How to Design a Hardscape Patio

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This article outlines the steps needed in building a hardscape brick paver patio. The basic supplies needed include the selected pavers, crushed stone, paver base, long 1 inch conduit pipes, leveling board, and edge restraints. Tools needed include a compactor, cutoff saw, shovels, etc. We describe the basic steps, giving some basic knowledge that is useful if selecting a contractor to do the "heavy lifting," so you'll know what questions to ask. The discussion is based on Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) standards that ought to be used by any reputable contractor.

In the Northeastern US, most suggest using at least a 4-6 inch base of crushed stone, and even up to 7 inches is suggested due to harsh winter weather. For brick pavers, this means that you'll need to dig to about 9" depth, since the pavers are 2 inches in height. Since this is a lot of digging, it may be one of the primary reasons to hire a landscape company.

Before digging, make sure that you understand where all underground utilities are identified. To find out, you can order a "utility locate," by calling 811.

Next, measure and mark the region that you will be paving. Allow an extra 6-8 inches beyond the furthest dimensions of the patio to provide a firm base for the entire area of pavers and to allow for minor adjustments during the laying and cutting in of the pavers. Place stakes at the edges of the markings and attach a string line to the stakes at the final distance from the ground.

Now, firm up the subsoils using a compactor with least compressive force of 3200 pounds and add in 6-7 inches of crushed stone on top. Add layers of 2-3 inches at a time until within 3 inches of the string line.

Finally, after laying out a 1 inch conduit pipe on both edges, fill the area with paver base and using the pipes as a guide begin the screeding (or leveling) procedure using a long board. The conduits will later be removed and the trenches left behind filled in with sand.

At last, you can commence laying pavers in rows and patterns selected. When all have been placed, the cutting in process may be started if needed, using a cutoff saw. Paver edge restraint and soldier course should be used to prevent spreading and a layer of joint sand employed, which is to be swept into the cracks. Polymeric sand is suggested, which will harden after it has been added. Although not mandatory, this is a good idea to curtail insects "moving" the joint sand and plant growth in the cracks in the patio.

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Author: Jim Green
A professional landscape company can make a patio hardscape project a lot easier, although a DIY project can provide a lot of satisfaction to the average homeowner. Proper installation will incorporate ICPI national standards for a long-lasting patio.

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