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Install a Paver Patio

Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Danny Lipford shows you how to build a paver patio.

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    Everything in this slideshow

    • Proper Preparation Is Key

      A patio made from brick or concrete pavers is an attractive addition to your backyard that is perfect for grilling and relaxing. While laying a paver patio is a fairly simple do-it-yourself project, it's important to take the time to prepare the foundation to prevent uneven settling.

    • Choosing Pavers

      Patio pavers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are usually fit together dry with sand used to lock everything in place. The ones we're using are 12 inches square by 2 inches thick.

    • Preparing the Ground

      The first step is to prepare the ground by removing any grass, weeds, or roots. You also might consider applying a weed killer to the area to prevent any future germination.

    • Clay Base

      Spread a layer of clay over the area to provide a firm base for the patio. The clay is graded so it slopes slightly downhill away from the house (approximately 1/4 inch per foot) to allow for proper drainage.

    • Form Boards

      Once the clay has been spread out, place pressure-treated pine 2x4 form boards perpendicular to the house on either end of the patio and hold them in place with stakes driven into the ground. Be sure they're carefully aligned parallel and spaced so that an even number of pavers will fit between them.

    • String Guides

      Stretch strings at intervals across the top of the form boards to act as guides for leveling the clay, sand, and pavers.

    • Spacer Gauge

      Rip a short section of 2x4 to 3 inches wide to act as a height gauge between the clay and string.

    • Level Clay Base

      Level the clay so that the 3-inch gauge fits snugly beneath the string. This allows for 1 inch of sand on top of the clay.

    • Tamp Clay

      Use a hand tamp to pack the clay down so it will provide a firm foundation.

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      Add Sand Layer

      Once the clay base is ready, cover it with an inch of sand to provide for good drainage beneath the pavers and to make it easier to set them in place.

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      Sand Spacer

      Use a scrap of wood ripped to 2 inches to spread the sand and gauge the distance to the string.

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      Lay Pavers

      Begin laying the pavers against the house, making sure each one is even and the top surface is flush with the string.

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      Lay Pavers

      Use a rubber mallet to tap the pavers gently in place without breaking them.

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      Wood Border

      When the last row of pavers has been laid, a pressure treated 2x4 is installed across the end to hold the pavers in place and to act as a border for the patio.

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      Sweep Sand

      The final touch is to sweep sand into the cracks between the pavers to lock them in place.

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