Learn how to lay patio quickly and easily with our step-by-step guide.
Laying a new patio can enhance the visual appeal of your garden as well as create an inviting area for entertaining guests and enjoying leisure activities. You’ve already found inspiring patio designs and ideas and you can’t wait to create your own.
To show you how to lay patio in the correct way, we’ve shared our expertise below.
If you haven’t properly planned your patio yet, we recommend reading this article first, which asks you to consider seven key points before getting started.
It’s important to plan how the new paving will be drained before starting work. Will it simply be a matter of allowing surface water to run off at the edges and drain onto the garden, or will it be directed towards a gully or a linear channel? Wherever the water is to be sent, the paving will need to slope or “fall” in that general direction, and there will need to be adequate slope or “fall” to prevent water hanging on the surface of the paving for any longer than is absolutely necessary. It is generally recommended that the fall should be at least 1:60, which is roughly 17mm per metre or three-quarters of an inch per yard.
Tools you will need:
Start by measuring the area that is to be paved and calculating just how much paving will be required. Minster Paving can help you with this by recommending materials and suggesting a selection of sizes that can be combined to best cover the area.
Paving stones can be sourced in a huge range of sizes and dimensions. You could use one size to create your patio, or add visual interest with several sizes.
You need to ensure that surface water can run off the slabs by directing it towards either the rest of your garden (and away from your property) or a drainage channel.
The patio needs to slope gently in the direction you’d like the water to run. The slope should be roughly 17mm per metre of patio.
Minster Tip: In addition, lay the patio at least 150mm below your home’s damp-proof course.
Remove grass and topsoil from the area to be paved by digging down 150mm. For working room, add an extra 150-300mm to the area, and then rake the ground.
Next, mark out the patio’s edges by knocking pegs into the ground and fastening string to them at the height you’d like the slabs to sit. Pull the string taut so that you have straight lines to guide your work.
The first layer of your patio is the support layer, called the “sub-base”. It consists of a 75-100mm thick layer of hardcore (i.e. crushed concrete or stone).
Spread the hardcore out and level it off so that it slopes down towards your garden or drainage channel.
Minster Tip: Compact it with a vibrating plate compactor until it lies 50-75mm below the level at which you want the finished patio to sit.
The next layer is the mortar bed, which is designed to stabilise the slabs.
Make the mortar by mixing four parts of sharp sand with one part cement, then adding water, little by little. The mortar should be damp, not runny.
Spread it out and level it with a trowel. The mortar bed needs to be 30-40mm thick and should enable the slabs, when positioned, to sit 6-10mm high.
Now you’re ready for the final layer, the paving slabs. If your patio meets your property, start by positioning the slabs that’ll be closest to the building.
With a rubber mallet, tap down each slab, using the string to guide you. You might want to place a thick piece of wood beneath the mallet in order to protect the slabs.
Aim to leave an 8-15mm gap between slabs.
Minster Tip: Make sure that you don’t accidentally stand on the slabs while you’re working. Use a long spirit level to check that they slope and create an even surface on which to walk.
Twenty-four hours after the slab are laid, the mortar bed should have set, and you can fill in the gaps with mortar. This is called “jointing” and prevents the slabs moving.
You can either mix a cement mortar (three parts sand and one part cement, plus a little water) or use a resin mortar such as Geo-Fix.
Cement mortar should be pushed into the gaps between dry slabs with a trowel, compacted, and then smoothed with a pointing bar. Resin mortar requires wet slabs and should be brushed into the gaps. Give this mortar a further 1-2 days to set.
As with most DIY and construction tasks, learning how to lay patio is best achieved by preparing properly. Thorough preparation will help you create a patio or pathway you’ll be proud of be able to enjoy with friends or family for years to come.