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How to Lay a Patio: The Definitive Guide to Paving

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how to lay a patio

Laying a patio will turn your garden into an outdoor room, perfect for chilling and socialising. But patio laying is a tricky business and requires planning and precision. While you might be tempted to have a go yourself, hiring someone in will save you time, get you better results and avoid costly mistakes. In this guide we’ll go through the step by step process of how to lay a patio, and why hiring a professional is the way to go.

How to Lay a Patio

1. Planning

Planning is key to a successful patio project. Before you start, take the time to think about the purpose, location, size and shape of your patio. Start by thinking about how you will use the space. Will it be a snug garden patio for small gatherings or a bigger area for entertaining? Knowing the purpose of your patio will inform your decisions on layout and materials.

Next choose a location in your garden. Look for an area that fits in with the natural surroundings and gets plenty of sun. Also make sure the site is level and has good drainage to prevent water accumulation. Measure the area in square metres and mark out the boundaries with wooden pegs and string. This is important as it will help you visualise the patio footprint and make the excavation process easier.

When planning the size and shape of your patio consider the overall design of your garden and the existing features. A good patio should blend in with its surroundings and enhance the look of your outdoor space. Whether you go for a simple rectangular shape or a more complex design with curves and patterns, planning will ensure your patio project meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. Consider:

  • Purpose: What will you use your patio for? Dining, lounging or a garden patio with plants?
  • Location: Choose a location that fits in with your garden layout and gets plenty of sun.
  • Size and Shape: Measure the area to determine the size and shape of your patio. Use wooden pegs and string to mark out the boundaries.
laying a patio

2. Ground Preparation

Ground preparation is a crucial part of laying a patio that will last. Start by clearing the area of any vegetation, debris or existing paving. This may mean removing grass, weeds and old patio slabs. A lawn edger will help you create clean edges around the perimeter of your patio.

Once the area is clear you will need to excavate the site to the correct depth. This will be deep enough for the sub base, bedding mortar and paving slabs. Generally you should aim for a depth of 150mm (6 inches). The exact depth will depend on the type of paving slabs you are using and the load on the patio.

After excavation it’s time to lay the sub base. This layer is crucial for providing a solid foundation for your patio. Spread a layer of compacted sub base material, such as MOT Type 1*, to a depth of 100mm (4 inches). Use a wacker plate to compact the sub base thoroughly, making sure it’s level and solid. This compacted sub base material will be the foundation for the slabs and will prevent them from shifting or settling over time. Also make sure the patio is at least 150mm below the damp proof course (DPC) of your house to prevent moisture problems.

Here’s how:

  • Clear the Area: Remove any grass, plants, or existing paving. Use a lawn edger for a clean cut around the edges.
  • Excavate the Site: Dig to a depth of about 150mm (6 inches) to allow for the sub base, mortar bed, and paving slabs.
  • Lay the Sub Base: Spread a layer of compacted sub base material, such as MOT Type 1, to a depth of about 100mm (4 inches). Use a wacker plate to compact the sub base.

3. Installing the Patio Sub Base

Laying the sub base is a critical part of a patio that will last. A well prepared sub base will give you a solid base and prevent the slabs from sinking or becoming uneven over time. Start by levelling the sub base material across the entire patio area. This means spreading the material evenly and wacker plating it.

Make sure the sub base is level and compacted evenly. Any variations in height will give you an uneven paved surface which will cause drainage and patio problems. Take your time to make sure the sub base is smooth and flat, this will make laying the slabs much easier and give you a better finish.

Also consider the drainage of your patio area. Proper drainage is key to prevent surface water from pooling on the patio which can cause damp patches and damage the slabs over time. Make sure the sub base is sloped away from any buildings and towards a drainage point. This will direct surface water away from the patio and prevent moisture problems. Follow these steps:

  • Level the Sub Base: Make sure the sub base is level and compacted evenly across the entire patio area.
  • Damp Proof Course: Check the damp proof course (DPC) of your house to make sure the patio is at least 150mm below the DPC to prevent moisture problems.

4. Mixing and Laying the Mortar

Mixing and laying the mortar correctly is critical to secure the slabs and get a long lasting, stable surface. Start by mixing a strong mortar mix with a cement mixer. The mix ratio is four parts sharp sand to one part cement. Add water to the mix gradually until you get a consistent workable mix that’s not too wet or too dry.

Once the mortar is mixed, spread a full mortar bed across the sub base. The mortar bed should be about 40mm (1.5 inches) deep to give the slabs enough support. Don’t lay the slabs on loose sand or a thin layer of mortar, this will cause instability and unevenness in the finished patio.

Lay the patio slabs onto the mortar bed, starting from one corner of the patio area. Place each slab precisely, use a rubber mallet to tap it into place. This will ensure the slabs are firmly set in the mortar and level with each other. As you lay slabs check the level and alignment regularly to get a consistent and even surface. This is key to getting a pro looking patio that’s both beautiful and functional. Here’s how to do it:

  • Mix the Mortar: Use a cement mixer to mix four parts sharp sand to one part cement. Add water gradually to get a consistent workable mix.
  • Lay the Mortar Bed: Spread a full mortar bed across the sub base, about 40mm (1.5 inches) deep. Don’t lay the slabs on loose sand or a thin mortar bed.
laying patio slabs

5. Laying the Slabs

Laying the slabs is a precise process that requires attention to detail. Start by placing the first slab in one corner of the patio area. Make sure it’s aligned and sits firmly on the mortar bed. Use a spirit level to check the slab is level side to side and front to back. Tap the slab with a rubber mallet to adjust its position and make sure it’s set in place.

Continue laying slabs in your chosen pattern, work methodically to get consistent gaps between each slab for jointing sand. Don’t walk on the freshly laid slabs to avoid disturbing the mortar bed. If you need to cut any slabs to fit around edges or obstacles use a slab cutter or angle grinder. Always wear safety equipment, steel toe capped boots and protective eyewear when cutting slabs.

As you go, check the level and alignment of each slab to the others. This will ensure the paved surface is smooth and even with no high or low spots. Pay extra attention to the edges and corners as these areas are more prone to shifting and unevenness. For a polished finish consider using half slabs or specially cut pieces to fill in any gaps or irregular spaces along the edges. Follow these:

  • Place the First Slab: Start in one corner and lay the first slab onto the mortar bed. Tap it into place with a rubber mallet, make sure it’s level.
  • Continue Laying Slabs: Lay the next slabs in your chosen pattern, leave a small gap between each for jointing sand. Use a spirit level to check each slab is level to the previous one.
  • Cut Slabs: You may need to cut some slabs for a perfect fit. Use a slab cutter or angle grinder.

6. Finishing

The final touches are key to getting your patio looking great and performing well over time. Once all the slabs are laid it’s time to fill the joints. Sweep jointing sand into the gaps, use a broom to get the sand into all the joints. This will lock the slabs in place and prevent weed growth. For a more durable finish consider using polymeric sand that hardens when wet.

Next use a plate compactor to compact the whole surface. This will settle the slabs into the mortar bed and get them set in place. Check for any damp patches on the slab surfaces, these can be where the mortar mix was too wet. Leave these areas to dry before proceeding.

Now seal the patio to protect it from stains and weather damage. Use a high quality sealant as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Maintenance will keep your patio looking great for years to come. Follow these:

  • Fill the Joints: Brush jointing sand into the gaps between the slabs. This will lock the slabs in place and prevent weed growth.
  • Compact the Surface: Use a plate compactor to get all slabs set in the mortar bed.
  • Check for Damp Patches: Check for any damp patches on the slab surfaces, where the mortar mix was too wet. Leave these areas to dry.
laying a perfect patio

7. Sealing and Maintenance

Sealing and maintaining your patio is crucial to keep it looking great and functioning well. Once the mortar is fully cured apply a high quality sealant to the slab surfaces. This will act as a barrier to protect the patio from stains, moisture and weathering. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, make sure to get an even and full coat.

Regular maintenance is also important to keep your patio in top condition. Sweep the patio regularly to remove debris, leaves and dirt that can accumulate and cause stains. For deeper cleaning use a mild detergent mixed with water and a stiff brush to scrub the surface. Don’t use harsh chemicals that can damage the sealant or the slabs.

Check the joints between the slabs regularly and fill with jointing sand if needed. This will prevent weed growth and keep the slabs stable. Also check for any signs of wear or damage, cracks or loose slabs and address these as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration.

By following these tips your patio will be a beautiful outdoor space for years to come. A well maintained patio not only looks great in your garden but adds value to your property.

  • Sealing: Apply a high quality sealant to the patio surface to protect from stains and weather damage.
  • Cleaning: Sweep the patio regularly to remove debris and prevent moss growth. Use a mild detergent and water to clean stubborn stains.

Why Hire Professionals for Patio Installation?

  1. Expertise and Experience: Professional patio installers have knowledge and experience with different types of paving materials and designs. They know the ins and outs of laying patio slabs and can avoid common mistakes.

  2. Quality Workmanship: Professionals will lay the patio correctly, with a solid sub base and proper drainage. This will prevent issues like uneven surfaces, water pooling and premature wear.

  3. Time Efficiency: Patio installation can be time consuming, especially for beginners. Professionals can do the job much faster and you can enjoy your new patio sooner.

  4. Access to Tools and Equipment: From wacker plates to cement mixers, professionals have all the tools to get the job done. You don’t need to buy or rent expensive equipment.

  5. Peace of Mind: Hiring a professional gives you peace of mind, knowing your patio project is in good hands. They will handle everything from planning and preparation to the finished product.

lay a patio hiring professionals

Why Professional Patio Installation Matters

When it comes to laying a patio the decision to hire professionals can make all the difference to your project. Professional installers bring years of expertise and knowledge to the table so every part of the patio laying process is done perfectly. They know the ins and outs of working with different materials, natural stone and concrete paving slabs and can lay patio slabs to precision. This means a finished patio that looks great and will last.

Along with their skill set professional patio installers have the right tools and equipment for the job. From steel toe capped boots for safety to wacker plates and cement mixers they are equipped to handle big and small patio jobs. This means they can lay slabs quickly, compact the sub base and mix and apply the bedding mortar. Plus hiring professionals will save you time. A DIY job can take several weekends, a professional team can do the same job in a fraction of the time so you can enjoy your new outdoor space sooner.

Another big advantage of hiring professionals is the quality of workmanship. They follow industry standards and best practice so the patio is laid on a solid sub base, the slabs are aligned correctly and the final surface is level and smooth. This attention to detail will prevent issues like uneven surfaces, poor drainage and premature wear. Plus they can give you advice on how to maintain your patio, including how to sweep klin dried sand into the joints to keep the slabs in place and prevent weed growth.


Laying a patio is a big job that requires planning, precision and the right materials. While DIY can be fun the benefits of hiring professionals for patio installation are clear. From a solid sub base and perfect slab placement to peace of mind professionals can turn your patio into a stunning outdoor space.

By hiring professional patio installation you will save time and effort and have the confidence your patio will be a beautiful and durable addition to your garden. So whether you want a small patio for intimate gatherings or a large luxurious garden patio trust the experts to bring your dream to life.


*What is MOT TYPE 1?

MOT Type 1 is a specific type of aggregate material used in construction to create a stable sub-base layer. MOT stands for Ministry of Transport who originally specified this material in the UK. Here’s the lowdown on MOT Type 1:


MOT Type 1 is crushed rock or crushed concrete, a mix of limestone, granite or concrete. The particles range from dust to 40mm stones.


  • Stability: When compacted MOT Type 1 is a solid and stable base, perfect for driveways, patios, paths and roads.

  • Permeability: Good drainage properties to prevent water pooling and erosion.

  • Durability: Long lasting performance under heavy loads and frequent use.

Are you ready to elevate your outdoor space with stunning patio slabs? Contact Driveways & Patios Dublin today to transform your vision into reality. Our experienced team offers top-quality installation services, ensuring a seamless and beautiful finish that suits your style and budget. Reach out to us now to discuss your project and get a free consultation!

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