How To Build a Patio

Adding a patio to your backyard is an excellent way of getting more out of summer. Building a patio, however, takes a bit of work and careful planning. Here is how to correctly install a Barkman patio in your backyard.

1. Planning

Once you have chosen your location, it’s time to do some preliminary design work. You may want to get a designer or contractor involved at this stage or decide to design it on your own. There are also plenty of online tools and software that can help you plan your patio.
2 people looking at a landscape plan

When determining the size of your patio, it can also be helpful to mark out an area with stakes and string and then place all your furniture within it. You may find that you need more space than you initially thought.

In this phase of the process, it is also important to pick which products will be used. Choose materials that complement the style and colour of your home while serving the function of your space. For instance, Grand Flagstone looks beautiful, but its uneven surface may not be ideal for a dining table. An excellent way to gain inspiration is to look at Barkman’s website, catalogues, and social media platforms where there are hundreds of pictures of existing patios which show Barkman’s product in a variety of styles and design configurations. Once you have done the research and have your products picked out, move on to step 2.


2. Site Prep

Start with the removal of the layer of soil where grass and other decomposable organic material is found. It’s essential to remove all organics in the area before placing any materials because they can decompose, creating gaps that will cause your patio to sink and shift. You can remove the organics by digging them up with a shovel, or if you have quite a large area, you can hire a skid-steer operator to remove them. Try to keep the dirt level as it makes building a base much easier.

3. Building a Base

Once you have removed all the organics and completed preliminary leveling, it is time to begin laying the base of your patio. This is a critical step of the process and can dramatically affect the final product if done incorrectly.

For a solidly built patio that does not shift, Barkman recommends a minimum of 6 inches of base material placed beneath the patio. This base should also extend past the patio’s edges by at least 6 inches. This base material should be ¾-down crushed stone and should be laid in three 2-inch intervals. For each 2-inch layer of stone, compact it with a vibrating plate compactor, wet it down and compact it again.

You can also explore using Gator Base as an alternative way to prepare the base for your patio. Here are more details on how to install Gator Base as well as a video guide.

You can use a hand tamper or rent a vibrating compactor from a local landscape dealer. Once you finish compacting and wetting the first two inches of stone, repeat the process with the next two layers. It is crucial that you continue to adjust the level as you build up your base because once this stage is complete, there is very little chance to correct the level if it is off.

Sand Compactor Machine


4. Screeding

Once you have finished building up your six inches of compacted ¾-down crushed stone, it is time to complete the final stage before laying the patio.

This stage, called screeding, involves creating a perfectly level and smooth surface on which to lay the patio. To accomplish this, you need to apply 1 inch of coarse bedding sand across the whole crushed stone base. To smooth the sand, use two 1-inch outside-diameter steel pipes and place them on top of the crush stone base. Level the two pipes with each other using a 2×4 laid across them. Once the two pipes are leveled, run the 2×4 from one end of the pad to the other, smoothing out the sand at the exact height of 1-inch pipes.

If there are pockets that form in the sand, apply more sand and re-level them with the 2×4. This is the last chance you have to level your patio area so be sure that the sand is layer is correctly leveled and smooth. Once this layer is fully screeded, carefully remove the steel pipes, making sure not to disturb the sand layer you just worked hard on leveling.


Screeding sand with a piece of lumber


5. Laying Pavers

Laying pavers or paving stones should go relatively quickly as you should have the laying pattern figured out from the planning stage, but it still may take a while to get comfortable with the pattern and process of laying them, so don’t rush it.

To lay the pavers, make sure to correctly follow the pattern and keep each course of the pattern straight. Make sure that when laying them down, you do not disturb the sand. Place them carefully downward, keeping the paving stones level as you lower them. This will ensure that your patio is level and will reduce the risks of the patio shifting in the future. As you lay the patio, you may come across the grooves left by the screeding poles. Fill in the grooves with sand and use a small hand trowel to level the sand carefully.

Smiling man laying down pavers


6. Finishing Touches

Once the pavers are placed, there are only two things left to do. The first thing is to apply Snap Edge around the perimeter of your patio. Snap Edge should be placed up against the sides of the patio on the crushed stone base nailed into place. Snap Edge keeps the patio from shifting from side to side and prevents the sand layer from washing out. The top of the Snap Edge should lie about a half-inch below the top of the pavers and will eventually be covered with topsoil.

Once the Snap Edge is in place, you can complete the last step of applying polymeric sand. Polymeric sand is designed to fill the gaps between the pavers to keep them solidly in place, preventing weed growth, while allowing for proper drainage. To apply the sand, dump the sand out on the patio in small amounts, sweeping the sand into the gaps between pavers. Continue doing this until all the gaps are filled to 1/8 of an inch below the bottom edge of the chamfer of the pavers. At this point, compact the patio using a plate compactor with a rubber pad to allow the sand to settle.

Once complete, wet down the patio, watering each 50 square foot section for 60 seconds. Take care not to wash the sand from the joints or flood the patio. When you have wet the entire patio, be sure to let it dry for at least 24 hours. This drying period allows the polymers within the sand to set, creating a hard finish. When it has dried, the patio is ready to be used.

Close up photo of paver edge restraint


Following these steps should allow you to create a patio in your backyard ready to be enjoyed by the whole family. Make the most out of your summer this year and build a patio!

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