Patio – Stage 5

Bet you didn’t expect to see this update so soon, did you?! Me neither, to be honest. But I am so happy it’s here! Ladies and gentlemen, the patio is ready to decorate! Enjoy the photos!

  • 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 (!)

Right after we finished up with the pavers, the hubby got right to work with the fire pit. Everything was pretty much ready to go, but we needed a stainless steel sheet to hold up the rock and the ring. Stainless steel was a must so that we could be sure it would never rust. The whole fire pit would be pretty simple to disassemble if we ever needed to, but it would be pretty great if we didn’t. The hubby was like a little kid at Christmas taking the protective sheet off.


To wrap it up, we poured a new layer on concrete into the bottom of the pit. We wanted to make sure that any water that gets into the pit finds its way to the drain in the corner. At this point, I went ahead and stuck my hand in the concrete to leave a print. And then, when nobody was paying attention, so did Loki. Our marks are there forever.


The hubby stuck some steel bars into the sides of the fire pit to hold up the steel sheet. Then, we just set in the sheet. It was pretty sturdy, but we wanted to make sure that it would never collapse into the bottom of the pit. So we went ahead and placed a couple of bricks to help support the center. The hubby attached the fire ring to the gas line, and ran it through the hole he had drilled in the steel sheet.

Loki thinks that when I get the camera out, it’s time for him to model.

We filled up the space with lava rock, and voila! A fire pit! No propane tank needed!



A little story about this lava rock though. Not all lava rock is created equal. Some (like the type in the photo) are made for landscaping purposes. Others are made for fire. The first night we turned on the fire pit, we heard a bit of crackling noises coming from the rock. So what to do? A quick google search, obviously. Apparently, some lava rock will crackle the first time it gets heat applied to it. Once it happens once, it will never happen again. Okay, cool. It was a little windy that night so we didn’t keep it on for too long. We turned it on again a couple of nights ago, and the crackling started up again. We just figured we didn’t get it all out the first night, so we decided we would let it run its course. After about 5 or 10 minutes, the rock started exploding and bit and pieces were flying out everywhere! Luckily, the dogs were inside. And I hid behind the hubby. We kept thinking, “This is lava rock! It should be able to withstand fire!” We let the fire keep going, thinking it had to come to an end eventually. But after another, more extensive google search, I found out that some lava rock has “closed cells” and that this type is known to explode. And it won’t ever stop exploding. So, the hubby quickly turned it off, and we ordered a new bag of rock. A little bit pricier, but from a site that is specifically for fire pits. Not just a landscaping store. You live and you learn!

A few days later, we got the lumber delivered for the pergola. The beams were ginormous. So good thing I was busy and couldn’t help bring them to the back.

We constructed the pergola out of redwood, and in case anyone is curious, here are the dimensions:

  • Overall dimensions: 20 ft wide by 20 ft deep
  • Span between the posts: 16 ft
  • Lumber dimensions:
    • 6×6 posts
    • 6×10 beams
    • 4×4 cross beams
    • 2×6 slats along the top

To get started, I was in charge of sealing everything while the hubby got the roof situated. We went with a clear sealer made for cedar. So even though we used redwood, we got a cedar look.

Can you see the difference between no sealer and sealer?

To attach the beams to the roof, we got some roof risers so that the main beams were being supported by the header along the roof line. They are never supposed to leak, so fingers crossed on that one. The shingles were laid back over the hole, and then a rubber gasket was set to seal any remaining small gaps.



Then we called in the reinforcements, my dad and my lucky cousin, to come get the posts and the beams up. Once the posts were in, my dad and hubby cut them down to the right height.



While we all took a break, the hubby attached the outer T-braces to each of the posts. That way, once we got the beams set, they wouldn’t slip off and destroy everything. The three guys hoisted the huge beams up onto the roof and the posts while I stood far back with the dogs. No backs were broken (barely). Or arms. Or legs. Or anything. So a success! The hubby then finished attaching the T-braces to make sure that nothing was going to move.




The rest pretty easy going. Originally we were going to stack all of the layers on top of each other. But once we got the beams up, we thought it might get too tall. So, the hubby sketched up a couple of models so we could decide what look we wanted. We went with Option 2 – I liked the more classic look of it compared to Option 1. And Option 3 just looked way too tall.


Once I had sealed the 4x4s, we cut them so that they would fit within the beams. The hubby attached the brackets to support them, and then we slid them in place. You guys, I was so proud of my measuring skills! We didn’t have to recut once, and even better, we didn’t have to go buy any more 4x4s (which we would have had to do if I measured short)! Apparently this isn’t something to be super proud of. I think I made the hubby nervous with my excitement over the first beam.




For the top slats, I sealed the 2x6s, and then we laid those over the 4x4s. They are held in place with angled screws, but you can’t see any of them, so it looks nice and seamless. Then, we took a step back to enjoy the patio! I am so ready for some cool, autumn nights to cozy up next to the fire pit and relax. And maybe toast marshmallows! My goal is to have the patio decorated within a month to be able to enjoy the coming fall.




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