How to Lay Paving Slabs

A patio is a great way to make your garden shine; it enables you to entertain your guests in your garden rather than being cooped up indoors, you can set up an outdoor seating area for alfresco dining and even just area to bring out our lounger so you can sunbathe comfortably. At Stone Zone, we supply a wide range of paving slabs, ranging from natural sandstone & limestone for a classic and vintage atmosphere to the more modern and contemporary porcelain paving to create a vibe that's more luxurious and chic. Our vast collection will most definitely have the perfect paving for you and your home!

We have created a step-by-step, easy to follow guide that will hopefully give you a good idea as to how paving is installed. There are a variety of ways porcelain can be laid, we think that the best option is to hire a professional, but if you want to tackle this on your own, you will get a huge sense of achievement upon completion.

Tools and Materials 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) Create a Design Blueprint

Before any physical work can be done, the first step is to create a thorough plan and blueprint so you know exactly where everything will be going and that you're happy with it. Some things to consider are whether you want the patio area to be in the sun or shade; the overall shape of the patio; what the edges should look like. When taking all these into consideration you will be able to get a good picture of what your patio will look like.

Once everything has been planned out, roughly layout your paving slabs where you wanted them to go. This is an important step, especially if you are laying are best-selling 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 upon which the paving be laid. 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 the right angles. Start digging within the marked area so that you 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

Into the area you have dug out, add MOT Type 1 limestone at a depth of 50mm and rake until it is roughly level. Compact the hardcore with a Wacker Plate - which you can hire rather than purchase separately. 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

You need to add 25mm layer of a full mortar bed on top of the hardcore base using either washed grit and cement or sand and cement. This is a vital step otherwise your paving will not be secure. Use a watering can to water over the sand to dampen the surface until it is fairly moist and then rake over again.

5) Lay your Paving!

If you have followed the steps above carefully, you now have a prepared paving base that is now ready for slabs to be laid on. As mentioned before, please take care to lay the slabs at a 1/60 angle if possible. We suggest you do this because helps with drainage during heavy rain. Please also make sure you are wearing heavy duty gloves during this whole process.

Dampen the underside of the slab with a slurry or a compound on the back of the slabs before laying onto the sand/ cement. Place your first slab at the highest point of the patio, working from corner to corner. Placing the first slab is vital, so make extra sure that 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 3 - 6mm gap between each slab for Porcelain Paving and 10 -12mm gap for Sandstone and Limestone Paving to allow for the jointing in between. Also keep in mind that you should seal the back of sawn products to avoid mirroring.

Continue laying the slabs, following the original blueprint 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. It is important that it dries slowly, if rain is forecasted, use a large plastic sheet to protect it.

OPTIONAL: If, at any point during this project, you are required to cut down or shape your paving slabs, we supply Rubi Tile Cutters for Sandstone and Porcelain Paving. Although, we understand that this may not be something you want to spend your money on as it will not be used often, so to avoid the purchase, a good option is to ask a trained professional to cut them 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.

Depending on your paving, follow the relevant set of instructions; EasyJoint and Joint-It need very wet conditions, where there would ideally be two people working together; 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!

Patio installation is not a simple task, however if you are good at DIY projects and want to take on a big project, then it will feel great knowing you've completed a mammoth task! We suggest you leave the jointing grout to set for 24-hours and after time has passed you should be able to safely walk over it and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

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