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Guide For Paving

STEP 1. Planning

It is always important to first plan out your project taking into account the proposed application of the paving surface, how the area will be used, and the size of the patio area that will be covered. Smaller areas often work better with smaller modular tile units or if wanting to achieve a traditional pattern, tiles that have a fixed width with random lengths can be effective.

We recommended a minimum 10% wastage is considered when ordering your tiles for cuts, and when using natural stone, to also allow for the rejection of some tiles where shade or markings are deemed to be aesthetically unsuitable. It is also worth keeping a few spares for repairs.

It can also be helpful to dry lay the  paving in sections first to ensure the most effective use of the pattern you have chosen and minimise where possible small cuts. This also allows you to mix the tiles to ensure uniformity of fluctuations in shade and tile markings.

When implementing the installation, ensure you have the correct tools, adhesives and grouts, and where appropriate sealing/ impregnator products to give added protection to your finished surface covering.

It is imperative that personal protective equipment is worn and extra care taken when using power tools designed to cut tiles and paving. This means gloves, safety goggles/glasses, dust masks, and knee pads should be worn, and on any project, be aware of all manufacturer’s instructions and safety advice.

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STEP 2. Paving Preparation


Before you begin ensure there are no hidden cables or pipes where you intend to dig. We recommend that you mark out the area that will be paved and using a string line and pegs mark out the position of your intended paving. Ensure the squareness of the corners with a set square. It is also a good idea to mark the required depth of your excavation with pegs to take account of any slope that you may need to ensure water runs away from the building.

STEP 3. Assessing the Paved Area


Areas that are to be paved will need to be dug out [ a mechanical digger making life much easier, particularly for large areas]. The depth should typically be 150 - 200mm, allowing for the thickness of the paving [ 22mm is assumed], with the mortar and the subbase, which should for best results be compacted MOT type 1 aggregate. This must always [for non-trafficked areas] ideally be a minimum 100mm after compaction but you may need to increase if the area being paved has experienced issues with soft ground/ water ponding during the winter that causes the ground to slightly sink.

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STEP 4. Setting out the paving

When paving, the starting point will normally be the edge of the house or main access area, ensuring provision for drainage and the need to enable a fall in laid tiles away from the house or alternatively into a drain. A 1:60 (17mm per linear metre) fall is generally recommended. If your patio is directly next to your house, then you’ll need to lay it so that it is 150mm below the damp proof course.

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STEP 5. Laying your Paving


Use a trowel to apply the mortar onto the subbase to receive the tile. The mortar mix should typically consist of 5 parts sharp sand to 1-part cement mixed with water to make a moist but not overly wet mixture.

When laying the paving it is normally good to practise to start at the highest point of the patio and work down the fall. Mortar depth will vary but is typically in the range 35mm to 60mm. The laid flagstone needs to be pushed into the mortar, with the aid of a rubber mallet, ensure that the mortar is not compressed and that the fall of the surface is maintained using a line and spirit level.

It is very important that a FULL MORTAR bed is used [ which is the recommendation of guidelines in the British Standard 7533:part 4], which covers the installation of both concrete and natural stone tiles. No other method should be used as spot-fixing can lead to future problems, as the tile is not fully supported, and also because the void underneath could allow pooling water, and often results in damp patches appearing on porous sandstones.

We recommend that calibrated paving is used, where the tolerance to be worked with makes laying easier, particularly when large areas are being paved. Ensure you leave a gap of approx. 10-15mm between each paving tile.

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Step 7. Grouting and Pointing


A mortar fix can be used to fill joints or one of the many off-the-shelf ready mix compounds, that can be brushed in.

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Step 8. Surface Sealing

The use of a sealer will depend upon the porosity of the tile being used and where it is being installed. A good quality sealer is paramount, that is designed for the type of stone being installed and can enhance the performance of the tiles by creating a barrier to dirt and grime that will significantly help care and maintenance as well as minimise damage from alcohols and grease.

In addition, it is important to note that many sealing solutions can significantly change the appearance of the tile and give different levels of sheen, so always test the chosen sealer on spare tiles before applying. Good quality sealers will provide long term performance and not significantly change the natural look and feel of the stone surface whether it be for the interior or exterior of the property. We also recommend a high quality solvent based sealer is used with black limestone paving as without the colour will fade. 

Step 9. Maintenance

Dry dust and dirt can be removed using a brush or dry vacuum or alternatively washed with a suitable detergent solution and rinsed thoroughly before vacuum drying.

Light scuffing and blemishes can be cleaned using a proprietary stone soap cleaner after normal cleaning and drying. Deep scratch damage can be removed using a fine grade wet and dry sanding sheet.

Oil-based stains can be removed with white spirit, but note that this may also remove any surface sealant, and will then need to be repaired.

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Step 10. Aftercare & Maintenance

All projects, whether paving or an internal floor area require regular care and maintenance to ensure they remain clean and in the best condition possible. It is therefore important to understand the best products and methods to use that will ensure your investment in natural stone lasts for many decades. The simplest form of cleaning is regular brushing, and for interiors an effective specialist cleaner for the surface, that should not be a heavy bleach or chemical compound that is left standing or it will likely damage the surface.

The use of specialist cleaning product is always recommended, along with for paving simple light surface hosing. Note heavy power washing can damage the surface and open the stone surface which can further increase the opportunity for dirt and lichens to grow and discolour surfaces.

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