How to lay a patio

Boost the look of your garden by laying a smart new patio

How to lay a patio

Perhaps you have a beautifully sunny spot down the end of the garden that’s rarely used, or an old patio or decking that’s seen better days. Maybe you’ve been living with paving that was there when you bought your house, but was never to your taste? Now’s the time to take action and transform your outdoor space with a patio so you can enjoy the summer to the utmost.

First up, work out your budget, then do your research and decide on the style, colour and size of the slabs you’d like. Next, decide the pattern you’d like to lay them in. Check out paving websites such as bradstone.com and marshalls.co.uk for inspiration.

When you know the dimensions of your chosen slab and your patio area, work out how many slabs you’ll need and, once they’ve been delivered, you can lay them out in position to check that your idea will work! Try to avoid cutting slabs as much as possible. Make a note or take a photo of your preferred scheme so you can refer back to it.

How ton choose the right style of patio

What to consider before laying your patio

If your patio is directly next to your house, you need to lay it so it’s 150mm below the damp-proof course, and make sure it has a very slight slope (1:60 or 16mm per m) away from the house or any outbuildings so that rainwater will run off and not cause damp problems with the buildings.

If your patio will adjoin your lawn, make sure it’s 10mm below ground level to make mowing easier.

If you have several packs of slabs, mix them up before you lay them to disguise any slight variation in colour or pattern.

Ideally, wear shoes with steel toe caps, and sturdy gloves.

What you will need to lay your patio

  • Steel-capped boots 
  • dust mask 
  • safety goggles
  • set square 
  • gloves 
  • rake
  • hardcore
  • Slablayer (£4.90 for 20kg, Wickes) 
  • tamper or whacker plate
  •  rubber mallet 
  • wood offcut of width between tiles 
  • spirit level 
  • trowel

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Total time:

Step 1

How to lay pavers

Check there are no pipes or cables where you intend to dig – if you’re worried, use a cable avoidance tool (CAT). Then, using pegs, string or builders’ line, mark out the position of the patio and check the corners are properly square by using a set square. Mark the edge of the patio with a spade or lawn edger, then remove the pegs and string.

Step 2

Dig down 150mm to allow for hardcore, Slab layer and your tiles (measure the depth of your tiles to get this measurement accurate). Add a slight slope into it to direct rainwater away from the house or outbuilding if necessary.

Step 3

Add half of the hardcore, to create a 50mm layer and rake it so it’s roughly level (keeping any slight slope that’s needed). Compact the area with a tamper or whacker plate to create a stable base. Add the remaining hardcore to create a 100mm layer and compact it again.

Step 4

Add the Slab layer to a depth of 25mm, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to wet it. Rake it again to level out the surface.

Step 5

Starting in the corner at the highest point of the patio, dampen the underside of the first slab with a large paintbrush and lay it. Gently tamp down on the top surface of the slab with a rubber mallet to bed it in. This slab will be the guide for all the others, so make sure it’s perfect.

Step 6

Continue to lay the slabs, leaving your required joint width between them – use an off-cut of wood to help you create a uniform width. Regularly check the levels, including the slope you’ve allowed, as you go along. Slab layer needs to dry slowly over a few days, so cover the patio with plastic sheeting if rain is forecast.

Step 7

Fill in the joints with Slab layer. Mix enough water to create a damp, but not wet, consistency and apply to the joints with a trowel. Brush any excess Slab layer from the face of the slabs before it sets and stains the surface.

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This project was provided by Wicks. Head to Wicks to buy all you need wickes.co.uk to get all you need