Step 1: Excavate the Site

Leveling land to resurface a patio
Photos by: Kindra Clineff
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Drive 3-foot stakes into the ground 1 foot outside the corners of the patio area.

Set a builder's level in the middle. Find a benchmark—a spot where the patio meets the house. Look through the level’s scope while a helper holds a leveling rod at the benchmark and moves the rod's marker until it falls in the scope's crosshairs.

Then, at any stake, have your helper, with the marker at the established point, move the rod up or down until the marker falls in the crosshairs.

Mark the stake at the bottom of the rod. Swivel the level and repeat at each stake.

On the two stakes farthest from the house, measure down from the mark 1/8 inch for every foot between it and the benchmark. The marks show the finish grade.

Dig 6 to 12 inches below finish grade to reach the subgrade. Tamp it with a plate compactor.
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    Tools List

    • metal garden rake
      Steel rake,
      for spreading stone dust
    • push broom
      Push broom,
      for sweeping stone dust
    • pointed shovel
      Spade shovel,
      for digging and spreading
    • square shovel
      Square shovel,
      for measuring and mixing
    • wheelbarrow
      Wheelbarrow,
      for mixing wet material
    • torpedo level
      Builder's level,
      for determining pitch
    • leveling rod
      Leveling rod,
      for measuring pitch with builder's level
    • angle grinder
      Angle grinder,
      for cutting curves in stone
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • circle cutter
      Circle cutter,
      for scribing stone
    • four-foot level
      2- and 4-foot levels,
      for leveling stones
    • pointing trowel
      Pointing trowel,
      for adding cement mix and packing in joints
    • hand rake
      Hand rake,
      for leveling wet material
    • tamper
      Hand tamper,
      for tamping base along walls and siding
    • plate compactor
      Plate compactor,
      rent, if needed, to compact base
    • circular saw
      Circular saw with diamond blade,
      for cutting stone
    • mallet
      Rubber mallet,
      for tapping stone into cement mix
    • sledge hammer
      Hand sledge,
      for driving stakes and snapping stone
    • Skid-steer loader,
      rent, if needed, to clear and dig base

    Shopping List

    1. LEATHER GLOVES

    2. MASON'S TWINE

    for establishing reference points between stakes



    3. GOGGLES

    4. DUST MASK

    5. CARBIDE-TIPPED AWL

    for marking stone



    6. EAR PROTECTION