How to Lay Patio Blocks

Knowing how to lay patio blocks can help you create a low-cost, durable outdoor entertainment area. Patio blocks come in a number of colors and styles-some are even designed to look like much more expensive stone. You and a helper should complete this job in a weekend.

How To Lay Patio Blocks In Ten Simple Steps

  • Locate your patio. First, determine where in your yard you'll want to place your patio. While a patio near your back entrance makes sense, you may want to place your patio where it can take advantage of a great view or where it can have the most privacy.
  • Lay out your patio. Once you've decided where to put your patio, you'll need to mark the limits of the structure on the ground. To reduce the need to cut patio blocks, size your patio so that an even number of blocks will be used along each edge. Stake out an area about a foot larger than the size of your patio-make sure your corners are square. Run string between the stakes.
  • The hard part of the job. After marking the perimeter of the patio, you'll need to remove all turf and soil from the patio area. To determine the depth you'll need to dig, add 4" for a gravel base, 2" for a sand bed and the thickness of your patio blocks. Try to get a uniform depth across the surface of your excavated area.
  • Get an edge. Your patio will need a firm boundary to remain stable. For edging, consider commercially available metal or plastic edge restraints or pressure-treated wood. If you are using regularly shaped patio blocks, the blocks themselves can be used as edging. Once the edging is in place, backfill the outside of the edging with soil from your earlier excavation.
  • Got gravel? After installing the edging, pour enough gravel into the patio area to create a bed 4" deep. Spread the gravel evenly with a rake and tamp it down firmly. Check the surface slope regularly-you want a slope of 1" per 4'-and adjust as needed. If your patio is next to your house, the slope should be away from the house.
  • Weed block. A layer of landscape fabric over the gravel will block weeds and keep sand from migrating down into the gravel bed. Overlap lengths of fabric by 6" for the best coverage.
  • Sand in your bed. Pour sand over the landscape fabric to a depth of 2" or so, this will create a firm bed for your patio blocks. Use a length of 2"x4" wood to smooth the sand and be sure to maintain your 1" to 4' slope along the top of the sand.
  • Add patio blocks. Beginning in one corner, install your patio blocks in a pattern as recommended by the manufacturer. Work from one corner to the adjacent corner and then toward the opposite side of the patio. With a rubber mallet, gently tap each patio block into the sand bed. Periodically, drag a length of 2"x4" across the surface to check for high or low spots-correct as required by tapping in high blocks or adding sand under low ones.
  • Cutting blocks. Cut blocks to fit in irregular areas using a circular saw fitted with a masonry or diamond tipped blade. Wear a breathing mask and protective eyewear when cutting patio blocks.
  • Sweep and tamp. Once all the patio blocks are in place, sprinkle sand over the surface of the patio. Drive the sand into the gaps between blocks using a hand tamper or powered compactor. Settle the sand between the patio blocks by carefully misting with a garden hose. Allow the sand to dry. You may need to repeat this process several times, as the sand settles between the blocks.
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