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Laying The Perfect Patio

Posted on 4th February 2021

Laying the perfect patio will always start with good planning and research.

After you have decided where you want to lay your patio, we recommend drawing a plan of the area you intend to pave. Include all of the measurements and dimensions for other landmarks near the proposed patio area, such as trees, and drains. Remember, you may need to consider whether there are any roots likely to be growing close to the surface when you dig out any foundations. If this is the case, you may need to cut through them, ensuring that this doesn't undermine the tree's integrity and health.

Where you have a sloping area, you will need to work out the drop or fall over the width and length of your proposed patio area. A fall of approximately 1:60 is usually adequate. But do consider that heavily riven stone paving may require more fall to prevent water accumulating on the surface, leading to discolouration.

Using tumbled or textured finish natural stone paving can usually ensure a smoother more even surface area is achieved, whilst also accommodating the various styles you may want to embrace.

Where the fall is much greater, you may want to consider including a change in level with steps. This can make a great feature and focus to the patio if thought through carefully. Your new tier may allow you to play with the patio shape to create a new dimension to the area and break up the surface with a water feature or planting pockets around the perimeter to the feature area, which will help accentuate the area in which you propose to relax and play.

It is a good idea to spray out the proposed patio shape or insert pegs and string to mark out the intended area where you will create your new patio. This will allow you to live with the shape for a while to be sure you are happy, thinking about the furniture and other accessories you intend to use and enabling plenty of room for you to move around.

You will then start to dig an area to a depth of 150-200mm dependent upon the thickness of the surface paving you intend to use (for 22mm calibrated Indian sandstone or limestone paving approx.150mm is usually sufficient), and then apply a sub-base that uses MOT Type 1 aggregate that is compacted to a thickness of at least 100mm on which you will lay your paving stones.

There are two acceptable methods of laying flags – individually mortar bedded and screed bedded. Other methods, such as spot-bedding and ring-bedding, are not considered suitable for any professional paving project and should be avoided.

Most natural stone paving usually relies upon each paving piece having a mortar bed prepared for it individually as there can be a significant difference in the thickness between adjacent paving tiles. A mortar bed is prepared, the flag is laid, and then the next bed prepared and the next stone paving tile laid adjacent to it, and so on!

This method also means each stone paving tile can be pushed into the mortar for good adhesion and using a spirit level ensure its edges are level with the adjacent tile yet allowing a small fall to allow for drainage following the plan you have set out.

If the patio is laid next to a house wall, then you should ensure that patio is ideally laid 15cm below the damp proof wall so that rain doesn't bounce off and potentially cause future damp issues.

Other elements to think about in your design process are:

  • How will you edge your patio? Especially when joining with a lawn. The stone slabs may form the edge with the lawn area but must be laid slightly below the lawn's height to allow an easy mowing strip, or if the shape is curved a brick edging may be used.
  • Do you want lighting or a water feature? This means you may need to include ducting for cable underneath the patio to access an electrical point close to your home and create an RCD protected termination.
  • The type of surface you may want, as the more textured the surface, the greater the slip resistance you will have.
  • Will your patio link with other floor surfaces such as a kitchen or dining area where bi-folding doors are to be used? You may need to include a separate drainage channel between the link to each area.
  • The pattern, style and colour of the stone paving you want to complement the floor areas you already have in your home.

Given the time and money that you need to invest in preparing for your patio, using high-quality materials is always advisable to ensure your investment is long-lasting and a key selling feature for your home in the future.

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