People enjoy their backyards as an integral part of owning a home, but the key component of the backyard has been and continues to be, the patio. Also known as the “hardscape,” the patio continues to be the main congregating point and place where the activity happens.
Whether it’s BBQ’ing, relaxing, eating, reading, or just playing with the pets, the patio has usually been the primary place of activity for most folks in their backyard. Building a raised patio emphasizes this function as well as distinguishes the hardscape from the rest of the backyard, which tends to be more for appearance than function.
The beauty of raised patios comes from the fact that they can be built from a variety of materials. Very fancy patios can be created with cement forms and similar, even being stamped and colored with pigment. Simple patios can also be built with pavers and raised sand or gravel bends for simpler projects. It really depends on what a homeowner wants and can commit to.
How to Build a Raised Patio
1. Come Up With A Design
The first step doesn’t involve dirt or manual work at all. Before getting started with anything, a homeowner should first come up with a design and then draw again in greater detail, trying to include every measurement detail and aspect. The more time spent on this step, the better the patio output will be because the build process has more to follow in terms of direction and application. Remove the guesswork; produce a good plan first and then build to it.
That can definitely include resources and a cost budget as well. One might find the local hardware store doesn’t include the key materials, which then means the plan has to be redesigned. Knowing ahead of time avoids expensive mistakes later.
2. Line Out The Plot
Second, it’s time to line out the plot. This is the first physical step in the build. Whether you use chalk, string, or similar, the actual dimensions of the build should be put into play on the ground. This gives you a real-time idea of how the patio plan actually materializes on the ground, no pun intended. Square footage and spacing adjustments typically come into play here as small detail issues become apparent.
Soil conditions and adjacent buildings or ground can influence changes as well. Watch out for drainage too; if there is a significant drain or downspout right in your work area, this needs to be addressed as well, maybe even rerouted.
3. Prepare The Ground Bed
Third, now it’s time to prepare the ground bed for the patio itself. Ideally, the bed should be flat and level, including even using a leveling tool (the long ruler with the bubble in it). If there are dips and gaps or soft ground, it should be compressed and filled with smooth material such as sand or fine gravel that can also drain water too. Many patio builders actually dig out about an inch or two of old soil, fill the bed with sand or gravel and then smooth it flat as a foundation.
4. Excavate A Trench
Fourth, around the perimeter of the patio bed, a trench needs to be excavated at least 24 inches or 2 feet deep. This will be for the wall of the patio to keep the internal components together tight and act as a border around the raised patio, i.e. a mini-retaining wall. The trench needs to keep water out, so landscape fiber or tarp should be laid in the trench first, then the blocks or concrete to be the retaining wall form goes in after. Many use concrete as a foundation and then build blocks on top as the retaining wall for the pavers or internal patio parts.
Done right, the wall and internal pavers or planks should fit together snugly without any gapping or being loose. Your initial leveling will pay off now as the pavers or planks are laid down and tapped tightly in place. There should be no bumps or lumps on your patio floor.
Remember, the higher the wall, the more support it needs to prevent bowing out with gravity pressure. If using blocks, consider rebarring of some sort inside buried in the concrete to give added strength against outward-pushing pressure.
5. Create An Effective Drainage
Fifth, as the patio comes together, make sure the sides that sit adjacent to the home wall or other areas have effective drainage. You don’t want puddling or sitting water soaking into your home wall or foundation. Usually, a gutter is built into the patio surface to immediately pull and draw any water from the building out and away to the ground and larger drainage overall. Patios and flat surfaces are powerful water catchers, so that water has to go somewhere when it rains.
6. Use Pavers
Sixth, using pavers for a patio, you want to finish off the work with another layer of sand to close up any small gaps. Pour it on and sweep it across the pavers. This stops leftover smaller holes and fills up air gaps that occurred during installation between pavers. Sweep off the excess.
Now, with your patio complete and finished, it’s time to roll out the BBQ and celebrate your construction success. Congrats! Enjoy your raised patio!