Installing a patio can be a great way to get the best out of your garden, it provides you with a an outdoor living space where the family can gather and enjoy Al Fresco dining during the summer months. A well laid patio can also positively impact the resale value of your house, and the National Association of Estate Agents believe that a good patio can add up to £10,000 to the resale value of a home.

So now that we have established that adding a patio is a good move, how do you go about achieving a first class finish? Read on to find out:

Step 1 – Scale Drawing

After deciding where abouts you are going to place your patio, it’s a great idea to start by creating a scale drawing of the patio. The drawing should include any permanent structures like trees or manhole covers that you need to pave around. This sketch should make it easy for you to work out how many slabs you will need and where the slabs will need to be cut.

If your patio is being laid adjacent to a wall of the house, you will need to make sure that the surface of the patio sits at least 15cm below the damp course so that rain drops do not splash back above the damp course. Your patio should also slope away from the building at a gradient of around 5cm every 3m to allow rain to run off.

Step 2 – Creating a Solid Foundation

Unless your patio is built on solid footings, it will quickly subside and the mortar between your flag stones will crack allowing weeds to take hold. Generally speaking it will start to look pretty grubby in a very short period of time.

Before breaking ground you should mark out the patio using string and pegs, use a builders square to make sure your corners are true right angles.

Next dig down to a depth of about 15cm deep, and mark each of your pegs to show where the surface your harcore base and bedding mortar will sit. Now lay a hardcore base of 8cm in depth. Use a rake to spread out the hardcore and achieve a level surface.

It’s a great idea to hire a power whacker to compress the hardcore base, as this will make the foundations much more stable. Plant and digger hire Swindon provide whacker plate hire services in the south west, but if you are outside this region you should be able to find a local plant hire shop that offers a similar service.

Step 3 – Bedding Mortar & Paving

Add a layer of bedding mortar over the hardcore base, then begin to lay the paving slabs one by one. The slabs should be laid 1cm – 1.5cm apart. Place a block of wood over the slab then tap the block with a wooden mallet or club hammer to bed in the slabs and use a spirit level to achieve a level surface (or the correct gradient if run-off is required).

Step 4 – Pointing

After your slabs are laid, allow at least 25 hours for the mortar to set properly before pointing. Some people point their patio with a wet mix of sand and cement but a much easier way is to use a dry mix of 4 parts sand to 1 part cement. The dry mix can simply be shovelled onto the patio and then brushed into the gaps using a soft yard brush. Be sure to clean off any excess, dry mix very thoroughly with a dustpan and brush. The next time it rains the remaining dry mix dist will be washed off of the patio slabs and the dry mix pointing will cure. Don’t be tempted to expedite this process by using a hose, as this can displace the dry pointing. If you prefer not to wait for it to rain, simply use a watering can with a rose attached.