Step 1

Create Patio Layout

Layout the patio using whole pavers to reduce cutting. Drive pegs and tie string between them (image 1). Use the house as the initial guide line for the height of the patio. Use an A-square to ensure that the area has 90-degree corners (image 2). Adjust pegs and lines if necessary.

Step 2

Excavate for Foundations

Mark the edge of the area with a spade, cutting down into the grass (image 1). Once the patio is marked out, remove the string lines. Dig down to the required depth (image 2). Include slab depth, crushed stone, and mortar base in your calculations. The patio surface should be higher than the surrounding grass.

Step 3

Position Edging

Cut treated lumber edging to the same depth as the excavations for the patio. Lay it in position around the edge and check that it is square (image 1). Adjust the lumber so that the patio slopes away from the house at a gradient of 1:50, using a gradient level (image 2).

Step 4

Lay Crushed Stone Base

Knock pegs into the ground at 3-feet intervals along the outside of the edging (image 1). Nail through the face of the edging lumber into the pegs to hold the edging in an upright position. Run string lines from pegs on one side to those opposite. Measure down from various points along the string line to the excavation base to check depth and gradient (image 2). Distribute crushed stone across the floor of the excavation to an approximate depth of 4 inches (image 3). Rake it level.

Compact the crushed stone using a rented plate compactor (image 4). Attach the string lines and measure to check the level of compacted stone across the site. Add and compact more stone where required to give a reasonably smooth surface that slopes very slightly away from the house.

Step 5

Plan Slab Layout

Dry lay the slabs, starting from a corner and working down the edges for a straight design. Remember to allow for mortar joints. Here a brick bond pattern is being laid (image 1). Cut any slabs necessary for the design using a stone saw or angle grinder (image 2). Dry lay them to check you have a good fit.

Step 6

Mortar Slabs in Place

Lay a bed of mortar for the first slab 3/4" to 11/4" deep (image 1). Insert spacers made from offcuts between slab and edging to keep pointing consistent. Lay the second slab. Insert spacers between the first and second slab (image 2). Continue laying slabs according to your design. Lay a level across the slabs to check the position and maintain the slope away from the house (image 3). Lay the rest of the slabs, adjusting the amount of mortar where necessary to maintain an even surface (image 4).

Step 7

Finish Patio

Once the patio is complete, it should not be walked on for at least 24 hours while the mortar sets. If rain or frost is forecast, cover the area with plastic sheeting held down with spare slabs or bricks. Once the base mortar has set, press more mortar into the joints between slabs using a pointing trowel (image 1). Remove excess mortar from the slab surfaces as you progress.

Smooth the mortar along the joints using a brick jointer (image 2) or leave flush according to personal preference. Flush joints will drain better. Clean the pointing mortar with a clean paintbrush (image 3).