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Tips for Installing Patio Pavers

Building your own outdoor patio is one of the most rewarding do-it-yourself projects for homeowners that enjoy backyard landscaping. While there is some real work involved, building a patio is not too difficult if you have a little bit of know-how. Here are few important guidelines to prepare for and install your patio pavers.

Draw a Plan and Stake it Out

The best landscape projects almost always have a design plan. Sketch out different ideas to see what might look best for your yard. Your plan does not have to look professional, but it should be accurate enough to serve as a guide. Then, with wood stakes and string, stake out your project in its planned location. Make sure it will be big enough for everything you plan to use: a table, chairs, a grill, potted plants and enough room to move around.

The Subgrade and Base Course

Patios have to be on a solid foundation or they will shift and settle unevenly. After you have excavated for your patio, compact the existing soil, which is usually called the subgrade. You can rent a mechanical compactor or use a hand tamper. A small patio is fairly easy to do by hand. Make sure the subgrade slopes from one side to the other. The surface does not have to be completely smooth, but make sure you have factored in the thickness of your base course and the actual pavers.

The base course for your patio pavers should be at least three inches thick. You will be setting the pavers directly on top of this base. The base layer can be a coarse sand or fine aggregate, angular, not round, so that it will compact and remain stable. This base course should be compacted like the subgrade was. Go over it two or three times; you want the final surface to be a little higher than it needs to be.

Laying the Pavers

Use a screed board to level the top surface of the base course. A one by four or any straight edge will work. For the best accuracy, notch each end of the board the thickness of the pavers. Stake temporary edging boards with the top edge matching what will be the top surface of the patio. Drag the screed board between the edging boards. It will leave a smooth surface that is at exactly the right elevation.

The patio pavers can be placed right on top of the screeded base course. If you have interlocking or unit pavers, their thickness will be consistent; place them hand tight against each other, one row at a time. If you are using flagstone or another natural stone, there may be some variation in the thickness. With a small trowel, scrape out or add additional sand as needed for each paver. Use a hand level to see that the finished surface is even. Tap each paver with a rubber mallet to set it firmly in place.

Patio Drainage

It is very important that the top of the patio have a slight slope so that water will drain off the surface. For every foot of length or width, the patio should slope one-quarter inch. For example, a ten-foot wide patio will be two and a half inches lower on the downhill side. Plan for this from the beginning.

Finishing Touches

Premanufactured edging strips can be hammered around the patio perimeter to hold the pavers in place and keep them from shifting. Mulch or turf should hide the edging. Sweep polymeric sand into the paver joints and give the patio a light misting. Repeat as needed until all the small gaps have been filled. Your patio is ready for use!

We carry a huge selection of patio pavers so you don’t feel limited in your design direction. Call us today to find out more.


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