It might look like laying a patio is a relatively easy project to undertake and for some people with the right skills it certainly isn’t too difficult.
However, be warned, it is far harder to do in practice than it looks.
If you are considering laying your own patio, to make some where to put your garden furniture, then here is our guide to help you.
Important Things to Consider
Before you get started there are a couple of things that you will need to consider when laying your own patio. Not only will they make the job much easier, but the end result should be much better as well.
Measuring your patio area properly is really important. The last thing you want to do is not order enough materials to complete the job.
Grab a decent quality tape measure and take plenty of measurements. You can use these to help you calculate how many slabs, how much hardcore, and how much sand and cement you will need.
If your patio will be adjacent to your property wall you need to ensure it is 15cm below the damp proof course.
Tools for the Job
The other thing that will make all the difference to your patio project is making sure that you have all the right tools:
- Something to mix cement in (a cement mixer is great but not essential)
- Wheelbarrow or a bucket
- Wooden pegs and string
- Rubber mallet
- Spirit level
- Plank of wood
- Wacker plate
- Pointing trowel
- Disc Grinder (only if you will need to cut any slabs) or chisel and hammer
The key to a good patio is all in the preparation. If the area is already paved, start by removing the existing slabs and any rubble. If it is grass, start by carefully removing the turf.
Mark out the area where the patio will be with the pegs and string. This area should be dug out to a depth of about 15cm. Make sure that the area you have dug is level and has no weak spots.
These would be areas of soil that show a boot print as you walk. Fill these with soil and compact it down.
Now you need to lay the hardcore. You should be aiming for between 5-8cm of well compacted hardcore – the Wacker plate will help you to compact this.
This is hard work, but getting it right will help to ensure the quality of the patio you lay over the top.
Prepare the Slabs
Laying the slabs isn’t actually too complicated, but if you need to cut some this may be more problematic. If you have a lot of cutting, consider investing in a disc grinder.
Otherwise, a hammer and chisel will suffice. It is worth planning your patio out on paper to reduce the amount of cutting you need to do.
A layer of bedding mortar will help to stabilise your patio. This should be made up of a ratio of 5 parts building sand to one part cement and should be about 5cm in depth. Make sure this is nice and even and flat.
Laying the Slabs
Lay your first slab in alignment to your string guides. Use a block of wood and your rubber mallet to tap it gently into place.
Also, use a spirit level to ensure that it is level then, leaving a small gap between them, place the next slab and repeat the process. Keep checking the level as you go and don’t rush.
Do not walk on your patio for 24 hours after laying the slabs. Now you are ready to point. This can be done with patio grout or a mortar mix and your pointing trowel.
Once this has dried your DIY patio is ready to use!