Patio - Build Your Own And Improve Your Home And Garden
Before you start a patio or any other home improvement work, make sure you have the time and commitment to see it through. It might have only taken the builder 2 or 3 days to do your neighbours patio ...
Before you start a patio or any other home improvement work, make sure you have the time and commitment to see it through. It might have only taken the builder 2 or 3 days to do your neighbours patio but he's doing it for money. After a hard days digging its easy to think sod this, I'll finish it next weekend. The next thing you know your garden spends the whole summer looking like a building site and your wife takes herself and the kids to her mothers!
Planning your patio. Keep it nice and simple, forget curves and other fancy shapes. Choose a paving slab that matches the colour of your house, you want it to blend in not stand out like a sore thumb. Plan the size of your patio to suit the size of your slabs so that minimal cutting is not required. Remember to allow 10mm for each joint when measuring out your area.
Tools required. A spade and shovel. A fork if grass needs to be removed. A rubber mallet. A spirit level. Lines and pegs. Wheelbarrow. Safety gloves.
From the hire shop. Small cement mixer and compactor (also known as a wacca) plate. If cuts are required an angle grinder or disc cutter with safety goggles.
Marking out. Use pegs and lines to mark out your area. To check your angles measure from corner to corner. The distance between corners 1 and 3 should measure the same as corners 2 and 4.
Digging out. You should dig down about 100mm (4inch). As your patio is going to butt up to your home you must make sure that the top of the paving slabs will finish at least 150mm below your damp course. Also, it is important that your patio slopes away from your house. 2.5cm for every 2m or 1inch for every 6ft.
If you are only digging out top soil you should be able to get away with dispersing it around your garden. Anything else and you will require a skip.
Laying the hard core. Spread the hard core approx. 100mm (4inch) deep. Run the wacca plate over the hardcore, adding more to any low points. Your hardcore should finish about 75mm (3inch) in depth and should be solid under foot.
Laying your slabs. Mix sand and cement without water at a ratio of 5 sand to 1 cement. If you are using a small mixer, 10 shovels of sand and 2 of cement is just enough for the mixer and gives you a good wheelbarrow full.
Spread out your sand and cement mix in a corner. If you are butting up to your house, start against the wall. Using a straight edge such as a length of 2x4 timber, level out the mix. It wants to be fairly firm but not so firm that you can't tap down the slabs into place.
Place your first slab down and tap it in place with your rubber mallet. If the mix hasn't been packed down too hard you should be able to position the slab. Use your level to make sure this first slab is bang on. All the other slabs work from this one so take your time to make sure its correct. It wants to be level following the brickwork of your house but with a very slight slope away from your home.
Always work off the hardcore. Don't stand on your paving slabs for a few days while the sand and cement sets. Use a spirit level to check each slab as you lay them. If a slab goes down too easy, lift it and spread more sand and cement.
Alternatives. Consider using block pavers instead of slabs or building your patio in decking. If your patio needs to be raised because it finishes above ground level you will need to build a base. An alternative to raising in brick is to use railway sleepers.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adrian Kinley is the author of the e-book "Builder Secrets Exposed"
He is also chief editor for www.uk-builder.com