8 questions to ask when building the perfect patio

July 27, 2015

Decks and patios extend your living space and make for great dinner parties. But before you build your dream patio, ask yourself these questions. The answers could save you time and money.

8 questions to ask when building the perfect patio

1. Deck or patio?

  • When you begin to plan an outdoor space, you may not be sure what form it should finally take. Space is usually the deciding factor.
  • If you don't have the space or layout to design a deck, a well-designed patio is a wonderful choice for your outdoor living space.
  • A deck generally doesn't last as long as the more durable patio, which can be made of solid concrete, bricks or flagstones.
  • If your landscape is uneven, you may have to pay for extensive regrading in order to lay the patio.

2. What's the best stone for your project?

  • The easiest patio to lay and maintain is one made with dry-laid bricks or pavers. Because these are laid in sand and are set without mortar, they go through freeze-and-thaw cycles without cracking.
  • Flagstones laid directly into well-tamped soil or sand make an attractive, more natural-looking patio, as low-growing plants or moss eventually grow between the joints.

3. What are the dimensions?

  • Experts recommend a minimum of 7.5 square metres (25 square feet) of patio per person, and a minimum length of 4.8 metres (16 feet).
  • You need at least a 1.8 x 1.8-metre (six by six-foot) area out of any traffic path for a dining table and chairs.

4. How will you be using the patio?

Do you want space for a grill? Lounge chairs? Planters? All of these extra features take up space and cost money. Make a list of the ones you want and cross off anything you don't need.

5. What kind of shape would you like?

Use a garden hose to plan a curve or an irregular shape. Lay the hose on the ground and adjust the shape to your liking. Leave it for a few days and see how you like it.

6. How do you maintain the stones?

  • To prolong their life, seal paver bricks with water repellent.
  • Flagstones set in a well-tamped foundation will endure beautifully. A rough site leads to cracks.
  • To keep unwanted weeds from growing between the pavers or bricks, line the site with landscape fabric before paving. Or you can pour boiling water on any new shoots.

7. How do I replace a cracked brick or paver in sand?

A  cracked brick or paver is fairly simple to replace, just follow these steps:

  1. If a cracked brick or paver is set in sand, use two putty knives to pry the damaged piece loose and remove it .
  2. Prepare the surface so that the new paver will rest evenly with the others.
  3. Take the damaged brick with you to the store and find an exact match.
  4. Set the new piece in place to see if it is level. Then, remove it and add or subtract sand to achieve the correct height. Be sure to tamp it down well.
  5. Insert the brick and sweep sand into the joint. Wet it with fine mist from a hose, then sweep in more sand.

Can I replace a brick in mortar?

Mortar is a little more difficult to work with, but you can replace bricks set in it. Here's how:

  1. Fist things first: always wear safety goggles.
  2. Use a cold chisel and ball-peen hammer or mallet to break up the surrounding mortar.
  3. Remove any loose mortar from the cavity, then vacuum it clean.
  4. Buy a matching brick and a small bag of dry mortar mix.
  5. Mix the mortar with water and/or latex additive, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  6. Wet the new paver and the cavity, then spread mortar on all sides and the bottom of the cavity.
  7. Set the paver in place and smooth the joints. Wipe away excess mortar with a damp cloth.
  8. Let the area rest undisturbed for 24 hours.

Patio spaces not only give you a chance to enjoy the outdoors, they also make for great hosting spots. With the right planning and ideas, you can enjoy your patio space even more.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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