DIY Outdoor Patios: What You Need to Know

Reader Contribution by Megan Wild
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Why pay for someone to come and install an outdoor patio when you could do it yourself? Outdoor patios are perfect for people who love to entertain. They don’t require a lot of maintenance and they can be completed within a single weekend.

So, if you’re thinking about building your own concrete patio, check out this list of things you need to consider before you start. What’s stopping you?

Location and Design

Location is everything! Draw up a rough blueprint of your patio plans on graph paper so you can get an accurate idea of placement. Be sure you include important structures in your yard like your house or shed, and don’t forget about trees and gardens.

Also keep in mind what’s underground. You don’t want to affect wells and you don’t want to run into large tree roots. The roots could ruin your plans, or your patio could ruin the tree.

What you use the patio for will determine where you want to place it. If you want to use it for entertaining and barbequing, you may want to keep the patio close to your house for easy cleanup and serving.

A patio surrounding a pool would need to be properly placed and planned out. Walkways and garden patios are great additions to your backyard, as well!

Also, consider the design of your patio. The shape of your patio, along with the paver style and color, is up to you. Make sure whatever you choose matches or complements the aesthetics of your house.

You can color a concrete patio through several different methods: stains, integral pigments, color hardeners and dyes. However, not every option is available for old concrete and dyes tend to fade in the sunlight. Keep this in mind as you consider coloring your patio.

Sizing a Patio

As you begin the planning stages of a DIY patio, size is an important aspect to consider. Of course, the function of the patio will help determine the size.

If you plan on hosting large gatherings of friends and family, you will probably need a large patio. If you want to be able to set up a dining area on your patio, look into the dimensions of the table set you will buy.

For example, a five-foot by three-foot rectangular table will require a patio size of about 15 feet by 13 feet.

If you are planning on creating a walkway, you will need to think about how wide you want it made. A width of 2 feet can comfortably accommodate one person walking on a path. Add 2 more feet if you want two people to be able to walk together. If your walkway needs to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker, 3 feet is the minimum width.

Patio Building Materials

When you decide on the location, size, shape and design of your patio, you need to figure out the amount of material you need for your project. The tools and materials you need for this project will vary depending on the size of your patio, design and shape.

Some basic materials you’ll need are pavers, a shovel, paver sand, paver base, 2-by-4 wooden boards and gloves. However, you can find a comprehensive list of tools and materials, depending on the type of patio you want.

The first thing you need to do as you look into buying materials, is decide on the total number of square feet your patio will use in your yard. This number determines the amount of pavers, paver sand and paver base you will need.

Next, measure the square footage of the pavers you decide on. This will help you determine the number of pavers you actually need to complete your project.

Decide if you want a raised or level patio in your yard. For a raised patio, use your shovel to dig 4 inches into the earth. For a level patio, dig down 8 inches.

Pour the paver base. The paver base is a layer of gravel that should be 4 inches deep when compacted into the ground you dug up. This helps with draining and maintaining a solid base for your patio.

Next, calculate the amount of paver sand you need. Paver sand is what holds your pavers in place. This layer should be about 1 inch deep.

Determine the perimeter measurement of your patio. This will help you decide the number of paver restraints you need. Paver restraints allow you to stay within your designated work area and keep grass out of your project.

Put your work gloves on and lay down your pavers. Decide on the pattern you want to create and keep the pavers flush against each other. You can use a rubber mallet to move and adjust the pavers once you lay them down. When you finish laying down the pavers, frame your patio with the paver restraints.

After your patio surface is dry and ready, follow the instructions on your bag of joint sand and spread it over the surface to fill in holes between pavers and finish off your patio.


Other Tips and Tricks

Remember to make safety a priority on your worksite. Keep the worksite visually clear to eliminate any unnecessary dangers like falling, tripping or slipping.

Also, consider checking with your homeowner’s association and local building codes before you start the process of building your patio. You don’t want to start a project that you won’t be able to complete.

To add a nice finish to your patio, think about the landscaping surrounding the area. Plant flowers and bushes or even add some lighting to the walkway you made.

You don’t need to spend a ton of money on hiring someone to build your patio. Keep these things in mind as you prepare to DIY your own outdoor patio!

Megan Wildimproves homes by focusing on increasing their sustainability and finding new ways to repurpose old materials. When she’s not holding a hammer, you can find her writing up her ideas and thoughts for her blog,Your Wild Home.

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