stylish brick patio
Photos by: Smith/Bear
It's a common misconception that you have to hire a skilled mason to get a flat, uniformly handsome brick patio that stays that way. All you really need are a few hand tools, knee pads, the determination not to cut corners, and expert instruction (that's where we come in). In fact, it takes more skill to build a simple wood deck than to put down a handsome surface like the one shown here. Measuring about 5 X 10 feet, this backyard patio is made of bricklike concrete pavers laid in a basket-weave pattern. The 2 1/4-inch-thick by 3 3/4-inch-wide by 7 1/2-inch-long pavers are better suited for patios than traditional clay bricks because they're harder and less likely to crack. All pavers will spread over time if not held tightly by a solid border. For ultimate longevity, you could pour a concrete perimeter footing, but the pressure-treated 6x6 landscaping timbers used here are easier and provide a nice contrast to the pavers. They're held in place with rebar "pins" and connected to each other with special fasteners. Nearly 200 pavers (50 cents each) went into this patio along with three 12-foot-long pressure-treated ("For Ground Contact") 6x6s ($23 each). If the ground had been level, only two 6x6s would have been needed. But because it sloped down to the right about 12 inches, we used two courses of timbers at the right end and along the front to level off the patio. It took one weekend to prep the site and cut the timbers and a second weekend to set the timbers and lay the pavers. It would take about the same amount of time to build a slightly larger patio — up to about 8x12 feet — but for one bigger than that you'll need a series of weekends. When determining patio size, keep in mind that you can avoid cutting pavers by adjusting the inside dimension of the border to accept a run of only whole units. For example, to replicate the basket-weave pattern shown here, the length and width of the patio space inside the border must be divisible by 7 1/2 inches (the length in inches of one paver or the width of two). If you do have to cut pavers, use either a masonry blade in a circular saw or a brickset chisel and hammer. Patio options. There are basically two ways to build a brick patio. Flexible pavement is the quickest, easiest method; we used it for our project. Also known as the dry-laid method, it consists of laying pavers directly on a bed of compacted sand or crushed stone. The pavers are butted tightly together, then sand is swept between the joints. This method allows you to easily remove pavers if you ever need to change, repair or alter the patio. A mortared pavement provides a flatter, longer-lived surface, but it's harder to put down. Here, a crushed-stone base is topped with a 4-inch-thick concrete slab. Once the concrete cures, the pavers are pressed into a 1/2-inch-thick mortar bed troweled onto the slab. The 3/8-inch spaces between them are filled with mortar.
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