Laying a paver patio - Building Patios

Laying the pavers

1 Stretch guidelines. Lay a sample row of pavers on each side of the patio and stretch lines to mark the ends of the rows. Remove the pavers and use the lines as a reference while laying the pavers to make sure you are laying them in straight lines.

2 Lay the first paver. This patio, which is a running bond pattern, begins by putting the first paver in a corner of the patio. Exactly where the first paver goes depends on the pattern you use.

3 Lay the second paver. Cut a paver in half and put it next to the first one. Depending on the pattern, you may be able to cut pavers in place or wait until the end and cut most of the partial pavers at once. The running bond pattern requires a half paver.

Cut it with a wetsaw, drysaw, or paver splitter.

Wear ear protection, safety glasses, and a dust mask when cutting pavers.

Many pavers have built-in spacer tabs for positioning.

If yours don't, use the click-it method. Hold the paver by its top edges about an inch or so off the ground and bring it against its neighbor just hard enough to make a clicking sound but not hard enough to displace it.

Drop the paver into place at the sound, and you'll get the proper spacing.

4 Finish laying the first row.

Lay the rest of the row, alternating full pavers and half pavers for running bond.

Lay the second row. Lay the row according to the pattern you're using. For running bond, this row and all but the last row are composed of full pavers.

Check the pattern alignment. Lay pavers, checking them against the staked lines as you go. Periodically stretch a line, as shown, to check that the ends of the pavers align. Make corrections as necessary while laying the pavers.

7 Continue laying past the edges of the patio. Continue laying pavers as called for by the pattern to the edges of the patio. If a brick is too long, lay it anyway and save your cutting until you've laid the entire patio.

9 Install the edging. Put edging along the side of the patio you just cut and along the bottom edge of the patio. Drive landscape spikes through the holes to fasten plastic edging. If you use 4x4s, drill holes for the spikes first.

If you use 2x4s, put them in place, drive stakes behind them, and nail the stakes to them.

Compact the surface.

For stability the pavers must be compressed into the bedding sand. Using a power tamper, compact the edges first, then the middle. Repeat, compacting in passes perpendicular to the first ones. Keep an eye out for pavers that crack during compacting. As you work, mark any cracked pavers with a permanent marker to make finding them again easier. Remove and replace the damaged pieces and run the power tamper over them.

Spread and sweep sand across the patio. Spread mason's sand across the pavers and sweep it into the spaces between them. Mason's sand is fine and works its way easily into the cracks.

Run the power tamper again over the patio, first along the edges, then down the middle. Fiave a helper sweep sand to refill the joints, and compact again. Keep sweeping and compacting until the joints are full. Shovel soil into the edges of the excavation to cover the edging, and plant the soil with grass or flowers.

8 Cut the pavers on the ground. Snap a chalkline where the edge of the patio should be and spray it with a clear lacquer to keep it from blowing off while you work.

Cut along the line with a drysaw and remove the scraps. Compacting the joint sand will rub off the lacquer and the chalk line.

Laying bricks on a sand-and-gravel base - Building Patios

Materials: Bricks, bedding and mason's sand, gravel, landscape spikes, landscape fabric, edging

Tools: Mason's line, rubber mallet, framing square, level, 3-pound sledgehammer, brick chisel, brush or broom, power tamper, garden hose, safety glasses, work gloves, knee pads, dust mask, ear protection

Abase of sand over gravel supports concrete bricks as well as it supports concrete pavers. The bed for brick, however, is slightly different: The landscape fabric goes over the stone rather than under it.

Use a paver brick (as opposed to a building brick) that is rated for outdoor use. Use SW brick in areas that freeze and MW brick in areas that don’t.

Paver bricks come in various sizes.

Each is smaller than its given size by the thickness of a mortar joint. Measure the paver you intend to use and design the length and width of your patio accordingly.

A brick patio begins with a 4-inch layer of stones, which provide drainage.

A layer of sand provides a smooth bed for the bricks. Make sure you use a paver brick rated for outdoor use. Fill joints between bricks with sand to help lock them in place.

Lay bricks

1 Lay a gravel bed. Lay out and dig a bed that is 5>/2 inches deep plus the thickness of a brick, sloping the bed Va inch per foot away from the house. Compact the soil with a power tamper. Spread a 2-inch layer of gravel, and compact. Add and compact gravel in 2-inch layers or less until the bed is 4 inches deep. The bed is firm enough when you can't drive a spike into it with anything less than a 3-pound sledgehammer.

2 Install landscape fabric, a sand bed, and edging. Spread a layer of landscape fabric on the gravel to keep the sand from filtering into the gravel. Overlap rows of fabric by 1 2 to 1 8 inches. Install edging, anchoring it as directed by the manufacturer. Spread a l'/2- to 2-inch layer of sand and flatten it with a screed.

3 Lay a border. The finished patio will look best if you lay a row of bricks around the edges. Lay the bricks lengthwise against the edging. Plan so you won't have to trim any bricks to width while laying the final row.

4 Lay the first row. Start laying the bricks from one corner, spacing them Vs inch apart or less. On a large patio, run a mason's line across the patio to mark the edge of the bricks.

5 Bed the bricks. Use a rubber mallet to tap the bricks into place on the sand bed. Use a level to make sure the bricks are the same height as the edging. If a brick is too high, remove some sand from under it. If a brick is too low, use extra sand to fill the depression.

6 Continue laying the pattern.

On the running bond pattern used here, the first brick of every other row is a half brick. Lay out the cut for the half brick and cut several in advance so you can work without pausing to cut. Lay them as you go. Herringbone and other patterns require even more cutting.

7 Check for flat. As you lay rows, keep checking the patio surface for high and low spots by putting a straight 2x4 or a level across the bricks. Seat high spots with a tap from the rubber mallet. Add sand to shore up low spots. Continue laying bricks as described in Steps 4-6.

8 Seat the bricks. Pass over the patio with a power tamper. Then pour fine sand-sold as mason's sand-across the patio and sweep it into the joints between bricks. Tamp, sweep more sand, and repeat until all joints are filled.

Curved edges break up the square lines of a patio and add a little drama to a geometrical layout. Curves can follow a prescribed arc, as shown here, or undulate in a more free-form manner.

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