Follow this guide to how to build a stone patio. A private, attractively done backyard stone patio can convey a warm and inviting feeling. It offers a wonderfully intimate place for entertaining, recreating or just relaxing.
A large backyard is not required to achieve the same effect. When considering how to build a stone patio, while this is not a technically difficult endeavor, it is time consuming and quite labor-intensive!
The patio can be made of either natural or man-made stones, depending on your budget and preference. Both come in a wide array of shapes, colors and sizes. You should also choose a material for the patio border. This can be composed of another stone, treated lumber or even plastic.
The stone patio is fairly easy to design. While a square or rectangular shape is the easiest to design and build, a curvilinear shape is not difficult, but will entail more cutting of stone.
Tools you will need will include the stone (frequently called pavers), a carpenter’s level, a chipping hammer, a cold chisel, edging material, string line, sand, a pick, a shovel, a mechanical vibrator plate, a rubber mallet, plastic retaining edging, long metal spikes and safety glasses.
Where to Start
The initial design step is to mark out a square or rectangle, with wooden stakes and string, which most closely approximates the patio’s finished shape. The sides must be uniformly parallel and the corners at a 90 degree angles. Having a helper and a measuring tape will make this task much easier.
Mark a level line on the wooden stakes at the perimeter of the patio and graduate the lines outward from the home to establish a drainage slope of approximately one inch for every eight or ten feet.
Using a long, straight 2×4 board, establish a level plane between the corner stakes. Place intermediate stakes every six to eight feet .Then mark the slope on each stake.
Decide on the patio height. You may want it even with the surrounding ground, or perhaps slightly above. Allow for the depth of the crushed stone aggregate base that the patio stones or pavers will rest over. How thick the base should be depends on the soil type, but generally three inches should suffice.
Then begin to dig out the soil from the designated patio area to the pre-determined depth and about half a foot beyond the horizontal patio dimensions
Next, wet and tamp the ground inside the excavated area, then, optionally, place about 3-4 inches of stone dust or sand into the area. Keep the material damp and compacted as you go to within about 2 inches of the top of the edging. This will vary depending on the thickness of your aggregate material and patio stones selected.
Then pour the crushed stone. Use a vibrator plate machine to then compact the aggregate base. It is essential that the base be flat and sloped according to the guide stakes.
Next, align and fasten a plastic retaining edging with long metal spikes along the string lines. Pour sand over the aggregate base, spreading it smooth, one section at a time.
Begin laying the stone outward from any corner, adjusting the plastic restraints if necessary. For curvilinear patios, stone cutting and chipping will have to be done. Be sure to wear safety goggles when cutting or hammering stone.
Finally, when all patio stones have been set in place in the sand, use the vibrator plate machine again to set them firmly, and sweep sand over the surface so that it fills spaces between the stones, then vibrate once more.
photo by andrewmalone / CreativeCommons