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How Do You Lay Slabs?

Here is our step-by-step guide on how to lay slabs, which will take you from the planning stage right up to the finished product: your perfect, finished patio.

Be sure to take a look at our ranges of concrete paving and natural stone paving to find the right paving slabs for your project. If you are looking for a clean, structured finish then our concrete range suits that perfectly. If you want a more weathered look then our natural range is perfect for you. We also have a range of paving tools so you can find everything you need to create your patio right here at Corfe Stone.

Step 1 - Planning

  • When planning your patio, ensure you allow for a gradual slope away from the property to make sure water drains away. We recommend a 25mm drop for every 1500mm of patio.

  • Mark out your plan using the string and pegs, also use the builder square to check the corners. It is advisable to mark the pegs to show the different working depths such as subbase, cement and final top level as this may be helpful when laying each level and to ensure the final level matches the existing surface.

  • For straight edge slabs allow 10mm-15mm between each slabs and 10mm-30mm fettled edge, natural stone or heavily riven slabs.

Step 2 -  Preparing the base

  • To lay a solid base for your paving slabs, you first need a layer of hardcore to a depth of about 50mm to 80mm.

  • Use the shovel to remove the topsoil and dig down to a depth of about 150mm to allow for solid foundations.

  • Use a rake to distribute the hardcore, evening out any bumps. You can then use a vibrating plate compactor or screeding float to compress the hardcore, we strongly recommend you do this twice to get a good solid base. Check the hardcore is level with the spirit level.

Step 3 -  Preparing the cement

  • The wheelbarrow and shovel can be used to mix the cement. When mixing cement, always ensure that the you wear protective clothing and that you follow the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Start in a corner and pour a layer of cement over the hardcore. The depth of the cement should be approximately 35-40mm, this is to allow the slabs to sit on top with a 10-15mm depth.

Step 4 - Laying down the paving slabs

  • Before you lay your first slab, check your corners are square with a builder's square.

  • Using the strong guideline, lay down the first slab starting in a corner, it's very important that the first slab is positioned accurately.

  • Gently tap the slab to the correct level with a club hammer. You can then use a extra timber to protect the slab.

  • Check the level of the slab with a spirit level, remembering that the slabs should slope away from the property.

  • Carry on laying each slab the same way until you've laid them all and have ensured they are all level.

Step 5 - Pointing (filling the gaps between the slabs)

  • We recommend leaving the slabs for at least 24 hours before pointing to make sure they are set. This will stop the slabs moving and prevents weeds from growing in the gaps.

  • To make up your pointing mortar, use a semi-dry mixture (four parts building sand to one part cement). To prevent shrinkage, make sure the mixture is only just wet.

  • Press the mortar into the gaps with the edge of your trowel.

  • Before the mortar has completely, brush off any excess and wash down the slabs to remove any surplus cement and to produce a clean looking patio.

Step 6 - Drying out

  • Once the slabs are laid, it will take at least 24 hours for the mortar to completely dry and be useable.  During this period, make sure your patio is protected, If it is too hot the mortar will dry too quickly and crumble, if the weather is too cold or wet it will not set. Plastic sheets can be used to protect it.

Bonus tip...

Buy all your paving slabs at the same time so you don't get variations in colour and texture.

If you have any more questions then please contact us and we would be happy to answer any of your queries.


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All prices are in GBP. Copyright 2014 Corfe Stone.