Pave It Your Way

Enhance your outdoor living area with paving stones



Ozgur Coskun / shutterstock.com

Everybody wants to spend more time outdoors these days, and open-air patios are playing a larger role in that trend, especially when the days are longer and warmer. Whether built of treated lumber or slab concrete, patios in general are the perfect place for lounging and entertaining friends and family.

Wood patios and patios made from slab concrete are fine, but if you want to do something different, longer-lasting, creative and upscale, try using sectional brick or stone pavers. Paving stones come in a bewildering variety of patterns, colors, shapes, sizes and materials, including brick, concrete and even high-density resin. You can select traditional cobblestone or brick, or you can go for a more natural look with irregularly shaped flagstones. 

Whatever you choose, you’re getting a versatile and durable product useful for creating a patio, sidewalk or stepping-stone path. Certain types of paving stones or bricks can also be used as building blocks for fire pits and planters. The type, size, shape and color of the stone you select depends on your imagination and taste, but with a little care and skill, you can have an outdoor space that is welcoming and inviting. 

Once you decide to use paving stones, keep in mind that the trend today is to go larger rather than smaller. Large stones can make a smaller patio look larger than it really is, and bigger patios with more square footage look nicer with oversized paving stones. 

But before you buy the ingredients for that new stone patio, be sure to have a plan in mind. Visualize what you want, where it goes and how elaborate you want it. Identify the area to be paved and measure it. Your project will undoubtedly involve some digging, so check with your utility company to make sure you won’t run afoul of any underground pipes or cables. Next, calculate how many pavers the project will need for the area in question, and order the material. Mark out the boundaries and be sure to consider the slope of the deck to ensure adequate drainage. Dig to the desired depth, install forms or edging, and fill the area with gravel or other course material. Spread the gravel evenly and tamp it down. Add up to an inch of sand. Use a rake to distribute it evenly and a board to level it. Lay the pavers starting from the edges and work inward. Use a rubber mallet to tap them in place and a hammer and chisel to modify irregular shapes. Fill the gaps using sand and a push broom. Spray water to settle the sand into the gaps, and repeat until gaps are filled. If uneven settling occurs later, you can always remove individual sections and make adjustments.

 

Essential Tools

  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Push broom
  • Rake
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Plate compactor
  • Edging stones
  • Mallet
  • Mason line
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