Patios

How to Build a Patio – Ultimate DIY Installation Guide


Stan:

Belgard is sponsoring a three part mini-series on how to install seat walls, columns, a patio like this, and a fire ring.

Sponsored means: Belgard asked me very nicely (“you mean with money??”) to put together the most comprehensive patio installation guide that’s ever been created, ever! But we’re going to go even deeper down the rabbit hole than just talking about technical details, we’re going to talk about cost.

Phil:

We’re going to give you everything you need from start to finish on how to build this. You’re probably wondering what type of help do I need, what type of tools do I need. We’re going to tell you, step by step what it’s going to take to complete this project.

Stan:

There is no chance I can get all that done in one video. That’s a good excuse to subscribe. Now you prep the base, tell me exactly what you did?

Phil:

To start we had a look at the thickness of the pavers, we’ve got a paver that’s three and three-eighths of an inch thick.

Stan:

Pavers can vary anywhere from two and three-eighths inches thick all the way up to three and three-eighths inches thick, and in between. So take that into account when you’re doing your own measurements, and yes I still have my snow plow on and it’s the middle of May, I’ve been a little busy.

Phil:

So we had to make sure we excavate for that, we allow for the one inch of bedding seen that’s going on behind us and four inches for that compact to the base.

Stan:

Four inches is fine for a patio but if you’re going to use it as a driveway or anything that needs a heavier duty or application, deepening your base material to six inches, it just gives you better results.

Phil:

All added up, you’ve got eight and three-eighths of an inch that we’ve excavated out of this area to allow for the fill of those materials.

Stan:

Adding geotextile fabric over your raw dirt, it will separate the finds and just give you a longer lasting result.

Phil:

What they’re doing is they’re setting up to install the pavers, they’ve got to set up a one inch layer of the granite sand, and they’re using these pipes behind me to screed that out. So they’ll take the board to scrape it across the pipes, leaving that one inch layer perfect, ready for pavers.

HOST:

They’re using a three-quarter inch PVC plastic pipe.

Phil:

What we we’re looking for is the outside diameter of that pipe; that outside diameter is going to get us right at one inch.

Stan:

What is it, that adorable baby fox that I rescued from a fur farm? You want me to tell them not to go too deep on their bedding material? Great point! Baby Fox wants to make sure that I share with you guys that if you go too deep on your sand base, you can actually put pressure on any one point of a paver and because there’s no cohesive material it can shift and kick that paver up. Good job, Baby Fox, high five! Or just walk away and pee in the corner. Phil, tell me about the string line.

Phil:

What we’re doing is, we’re setting the level. We want to make sure that these pavers all line up, are all level and we have the appropriate amount of pitch to allow for water to effectively drain off of this patio, in case there is rain.

Stan:

That’s what the string line does? Actually, Phil is one hundred percent right, a string line is a multi-purpose tool that can set both the pitch and elevation of your patio as well as set the course for your bricks. Now I’m going to get back and see if I can screw him up some more.

Phil:

We want to make sure that this water has a path to get off of the patio. You can do it using a laser level like this, sometimes it is referred to as a transit.

Stan:

Your patio should have one inch of drop for every eight feet of run; meaning, that when you’re trying to direct water from an area, for every eight feet that it runs, it should also be dropping by one inch. It’s time for today’s Fun Facts. Hey Phil, what’s today’s Fun Fact?

Phil:

Well, Stan, I’m glad you asked. What we’re doing is, I’m looking through these pallets and the one thing that I’m looking for is this date that the pavers were manufactured on. See, the one thing that I want is, I want these dates to match each other; that tells me that they were manufactured at the same time, in the same lot. So I’m checking the dates on those pallets to make sure that’s the case.

Stan:

So if the dates are different you could almost get a checkerboard pattern in your landscaping, even though you’re ordering the same material. Perfect, thanks, Phil I appreciate all your help.

Phil:

Yeah, no problem Stan.

Stan:

How much time should you allocate for a project like this?

Phil:

Well if you’ve got an experienced crew, a job like this is going to take about three days to complete. If your crew is just getting started out, there is a little bit of a learning curve and you might expect this project to take about a week to complete. If you’re a homeowner and you want to tackle something like this on your own or you’ve got a couple of friends that are going to help you, plan on spending about three or four full weekends putting this project together.

Stan:

Eight to ten full days, and remember you’re going to need a few tools that you probably don’t have in your typical tool belt. If you’re like most homeowners, it will take you all summer long.

What are some of the other tools that a homeowner should expect to have to get before they can start doing something like this?

Phil:

Well, you want to make sure that you’ve got a good variety of hand tools, levels, string lines, possibly even a laser level. If you don’t have machines like this, yes this job can be done with wheelbarrows and shovels, just be prepared to do a little bit of extra work and probably have some friends that can help you out with something like this.

Stan:

A plate compactor, a concrete saw. A concrete saw is an awesome tool for cutting block, but also great for cutting the tips off from your toes and flinging rocks in your eyes. Make sure you wear protection and have a basic understanding of what you’re going to be doing. All right Phil, let’s talk about that pattern.

Well, what we want to be careful of, is not to create long continuous seams or joints. The pattern is truly a random pattern, as you’re laying these pavers you want to use the different sizes in the correct proportion. So you don’t want to leave the small sizes or the large sizes out, you want to continually mix them in overlapping the joints so you get a nice, true random pattern throughout the finished product.

Tip of the day

It’s time for another tip of the day. What I want to show you is what Jose is doing, it is called the click and drop method. He’s not setting the blocks out here and sliding them in because that will mess up his base. He puts it up tight to the blocks and then he sets it straight down, he’s not messing up any base and that’s the click and drop method. Phil, I want to talk about two different techniques that are being used in the industry; pre-compacting the one inch sand bag or leaving it loose.

Phil:

I don’t recommend pre-compacting the one inch sand bag. This sand put in uncompacted is going to allow us to come back after the pavers are installed and do what we call bedding the pavers. So by compacting the pavers on top, it’s going to take the sand and work it up into the first bottom third of this joint. What that’s going to do is create tight interlock amongst each paver relative to the other one, and it’s going to create strength in this paver system even before the polymer joints sand goes in. So I don’t recommend pre-compacting the bedding sand at all.

Stan:

Phil, we want to talk about the edge restraint.

Phil:

So we have a couple different options in terms of what type of edge restraints to put in. First, let’s note that the purpose of this edge restraint is to create a method to hold all these pavers in place. If this edge restraint were to ever fail, this paver system is going to begin to separate and it’s going to lead to a failure in the pavers. This tip is to use steel spikes, what we want is we actually want the spikes to rust. When they rust they’re going to create almost like a weld against this edge restraint, holding this in place forever.

Stan:

Forever?

Phil:

Forever, until death do they part?

Stan:

Phil shows me the difference between a soldier course and a sailor course.

Phil:

OK, so we have a couple options on how to border this patio. The way we have it laid out now is called a sailor course; this is where we take the pavers and we set it parallel to the field pattern, which is the inner part of the patio. So a sailor course is running along its lane. If I were to take one piece of this paver, let’s say this rectangle for instance, and set it up and run a line of rectangle set perpendicular to this field that would be called the soldier course. So soldier course sets perpendicular, a sailor course sets parallel, each of them you have to figure up ahead of time what you’re going to do because it affects your material quantities.

Stan:

All right another fun thing that you can do with a soldier or sailor course is changing the color. You can highlight a color from the house.  Or you can bring it down to the patio or you can pull the color out of the patio and make a solid color on the outside of this.

It really makes your patio area pop. If you want to define different areas in the same patio, let’s say you want a central seating area and then you want the pathway going off. You just put the sailor course around the areas that you want to define.  That way you can differentiate one spot from another spot. We’re not using a typical sand we’re actually using a polymeric sand, so that means the patio has to be bone dry. We can’t have any moisture on it because once the sand is exposed to water, it activates.

Phil:

Sometimes you’ll see people using the actual granite sand that was used as the bedding sand. In some commercial applications, this is an approved installation process but I don’t recommend it. This polymeric sand is going to create interlock, it’s going to not wash out because once that polymeric sets, it hardens like a mortar but it can still be worked out of the joint if you ever have to come in and make the repairs, and it’s not going to allow weeds to grow in it.

Stan:

Hey, dirt monkey I thought you didn’t like polymeric sand? No, what I don’t like is that people mistake it for a “one and you’re done”. They feel that if they use polymeric sand, they will never have to do maintenance on their deck again. Nothing could be further from the truth. It will eventually crack, chunk and break. So they just finished packing the patio and now they’ve got to re-sweep the joint spaces because of the settlement. They are not watering and activating these joints’ sand yet. Not until everything is absolutely complete, this is the mid-stage.

What you’re going to notice is, as he’s packing it the sand is now going to settle. You have to reapply it and bring it back up to the top and compact it again. You have to remove one hundred percent of all sand from the paver patio before you wet it and activate it or it will remain there for all time. A blower is a great tool to remove this as a possibility. You lightly dust off the patio and you’re good to go. The guys are now eating lunch on a patio that wasn’t there three hours ago, and what we’re doing right now is activating the polymeric sand.

Poly Sand

A light watering is all you need to activate the polymeric. In fact, if you douse it, that extra water is going to weaken the longevity of that compound. So we just got done installing this beautiful patio, seat wall, column, and fire ring. But nothing leaves a worse taste in a homeowner’s mouth than when you leave the site unfinished, without fixing everything that you’ve destroyed on the way in.

That’s right, and the time to think about this is on the front end of the project. At the very first meeting with the homeowner. You want to be thinking of how you’re going to leave this site looking better than the way you found it.

Phil:

You could see the guys over here working, these are their tracks, where they came in and now they’re taking the time to re-sod that. These are all things that you think about before the project begins.

Stan:

You don’t want to be leaving this job site and you put all of this work into this beautiful project, to leave dissatisfaction in how you complete this project’s site. So by laying the sod you can leave yourself with a very happy customer and you’re going to set yourself up for referrals down the road.

Alright, let’s get through the technical and cost breakdown of this job site. I’m going to go a little “Rainman” on you here for a moment. The patio itself was sixteen by sixteen square feet with two hundred fifty-six square feet. There were two seat walls, and each seat wall was twelve feet long.  But they’re double-sided, meaning that you have twenty-four exposed square feet for a combined total of forty-eight square feet. There were three columns; each column is approximately fifteen square feet for a combined total of forty-five square feet. You’re going to need to import nine tons of base material, and that’s considered class five or crusher stone.

You’re also going to need another one point five tons of granite bedding sand to complete this project. You’ll need nine bags of polymer sand. The combined total of all the materials is three thousand, six hundred thirty dollars. If you’re a contractor and you’re going to do an estimate for a homeowner, you should give them an estimate totaling somewhere between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars for this job. That’s also going to include the necessary sod to repair the trails coming in and out, and any other finished landscaping.

Thanks to Belgard

Now a big thank you to Belgard for sponsoring this three part mini-series. Let them know what you guys want to see next in the comments down below. Tell Belgard what kind of training, what kind of technical information you want. God bless, go get them!

Being a contractor doesn’t always have to feel like work, sometimes it’s OK to have fun. I want nothing but the best for each and every single one of you. Here’s to hoping your projects go absolutely amazing. Dirt Monkey. Out!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *