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Study Up Before Summer - How to Lay Slabs

Study Up Before Summer - How to Lay Slabs

Feeling cold weather slowly give way to spring feels like a triumph every year, especially after these long Ontario winters. Unfortunately, all that melting snow can reveal cracked concrete and other outdated landscaping elements that will need to be taken care of when summer hits. If you're thinking about revamping your patio or walkway with paving slabs this year, here’s a quick how-to installation guide to get you started.

Step 1: Excavation

You shouldn’t start any landscaping project without checking with your local utility companies first. Verify the locations of any underground cables or wires before you start digging. Once you’ve received the all-clear to proceed, you can start the excavation process:

  • Plan for proper drainage by creating a slope in increments of 3/16” per foot (5 mm per 300 mm)
  • Make sure the base width behind the edge is the same as the base thickness
  • Grade the area with a rake. Soft soil should be compacted, while clay-like soil needs to be mixed with crushed stone and lime to achieve the proper texture
  • Cover the natural soil with a geotextile membrane

Step 2: Prepare Your Foundation

After you’ve completed the excavation, you can move forward with establishing the foundation of your project.

  • Spread a crushed stone base over the prepared area.
  • Use a vibrating compactor to achieve the proper height. Wetting the base material can help with this.

Step 3: Level the Setting Bed

Next, it’s time to prepare the setting bed. Imperfections will show up in the finished product if the base isn’t correctly graded and smoothed.

  • Install two pipes over the compacted crushed base. Each pipe should have an outside diameter of 1” (25 mm).
  • Use a straightedge or leveler to grade the concrete sand.
  • Pre-compact the setting bed with a hand tamper before fluffing lightly.

Step 4: Install Slabs

Finally, it’s time to start installing your concrete slabs.

  • Start out by laying the slabs at 90-degree angles
  • Walk on the installed slabs as you go, using concrete sand to fill in gaps caused by the pipes
  • Work with cubes from top to bottom, using more than two cubes at a time to maximize color blends
  • Stones that need to be cut can be marked first with a chalk line. Don’t forget to always use personal protection equipment when using a concrete saw or other power tools

After slabs are installed, you can finish up with curbstones, using either mortar or plastic retention systems to keep them in place.

Step 5: Fill Joints

The joints between slabs need to be filled in for stability as well as ensuring a polished look to the final product. This can be done by simply spreading polymer stabilizer sand across the slabs and sweeping to fill the joints before following the instructions on the package. As always, if this sounds a little more involved than what you had in mind, please contact us for an estimate on products and references for qualified landscapers today.


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