Homework: Building a patio

When constructing a patio, you'll only need to When constructing a patio, you'll only need to dig out 5 inches or so of soil. Photo Credit: istock

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1. You'll need to dig out only about 5 inches of soil for a patio. That's the total thickness of the concrete paver stone, the bedding sand and the crushed gravel base under the sand.

2. The finished top surface of the patio should be at least 1 inch higher than any surrounding soil or ground, so that water can flow off the patio and never pool on it. In fact, you want to design the patio to have a very slight slope so it does drain.

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3. You can use traditional clay paving brick as well as other natural stones. Highly uniform clay paving brick can be installed in the same manner as the precast concrete paving brick, but natural stone requires much more labor to get the random pieces to fit nicely, unless you use high-grade granite cobblestones.

4. Individual paver stones stay in place because of friction with the bedding sand and because they are in contact with the other stones that make up the patio. At the edge of the patio, it's a good idea to install metal or plastic retention material so the stones at the edge don't wander into the grass or garden.

5. The color of precast concrete paver patio stones is going to change over time. They look fantastic when they are installed because the cement paste that coats the sand and gravel in the mix contains the colored earth-tone pigments. However, Mother Nature and foot traffic will wear off the top layer of colored pigment from the top of each stone. This happens slowly, and you really don't notice it until after a few years. If you use traditional clay paving brick or a natural stone product, you will never have a problem with fading. Clay bricks have the same color throughout. The same is true for granite, flagstone, slate or other natural stone used for patios

6. Concrete paver stones can be removed, if necessary, to do repairs to the patio. It's not too hard to remove one or two stones to gain access to the soil beneath the surface. What's more, if one or more of the pavers gets cracked or damaged by a stain, you can remove it and replace it. If the surrounding stones are faded, you'll need to age the new paver to match what's around it.

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7. Another benefit of the interlocking pavers is they are DIY friendly. If you're going to install a square or rectangular patio, you may not need to cut one stone. You'll have the patio installed in hours if it's small or if you have lots of help. Believe it or not, it's possible to have a completed patio from start to finish in one day.

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