Laying a patio can be intensive and hard labour but very rewarding when completed. The key to a successful patio is prior planning. The first thing you need to do is plan your patio on paper. Produce a diagram of where the patio is been put down including all essential landmarks such as the house walls, fencing, where it meets a lawn etc. Make measurements, record them and make sure that you leave enough room between objects and the paving slabs. Now is also the time to make sure you have the right tools for the job.
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Next you need to prepare the area. The site needs to be cleared, removing any turf, stone or previous paving to around a depth of 10-15cms. You need to ensure there is a good, level hardcore base, check with a spirit level, and it has no weaknesses. This needs to be address now otherwise your patio will be subjected to excess strain and cracks can develop. You may need to use a plate compactor to ensure this surface is level. Although the surface needs to be level, it needs to have a slight slope so water doesn’t collect as a pool. Usually 2cm slope per metre is sufficient for rainwater run off.
A patio can be put down on a sand base which needs to have a depth of 10cm with a 2mm layer of cement powder on top. Alternatively, to make the base strong in cases where you may be using it as a driveway you can use a stabilised sand. This is made up in a ratio of 1:4 cement to sand. For large quantities you may want to hire a cement mixer.
Lay the tiles flat and straight in a row. They should sit level and secure as soon as you put them down. Do not stand on the prepared sand bed otherwise you will create an irregularity. For the second row, lay the tiles off set by half a tile. You can use an angle grinder to do this.
Finish by using edging blocks to complete the perimeter of the patio and use silver sand to fill the gaps between slabs. This can be time consuming but making sure the gaps are filled properly
can prevent weed growth between slabs.
Here are a few links with more details and pictures to help you lay your own patio: