18th Nov 2022 -

Laying a patio is a large undertaking, which takes time and effort but is something most people would be able to do themselves. All you need is the right building materials and tools combined with time and patience. In this guide, we provide you with a step-by-step resource on how to lay a patio in the garden.

Planning Ahead

Before you start to lay a patio in the garden, make a simple drawing or design outlining the desired area. Then, measure the area out using string and pegs. Make note of the size so you can work out the volume of material you need when you go shopping. You also need to make sure the area you want to lay the patio in is flat and compact.

If it is not flat, the patio will not look even and you will probably have problems with water drainage and pooling in unwanted areas. For the best result, you will want to hire a vibrating plate compactor to flatten and compact the topsoil before laying down the patio slabs.

The Equipment You Will Need

Below is a list of what you will need to lay a patio. You might already have some things such as basic garden tools and protective gear.

Step 1 - Preparations For Laying A Patio

After the paving slabs have been delivered, you can start clearing out the area you have designated as your new patio. Remove any vegetation and old paving and make a 15cm deep plot which you later fill with hardcore and paving slabs.

Make sure the corners of your patio area are 90 degrees (you can use a builder’s square for this) and take a tape measure to check the height of the area you have dugout. If it is too shallow, the patio area will appear raised instead of flush with the surroundings.

A compacter will help to level off the soil. If the patio in question is laid out from the house, make sure to create a slight slope, so surface water will drain away from the building and not cause damp issues.

garden with summer house

Step 2 - Mot Type 1

After the plot has been cleared of debris and vegetation, cover the ground with a layer of MOT Type 1. This is typically 5-8cm in depth. Use a rake to even out any bumps and then a vibrating plate compactor to compact and level the MOT Type 1. The result will be a solid base which improves the final result.

Step 3 - Ensuring a Level Surface

After the hardcore has been levelled, it is time to hammer wooden pegs into the ground to mark the patio surface. Do this all over the patio site and use a spirit level to make sure the pegs are even and at the same height. You can also use string to create straight lines across the patio area. This will help to ensure you are placing the patio slabs in perfect alignment. It is crucial to get this correct to avoid the patio appearing uneven and bumpy.

Step 4 - Decide On Your Patio Design

Before you fix the patio slabs, make sure you have decided on a design pattern. This could be a straight square design with paving slabs lying side by side or one where the slabs are placed in a diamond shape. You could also go for the so-called ‘brick’ design where a slab is placed halfway above another slab.

Another option is a more random design where you probably want to lay several slabs down before fixing them to see which shapes go well together. You can, of course, draw out a design on paper and use this as a guide.

Step 5 - Laying The Patio Slabs

Before you start laying down the patio, make a mortar mix which will secure the slabs on the surface. A mortar mix consists of five parts building sand and one part cement which you then add water to create a doughy mix. You can use a wheelbarrow for this unless the patio is very large in which case you should consider hiring a cement mixer.

Then lay down a layer of mortar of approximately 5cm in depth before you place the patio slabs on top. Always start from one corner. Tap the slabs down firmly using a rubber mallet. You should leave a small gap of about 1cm between each slab. You can get special spacers for this if you are not confident you will get the spacing even.

All the gaps will later be filled with mortar sand. No other grouting is necessary. Use your spirit level to ensure that the slabs are all level with the wooden pegs you inserted into the ground earlier.

Step 6 - Edging Your Patio

After you have laid down all the paving slabs in the manner described above you are ready to add the edging. The edging (or paviours, which are smaller-sized stones) should also be laid down on a foundation of mortar much like the paving slabs but this time with no gap between the stones. Use a rubber mallet to butt them closely together and a hammer and bolster chisel to break the paviours into suitable sizes where necessary.

Step 7 - Finishing Touches

After the edging, clean down all the slabs and paviours to remove any mortar spill before it hardens. Then leave the mortar to dry for at least 24 hours before you continue. The next step then is ‘pointing’ which means filling the gaps between the paving slabs with mortar using a pointing trowel.

The mortar mix is the same as before – 5 parts sand and 1 part cement mixed with water. If you have used spacers between the slabs they should be removed before you start pointing. When you lay a patio in the garden, try not to spill any mortar on the stones. But if you do, brush off any excess. Then you will need to wash the slabs with a damp sponge.

Step 8 - Maintaining Your Patio

If you want to avoid the patio stones fading, you could add a sealant. Although this might alter the colour of the stones. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding how to use the sealant. If you clean the patio using a pressure washer, make sure it is not set too high as you might damage the surface.

Start Planning Your New Garden Patio

At Building Materials Nationwide, we provide a comprehensive range of materials for you to lay a patio in the garden. Thinking about fitting a new garden shed? Building Materials Nationwide has got you covered. Our team can organise quick and easy delivery to where you need it, at competitive trade pricing. We work across the industry with clients of all sizes to offer an extensive selection of building materials.

For industry customers, we offer trade accounts with flexible credit options. You will also benefit from a personal Trade Account Manager who can be contacted either by email or phone. If you are interested, be sure to sign up for a trade account through our website today. A wide range of guides on the building and construction industry can also be found on our website.

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