Laying a Brick Patio in a Weekend

If you've been thinking about laying a brick patio, what are you waiting for? Laying a brick patio is a simple project, and the results will create an attractive and useful outdoor living space. With a couple of helpers, you could complete an average-sized patio in a weekend.

Laying a Brick Patio That Will Last

  • Patio placement. 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 get shade from that big old tree.
  • Establishing limits. 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.
  • Digging holes. 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 brick. Try to get a uniform depth across the surface of your excavated area.
  • An edgy subject. Your patio will need a firm boundary to remain stable. For edging, consider commercially available metal or plastic edge restraints or pressure-treated wood. Bricks themselves can be used as edging by standing them on edge and pounding them into the soil. Once the edging is in place, backfill the outside of the edging with soil from your earlier excavation.
  • Gravel to go. 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 8'-and adjust as needed. If your patio is next to your house, the slope should be away from the house.
  • Stopping weeds. 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.
  • A sandy bottom. Pour sand over the landscape fabric to a depth of 2"-this will create a firm bed for your bricks. Use a length of 2"x4" wood to smooth the sand and be sure to maintain your 1" to 8' slope along the top of the sand.
  • Just add bricks. Beginning in one corner, install your bricks in a regular pattern. Work from one corner to the adjacent corner and then toward the opposite side of the patio. With a rubber mallet, gently tap each brick 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 bricks or adding sand under low ones.
  • Filling awkward spaces. Cut bricks to fit in irregular areas using a circular saw fitted with a masonry blade. Wear a breathing mask and protective eyewear when cutting bricks.
  • Sweep and tamp. Once all the bricks are in place, sprinkle sand over the surface of the patio. Drive the sand into the gaps between bricks 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 bricks.
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