Build a Slate Patio in 5 Steps

What You'll Need
2-inch thick square slate
Measuring tape
Wood: 8-feet long and 2-inches thick
Landscaper's fabric
Garden hose
4 2-by-4-by-8 feet pieces of lumber
Rubber mallet
Brick set
Crushed decorative stone

A slate patio offers your home a beautiful place to enjoy the day. These steps will show you how to build a cost-effective slate patio using square slate and no mortar.

Step 1 - Location Preparation

Select an area in your backyard that is relatively flat. Clear away debris, weeds, and rocks.

Measure the area, marking it off with the stakes. We will be working with a fictional area of 10-by-8-feet. Connect the strings to the stakes to make for an easy barrier.

Use a spade to cut along the perimeter at a 4-inch depth to loosen the soil.

Remove the dirt to a 4-inch depth, using the level make sure the area is flat. More excavation may be needed if not level after tamping the ground.

Step 2 - Framing

Moisten the excavated area then tamp it down. Now, place the landscaper's fabric on top of the soil.

Nail together 4 2-inch by 4-inch by 8-foot pieces of lumber and place the form in the excavated area. Make sure the form fits snugly.

Remove another 1 1/2-inch of soil around the form.

Step 3 - Patio Base

Shovel enough sand into the form to fill it.

Drag the plank of wood over the form to smooth out the sand. Tamp the sand down until it is 2 inches below the edge of the form.

Step 4 - Laying the Slate

When you are satisfied with the evenness of the area, you may begin to lay the slate.

Select a corner to lay your first piece of slate. Continue laying pieces of slate, almost like a puzzle, keeping the gaps between the pieces at a minimum. Continue until you are finished.

Use a rubber mallet and tamp each slate to seat it. Check the level of the slate. If it's not level, remove the slate, add sand, replace the slate and tamp it again. Check the level and continue until it is level.

You may find that not all of the slate will fit perfectly and trimming may be needed. First, take a pencil and ruler and draw a line where the slate needs to be trimmed. Next, score the area using the brick set. Place the slate on a piece of wood and use the rubber mallet to break the piece off. If it doesn't break, score the piece again and hit it once again with the rubber mallet.

Step 5 - Finishing the Patio

When you have placed the slate and like the result, you are now ready to finish the project.

Pour sand over the slate. Use a broom to push the sand across the patio to fill the gaps between pieces of slate. Sweep the excess sand away and take a look between the slates to check to see if the gaps are filled. Continue adding sand and sweeping across the patio until you are satisfied. 

Remove the slate form and fill the remaining area with decorative stone.