backyard bliss: installing patio pavers and a fire pit

before_and_after_porchGood morning weekend warriors, Jamin here again with another installment of our backyard bliss series. If you missed any of the earlier post you can see the beginning here as well as the others in the series: How to build a garden box and How to build handmade shutters. Today we will tackle stone patio pavers and a fire pit. This really is a simple project, just a little labor intensive.

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outdoor_patio outdoor_room_redo

Before we dive into the supply list, let’s talk about size: You will need to decide the size of your patio. We will work off a 10 foot by 10 foot example just for mathematical ease. Ours is actually larger, but this will give you an easier idea as to what you would need.

outside_room firepit

First we need to find the square footage of the patio. As a quick Jr. high math reminder (a necessary evil) the formula for square feet is: length × width. Since we know that our example patio is 10 x 10, the square feet for our patio is 100 square feet.

One more math lesson that we will need in a minute: How do you get cubic feet? (cubic feet) = (square feet) × (height in feet). You’re welcome. ;}

Now that we have the square feet of our patio, let’s move on to the supply list.

Gravel : Enough for a 3 inch bed – 100 x .25 = 25 cubic feet  (I’m laying 3 inches or ¼ of a foot of gravel) If, unlike here in the tropics of Alabama, you have really soft soil you might want to do a deeper base of gravel.

Sand : Enough for a 1 ½ inch bed – 100 x .125 = 12.5 cubic feet (I’m laying 1 ½ inches or 1/8 foot of gravel) Also add 3 – 4 bags to have a little extra, and for filling in the cracks.

Pavers : Enough for the square feet of the patio. Decide on the pattern you wish to use, ahead of time. This will depend on the size pavers you choose. Also, if you are using a fire pit  you can subtract the square feet from your final total of pavers.

• Tamper

• 2 x 4 x 10 board

• Chisel

• 4 stakes

• string

• Just a little side note about supplies, you might need a little more than what you calculate. You can either buy extra up front or if like us you live next door to a Home Depot you could just make and extra trip. (This isn’t unusual for us. We’re usually figuring it out as we go…they may or may not know us by name.)

First, you will need to stake out all 4 corners of your future patio. Once you stake the corners, run some string from corner to corner to give you your edges.

Now grab your shovel and start digging. You will need to dig out 4 ½ inches, plus the thickness of your paver. So if your paver is 1 ½ inches thick, you will need to dig out the area to a depth of 6 inches. (3 inches for gravel + 1 ½ for sand + 1 ½ for paver = 6 inches)

If you are really trying to save money, you can dig this out with a hoe and a shovel. However while I value saving money, I value getting out of bed the next morning even more (If I don’t, who will fix Ashley’s coffee?) So (highly recommended for the sake of your body and sanity) you can call your local rental store and for about $125 you can rent a walk behind bobcat or for even cheaper, rent a tiller like I did. I wish I would have rented the bobcat, so take my advice- it will be the best $125 you spend.

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Once you have the area dug out, it is time to spread the gravel. Simply pour and rake it evenly across the patio area. Once you rake it out, use your tamper to level the surface. Simply pound the tamper into the gravel until you feel it is solid and level.

Once the gravel is semi-level, spread the sand out over the gravel. Rake it out and use the 2 x 4 to level the surface, starting at one corner and working your way to the far corner. Pour extra sand as needed.

Now you are ready to place your pavers. If you are laying them next to an existing structure or patio and trying to make them level with each other, you will want to measure to make sure your sand surface is at the correct level, so that once your pavers are placed, it will be level. If it is not, add a little more sand.

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Begin laying your pavers starting in one corner, and working your way to the far corner. As you are laying, you may need to spread a little extra sand to keep a level surface.

I suggest you step back and check your work every 10 pavers. This will keep you from finishing only to realize you have an uneven patio. (We may or may not have had to adjust a few.)

If you are installing a fire pit as well, make sure to measure out where it will go, and build around it as you go. You may need to chisel a few pavers to make everything fit the way you want in your pattern.

If you need to chisel, simply draw a line with a pencil, then use the corner of the chisel to score the paver all the way around, by running it around the paver a few times. Place the paver on soft ground to prevent bouncing. Place the chisel on the scored line and hit with a hammer. The paver should break on the score.

Once you place all your pavers, check to make sure your patio is level. If it is not, level it by removing the uneven pavers and adding or taking away sand.

laying_pavers

Once level, pour out a bag or two of sand over the patio. Use a stiff bristle brush push broom, and spread the sand all over the patio. It should fall in between the cracks creating more stability with a dry cement effect.

Once the cracks are filled, sweep the patio clean of the excess sand. It is also a good idea to spray it with Thompson’s multi surface waterproofer to help protect the pavers. (Follow the instructions on the can, and always test a paver first.)

diy_porch

Now you are ready to place your furniture, light a fire and roast some marshmallows!

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This post brought to you in partnership with The Home Depot and Thompson’s Water seal. Please read our full disclosure here.

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thompsons-waterseal

To read any of our DIY projects from this back yard overhaul, be sure to check them all out, here!

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36 Responses to backyard bliss: installing patio pavers and a fire pit

  1. JT says:

    This looks like a lot of work but well worth it. Thanks for keeping it real! :)

  2. Hannah says:

    May I please know what color you used to paint the outside paneling of your house? It is all so pretty!

  3. JDS says:

    did I miss how you made the firepit. I didnt notice any layout/instructions on the fire pit.

    • jamin says:

      JDS, you simple lay those bricks/stones in place where you want them and build the pavers around them. Thus the taking out of square footage for your paver total.

      • Maureen U says:

        But how do you make a neat firepit?

        • jamin says:

          Hey, Maureen.

          It is really simple, lay out the bricks on top of the paver sand in the fashion you would like. There is no cement required. I simply laid them in a square on top of each other. You can buy them in a kit at Home Depot if you need. Hope that helps.

  4. Danielle says:

    This is so helpful as I want to do a small version of this in the summer! Thanks for taking the time to share. It turned out great.

  5. Kim says:

    Very cool! Wish we could do something similar, but our city has a regulation that fire pits have to be a minimum of 20 feet from any wood structure – for us that means smack dab in the middle of our yard. So no fire pits by the house :(

  6. Lisa says:

    Where did you get your lovely patio furniture?

    • jamin says:

      Hey Lisa! This is Ashley commenting under Jamin ;} I’m too lazy to switch to my laptop across the room. These were an old Tarjay discount find via Smith and Hawken. I refinished them a long time ago for our veranda. They may still have something similar. We will have a sources post coming up soon-we may just go ahead and do it. ;}

  7. I adore your patio! I think I have said it a few times. :) Great tutorial on how to do this!

  8. kelly thompson says:

    so great!

  9. Tiffini says:

    on word
    amazing
    how fun to be with the kids out there…
    you guys are awesome;)
    xo

  10. Laina says:

    It looks beautiful… I love the fire pit we use ours all year round, for warmth on cool or cold days, to chase away the bugs on warm summer nights, and to roast lots and lots of marshmallows. Did you all custom build the pergola? It looks really pretty. My husband works for Country Lane Woodworking here in Lancaster County, PA and they custom build those. We have one, that my husband built himself, and it just makes the yard so inviting and cozy. People ask if we are going to grow anything on ours, but I love the way it looks, all by itself. Great job, I’ll have to check back.

  11. oh wow, that backyard is a dream!!!

  12. Laura S says:

    Hi! Loving your outdoor posts! My husband and I were just talking about how our backyard needs an overhaul. Our funds are super tight but this DIY looks doable to expand our patio. Would love to hear how much you spent on this project!? Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Kelly says:

    Do you happen to know the odor of your back door?? Luv the pop of color….

  15. Amy Kallenbach says:

    Looks great! Do you have any type of metal container lining the inside of your firepit or do you burn the items right on the brick pavers?

  16. Bianca says:

    Great post! Hubs & I are getting ready to do this project in our backyard but I have one question: did you guys not use a plastic liner below the gravel??? How will you prevent weeds from springing up?
    Right now we have a rock bed (of sorts) from the previous owners and it’s weed-ridden. We are going to put the patio in the same spot but want to be sure we don’t do all that work and then still have to pick weeds from in between the pavers…

    • jamin says:

      Bianca,

      Some people do put down a weed control barrier below the gravel, I don’t really see the benefit. To be affective it would need to be above the sand layer used to level the stones, but even with that you still have the sand that you spread in between the stone that acts as a dry cement. Basically the chances are high that weeds can find a place to grow, but hey that’s what round up is for. ;)

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  18. faroug idries says:

    good and easy way to do it , thanks

  19. Sarah baker says:

    Hi. I really like the pagers you used and the pattern they are placed in. Would you mind ee-mailing me details?
    Thanks,
    Sarah

  20. Cheap Metal says:

    Hi, just wanted to mention, I liked this blog post. It was inspiring.
    Keep on posting!

    my page Cheap Metal

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  22. Pingback: how to build a fire pit | the handmade home

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  24. Prairie Todd says:

    Where are you keeping your BBQ grill in the new design scheme? I see it in the before pics. I also have a big BBQ grill and am not sure how to design around it.