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How to lay paving stones

How to lay paving stones – our five step guide

Whether it’s a task you’ve tackled before or this is your first foray into landscaping, laying your own patio can save you money, but will cost you time. If this is a trade-off you’re happy to make, then with some careful planning and preparation you could be enjoying the fruits of your labour with a glass in hand this summer.

The biggest decision is what material to use, from reclaimed natural sandstone to the latest porcelain tiles and man-made blocks, the variety available means you can create any look – whether it’s a clean contemporary style or a rustic cottage garden.

At this time of year, the most common question we get asked is, "How do I lay paving stones?". Drawing on our years of expertise we’ve put together a guide to creating the perfect patio, with hints and tips on the process and tools needed.

1. Ensure a stable foundation

Draw a plan of your proposed patio space using detailed measurements, so you can work out the correct amount of materials needed before you place your order. Peg out the area to demarcate the borders and start to prepare the soil. The more time spent preparing a completely flat surface, the better the result. We would suggest digging to a depth of 15cms, removing any clumps or roots. More soil can be added and compacted to level the surface. Lay a hardcore sub-base of 10cms, and compact down. Ensure it is flat with a spirit level.

2. Cut the paving slabs

At this point your slabs should be cut to fit the designated space. This task can vary greatly in terms of difficulty, depending on the shapes and materials selected. Bear in mind that porcelain tiles must be primed with a bonding agent prior to laying. We also recommend cutting this type of tile with a suitable tile bench. Stone paving can be cut with a disc grinder.

3. Create a concrete base

Now your sub-base is level, put down a layer of concrete which your paving slabs will sit on; we recommend Cemex Rudgy Cement for a high-quality product that will last. The consistency of your mortar should be firm and not runny, use this to create a layer of up to 4cms. Top tip: dampen the paving stones before you lay them, so the concrete doesn’t dry out too quickly underneath.

4. Follow the guidelines

Place your paving stones in the mortar, in alignment with your guide string, leaving a 1cm gap between each stone. Start from a corner and work out. You’ll need a mallet to fix the slab in place and a slither of wood to act as a spacing guide. If your patio is directly underneath a wall, ensure it stays at least 15cms below the damp proof line.

5. Spray down

Once the whole area is covered, spray the new surface with water and leave it for 24 hours to set. Only after this time should you think about filling in the gaps. Use dry sand or specialist grout, and remove any remaining residue on the stones for a perfect finish. Pebbles and stones make ideal borders around the outside of your patio area - we stock a selection of decorative aggregates for that final touch.

If the process still seems a little daunting, come in and speak to our friendly team at our Kingsfold depot and we’ll make sure you’re prepared and fully equipped for the task, or check out our extensive range of natural, porcelain and concrete slabs.

Good luck and we look forward to hearing about your DIY endeavours!