Build A Brick Patio

Installing a brick patio in your back yard or front yard can add beauty to your home.

Adding a brick patio to your back yard or front yard can add beauty and versatility to your existing yard and home. When laid properly, your patio will last many, many years with little maintenance. The following steps will guide you through laying your new brick patio.

You will need several tools and materials for this project. Some of them are common household tools you may already have in your kitchen or garage. The others are easily found at most any hardware or garden center. You will need: a shovel, rubber mallet, level, broom (household or utility), garden hose (hooked up to a water source), a mason's line (found in any hardware store), landscape fabric (not mandatory but very highly recommended), sand, crushed stone, paving bricks, plywood to kneel on and one long 2 X 4 to use as a "screed" (used to level the sand and crushed rock).

Now, in theory, the size and shape of your patio is limited only by your imagination. However, unless you have had some sort of experience with laying and cutting brick, I would suggest a square or rectangular patio. These are easier to not only measure out but to lay as well. It is easy to find a brick size and a design pattern that will not require any cutting of bricks.

With the creative but very important part of the job done, you now will need to measure out the desired area. Using either the string-off method or a framing method with 2" X 4" boards, outline where the edges of your patio will be. The string-off method uses stakes at the corners of your future patio, and a string or twine is drawn from one stake to the next. The string is then wrapped around each stake at the height your patio will be. The framing method uses 2" thick by 4" wide boards stood on their edge to "frame" the outline. If you choose to use the framing method, be sure to have a saw, a hammer and nails handy to nail the boards together firmly.

With the area measured out and marked, it is time to start digging. You will want to dig down to a depth of 8". When you are digging, keep in mind that you do not want any water to run across the patio to your home. Therefore, you will want the patio to actually slope slightly downhill from your house. You can do this by making sure that the area you dig out gets deeper by 1/4" for every foot you move away from the house. You can check this using a regular level.

Once you have the area dug out, it would be a good idea to test the size and fit of the bricks now since it will be easier to fix any problems. Lay your bricks down in the pattern you will be using, and place them as close together as you can. There should be a 2" space between the edge of your bricks and the edge of your excavation. This will be filled by more bricks standing on edge end-to -end to form the edging.

Once you have checked your measurements and removed the bricks, you will pour enough crushed stone into your area. Pour enough of the crushed stone to make a 4" deep layer. Level the stone as much as possible and, using a level, be sure the slope of your excavation is still descending by a 1/4" for every foot you move away from your home. Tamp the stone down to finish. With the stone tamped, you will now lay your landscape fabric if you have chosen to use it. The landscape fabric will help to keep any weeds from possibly working their way up through the stone, sand and bricks to become a nuisance.

After the landscape fabric is down, you will spread the sand to a 2" depth. Beginning at one end of the area, drag the screed across the sand towards you. Work your way backwards to the opposite end of the area. Excess sand will be redistributed to the lower areas as you go, leaving a level surface. You will have excess sand after this step that will be used after the bricks are laid. The sand level should be 2" below the finished level of the patio at all points. Tamp the sand down to pack it. This will help by allowing very little shifting of bricks in the finished patio.

It's now time to begin laying the bricks. Beginning in one corner of the area (near your home will be easier) lay your bricks down, pressing them into the sand. Since you do not want to kneel on the sand as you work, you may want to work down a side that is not against the house. If you kneel on the sand, you will make its distribution uneven. Use the rubber mallet to strike the bricks. This will help them settle into the sand. Lay your bricks as close to each other as possible; you may use the mallet on the sides and ends of the bricks to help with this.

Once you have the first row laid, you will want to use a mason's line (string or twine can be used instead) to ensure evenness in the rows. Move the mason's line forward one row for each row that you complete. As long as your mason's line is straight, your bricks should be too.

As you move further from the edge of the patio towards the center, you will need to kneel on a piece of plywood. As your bricks are not set in their respective spots yet, direct pressure to the bricks could, and probably will, cause shifting and dislodging of the bricks. You may want to get two medium-sized pieces of plywood so you can kneel on one and maneuver the other when you need to (moving the plywood you are kneeling is not only very difficult but could also result in shifting or dislodging of the bricks).

After all of your bricks have been laid and your edging is in place you will need the extra sand. Spread some of the sand across the brick surface and, using a household or push broom, sweep the sand into the cracks between the bricks. When the cracks are filled, gently spray the bricks with a garden hose to settle the sand into the cracks. If the cracks are not filled after spraying, spread and sweep more sand until the cracks are full.

You may want to give your new patio a day to dry and settle completely before you begin using it. Once it is dry and settled, you can move in the grill, patio furniture or chaise lounge chairs. Your brand new brick patio is ready for use.

© High Speed Ventures 2011