Preparing the Patio Base
Design the layout of the patio. Allow adequate room for your family’s activities. Consider what patio furniture you plan to place on the new patio as well as where you intend to set the barbecue grill. If you want to use the house as shade, work that into your design.
Mark the boundary of the brick patio with stakes and string. Allow 6 to 8 inches more than you included in your design. This gives you some room to work with the bricks as you set them. As you set the string on the stakes at the level you intend to lay the bricks, allow for a slope of 1/8- to 1/4-inch per foot away from the house to allow for drainage.
Dig out the patio area with a shovel. If you have a large area, rent a skid steer loader. A depth of 9 to 10 inches provides a solid base and puts the bricks at or slightly above grade level.
Compact the subsoil with a plate compactor. Cover the soil with 2 to 3 inches of angular gravel. Rake the stones until they create a level surface. Dampen the gravel with a garden hose. Compact it in place with the compactor. Add another 2- to 3-inch layer of gravel, rake it level and compact it. Continue adding gravel until the gravel surface gets to within 3 inches of the string guide you set up in Step 2.
Set up parallel lines of 1-inch conduit pipes to use as screed guides on the gravel base. Screeding is the process of leveling the base by filling low spots and lowering high spots by rubbing a long, straight board over two parallel pipes. Space these pipes no more than 7 feet, 6 inches apart. Try to arrange them so that you can do the screed work from the edge of the patio. Once you have a pattern established, press the pipes into the gravel base about 3/4 inch. If you set a paver on top of the screed pipes, the paver’s top should extend 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the string line. If it doesn’t, raise or lower the pipes accordingly.
Place several shovels of gravel between two screed pipes closest to the house. Set a straight 8-foot length of 2-by-4 on the pipes. Work the board back and forth as you pull it toward you to level the gravel. Keep adding gravel until you complete that section. Add gravel and screed it in the remaining sections of the brick patio.
Run the plate compactor over each section of the patio. Do not disturb the screed pipes. At this point your base should be solid enough to not leave a hand print.
Pull the screed pipes. Try not to disturb the gravel as you do so. Lay additional gravel in the trenches left by the pipes. Compact it into place.
Laying the Brick Patio
Snap a straight line parallel with the wall of the house, using a chalk line. Snap a second line perpendicular to the first. This gives you a right angle to lay all your brick from.
Set the bricks, starting at the right angle. After you set the first brick, bring the edge of the next brick up to the first and drop it into place as close as possible to the first brick. Avoid scuffing the gravel underneath as you lay bricks in the pattern you selected for the patio. Extend bricks beyond the boundary where the curved edges are to be.
Lay 1/2-inch conduit pipe on top of the set bricks in the shape of the curved edge. Use a sharp metal object, such as a chisel, to score along the line marked by the pipe. Remove the pipe.
Cut along the scored line with a cutoff saw. In most cases you don’t need to remove the brick from the base to make the cut.
Lay a soldier course of bricks along the entire perimeter of the patio. Place the short edge of the bricks firmly against the last row of bricks you laid. If you prefer, lay a sailor course, by placing bricks end to end along the perimeter.
Set the flanged edge of the paver edge restraint firmly against the soldier course. Drive the pins that come with the edging into the gravel base, using a hammer. Cover the remaining opening between the brick patio and the lawn with topsoil.
Sprinkle sand over the entire patio. Use a push broom to work it into the cracks between bricks. Set a protective pad underneath the plate compactor and go over the entire patio with the compactor to settle the sand. Add more sand and compact the patio again.
Things You Will Need
- Skid steer loader
- Plate compactor
- Garden hose
- 1-inch conduit pipe
- 2-by-4, 8 feet long
- Chalk line
- 1/2-inch PVC pipe
- Cutoff saw
- Paver edge restraint
- Push broom
- Contact the local utility companies before you dig. They can mark the location of any buried lines on your property so you don’t accidentally hit them.