How to Lay a Patio in 9 Simple Steps (With Material Costs!)

Relaxing on an outdoor patio in your back or front yard is a top way to enjoy summer’s warm weather. Just imagine the warm summer sun shining down while you and your loved ones recline comfortably in patio chairs. Sounds pretty nice right? Do you want to know the best part? Equipped with this guide on how to lay a patio, you’ll be well on your way to installing and then enjoying your patio in no time!

Already know that you’ll be a tad too busy to put together a patio on your own? Do you just want to skip to the relaxation part? Let us do the legwork for you and connect you with a local patio installer!

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1. Plan It Out

No matter what project you are tackling, the most important step is to draught a detailed plan. Your plan should include the layout and design, measurements, materials, a budget, and a timeline. Having the information for these aspects written out will keep your project running smoothly and ensure that it stays on track.

Layout and Design

Picking the layout and design of your new patio can be great fun. With so many different layout options you are sure to find the perfect design for your outdoor space.

Start by taking a look at your yard. Do you have a particular wall that would align well with a rectangular patio? Would a circular patio add a quaint and charming air to your yard? Do you have space for an extensive patio or do you just need enough space for a few patio chairs?

When you figure out the answers to these questions and questions like these you will discover that your yard has already provided you with a bounty of inspiration.

Then, once you’ve decided on the essentials like size and shape you can begin to get creative. Intricate brickwork? A mosaic-style patio? The options are endless!

Measurements

Once you’ve settled on a design and drawn it out, it’s time to take some measurements. These measurements will serve as a guideline for the entire project. Your measurements will determine how much and even which kind of materials are best for the patio. So, it is absolutely essential that you take great care when heading out with your measure tape.

You’ll want to measure around the entire perimeter of where the patio will lie. This will provide you with the square meterage of your patio. You can then take this information and use it to purchase the correct amount of materials for your project.

Materials

Equipped with the measurement for your patio’s square meterage you can now set about hunting for your patio materials. To make things simple we went ahead and researched 3 of the most popular patio materials. You can also opt for a wooden base but this will require exterior paint and wood care and you might find you have to buy a contractor table saw to cut materials to size – you can learn more about this here. Take a peek at the chart below to find out the pros, cons and costs of the most popular patio materials.

MaterialAverage Cost per SQMProsCons
Natural sandstone£40 to £80- Beautiful natural aesthetic
- Durable
- Most costly per SQM
Concrete paving slabs£14 to £60 - Cost-effective
- Available in faux natural textures
- Not all slabs are made equally so keep an eye out for quality and aesthetic
Block paving (brick)£19 to £50- Will gracefully match a brick house
- Charming and quaint style
- Can be difficult to lay evenly
- You may require more blocks due to their smaller size

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Budget

There is simply no way around it, if you want your project to run smoothly you will need to drought a budget. Your budget will help you account for all of the costs you might incur like materials and labour. Based on your budget you can then determine the most cost-effective materials for your project. That way you won’t have to worry about spending more than you are comfortable with or running out of funds before the project is finished.

Timeline

There is nothing like a timeline to help keep you or your professional accountable. Establishing a timeline will help to ensure that you don’t slack off if you DIY. Alternatively, should you hire a patio installer a timeline will keep you both on the same page.

Don’t forget to stay realistic when you are planning both your budget and timeline. It is always best to leave a bit of breathing room in both. Sometimes projects may take slightly longer than planned or you may need to purchase a few extra patio stones.

Patio Bricks

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2. Gather Your Supplies

Before you jump right in and starting paving away make sure that you have all of your supplies nearby. As the project unfolds this will save you time and energy so that you can focus on the task at hand.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • Shovel
  • String and spikes
  • Paving stones
  • Wooden pegs
  • Timber to support the edges
  • Wooden spacers
  • Hardcore (gravel)
  • Mortar or slab-layer compound
  • Level
  • Sledgehammer
  • Rubber mallet

3. Create Guides

Guidelines are essential to laying your patio effectively. They will help to make sure that you don’t venture outside the area you want to lay your patio bricks and that everything goes as planned. Creating these guides is also relatively simple, all you will need is some string and metal or wooden spikes.

Drive the metal or wooden spikes into each corner of your future patio. Then, attach the string to each of these spikes. This should create a square-like grid on the ground.

Shovel in dirt

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4. Start Digging

Following along the grid that you made in the previous step, dig down 15cm deep. Creating a course that is slightly lower than ground level will provide you with adequate space for laying your hardcore, mortar or slab-layer and paving stones.

While this step is simple it is important not to skip it. If you don’t dig into the turf before laying your stones they won’t lie flush with the ground or evenly transition between your lawn and patio.

5. Support the Edges

Now that you have defined the course where you will lay your bricks, it is time to add in some supports. Supporting the edges will prevent any loose soil from tumbling into the area you are working. It will also ensure that as the patio is built that it remains strong and secure.

To make these supports drive in wooden pegs along the edge of the course at 1m intervals. Then secure timber along the edge of the course to these pegs using a drill.

Gravel for your patio

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6. Add Your Hardcore (Gravel)

With the course for your patio properly supported you can now add a layer of hardcore. Hardcore is essentially a mix of large gravel chunks. This will provide your patio with a solid foundation and fill up approximately 10cm of the course.

To ensure that your layer of hardcore is even, use a rake to smooth it out. Then using your sledgehammer, compact the hardcore into the ground.

7. Dry Lay

Before you put down any mortar on the hardcore you will next need to dry lay your slabs. Dry laying will allow you to approximate the placement of each piece. That way when you actually go to permanently place your slabs down they will end up in the right spot.

This will help you avoid the risk of cementing your slabs to the wrong spot. Plus, you won’t need to worry about finding out at the last moment that one of the slabs needs to be cut to fit it within the patio’s dimensions.

Patio slabs

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8. Spread the Mortar and Lay the Slabs

Once you are certain that your slabs will fit properly in the designated patio area you can then go about setting them permanently in place. To do this spread out some of your mortar or your slab-layer compound onto the hardcore.

You should spread it just far enough to cover the area where you plan to lay a few slabs. After you have covered that area with slabs, continue to progress along the course of the patio following this method.

As you go use your wooden spacers to keep the spacing between each of the slabs even. Then use the rubber mallet to firmly settle each of the slabs. Don’t forget to check whether your patio is even with a level either. Even if it looks even, ‘eye-balling it’ just won’t cut it here.

9. Fill in the Gaps with Mortar

After your slabs have all been laid out on the mortar you will need to let them set for a day or two. To find out exactly how long you should leave your slabs, check the directions on your compound.

Now that your slabs are rooted in place, the last step you need to take care of is filling in those gaps. Using your leftover mortar fill each of the gaps with an even layer. You could even add some finishing sand on top for an extra touch!

Once the mortar in the gaps has completely dried, your patio will be complete. Now all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the nice weather!

Further Reading

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