Building a Brick on Sand Patio
A brick on sand patio is simple to build. No drainage pitching is necessary, or mortar or concrete of any sort. A brick on sand patio is quite durable. If you live in an area where there is freezing, it is likely that the bricks will heave a bit as the ground swells from frost. In the spring, though, it's an easy matter to reset them, adding or taking sand from under the bricks as needed. Then again, they might settle back perfectly on their own.
Start with an Outline. Start the job by outlining the patio area with stakes and string. Then, using a spade, remove about 2 inches of soil. Break up the soil beneath with a hoe and rake it smooth; then compact it with a roller or compactor of some sort.
Next, you can install your edging. This is the material that is installed around the perimeter of the patio so that the bricks, which have a tendency to push outward, cannot do so. The edging may simply be 2 × 4 redwood planks, a band of concrete, or concrete footings with bricks laid flat in mortar on top.
One way to retain brick
Next, lay a bed of fine sand 2 inches thick over the excavated area. Then, start laying your bricks in place.
Different Patterns. You can choose from a number of patterns. The running bond is the easiest to install. It is best to provide a joint about 3/8-inch wide between bricks. Brick sizes vary, and if you butt them, you can end up with maddening misalignments and other problems. But slightly varying joint sizes can solve size discrepancies. It's also a good idea to first lay a line of bricks completely across the patio area, varying joint size as you reach the edging so you can use whole bricks instead of pieces you must cut. Once this line is laid, you can use it as a guide to laying the other bricks.
Cut Brick. If a brick needs to be cut, do the job with a broad-bladed chisel and hammer and wear safety glasses. Such chisels are commonly available at masonry yards.
Bricks being placed on sand
First, score the brick all around by tapping it with the chisel. Then place the brick on a board, and give it a sharp blow with the chisel blade pointing inward. A clean break should occur. If you have to cut a large number of bricks, you can rent either an electric power saw equipped with a masonry blade or a manual cutting machine called a guillotine.
When all the bricks are in position, dump more fine sand on top and brush it into the joints. When you've filled the joints as well as you can, spray the area with the fine spray from a garden hose, to settle the sand. Over a period of weeks, rain will make the sand settle some more, so have some sand handy to fill the joints all the way to the top until thoroughly compacted.
Building a Block Patio
This type of patio may be made with precast units you buy at a masonry supply house. They come in a variety of colors.
To install the blocks, first establish the perimeter of the patio with stakes and string. Decide on the height you want, and then drive one grade stake into the ground about 1 inch inside one of the perimeter lines; the top of this first stake will then serve as your guide to the level of your patio. Proceed to drive in other grade stakes, using a long straight board and level to check for evenness.
Sweep sand into brick joints
Dig the area out to about a 4-inch deep apron at the top of the stakes. To aid in getting the sand base level and speed block laying, nail 1 × 4 boards to the stakes so the tops of stakes and boards are flush.
Pour a sand base about 2 inches thick. Make a screed (smoothing board) from a long 2 × 4 and a piece of a 1 × 4 (nailed to it) as shown in the sketch. Using the staked-in-place 1 × 4 forms as a guide, level the sand over a small area, then lay two or three blocks. Level these blocks by adding or subtracting sand from beneath them. You can then continue the job, one small section a time, using the laid blocks as a guide to level. When finished, sweep sand into the joints.
Building a Flagstone Patio
There are two methods for building a flagstone patio: wet or dry construction. In wet construction you set the stone in a grout bed on a concrete slab. In dry construction you use only a sand base. The dry method is detailed here.
First, determine the size of the patio and lay it out with string and stakes. Then, excavate the ground to a depth of 6 inches. Although the edging is not essential, it does make it easier to set the stone and it retains the sand if the patio is raised above the grass. You can use a stone edging, about 1 × 6 inches, or a wood edge, either 1 × 6 inches or 1 × 10 inches, which can be staked into the earth. When setting the edging, take care to make certain it is level.
Wet and tamp the earth in the excavated area and fill with sand to approximately 1 inch from the top of the edging. Starting in one corner, begin to lay the flagstones on the sand base, tamping each piece with a rubber hammer or a block of wood. If the stone sinks too far, pick it up and place more sand under it. If it does not sink level with the edging, move sand under it. To check the stone level, place a straight board across it and a level on top of the board.
“Jig” for makingdeck parquet sections
When all the stones are laid, sweep sand into the joints. An alternative is to fill the joints with crushed stone or decorative gravel. This can enhance the beauty of the patio even more.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing flags for your patio is that larger, thicker pieces will stay level longer than smaller, thinner pieces. Also, by keeping joints to a minimum width, sand and gravel will more readily remain in place and maintenance will be relatively easy.
Building a Parquet Deck
First, frame a nailing “jig” or template from scrap lumber with an inside dimension of 36 × 36 inches. (This sounds more complicated than it is). Precut 176 pieces of 2 × 4 lumber, each 3 feet long. Lightly ease the raw edges of each piece. If in direct contact with the ground, the lumber should be pressure treated with a preservative, except if cedar or heart redwood.
Using the jig, assemble sixteen parquet blocks. Allow a
Lay out the deck site with stakes and line. Excavate to a depth of 6 inches; maintain a perpendicular edge and level bottom. Fill the bottom with 3 inches of gravel (¾ minus gravel or alternate). Level the gravel with a hand rake. Cover the gravel with 3 inches of sand. Level sand and tamp firmly.
Lay parquets firmly in place, alternating the direction of the decking. When all parquets have been laid in place, fill the outside edge of the excavation with sand to ground level and tamp firmly to prevent parquets from shifting. Should you wish, you may “toenail” (drive nails in at angles) the parquets together for rigidity.
Deck cross section
To really get the most from your outdoor living area, having a barbecue there is about as essential as a kitchen is indoors. There are many different kinds of barbecues you can install, from brick to preassembled gas units. Your choice may depend on how it blends in with your patio or deck. Whatever kind you choose should be located so that it is easy to get to from the kitchen and does not interfere with traffic on the patio. Also, the paths that lead to and from it should be solid—you want a sure-footed surface.