When buying patio slabs, allow about five per cent for breakages and waste when cutting. Slabs should be cut on a bed of soft sand, using a sharp bolster. Score a shallow line completely round the slab, gently tapping and deepening the cut as you proceed, until it breaks.
The slab will emit a ringing note which will deaden after a while, indicating that it is about to crack apart. Slight irregularities can then be chiselled off the cut edges. You may be able to use any broken slabs elsewhere, cut to a smaller size.
Paving needs firm basing. On soft ground it is advisable to provide foundations of well-consolidated hardcore. Use a straight edge, level and pegs to ensure that the base is even, allowing the correct fall for rainwater to run off.
Always lay slabs with the textured, non-slip surface upwards. It is a good idea to set out a few slabs ‘dry’ to see where cutting is needed and how the arrangement will work out.
A nylon line stretched across the ground will help you to line up your first row. Actual laying techniques will depend on the density of the subsoil, local weather and the amount of ‘traffic’.
Where greater surface stability is needed on sifted soil or sand, place a trowel-full of mortar under the corner of each slab.
Where heavy traffic is expected, prepare a fairly stiff 1:5 cement: soft-sand mix, and spread this over the surface, covering just sufficient area for one slab at a time. Slabs should never be pummelled into place to correct any unevenness or to align a slab with its neighbour.
Tap the surface of each slab gently at each corner, with the handle of a club hammer. Use a straight edge and a spirit level to ensure that adjoining slabs are flush.
Slabs may be close laid or left with small gaps between them. Adjusting these gaps may often obviate the need to cut slabs. Gaps can be grouted with a dry mortar mix, brushed into the joints, or left open.
Grass, plants and other foliage may be allowed to grow through these gaps, imparting, in time, an established look to the patio.
10. November 2011 by admin
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