Planning & preparation

  • Paving slabs come in a wide range of colours and sizes and can be laid in a variety of patterns. There is something to suit every budget so be sure to take a look at the range and plan a design you are going to enjoy for years to come.
  • Once you know the dimensions of the slab you’ve chosen to use, make a detailed plan so you can minimise the need to cut tiles.
  • Having planned your patio, it’s a good idea to lay the slabs out into position so you can do one final check of measurements, and ensure you are laying a pattern you’re happy with. Make a note or take a photograph of your preferred layout.
  • If your patio is directly next to your house, then you’ll need to lay it so that it is 150mm below the damp proof course.
  • To encourage rainwater run-off, your patio should have a fall that runs away from the house or outbuildings. A 1:60 (16mm per metre) fall is generally recommended.
  • If your patio will adjoin your lawn, for ease of mowing, it should sit 10mm below ground level.
  • It’s a good idea to have some help when lifting slabs, for both safety and speed of completion.

Do it right

  • If you are using slabs that come from different pallets, it’s a good idea to mix them up; this will help to disguise any slight variation in colour.
  • If you are removing turf, it’s best to save some in case you want to fill in any gaps between your lawn and the new patio.
  • Wait for dry weather before applying kiln dried sand.

Staying safe

  • Wear suitable footwear and gloves when handling slabs, sand, gravel or cement, and when digging.
  • If using a wacker plate, you should wear ear defenders and steel toe-capped boots.
  • When using a mortar mix, or Slablayer, wear a dust mask, safety goggles and protective gloves and be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Wet and dry cement can cause irritation and burns, so handle carefully, covering skin and immediately washing off any cement that accidentally makes contact.
  • Always wear protective gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask when mixing concrete.
  • If you’re using heavy paving slabs or lifting any other heavy items, ask someone to help.

Aftercare

  • Patios are hard wearing and easy to maintain but regular brushing and washing will stop the buildup of algae and will keep your patio looking in top condition.
  • The joints are key to your patio’s stability, so look after them by filling in any gaps that appear over time and removing any breakthrough weeds.

Step by Step

Step 1

Before starting to lay a patio, you should use a CAT tool to make sure there are no hidden cables or pipes where you intend to excavate.

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Step 2

Using pegs, string, or a builders line, mark out the position of the patio.

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Step 3

Check each corner is perfectly square with a set square, adjusting as necessary.

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Step 4

Mark the edge of the patio with a spade or lawn edger, all the way around, before removing the pegs and string.

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Step 5

When you dig out, you’ll need to allow for 100mm of MOT Type 1 or hardcore, 25mm of Slablayer, plus the thickness of your chosen paving slab. Don’t forget to include the necessary fall in your calculations, and to maintain it throughout the build.

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Step 6

Add half of the MOT Type 1 or hardcore, to create a 50mm layer, and rake it so it’s roughly level.

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Step 7

Compact the area with either a tamper or a wacker plate to form a very stable base. Add the remaining MOT Type 1 or hardcore, to create an overall depth of 100mm and, once again, compact.

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Step 8

Now add the Slablayer, raking it out to a depth of 25mm.

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Step 9

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, use a watering can with a fine rose, or a spray gun, to apply water, then rake again to level the surface.

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Step 10

Starting in the corner at the highest point of the patio, dampen the underside of the first slab and lay it.

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Step 11

Gently tamp down on the surface of the slab with a rubber mallet to bed it in. The first slab is used as the guide for all the others to follow, so make sure it’s absolutely level and square.

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Step 12

Continue to lay slabs, not forgetting to leave space for your required joint width.

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Step 13

Use offcuts of wood as spacers to maintain a consistent gap between slabs.

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Step 14

Regularly check the levels, including the fall you’ve allowed, as you go along.

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Step 15

Slablayer needs to dry slowly over a few days, so cover the patio with plastic sheeting if rain is forecast.

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Step 16

Fill in the joints with either Slablayer or dry mortar mix (4 parts sand to 1 part cement). Mix with enough water to create a damp, but not wet consistency and apply to the joints with a trowel.

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Step 17

Brush any excess Slablayer or mortar from the face of the paving slabs, before it can set and stain the surface.

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