how to extreme

Designing your Patio

Construction How-To, Outdoor Living, Patios April 3, 2014 Sonia

Enhance your outdoor living space with a durable hardscape.

By Tom Matthews








A hot trend among homeowners is to design an area of the yard as an outdoor living room that’s perfect for relaxing, entertaining and barbecuing. Patios, walkways and even driveways are projects suited for savvy do-it-yourselfers, and they create a strong foundation for an outdoor retreat.


Clay Pavers

Clay paver patios provide a classic brick appearance and last about a hundred years. Pine Hall Brick Company, the largest manufacturer of clay pavers in the United States, advises that new clay pavers represent the best value for the money because they’re manufactured with the intention to be pavers. Years ago, clay pavers were made at the end of a “batch” of face bricks—the bricks that are used to build the walls of homes and businesses.

As a result, they were fired in a kiln the same length of time as the face bricks. And while face bricks do a fine job of holding up a wall when they are expertly laid by an experienced bricklayer, they were not engineered to support vehicular traffic.

Clay pavers that are meant to be pavers are more durable than face bricks (they withstand up to 13,000 lbs. per sq. in. of pressure, which is greater than concrete). They’re colorfast, they do well in extreme heat and freezing cold, and they are a consistent size, which makes installation easier.

Shown is a classic herringbone pattern from Pine Hall Brick Co.

Shown is a classic herringbone pattern from Pine Hall Brick Co.

For a conventional paver patio with a flexible base, you’ll need to dig out the space, apply a “crusher run” (gravel course) followed by an inch of sand. Then, install the edge restraints and pavers, and sweep sand into the joints.

If you want a permeable pavement installation (which is required in some places), you dig deeper, put in precise layers of different sizes of aggregate to allow drainage, and then install permeable pavers.

Unlike face bricks, clay pavers are designed for ground usage and engineered to withstand vehicle traffic. (Photo courtesy Pine Hall Brick Co.)

Unlike face bricks, clay pavers are designed for ground usage and engineered to withstand vehicle traffic. (Photo courtesy Pine Hall Brick Co.)

Pine Hall Brick offers two types of permeable pavers, RainPave (residential) and StormPave (commercial). Permeable pavers are designed to be installed just a bit farther apart than conventional pavers. The pavers are installed over layers of aggregates, so when it rains the rainwater seeps in between these pavers and is stored in the spaces between the aggregates, where it is gradually released into the ground.

In some cases, you might want to dress up an existing concrete patio or walkway with pavers. To do so, use a thinner paver specifically made for this purpose. Begin by laying a line of pavers perpendicular to the edge of the concrete to form a “sailor course”, gluing them to the concrete with masonry cement. Then, lay standard roofing felt on the concrete, put in the pavers and sweep sand into the joints.

A DIY paver patio provides a reasonably priced place to relax, without the maintenance of a wooden deck. Smart Money magazine says that landscaping and hardscaping can increase home values by as much as 15 percent. And the National Association of Realtors estimates that outdoor rooms can deliver 77 percent return on investment at sale time—and they’re less expensive per square foot than additions or kitchen or bath remodels. Learn more about clay pavers at


Composite Pavers

AZEK composite pavers are easy to fit together quickly and neatly on a grid. Available in permeable and non-permeable versions, the AZEK pavers are made from up to a 95-percent composite blend of post-consumer recycled automobile tires and plastic containers. The composite pavers are one-third the weight of concrete and use a patented grid system for installation that dramatically reduces installation time and makes it easier than manually setting and aligning heavy traditional pavers. The 16-by-16-in. grid ensures straight lines and assists with a level layout. Plus, the pavers can be cut using a regular miter saw or jigsaw.