Step 2: Set the Base

Roger Cook power tampering the patio base «»
Cover the subgrade in batches of 3-inch-thick layers of pack, a blend of ¾-inch crushed stone and stone dust. Dampen each layer with water to keep down the dust.

Compact each layer with a plate compactor. Use a hand tamper near walls, sidewalks, or foundations. Repeat process of adding, dampening and tamping each 3-inch layer until all the pack is roughly 2½ inches below the marks on the stakes (if laying 1 ½-inch-thick stone).

Drive additional stakes every 2 feet between the corner stakes closest to the house and again on the opposite end of the patio, which the grade slopes toward.

Stretch a chalk line between the finish grade marks and snap the line against the new stakes.

Run strings along the pitch of the patio between the new stakes at their finish-grade marks.

Tip: For irrigation lines or outdoor electricity, lay 3-inch-diameter PVC conduit over the subgrade.
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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