Stone block patios are among the most popular do-it-yourself projects for home owners. This is for good reason, as building a patio improves your home by adding both value and an attractive and functional outdoor living area. This type of project is also not very difficult, and any homeowner with basic do-i- yourself skills can proceed with confidence.
Design and Plan for Easier Work
The design and planning part of the process can have the biggest impact on how smoothly your patio project goes. If possible, select a level plot of land for the patio so that you limit the amount of digging and excavation work you will have to do. Then plan on using a "dry" installation of the stones, meaning that you will use no mortar to set the stones in. This is a common practice and when done properly will be just as durable. Pick out a large stones such,1-foot by 1-foot or larger, for your patio and you will have to lay fewer of them, compared to laying brick-size stones.
Tools and Materials
You will need masonry sand, finely crushed gravel, edge restraints and the stones themselves ready to go on the day of your project. Call your suppliers ahead of time to set up delivery or pick up. Make arrangements in your yard so that the materials can be placed as near as possible to the patio site, or at least where you will have easy access to them by wheelbarrow. You will also need picks, shovels, rakes, levels and string, and some 2x4 lumber. Begin gathering the tools well in advance of the big day and include extras for your helpers.
Preparing the base for your patio is crucial for a long lasting patio. You can soften up the soil to make it easier for excavation by watering it down a little in the days prior to the digging. Excavate the patio area to a depth that will allow for 4 inches of finely crushed gravel, 1 inch of sand, and the depth of the stone block you are using. Level and then compact the soil firmly. Renting a heavy-duty plate compactor will make this part of the job go much more easily. Add the gravel base and level it with rakes.
Lay the Stone
There are a few things that you can do to make the laying of the stone easy. Use knee pads for this portion of the work both so that you can move around without hurting your knees, and also so that you can stay on them for long periods. Set up a system where you have helpers delivering sand and stones, and one person screeding the sand to a level 1 inch layer and then setting the stones. Also use this type of teamwork at the end of your project. Helpers can throw shovels full of sand on the patio, while others sweep the sand back and forth, working it into the cracks and locking the stones further into place. Sweep off the excess sand, and you should have time to reward your helpers with some relaxing time and a cold drink on your new patio.