Building a 20 x 20 brick patio on a unlevel surface!!!

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Old 05-31-14, 07:14 PM
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Building a 20 x 20 brick patio on a unlevel surface!!!

I'm pretty handy (plumbing, electrical, car work etc...). However, I"m having a bit of a problem trying to figure out how to lay a brick patio in an area where there is an elevation issue.

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If you see the picture there is roughly a 17 inch difference in elevation between the highest and lowest point. I measured this after removing much of the gravel material. I'm thinking that the only way this can work out is if I were to build some sort of retaining wall just around that area (corner only). I'm also having issues understanding basic construction techniques. I've watched lots of videos on youtube but they only show simple small patios without issues....

1. Does the entire patio need to be level? If your one person how will you do this with string line? How can you dig out an entire area that level?

2. Is a plate compactor necessary? I have strong arms and a hand tamper?

3. If I"m doing a wall how will i know how large to make it? I want to avoid building a wall over the entire wall.

4. Note: This is against a house and a driveway. The house isn't much of an issue, but the driveway will "show-up" any issues with the patio. I do believe the driveway is fairly level....

Thanks
 
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Old 05-31-14, 07:32 PM
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Can't help with much of your questions, but can offer suggestion on this one;

1. Does the entire patio need to be level? If your one person how will you do this with string line? How can you dig out an entire area that level?
Check out 'water level'. You can make one using two lengths of clear tubing connected to a water hose. Fasten the ends to dowel sticks or broom handles and you can do a one man leveling job.

Here is one example;
Making and Using a Water Level - Professional Deck Builder Magazine

RR
 
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Old 05-31-14, 07:47 PM
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I made a patio about as big or bigger than your with similar problems. To answer your questions.

Yes it must be level across the plane. I graded mine so that it slanted slightly away from the house to drain water and rain away. No you can't do it alone. I thought I could and had to call for help within an hour of starting to dig. I had a friend with a backhoe and even with that he had trouble getting past the clay substrate.

Compacting is essential. A power compactor is good but a heavy duty lawn roller will suffice. When you use your strings to level the grade you will know how high you need to build up the wall and at what sections. Allowing a slight grade to slope away from the house.

You will need to dig about 6 inches deep. Level the ground reasonably well and make sure its solid. Lay in your weed cloth. Then you get crushed stone about two inches. Level it and make sure its well compacted. That leaves you with with 4 inches. Next you want sand to fill up about 2 inches to lay the pavers on. That's 2 inches left for the thickness of the pavers themselves. Using a very long 2 x 4 that is good and straight you will need another person to help level it prior to laying the pavers in place.

Edit...my cost $2500 plus.

Here is a photo session of my project from start to finish. Copy and past into browser

http://1drv.ms/1kjJ6HA



 

Last edited by Norm201; 05-31-14 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 06-01-14, 11:26 PM
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Wow, Norm--that's a very nice-looking job! Have your knees recovered yet? And did the total cost include what the female laborer charged, for all of her grunt work?
 
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Old 06-02-14, 05:00 AM
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Truth be told if I had fully understood what was involved I would not have started it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

I had two big things in my favor, my friend with front end loader and my son-in-law who aided and argued with me but helped everyday. It must have been a sight to the rest of the neighbors to see two 60 + year olds hauling pavers. I expected the job to take all summer, but with the help from son-in-law we got it done in less than 30 days.

The patio is now 3 years old. Yesterday I just re-cemented the seams with joint cement. That will most likely be a job every two or three years.

This pics don't show it but we bought a very large free standing gazebo and added a chandelier. That and a fire pit is the bomb. Last night was perfect for an evening relaxing outside with a brew and browsing this forum.
 
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Old 06-02-14, 06:22 AM
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I am in the process of building a 12x12 patio with a recessed fire pit made of retaining block right now.

It does need to be level. Mine is on a slope, granite I had access to a back which made the job so much easier. On the high side my hole is about 12" deep, on the low side about 8". I ended up digging deeper because the fire pit needs to be about 9" deep where I am starting at.

I have laid a patio before with a hand tamper, and about halfway through I went and rented a compacter, it just makes it so much easier!

You will probably have to put in a wall depending on how un-level it is. I know I am going to need a wall on my lower side because of the hight difference.
 
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Old 06-02-14, 06:51 AM
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Xandrew245x

How some progress pics of your build.
 
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Old 06-02-14, 07:57 AM
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Steppin, I would start with a stake in each corner, and, unless you have or have access to a transit, use a water level as Rooster suggested; they are inexpensive, and you can't get any more accurate. It will become a lot easier to formulate once you can stand there and look at exact elevations. It should be sloped away from the house, but, if that is asphalt going up to it, you may be limited as to how much slope you can incorporate without creating trip hazards. 1/8" per foot is a good starting point for slope, as a lot of people will not even feel it, and it is generally sufficient to channel water. Anyway, once you establish a level plane on your stakes, you can measure the width, calculate the slope, mark that on the outside stakes, and see what you have left to work with.
 
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