There are few more satisfying tasks that can be undertaken outdoors on a property than laying a great looking patio with block paving. When it is done correctly, it looks great and is a joy to spend time on. That means it has to be perfectly flat and even with no protruding edges for people to trip over while being laid square and straight and lasting the test of time. How do you achieve that result?
There are one or two ways of getting the perfect patio laid where you want it to be and that will be dictated by the area and placement you have decided upon in respect to the location of your house and any landscaping aspects. The best and longest lasting patio will have a concrete base that is reinforced with steel. This is also the most expensive option but one that pays for itself over time because it is virtually maintenance free and will stand up to heavy use by people and garden machinery being wheeled across it such as lawnmowers, wheelbarrows full of sand, rubble or earth etc.
With a concrete base, you get a perfectly flat, level and (as long as it was prepared correctly) square foundation to lay your paving blocks onto. The depth of the base is fairly important, as too thin and it could crack and too thick and you could have problems with drainage especially if it ends up too high in respect to the house floor levels. Opt for around 6 inches thick and you will be okay. Depending on the area you want paved, you may need to hire a cement truck to pour the wet concrete as it may be too large to do by hand and you really want all the wet concrete poured at the same time so it all sets evenly. Plus its easy to level using a long, straight steel bar or plank of wood laid across the enclosing sides, which themselves should have been prepared straight and checked with a spirit level to give a very slight drop away from the house so when it rains, water will naturally drain away from the house.
With the concrete slab laid and dry, and for this it usually takes a few days to completely dry right through depending on thickness and how dry the earth is below (and it doesn’t rain, in which case you will need to cover the slab with a large tarpaulin), you can now set about laying the paving blocks. This is relatively easy as your base is already level so your main concern is with making sure the blocks are laid in straight rows with a small gap in between each for pointing with cement. You can get small plastic cross shaped spacers that you place at each corner of each block as you lay them to give you the perfect gaps.
Use cement or a cement/adhesive mix to set the blocks onto and also keep checking for straight lines with the steel bar or wooden plank you used to level the base. Once all the blocks have been laid and pointed using the same cement or cement/adhesive mix you set them on, you can stand back, admire your handiwork and wait for it to dry before letting loose the family!