Good 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.
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.
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.
• 2 x 4 x 10 board
• 4 stakes
• 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.
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.
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.
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.)
Now you are ready to place your furniture, light a fire and roast some marshmallows!