How to Lay Paving

A patio can really make your garden stand out; it’s a place to entertain guests, enjoy an al fresco meal or pop up a sun lounger and bask in the sun. We have many different types of paving; from natural sandstone & limestone for that rustic, unique look to manufactured porcelain paving for a sophisticated and stylish feel. We also have a huge range of colours to choose from, whether you’re looking for one, single colour or a mixture of different colour ways – we have every option imaginable!

This easy-to-follow guide will give you an insight into one way of laying paving. There are lots of different ways this can be done, your best bet is to ask a professional, but this is definitely a DIY project you’ll be proud to complete yourself!

What you’ll need:

  • Garden Spade
  • Tape Measure
  • Angle Measure
  • String or Spray Paint
  • Spirit Level
  • Rake
  • Wacker Plate
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Watering Can
  • Plastic Sheet (optional)
  • Trowel
  • Spacers
  • Kneeling pad (optional)
  • Correct amount of paving slabs
  • MOT Type 1 or Hardcore
  • Washed Grit (sharp sand)/ Cement
  • Heavy Duty Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Goggles
  • Ear Defenders
  • Steel Toed Boots

1) Plan your patio

This is a vital step to give you the confidence of how it will look, and where it is best placed. Some questions to ask yourself are: Do I want a patio in the sun or shade? What shape do I want my patio? How do I want the edges of my patio to look? These will help determine where to place your patio.

After this, roughly lay out your paving slabs on the desired area. This is especially helpful if you’re laying our popular patio packs which consist of 4 different sizes. The trick with this type of paving is to avoid ‘cross roads’ within the paving, joints must be perpendicular to each other. Once you’ve roughly laid this out, take a photo which you can later refer to.

2) Preparation is key

Clearly mark the area in which you will place your paving. This can be done with spray paint or string. You can use an angle measure to ensure lines are straight and ensure you’ve marked out right angles. Dig up the area; you’ll need to allow enough depth for 100mm of sub base, 25mm of sharp sand/ cement and the depth of your chosen paving slab. Using a spirit level, ensure the ground is as level as possible.

3) Add your Hardcore

Add MOT Type 1 limestone at a depth of 50mm and rake until it is roughly level. Compact the hardcore with a Wacker Plate, this is something you can hire. Add another 50mm of sub base and compact this layer. Compacting this twice will ensure a strong base for your paving.

4) Add Sharp Sand/ Cement

Add 25mm of sharp sand or cement to your hardcore base. Rake the surface until it is roughly level. Sharp sand holds just as firm as cement and still allows water to escape beneath. Use a watering over the sand to dampen the surface until it is fairly moist and then rake over again.

5) Lay your Paving!

Once your paving base has been prepared, you can start laying your slabs. Remember to lay them at a 1/60 angle if possible, to help aid drainage in heavy rain. Ensure you’re wearing heavy duty gloves.

Dampen the underside of the slab with water, before laying onto the sand/ cement. Place your first slab at the highest point of the patio, working from corner to corner. The first slab is really important, so make sure it is at the right angle and is level (with a slight downward angle).

Gently tamp down on the slab with the rubber mallet a few times to firmly place the slab.

REMEMBER: You must leave at least a 3mm gap between each slab to allow for the jointing in between.

Continue laying the slabs, following the original pattern you created before. Use the spacers to ensure even gaps throughout the paving. Continually check the level of your paving as you go, remembering the slight downward angle.

Allow the Sharp Sand/ Cement to dry. This is important that it dried slowly, if rain is forecast, use a large plastic sheet to protect it.

OPTIONAL: If you need any paving slabs cutting down to size or shaping, we sell a Rubi Tile Cutter for sandstone or porcelain paving. This might not be something you’re willing to splash out on just for your own garden patio, so you can always ask a trained professional to cut these down for you.

6) Joint your Paving

Once the sand/ cement has dried, you can start jointing your slabs together. We sell Porcelain Paving Grout, EasyJoint or Joint-It Grout for natural stone. You can make your own mortar mix with materials we sell; it’s simply 4 part sand to 1 part cement.

Follow the instructions depending on your paving; EasyJoint and Joint-It needs very wet conditions, where there would ideally be two people; one person spraying the patio with a hose and the other filling in the joints. Porcelain, on the other hand, can be completed with one person. Gently brush away any left over grout or sand to allow the joints to properly dry. Finish off with a pointing tool to ensure a perfectly smooth finish.

7) Stand back and admire your work!

Laying a patio is no easy job, but if you’re pretty handy and up for the challenge, it feels even better knowing you’ve done it yourself! It’s best to leave the jointing grout to set for 24 hours, so once this is done, you should be able to walk over it and enjoy spending time relaxing on your patio.

If you need any further advice, please call 01202 874207 where one of our advisors can help.