With every home DIY project, there are two key ingredients that make for success: planning and preparation. This holds especially true for patio projects, where so many different factors will quickly destroy all of your hard work. Lay a patio on the wrong foundation and you’ll have wasted a lot of time, effort and money.
When you lay a patio on sand, you need to make sure that you’re using the correct tools and laying the optimum foundation. Weather conditions, drainage, surface area, and finish all need to be considered. We’ll explain why all of these details are so important, while also sharing the steps you should follow to lay your RF Paving patio on sand correctly.
Why Should I Lay My Patio on Sand?
So hang on – why should you lay your patio on sand instead of using mortar? Well, if you’re not securing your patio with mortar, then you’ll need to lay it on a bed of sand and gravel instead.
A sand base is cost-effective and doesn’t require a huge amount of skill or experience to lay. The sand provides a solid, reliable base, and the gravel takes care of the drainage, making for an effective new patio.
Start with the Correct Preparation
Make sure to identify a suitable area for your new patio. You want to choose a large, reasonably level area that doesn’t suffer from drainage issues. Of course, you want it to be in a scenic, convenient location, but in this case, make sure that suitability takes priority over style. Get the gravel and sand foundation right, and your patio will last for years with minimal maintenance.
Double-check that you have all the correct equipment before you get started as well. Wheelbarrows, framing, spirit levels, spades, rakes, and screeding bars are the bare minimum you’ll need. But on top of that, garden rollers, tape measures, and string lines will all come in handy.
So once you’ve got all your tools, RF Paving Patio Slabs, your sand, and your gravel, these are the steps to follow when laying a patio on sand.
Lay the Patio Fabric
Hopefully you’ve already dug up a flat, perfectly-measured area of ground to lay your patio on, around 15-18cm deep. You should already know what shape and size your patio is going to be once it’s laid, with sufficient space between the patio slabs as well.
Cover the area with landscape fabric. This is a step that many people forget. It’s an extra step for now, but you’ll have less work pulling weeds from the cracks between your patio slabs later.
Erect the Frame
Trust us – you want to make sure you get your edges right with this one. To help you do that, you need to construct your frame with both wooden planks and string. The wooden frame will keep the patio in place and prevent it from moving.
Place the first wooden piece perpendicular with your house. Measure out the frames using the string, and triple-check that all the angles and measurements are correct. If the corners are accurate, then cut your wooden pieces to size. That way, when you attach all of the pieces together, you’ll have a strong, accurate frame for the patio.
Pour the Gravel
Next, you’re going to pour the gravel layer. But first, put your expansion-joint device in between the house and the wooden frame.
Pour the gravel until you have a flat, even bed around 10cm deep. To make sure it’s even, fashion a screed tool out of whatever you can. Drag this along the surface, starting from the house and smoothing the gravel until it’s even.
It’s also a good idea to leave a very gradual slope away from your home. This step really helps with proper patio drainage.
Pour the Sand
It’s simple to calculate how much sand you’ll need: just take 10cm off the depth of the area you dug!
Pour the sand, and use the same screed tool to make sure you have a flat, firm layer of sand. When done correctly, this layer will hold as firm as cement while still allowing the water to escape below.
Double-check that it’s packed down and that there are no loose sections. This layer should also slope away from your home, mirroring the shape of the gravel layer beneath it.
Place Your Patio Slabs
It doesn’t matter if you’re using RF Paving’s Sandstone, Granite, Porcelain or Limestone slabs – they all go down the same. Place the patio exactly the same way you did in the plan – if you change the arrangement now, it’s unlikely to fit the space you’ve prepared.
Starting in the corner, place your first slab down. Make sure it sits 1-1.5cm deep in the sand, and leave a gap of roughly 1-1.5cm for the next piece. The patio slabs should fit together snugly. If you’re worried about following a straight line, then use your string markers again.
Whatever you do, don’t kneel on your patio pieces. Instead, kneel on the bed of sand. This way, you only need to re-screed the sand that’s been kneeled on, and you won’t end up with an uneven patio as a result of the pressure.
Fill the Gaps with Sand
Once you’ve put the last paving slab down, make sure everything looks right and start filling in the gaps with sand, sweeping them until they’re filled. Completely cover the gaps, and spray some water over the whole patio with the mist setting. Once the sand is dry, do it again, then repeat in a week’s time.
That way, you’ll have a packed sand patio that won’t budge, and your superb new patio will require next-to-no maintenance as well.