How to Build a Patio

How to Build a Patio
February 18, 2021

If you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive way to improve your outdoor space, consider installing a DIY patio. Not only is this a beautiful addition to any yard, but it’s also the perfect way to expand your outdoor living area.

Not quite sure how to build a patio or whether it’s the right option for you? You’re in the right place! The following guide will cover everything you need to know including what a patio is, how much it costs, and exactly how to build one on your own. Let’s get started!

Patio vs. Deck – What’s the Difference?

What's the difference between a patio and a deck? You’ll sometimes hear the words “patio” and “deck” interchanged, but they’re far from the same! One primary difference is that decks are typically elevated while patios are flush with the ground. In addition, decks are usually made of wood, composite, or PVC while patios are made of concrete, brick, stone, or pavers.

Building a patio is easier and less expensive when compared to a deck because it usually does not require you to obtain a permit or have an inspection. In addition, a DIY patio will have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance than a wood deck.

How Much Does a DIY Patio Cost?

When deciding whether a DIY patio fits into your budget, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors including the size of the patio you want to build and the materials you’ll use. Having a patio professionally installed generally ranges between $10 and $17 a square foot.

However, the pavers on their own range between $2 and $4 a square foot, while labor ranges from $6 to $11 per square foot. This means that learning how to build a patio on your own will save you some significant money.

For a DIY patio made of pavers, you can expect to spend about $5 to $10 per square foot. That’s a savings of about 50% when compared to hiring a professional contractor. This estimate includes the cost of your underlay and base materials, sealer, delivery fee, tools, and the cost of renting power equipment for excavating, grading, and tamping.

If you’re planning to build a 60-square-foot DIY patio, your all-in cost should be somewhere around $300 to $600.

How to Build a PatioHow to Build a Patio

How to Build a Patio: Step by Step Guide

Building a DIY patio is a fairly simple process that you should be able to complete in a single weekend. Before you start your project, make sure you take the time to think through the location, materials, use, and patio style.

You’ll want to make sure that you are building a patio that is the right size for your property. While a larger DIY patio may cost more, it’s important to make sure your new patio is at least large enough to fit all the furniture and other items you plan to add while still providing enough space to walk around. When deciding on the location, don’t forget to consider sightlines from your home’s windows and doors.

Also, consider how you’ll use your patio. If you're planning to place something heavy on it, like a large grill or a hot tub, then you’ll want to choose thicker pavers that can stand up to the weight.

Don’t forget that pavers are heavy. It’s well worth the extra money to have them delivered! And, while you certainly could do this project on your own, it’s a good idea to get at least one helper if you can.

It’s also important to make sure you check your homeowner’s association and local building codes to find out whether you need a permit and/or preapproval. Once you’ve handled all the steps above, you’re ready to start building your new DIY patio.

Follow these simple step-by-step instructions and you’ll have it done in no time!

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials

The first step of any DIY project should be checking to make sure you have all the tools and materials you need. This includes:

  • Concrete pavers
  • Gravel paver base
  • Paver leveling sand
  • Edging stones
  • Concrete or mortar
  • 2 x 4 board
  • Tape measure
  • Marking spray paint
  • Garden stakes
  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • Landscape rake

If you need to cut any of your pavers, you’ll also need a masonry saw, gloves, and protective eyewear.

The tutorial below assumes you’re building a 60 square-foot patio. For a patio of this size, you’ll need approximately 60 12 x 12 concrete pavers, 20 cubic feet of gravel, and about 7 cubic feet of leveling sand. It’s always a good idea to order a bit extra if you can, as that will give you some additional flexibility.

Step 2: Prepare the Ground

As you begin building your DIY patio, use a tape measure and marking spray paint to outline the area where your patio will go. Then, add garden stakes and mason’s line around the perimeter.

Determine the proper height for your patio, beginning at the base of your home and working your way outward. You’ll want a downward slope of about one inch every eight feet. This will ensure water drains away from your home. Mark the appropriate height on your stakes and adjust your mason’s line.

Next, use a shovel to clear away the grass and enough dirt so there’s room for about four inches of gravel base, one inch of paver sand, and the thickness of your paver patios. As you dig, continually check both the depth and the slope against your mason’s line.

Step 3: Lay Your Paver Base

To lay your paver base, use a landscape rake to spread about four inches of gravel throughout the patio area. Compact it using a hand tamper or a rented plate compactor. You may also want to wet the area with a garden hose. This will make the base more solid.

Next, place approximately one inch of paver sand on top of the base. Drag a 2 x 4 across it to smooth and level it.

Step 4: Lay Your Paver Stones

Now, it’s time to lay down your pavers. Set the pavers straight down into the sand and make sure they fit together snugly. Continue laying the pavers one at a time until they’re all in place.

Step 5: Finish Your Patio

Once all your pavers are down, place edging stones along your exposed patio edges and secure them using concrete or mortar. This will give you an attractive finish.

Finally, spread a thin layer of paver sand over the whole patio and use a push broom to work it into the gaps between your paver stones. Use your plate compactor over the entire patio surface, then add more sand and repeat the process one more time.

How to Build a Patio FoundationHow to Build a Patio Foundation

Building a Patio Foundation

Now that you know how to build a patio, you can start thinking of creative ways to decorate and make it your own. One option is to use your patio as a foundation for a patio gazebo or pergola.

The process is basically the same. For this project, you’ll want to use 12 x 24 patio stones and make sure they’re approximately 1.5 inches thick. A patio foundation is ideal for structures that are less than 14-feet in width or length, like a smaller hard-top gazebo or a grill gazebo

To create a larger covered space, you may consider attaching a carport to your patio. This is an inexpensive way to create plenty of shade without worrying about adding too much weight to your patio foundation. 

Tips for Decorating Your DIY PatioTips for Decorating Your DIY Patio
Decorated DIY patio

Tips for Decorating Your New Patio

Once you’ve finished building your DIY patio, you’ll want to start enjoying it right away! The right patio accessories will go a long way towards creating the ultimate outdoor experience.

If you’ve opted not to cover your patio, you’ll need to create some shade. A simple cloth sunshade or decorative patio umbrella will offer some protection from the heat of the mid-day sun. Or for something more premanent, you may want to consider a patio gazebo or a pergola for your new patio space. You’ll also want plenty of comfortable seating. Depending on how you plan to use your new patio, you may decide to add a table and chairs, outdoor loveseats, or individual lounge chairs.

To give your new DIY patio the finishing touch, consider adding a portable fire pit, an outdoor bar, and some fun décor. You may also want to add a stylish and practical deck box. This creative solution provides additional seating while also giving you a safe place to store items when they’re not in use.

Remember that your patio area should be fun, so don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to choosing your patio accessories and décor.

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