Constructing a paved area whether it be a patio or a driveway is not necessarily outside the scope of the average D.I.Y. enthusiast. By following a simple step by step guide, it is possible to create something special, which will not only be enjoyed by the whole family, but will be usable and add value to the home.
Bowland recommend that all areas to be paved are in the first instance sketched out, showing dimensions and laying patterns. Include in the drawing such items as drains, height of damp proof course*, the slope or fall of the area and other constraints e.g. walls, lawns, steps etc. In most cases a slope of 1″ of fall every 6’ is adequate, to enable surface water to fall away from the house and into the garden. Consideration should also be given at this stage to quantities of sand and cement required for ‘bedding’ the slabs on. As a guide the bed should be between 3/4″ and 1.5″ thick and mixed in a ratio of 1 part cement to 6 parts sand.
*If a paved area abuts a house then consideration must be given to the building regulations where the finished ground level must be at least 6″ below the damp proof course.
Like any other job around the house, this stage cannot be overlooked if a first class result is required. The area to be paved must be firm and compact to avoid any subsidence. If necessary dig out any soft soil and replace with crushed stone preferably with a high dust content, such as crusher run or pug. 4 inches of a compacted, crushed rock base is normally sufficient for pedestrian traffic. The level of the ground at this stage should be approximately 2″ to 3″ below the final level of the paved area. Decide where to lay the first slab, this is usually a corner stone/paver and probably at the highest point. Dependant on what laying pattern is used, it very often helps to use string and mark out the area, which helps to keep the joints at 90 degrees to each other.
At this stage, apart from a trowel and a shovel, a level will be needed at least the length of the longest stone (paver) that is to be laid. The sand and cement need to be mixed together in manageable quantities (either by hand or by a small mechanical mixer) place a dab of mix in each corner of the area where the slab is to be laid, plus one in the middle. The size of the dab should be such that when the slab is pushed down to the required level, they should all meet. The method of laying should be such that each paver must not bear any weight for at least one day. Care should also be taken to ensure that cement is kept off the surface of the paving as it can cause staining. The exact position of each paver should be achieved first time. To do this, do not apply excessive force on the paver, but by checking with a level apply gentle pressure until the exact position is found. It is best to lay full pavers first and then cut any odd shapes and sizes that may be needed. For best results, Bowland recommend using a stone angle grinder for cutting. A concrete quickie saw is ideal for longer cuts, especially if they are curved or on a radius. Prior to cutting, measure the size of the cut required and mark the paver accordingly. Careful planning will help minimize the amount of cutting required.
Unlike all the previous stages, grouting can only be done on a dry day. Building sand only should be used, mixed at a ratio of 8 parts sand to 1 part cement. Colour Additive can be used to compliment or contrast the overall appearance (directions for use on the tubs). The total quantity should not exceed one bucket of grout at a time. With the use of either a bricklayers pointing trowel or brush, push the mix into the gaps to form a uniform surface to the pointing. Excess mix should be swept aside and re-used but do not brush it over the pavers until the mix has become dry (this usually takes about 1⁄2 hour). It is essential that wet mix is not used for pointing the pavers because the excess amounts around the joints are almost impossible to remove, and dry jointing is the ideal alternative.
Bowland Paving is designed to be maintenance free, however, it is appropriate in some circumstances to seal the paved area. Surebond sealers will help protect the pavers from staining due to unwanted spillages and marking, as well as provide protection from the sun’s damaging rays. Unlike many sealers, Surebond is breathable so it is ready to install upon the project’s completion or cure.