It’s finally done! 220 square feet of blood, sweat, and tears.
|A little bit of cleaning up to do, I was just excited it was complete!|
Let me start off by saying that we are in no way experts on how to do patio pavers or professionals by any means. I did a combination of searching Google, talking to people who had done one themselves, and bothering the nice people at the store. Please keep in mind that every situation is different. That being said, if you are new to this like I was, these tips could be helpful.
A little under a year ago, I added an awning to my house to provide some much needed shade and break up the back of the house. The awning extended from the concrete pad to meet the side of the house, leaving a nice patch of grass. Riley enjoyed using this as her personal bathroom when it was raining. I, on the other hand, have been anxious to replace her potty with a space maximizing paver patio.
|Feels like it needs a floral pattern, stained couch and a spitoon right?|
We started out by reading over the Young House Love’s paver patio post. At the bottom of their post, you can find all of the different steps of how they completed their patio. The boyfriend also read through Lowe’s post about how to build a paver patio, which can be found here.
Next we decided how big we wanted it to be. Originally we just wanted to complete the grassy area left under the awning. Then after a little planning, a “good idea” was born, and the patio area was extended out from under the awning to sit the fire pit and have a place to roll out the grill. This equaled out to 220 square feet. I went for a basic paver as the market value of the neighborhood wouldn’t warrant a higher priced brick. After stalking this one at Lowe’s for a while, I gave up on it going on sale and caved in. One click of the online checkout button, and there was no turning back. (Btw, these pavers usually go on sale around Memorial Day according to the reviews, I was just impatient and wanted to be able to enjoy it longer. Plus the weather is a little cooler at this time of year).
First, it was time to dig down 6.5 inches. The dig accommodated 4 inches of gravel, 1 inch of sand, and 1.5 inches for the paver itself. This allowed for a flush meeting of the paver and the existing concrete patio. In comes Lesson #1—Have a plan for the excavated dirt.
|Please excuse the Bermuda, it tends to die in the Winter 😉|
That is only about half of what was originally there. Someone off of Craigslist had already taken about half…I’m going to have remnants of red clay dirt in my yard for a while….sigh. Now that you have an idea of the amount of dirt, here is Lesson #2–Shoveling vs. renting a Bobcat. At the time, I did not particularly want to pay for renting a Bobcat, especially since I wasn’t sure of when we could work on it and how long we would have to rent it. If we were to do this again, we would definitely rent a bobcat due to the amount of dirt and the red clay dirt consistency. Here is a reference pic to show how far down we had to dig. Digging was definitely the most physically demanding part of the project.
|Note the ginger on the right.|
Sadly, for such a large project, I managed to not take any progress pictures–just this one phone pic. Probably because my boyfriend would complain about how exhausting this was every time he saw me. Like this was hard work or something. So annoying… : ) Oh well, back to the patio. After digging, the next step was to make sure the area was level. In my case, we added a little slope away from the house due to some drainage issues. We also added a slope away from the rain barrel in case it overflowed. There is also a new french drain under the patio to ensure water flows away from my foundation : ) We used stakes, lines, and line levels to establish reference lines. The picture above gives you an idea of how we used the lines. Not sure how others do it, but we just made sure the lines were level and measured from that line to the ground to ensure we had dug deep enough. Just make sure you keep measuring further down from that line the further you go from the house to allow for drainage.
Next, we compacted the dirt which is Lesson #3—Hand Tamping vs. renting a compacter. We decided to buy a Hand Tamper from Lowes. Again, this being our first paver patio, we did not know how long we would need a compactor. Further, not having a truck made it difficult to bring it home and return it. Surprisingly, if we were to do this again at this size or smaller, we would use a hand tamper again. It wasn’t that bad.
Once the dirt is compacted, you add in your 4 inches of gravel. I went to a local store called Huntsville Hardscapes. We gave them the size of our planned patio, and they told us we needed 4 tons of paver base gravel. It was an easy decision to have this delivered. The bad part is that they normally just dump this into a big pile, and since we couldn’t fit the truck through my fence, it had to sit in my side front yard which happens to be right at the beginning of the neighborhood. I really wish I had taken a picture of this pile in my yard–I know my neighbors just loved me since it ended up sitting out there in all of its glory for about three weeks : ) They were also nice enough to send a tarp-like material to set the gravel on so it wouldn’t sit directly on the grass. We also put down a layer of weed fabric before the gravel. I’m sure the Bermuda will still find its ways through though…it always does… The gravel involved a lot of wheelbarrow trips and shoveling. After about two inches, we compacted down. Then added the next two inches and compacted once again.
Following the 4 inches of gravel is 1 inch of sand. We actually used all purpose sand because the grit was not that much different than that of the “paver” sand (which is more expensive). Also, we preferred the non-bleached sand found in the lawn and garden section of Lowes…i.e. not the playground all purpose sand. Using a 1 inch PVC pipe helped ensure we got an even one inch of sand. Lesson #4–You are going to need more sand than you think and go ahead and have it delivered with the gravel. On our first of many trips to Lowe’s we bought the number of bags based on our square footage divided by 12 to get the volume we needed (for one inch deep). We quickly learned that the sand seeped through the gravel. We ended up needing an additional 50% of what we first bought (60 bags total for us). Since we had already paid a delivery fee for the gravel, it would have been beneficial to buy that with the gravel and have it delivered in another pretty mound in the front yard : ) After all of the sand was down, we compacted it too, of course.
Most of our physical labor was complete after the sand bags. Next we began laying down the pavers. We started on the corner that we needed to meet flush with the concrete. We used a make-shift spacer (two paint sticks taped together) haha, making the “H” design as we went. I feel like the “H” design made it look a little more custom. We were lucky and only had to cut 7 pavers (5 halves and 2 “L”). My nice neighbor let us use his wet saw to make the cuts. 220 pavers is more to put down than you think especially making sure you like the spacing and what not. Lesson #5–Use knee pads, your knees will thank you.
Finally, once all of the pavers were set, we used polymeric sand in between the pavers. This sets the pavers and ensures that they do not move. We did this by pouring in on the pavers, and sweeping the sand around until all of the holes were filled. Then you spray all of the nooks and crannies to make sure it is wet.
|Wouldn’t it have been nice if I had removed the fire pit cover?|
And as you can guess, Riley was super helpful during this entire process. She is also the reason that I haven’t put my bright pretty cushions out yet. Cushions+Riley+leftover red clay dirt pile still in yard=predictable disaster.
We still need to clean ours up a bit to get off the extra sand and red clay footprints….but it is done! This was a project that I though would take one weekend and ended up taking four. A project that I thought would cost about $300 and came out at $945.
Here is a final cost breakdown:
4 buckets polymeric sand=$85
60 bags all purpose sand=$175
4 tons gravel and delivery=$220
Stakes, line levels, line, PVC, big level=$45
Tile saw, wheelbarrow, weed fabric=free (borrowed or already had)
It was a lot of hard work and a huge undertaking, but it will be so nice to be able to enjoy sitting under both sides of the patio and finally spread out the furniture that I bought from Pier 1 on sale a year and a half ago. I still have a few things I’d like to spruce up on the awning like lower the ceiling fans, add a blue bead board ceiling, and build some planters which will come later.
Thanks for stopping by!