How to Lay a Patio

31 Oct 2019

Person laying a patio

Adding a patio or a paved space to your garden is ideal if you’re looking for a low-maintenance area where you can entertain and relax. It’s not a quick project but can be completed in a weekend. With the right preparation, tools, materials, and lots of patience, laying a patio is something you’ll be able to do yourself. An extra pair of hands won’t go amiss – see if a friend or a member of the family can be roped in to help you out. 

What tools will I need?

Having the right tools available before you start working on your patio is central to your success. Without them, you’ll need to run to the shop midway, interrupting your workflow. Equip yourself with the following:

  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Spirit level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tape measure
  • String line, pegs (optional)
  • Cement mixer (optional)

What materials will I need?

Before starting work on your patio, you’ll need to buy the following materials: 

  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Paving grout
  • Paving slabs
  • Sub-base aggregate

A note on sand: lookout for sharp sand when shopping to get the best results from your concrete mix. Sharp sand helps to prevent moles and rats from tunnelling under your paving slabs, so if you’ve got an existing problem with these critters, be sure to get the right material for the job. 

You’ve got your tools and materials at the ready; now it’s time to do the work. 

  • Before any fun can begin, you need to prepare your patio area properly. You'll need to take your time doing this to ensure the best finish for your patio as a sloppy job at this stage will guarantee issues at a further stage. If existing paving slabs are present, then you’ll need to remove them. Dig them all up. Once clear, you need to dig a depth of 150mm across the whole area, levelling out and compacting the soil as you go. The sub-base goes in next – rake it to a consistent depth of 100mm. Level and compact as you go to create a smooth, flat, and firm surface to work with. 
     
  • The sub-base now needs to be covered in concrete. Prepare your concrete mix: combine three parts sharp sand and one-part cement to achieve a doughy consistency. Use a cement mixer, if one is available. Otherwise, a large bucket will do just fine. To check if your concrete mix is thick enough to use, pick up a small amount with your hands and shape into a ball; when you let go of the ball, it should hold its shape without releasing water or falling apart. You need to make enough concrete to create an even 40mm layer in the patio area – you can always ask an assistant at the store where you’re buying materials to help you work out how much to buy. 
     
  • Dampen your concrete slabs before you start laying them down so as not to dry out the concrete too quickly. Take your dampened slab and slowly lower it into position. Proceed gently as you lay it onto the concrete mix, tapping it with the rubber mallet to fix it in place. Aim to position the slabs about 15mm deep into the concrete mix. Repeat this process until your patio area is covered, leaving a small gap (10-15mm) in between slabs. When finished, spray the whole patio area with water until it’s completely wet and leave to set for a minimum of 24 hours. 
     
  • You’re almost done, save for a few finishing touches. Use a trowel or a brush, depending on the size of the gaps, and a paving grout mixture to fill in the gaps between your new slabs. Don’t rush and avoid getting the grout on the slabs’ surface. If staining occurs, use a damp sponge to clean it up. Leave for another 24 hours, and then your patio will be ready to enjoy. 

Not feeling up to the task of laying your own patio? Let Hoppy, and our partner Rated People, get the job done for you. Find trusted gardeners in your area now. 

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