Planning & Preparation
Preparation is everything when it comes to laying a patio. So before you lay your paving slabs here are some very important preliminary steps. These will end up saving you time and cut out a lot of unnecessary hassle in the long run.
Choosing a Paving Slab
Don’t settle for any slab, get something that suits the atmosphere of your garden. These days you can find paving slabs in a range of colours and materials suitable for every budget.
Once you know the dimensions of the slab you’re using you can start designing your patio. Make a detailed design to cut down on the need to cut your slabs. After that, we suggest dry laying all of your slabs. This way you can get a feel for where everything should go and know if this is a design that suits you. Measure everything twice and take pictures to check later.
Paving slabs can be extremely heavy. Don’t take any risks or try laying your patio alone. Ask someone you trust for help. Make sure to wear suitable footwear and gloves. Cement can cause extreme skin irritation whether it’s wet or dry so take precautions. If you do come into direct contact with cement wash the exposed area thoroughly with soap and water.
Before you get started laying your paving slabs there’s a few things you need to do.
Check for Cables and Pipes
First, use a CAT (Cable Avoidance Tool) to double-check if there are any cables or pipes below the area you’re going to excavate. After that, use pegs and strings to mark out your area. Use a set square to make sure that each corner is perfectly square.
If the patio is being laid across a grassy area or lawn, it’s recommended to lay it 10mm below ground level. This will make it easier to cut the grass in future. You’ll also need to mark out a fall to encourage rainwater to run off. Ideally you want this to lead away from the house and other outbuildings. We recommend a fall of 16mm per metre.
The edges of your area should be marked all the way around with a spade before removing the pegs.
In the excavated area, you need to allow for 100mm MOT Type 1, plus 25mm of Slablayer. You will also need to account for the depth of the paving slabs. It’s important to not forget about your fall either. This should be maintained and regularly checked throughout the laying process.
After doing this, you need to add 50mm of the MOT Type 1 followed by 25mm of Slablayer. Rake the area level and compact it with a tamper or wacker plate.
Then add the remaining MOT Type 1. Repeat compacting again.
At this point, it will be necessary to add the Slablayer and rake it to a depth of 25mm. Apply water to the area and rake it smooth.
Laying the Slabs
First, dampen the underside of the first slab, starting from the high point of the patio. Once in place, tamper the slab down using a rubber mallet. This slab will be your guide throughout so double check it is as perfectly level as possible.
Now you can start laying the rest of your slabs. Remember to leave a gap for your joint width. You can use wood offcuts as spacers.
Regularly checking the slab levels as you go along. Don’t forget about the fall.
Once finished, cover the patio with plastic sheeting. It will take a couple of days for the Slablayer to dry.
Using a trowel, fill in the joints with a damp but not wet mixture of either Slablayer or dry mortar mix. Finally, brush away the leftover joint mixture before it sets or stains the paving slab.