How to Build a Patio
Building your own patio can be a great way to save some money instead of hiring someone to do it. If you plan properly, you should be able to build your patio in a weekend, or even one day, depending on the size, but be prepared for some good, hard work!
Before you get started, you need make a few decisions: where your patio is going to be, how big it's going to be, it's shape and, finally, what you want to build your patio from. There are many different types of material you can choose for your patio - paving stones, concrete pavers, bricks, you can even make your own paving stones with do it yourself kits, so choices are endless.
Once you have decided on the size, shape, material, etc., it's time to make sure you have everything you need. The size of your patio will determine how many stones you need and how much sand to buy. Measure carefully and always order at least 10% more to cover any breakages.
Things You Need
- Paving stones / Bricks / Concrete pavers (whichever you choose)
- Sand (Paving sand is the best)
- Shovel (a square one is ideal)
- Rake (should have steel tines, not plastic)
- Wood stakes
- Rope or twine
- Measuring tape
- Rubber mallet
- 1 6' long 2x4 board
- 1 1' long 2x4 board
- 4x4 square post
- Block saw (optional - only necessary if you have to cut stones)
Building Your Patio
For ease of explanation, I have used paving stone throughout, but it doesn't matter what you are paving with, the steps are basically the same:
- Using the measuring tape, wooden stakes and rope, measure out and outline your patio in the area you want it. Rectangle and square patios are always easiest, so you may want to start with one this shape if this is your first time. Also, if your patio is going to be directly beside your house, ensure that it declines away from your house for drainage - about 1 inch for each 8 feet.
- Use a shovel to remove any grass or higher areas where you want to lay your patio. This is where a square shovel is helpful as it will make neat, straight lines. Dig down at least 4 inches to ensure the area is deep enough for the sand and paving stones. Confirm your measurements by laying paving stones the length and width of the area you have cleared. Once you have the size and shape right, remove them. Use the 6' 2x4 to check the decline away from your house once you have cleared the area.
- Rake the ground as smooth as possible and then tamp it down using the 4x4 post before pouring on the sand.
- Spread the sand over your cleared patio area. You should have at least 2 inches across the entire area, so that it is easier to level stones later. Do NOT use all your sand!
- Once you have the sand poured out, rake it and tamp it down with the post. Smooth the sand using the 1' 2x4 board. You are finally ready to lay your first paving stone!
- If you are building your patio beside your house or a structure (a fence for example), lay your first patio against it. Use the level to make sure it is level and the right height. Add or remove sand if necessary and smooth the sand again.
- Add your second paving stone beside the first and knock into place with the rubber mallet. Check it's height and level compared to the first stone and add or remove sand as necessary. Continue in this manner, laying stones next to each other, using the previous one as a guide for position, height and level.
- As your rows increase, use the 6' 2x4 to periodically check that the patio is level and if it is beside your house, that it is running on a decline away from the house.
- When all your stones are in place and level, pour the rest of the sand over the top of the patio. Use a broom to sweep all of the sand down between the paving stones to fill any spaces. Make sure the sand is compact between the paving stones. Periodically, you may have to add sand as it can be washed away.
Lastly, and most importantly, put out your patio furniture and bar-be-que and enjoy your new patio!
Note: If you are making a shaped patio, you may have to cut some of the stones so they fit into the shape. Also, if you are using oddly shaped stones, you may have to jig the edges of your patio area. Finally, if you are being a bit more creative and creating a patio out of bricks with a design, where you start your patio can vary. Some designs you can start from the edge as outlined here, but if you are working on a circular design, it is better to start from the middle and work your way outwards.