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Build a Paver Patio

Build a Brick Paver Patio

Be the envy of your neighbors, and add beauty and texture to your lawn at the same time. Patience and planning are the most important tools for this project. If you have them, you can install your own loose-laid paver patio.


Calculate the Amount of Material Needed

A paver patio is easier than you think, especially when laid on sand. You'll need a helper to complete this project, but you can do it even if you've never laid brick before.

To estimate the amount of material you need for the patio, measure the length and width. Multiply the two numbers together to get the square footage of your patio.

Example: A 10-foot-by-10-foot area is 100 square feet.


Amount of Gravel

For 4 inches of gravel, you'll need to calculate the volume. Length x Width x Height = Volume

Example: For a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio with 4 inches of gravel, you'll need (10 x 10 x .333) = 34 cubic feet or 1.25 cubic yards.


Amount of Sand

Once you have the amount of gravel needed, calculate the amount of sand. You'll need 1 inch of sand above the gravel base. You must allow for sand to filter into the gravel base and space between bricks.

Example: For a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio, 1.25 cubic yards of gravel is needed. Multiply 1.25 x .333 to calculate the amount of sand needed. You'll need .42 cubic yards or 11 cubic feet of sand.


Number of Bricks

Standard brick pavers measure 4 inches by 8 inches. To cover 10 square feet, you'll need about 45 pavers. A surplus of 5% to 10% is recommended to allow for breakage and future repairs.

Example: For a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio, the patio is 100 square feet.

45/10 = 4.5 and 4.5 (100) = 450 bricks

Add 5% to 10% for breakage. 450 x .10 = 45. So you'll need 495 bricks to do a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio.

If you're using pavers that aren't the standard size, find out the surface area of your material. Take that number and divide it into the surface area of the patio for the number of units needed.



Install Edging

Edging keeps soil, plants and patio materials within bounds, presents a finished look and provides structure. Take the time to install edging properly. The edging can be bricks placed on edge, lumber or preformed plastic or metal. Edging can be added before or after laying the bricks.

  • Plastic and Metal Edging: Install plastic edging after you dig out the patio area and before you place landscape fabric, loose foundation and brick. Lay the edging along the patio, and hammer the stakes through the bottom of the plastic strip to hold it down firmly. Set the edging strip no more than 1 inch above the level of the lawn adjoining the patio.
  • Wood Edging: Dig a trench along the patio deep enough so the edging rests 1 inch to 2 inches above the ground. Add sand to the trench to level the edging, and set each board in place.
  • Brick Edging: Dig a trench along the patio so the edging rests 1 inch to 2 inches above the ground. Add sand to the trench to level the edging, and set each brick in place. Ensure the bricks are level and even with each other. Tap them with a rubber mallet to set them.
Place edging afterwards if you choose a pattern or shape that requires a lot of cutting.


Build the Patio

Build the Patio

Step 1

Choose the location of your patio. Square the patio. Drive stakes into the ground approximately 1 foot past the proposed patio length and width in each corner. Center the stakes on the left and right edge marks for the patio.

Before beginning any excavation, check for underground utilities. Call the North America One Call Referral Service at 1-888-258-0808 (or just dial 811) for a national directory of utility companies.

Step 2

Stretch mason's cord from each corner to the next, tying it to each stake in a crisscross shape.


Step 3

Dig the patio 7 inches deep. To promote water run-off, the patio needs a slight slope. One-quarter inch of drop per foot of length is usually sufficient. Determine which direction you want the water to drain. Then tie mason's cord to the high-side stake, and run the string across the area and tie it to the stake on the opposite side. Use a line level to check for level between the first and second boards. The bubble in the level should read slightly toward the high side of the pad. Adjust the stakes as needed.


Step 4

Use a measuring tape to periodically check the depth of the patio.


Step 5

Line the patio with landscape fabric to keep weeds down.

     


Step 6

Cover the landscape fabric with a 4-inch layer of coarse gravel. Rake or walk on the gravel to make the surface as level as possible and then tamp it.


Step 7

Install edging


Step 8

Add a 1-inch layer of sand to the gravel base. Screed the entire surface to level the sand. The sand creates a cushion for the bricks. Check level with a guide string attached to stakes. Tamp the sand to pack it.


Step 9

Sand filters into the gravel as it's packed. Check to make sure there is a 1-inch layer of packed sand before laying the brick pavers.


Step 10

Starting at a corner of the patio, lay the bricks according to the pattern you've chosen with a 1/4-inch joint between each brick. To ensure the surface is even, place a carpenter's level on a 2-by-4 laid over the bricks. Check both directions. Tap the bricks with a rubber mallet to set and level them.


Step 11

Sweep sand over the surface of the bricks, moving the broom in different directions to work the sand into the narrow spaces between the bricks. Add sand until all joints are filled.


Step 12

Lightly mist the patio with water; be careful not to wash the sand away.

     


Step 13

Sweep remaining sand into joints with a broom. Keep adding sand until the joints are filled.


Step 14

Gently rinse the patio off.



Cutting Bricks

Careful planning can reduce the need to cut brick. But, more than likely you'll to cut a few. Save your cutting for last so you can do it all at one time. If you have a few bricks to cut, use a brick set.


Step 1

Tap the brick lightly to score a groove across all four sides before cutting.


Step 2

Set the brick on flat sand and place the brick set (with the bevel facing the waste) along the scored line.


Step 3

Tap the brick set swiftly with a small sledgehammer. Chip away any rough edges with the brick set.

If you have an intricate design that requires a lot of cutting, rent or purchase a brick cutter.
Always wear eye protection and work gloves when cutting brick. If you use a power saw or cutter, you'll also need hearing protection and a safety mask / respirator.


Replace an Existing Concrete Patio

If you already have an existing concrete patio, you can replace it with a brick one. The best thing to do is remove the concrete and then lay the pavers. If the concrete isn't broken or cracked, lay the pavers on top of the existing concrete.

If you're laying the pavers over an existing concrete pad:

  • Make sure the pavers won't raise the height of the patio to a level that will interfere with the door.
  • Make sure the surface is clean and drains away from the house.
  • Install edging to hold the bricks in place.
  • Follow steps 7 through 14 to loose-lay the bricks.