardcore sub-base. The consistency of your mortar should be firm and not runny. Use this to create a layer of up to 4cms. Dampening the paving stones before laying them will ensure the concrete doesn’t dry out too quickly underneath.
Follow the guidelines
Starting from a corner and working out, place your paving stones in the mortar. Align them with your guide string, leaving a 1cm gap between each stone. You’ll need a mallet to fix the slab in place and a slither of wood to act as a spacing guide. If your patio is directly adjacent to a wall, ensure it stays at least 15cms below the damp proof line.
Once the whole area is covered, spray the new surface with water and leave it for a minimum of 24 hours to set. Only after this time should you think about filling in the gaps. Use dry sand or specialist grout, and remove any remaining residue on the stones for a perfect finish. For a final touch, pebbles or stones placed around the outside of the patio area make an ideal border.