With summer fast approaching, more and more home owners are venturing outside to make the most of the sunshine, and there’s no better way to spend the summer than by relaxing on your very own patio, complete with bbq and sun loungers. A bespoke patio can increase the value of your home by up to 12% and can last for 25 years with little maintenance. There’s a huge choice of paving slabs available, so it’s easy to find a style that suits your home and garden. Laying a basic patio should be relatively straightforward for a competent DIY’er, so we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help get you started.
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The trick to laying a perfect patio is planning and preparation. There’s a lot of factors to take into consideration such as shape, size, materials, groundwork and obstacles; paving should be laid around manhole covers and this may affect the level of your patio. Remember, slabs are much more difficult to cut & shape than decking, so keep to a fairly basic design unless you are competent using a disc cutter. You should always allow sufficient time for planning and make sure you identify any potential difficulties before starting any work.
- Draw a rough sketch of your patio design.
- Mark out the edge of your planned patio area to see how it will look.
- Once you’ve confirmed the overall size, draw a detailed, scaled plan of the area and include fixtures such as walls, trees or manhole covers.
- Allow 10mm – 30mm between slabs and consider adding a drainage channel to help clear surface water.
- Make sure the patio is at least 150mm below the damp proof course (DPC) to protect your home and comply with UK building regulations.
- Calculate the total patio area in square metres as this help you identify how many slabs you need to purchase.
Tip: Some companies/ranges offer full & half size slabs to avoid the need for cutting & shaping.
Once you’re happy with your plans, the next step is to clear the proposed area and lay a suitable foundation. If your garden is prone to flooding, you may wish to lay a deeper foundation or add some drainage channels to clear standing water.
- Set out the perimeter using stakes and string, clear all vegetation and exposed roots, and compact the ground beneath using a roller or Wacker Plate.
- Place a layer of hardcore to a depth of 50mm – 80mm over the area and distribute evenly using a rake.
- Compact the layer of hardcore using a roller or Wacker Plate.
- Add a layer of bedding mortar over the hardcore and level using a rake or length of wood.
Tip: Bedding mortar will last longer than a sand base and will not wash away over time.
Laying the Patio
Once you’ve prepared the foundation, you’re ready to start laying the paving slabs.
- Check that string guideline are square to the house, wall or fence (if applicable).
- Lay down the first slab against the house, wall or fence and check its alignment against the guideline using a set square. Take your time, as the first slab is the most important.
- Gently tap the slab to the correct level using a rubber mallet or club hammer & block of wood to prevent cracking.
- Check the alignment of the slab using a spirit level and allow a gradual slope away from the house (if applicable).
- Repeat until you’ve laid all the paving slabs and re-check alignment using a spirit level.
Tip: Allow 24 hours for the bedding mortar to dry before applying the finishing touches.
Once the slabs are firmly in place, you’ll need to fill in the gaps with mortar – a process known as ‘pointing’. This will help keep the slabs in place and prevent weeds from growing up through the gaps. Use a semi-dry mortar mixture (to reduce shrinkage once dry) and press into the gaps using the edge of a trowel. Once you’ve finished, wash the slabs with a damp cloth to remove any traces of cement and allow to dry for 24 hours.
Congratulations…You now have a stylish new patio to enjoy for years to come! The great thing with patios is that they require very little maintenance and can be used for a wide range of activities including gardening, sunbathing and entertaining guests. This simple design should be relatively easy for a competent DIY’er but if you’re looking for something more adventurous or bespoke, we advise contacting a local paving specialist. Complete Project Management offer professional paving solutions in Exeter, Exmouth, Torquay and the surrounding areas. Call us today on 01392 925045 or contact us online for more information about patio design, installation and maintenance.