Oh. My. Gosh. Longest part of a project ever! So, we always make fun of my dad for saying something will only take 5 minutes. Or the destination is just around the corner… I am a little ashamed to admit that, for the first time, I am guilty of this. I thought that laying out the pavers would take a weekend, max. And that we could probably finish them during the week after work. I was so wrong. So, so, so wrong. I vow to never be this wrong again!
But alas, we have finally laid them all out! Oh, and I was so focused on just getting everything done that I didn’t take a whole lot of progress photos…so enjoy the finished product!
Replace the sliding door and window Add a metal water sealer around the edges of the house where the patio will meet it Patch up any stucco Paint the house (definitely hired out for that one) Run a gas line from the main line to the future fire pit Clear out the existing patio concrete around the edges Form up the perimeter of the patio and the fire pit edges Create the perimeter walls Create the foundation for each pergola column Fill in the patio with aggregate base (geez, I heard the engineer come out of me in that phrase) Pour the concrete slab Lay the stone
- Build the pergola
- Decorate (!)
If you’re interested, we got our pavers from Silverado Building Materials for a pretty good deal. They delivered everything and unloaded the pavers onto our driveway. Apparently they can’t magically place them in the backyard… We started moving the pavers from the front of the house to the back, but after two pallet loads we decided to just start laying them. Give our arms a small break, you know? The hubby and I were really wishing that we could somehow drive them to the back, but we ended up wheelbarrowing and carrying them little by little.
Can I just mention, there are about 100 different patterns you can lay pavers. When we bought them, we figured the paver company would have a nice little template of how to lay them. We were not prepared to actually have to make a decision! But once we did, it was off to the races. And by races, I mean slowly getting the pavers into position and making sure that everything was square and level. The concept seems so simple! Follow the pattern and just plop them down! Between bringing the pavers into the back, getting the thinset nice and level, and lifting each paver to lay it in place, I think my arms are getting pretty buff. I think I am going to try out for American Ninja Warrior after all this. You just need a little arm strength, right?
If you Google “how to lay pavers,” the most common method that comes up is to lay them in a sand bedding. No thinset or intense foundation required. But since our patio is raised, and since we poured a concrete foundation so that nothing settles over time, we went ahead and put a super thin layer of thinset on the bottom of each paver. This basically kept them in place and leveled anything out that may have been a little imperfect. If you are putting pavers directly on the ground, you definitely don’t need to do all of this. Sand bedding would act as a sort of leveler.
So, first we started laying the pavers that didn’t need any cutting. These things are about 2 inches thick and pure concrete, so cutting each piece took a decent amount of time. The hubby only cut pieces if we absolutely needed those pieces in place to continue. We worked our way around the patio until we got about 3/4 of the way through, not including the edges. That took about 6 bags of thinset, so not too many. But since it had been so hot here, we only did one bag a day. And only when we had time. So even though it technically could have been done in a week, it took us about a month. Just for that!
After that, we called in reinforcements. My dad came over a couple of times and started working on all of the edges. We were even able to convince my mom to come help! She got pretty good at using the tile saw. Between the two of them, they were able to get all of the edges cut out and ready to place. The hubby and I played catch up to the them and placed them in as they were being cut. The last part was getting the steps laid out. Luckily, the hubby planned that the depth of the steps would be exactly 1 paver wide. Thank goodness. My dad got the front faces of each step cut out, and the hubby and I wrapped those up in a night. That was one of the best feelings ever. If I never have to lay pavers again, I would be okay. I know I will, but let’s pretend that isn’t happening right now.
After we had them all laid out and set, the hubby gave the pavers a good power washing to get all the muck off the top. Then, we poured sand into the tiny cracks between each paver. The sand is pretty fine, so we figured that once we poured it in, we would just need to just brush off the excess. After we brushed it off, we showered the patio with water to turn the sand into a sort of cement. Except that the cracks were so tight that the sand didn’t settle all the way into the bottom of the cracks. Once everything was dry, we found out that we could press into some of the cracks and the sand just kind of fell into the bottom. So frustrating. The hubby and I spent about 4 hours refilling the cracks with more sand, then using mini flathead screwdrivers and pieces of brush bristles to work the sand all the way into the cracks. My cousin joked that we were like archaeologists. The whole process was pretty simple, and didn’t take that much effort, so it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was going to be. The hubby then used a leaf blower to clear off the excess sand, then showered the pavers again. This time it worked like a charm. And now the patio base is done! So while the pergola might not be up yet, we can at least enjoy our new patio base! Oh, and don’t worry about the face of the patio. We will eventually be putting planter boxes along the patio, so that will all get covered. The pergola better not take this long to get up, I want to decorate already!