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This article is meant to give you an idea about how a patio is build and guide you through the actual process, which will hopefully help you design and construct your own. A professional advice however is always worth seeking.
Patio types vary in terms of materials, shapes and styles but no matter what they look like, the process of building one is rather similar and quite easy to comprehend. The same basic rules and steps can be applied to any type and if you have enough time, the process of building it yourself can be quite enjoyable and in the end you’ll feel much more satisfied and proud of what you’ve accomplished. But before we you begin measuring and buying materials make sure that what you have in mind fulfills you needs and suits your desires just right. Perhaps a dinner table or a fireplace that you haven’t thought of in the first place might require more space than available. More space will never do any harm so instead of building a too small one make it spacious enough to fit anything you want.
The Process of Building a Patio
Step 1-laying out and preparing the site
Considering that you know its exact shape, dimensions and its position in the backyard (relationship with the house and other backyard landscaping features), mark them on the ground by using a set of ropes tied to wood pieces that are dug in the ground. This way you’ll have the exact boundaries of your patio. The soil has to be prepared for all the layers of materials needed. Remove all existing plants, flowers and other elements until you reach undisturbed soil to the depth indicated by the project (given by the total thickness of the materials and the patio’s benchmark). A final move would be to compact the soil to ensure a stable structure which won’t tamp in time.
Step 2-cutting and laying landscape fabric
The landscape fabric or geo-textile is a layer that prevents the soil (meaning moisture, plants working their way up or even freezing issues) from damaging your patio. It is not absolutely necessary but it will ensure the solidity of your construction. Simply cut it so that it fits the lay out; overlapping several pieces of it might be a good precaution.
Step 3-building the frame and spreading the base layer
Every patio, regardless of the paving, needs a base layer that helps you fit the the pavement afterwards. A professional would suggests that the gravel has an average thickness of 5 inches on top of which, if considered necessary, you can also spread an additional layer of sand or fine gravel, on which you’ll lay the pavement (bricks for example). To ensure an accurate process, you have to build wooden or PVC frame on the perimeter of the patio which will help keep the gravel in place. It’s secondary purpose is to keep everything in place and will not be removed after finishing the construction process. In some cases it is recommended that you use more rigid restraints like concrete. Both the gravel and the sand (which has an average thickness of 1,5 inches) must be level so mark a it on the restraints to ensure an even spread. The sand however should enable a mild slope so that water may drain off your patio.
Step 4-adding pavement
First of all you’ll need to choose a pattern, as they can be arranged in almost any shape to match aesthetics and impress. Fitting the paving with the same pattern on the entire surface is natural of course but can be quite tricky so build a few guidelines to help you lay it in an orderly fashion. You can do this by stretching a rope between two wooden pieces that are dug in the ground; the line obtained has to be parallel to the edges of the patio. As you already now, a certain space has to be left between them which will be filled with sand afterwards to keep things together. While you lay each piece of the puzzle try not to touch already fitted ones because they will only be stable after you’ve placed them all and you risk ruining the composition. Another way of stabilizing them is to use mortar but if you decide to use sand consider keeping some just in case one of the pieces comes loose. You can also apply a layer of penetrating acrylic sealer which will prevent stains and maintain the beauty of the material over time.
Step 5-finishing the edges
The final piece that needs to be finished is the wooden frame which is still visible. A very aesthetic way of doing it is to cover it with a layer of soil and plant a few flowers but there are many methods so choose one that matches the rest of your backyard landscaping design.