Things to consider when planning a patio project

While normally smaller in the planning than, say, a full driveway, the world of the patio presents a matrix of decision. In the shade or out? Under trees or out in the open? Close to or attached to the house or a walk away? And that doesn’t even include options of colours, textures or materials!

How do I plan out my patio?

As with most jobs, forward planning your patio is paramount, as are the trusty old, builders plumb-line and spirit level that we met earlier, along with a sketched plan of what you are trying to achieve. Just that tiny bit extra TLC can make a world of difference to the final job. i.e. ensuring your patio isn’t going to be constructed over tree roots, which may, in time, push out all your hard work?

Next step?

Firstly, to identify your chosen style, textures and materials, to welcome input of others as to new, or previously unconsidered ideas, and to ensure that your site is cleared of rubble and debris remaining aware of any protruding cables, wires or pipes. Again, as in the case of the driveway, a sturdy and supportive sub-base will be required. This should be dense enough to stand the weight of human activity, and later, reduce any chance of subsidence or unwanted movement.

Anything to keep in mind in these earlier stages?

I don’t want to litter these tips with tons of unfathomable measurements, but always err on the side of caution. Remember to consider the depth of your sub-base added to the thickness of slab, paving stone or concrete to save unnecessary protuberances.  If opting for a concrete base, one small tip is gauge your sand to cement ratio at around 1;5 [one cement to five sand] and to continually keep that spirit level highly employed, especially bearing in mind the slight incline that will be needed to drain away rain and snow.

Any tips regarding relevant tools?

If embarking on a largish job, a specialist array of tools will be required. To avoid cables being lifted or pierced, you can always hire a cable avoidance tool [CAT], a tamper or Wacker-plate to hammer down your double layer of hardcore, while I can recommend the purchase of a rubber mallet to aid the levelling of your top surface of slabs. This will save damage and ruined tiles.

  • Identify area to be revamped and mark out with pegs and string
  • Ensure area to be covered is free of tree stumps, rubble and general obstacles
  • Dig down to allow laying of a relevant sub-base, according to what kind of surface material chosen
  • Keep in mind any slope, and the need to run water away from your home or outhouse
  • You can never over-use your trusty spirit level in helping to keep your surface straight and square
  • remember to purchase a rubber mallet for use in levelling slabs and stonework, and to prevent damage to facia
  • If a larger job, always remain vigilant of protruding wires, cables and pipes

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