How to Build a Slate Patio
Create a family sitting area in your backyard by building a slate patio.
Use landscape marking paint to outline the area for the new patio (Image 1), and remove unwanted plants that lie directly in the outlined area. Check the elevation of the patio area with a laser transit to make sure that it allows for drainage (Image 2). Dig out the area to allow for the gravel base, a course of sand and the tile pavers (Image 3).
Pour a gravel base on the newly leveled area first. This base is 4 inches deep to ensure adequate drainage. Rake out the area to make sure it's evenly covered and then tamped down using a plate compactor. If you have a downspout next to your house and inside the outlined area, you can build a splash wall around it using decorative rocks so that excess water will not flow directly onto your patio.
A 1-inch layer of sand goes on top of the base gravel. To ensure the course is level, lay 1-inch-diameter poles on the ground, and screed the sand with a 2x4 around the poles. It's very important not to walk on the sand after it has been screeded. Smooth over a few feet of this course.
The tiles for this project are travertine, a morphed limestone that can be used either indoors or outdoors. It's twice as strong as concrete but can be cut using a wet table masonry saw (Image 1). The tiles can be placed in any pattern and secured in place using a mallet (Image 2). No sealant or grout is needed for these tiles. Once the first area tiles are in place, move on to another area and repeat until all of the tiles are securely in place.
Install edging around the patio to help prevent any horizontal movement of the patio. Aluminum edging is a great choice for a patio because it's non-corrosive and rust-proof, and it bends easily. The bottom of the edging lies directly on top of the stone base. Secure the edging with large spikes inside the pre-cut holes.
A plate compactor is used to compact the newly laid out patio. Place a 1/4-inch piece of plywood between the compactor and the tiles so that the new patio tiles are not damaged.