Brett Approved Installers are experienced in the craft of installing our products. But some of our customers prefer to realise their ideas by installing our products themselves. We want you to get the best experience from our products, so if you are planning to DIY, here’s a helping hand to get you started.

How to lay a patio

Brett products are beautiful materials, crafted to create your perfect patio. But like any design project, especially involving heavy products, you should consider a number of important factors before you begin. Here, are some examples of the steps required to cover the most basic patio paving installation, but if you require any further support, contact your Brett Customer Service team on 0845 60 80 570.

 

Before you start

Draw a simple plan of your home and garden, sketching where you would like areas to be paved. Once your plan has been finalised, lay out lengths of string to mark out the dimensions of your purposed patio in position. Once you’re satisfied with your layout, you can begin.

Mark the pegs beforehand to indicate the depth and remember to allow for a gradual slope away from your property. Using a tape measure, mark out the patio area. Check the corners, using a builder’s square. Removing topsoil is easily done using an edging iron and cutting the turf into manageable squares. Simply scoop with a spade and remove using a wheelbarrow and skip.

The excavated depth should be 150mm or 6 inches from the finished patio level. Measure the final depth of excavation using the pegs and strings.

Check the depth at the edge using a tape measure. Compact the soil with the Vibrating Plate Compactor and re-check the overall depths and slope of the area using the pegs and spirit level.

If you find soft spots in the soil, further excavation may be required. These spots can then be filled and consolidated with sub-base material.

Check all 90° corners and depths thoroughly before putting down the sub-base material.

IMPORTANT! When using excavation machinery, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, including the acceptable levels of exposure and, in particular, the recommended use of ear protection.

Having tipped the sub-base material into the laying area, rake into position to a consistent depth of 100mm or 4 inches.

Once the area is covered, check the depth using a spirit level, pegs and string line.

Compact the area using a Vibrating Plate Compactor, making sure the entire area has been compressed at least twice. Check again for any sinking areas. If this occurs, an extra depth of sub-base material should be considered.

Once the sub-base is smooth, flat and to the appropriate level, check the drainage slope with a straight edge and spirit level.

IMPORTANT! When using the vibrating plate machinery, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, including the acceptable levels of exposure and, in particular, the recommended use of ear protection.

When preparing the cement mix, please avoid direct handling of cement, always wear the correct gloves to protect your skin.

Either using the cement mixer or wheelbarrow and shovel, prepare a mortar mix of 5 parts building sand, 1-part cement and add water to create a doughy consistency.

To check this is correct, use the ‘snow ball’ test, pick up a handful of mortar mix and squeeze into a ball, when you let go the mix will retain its shape without oozing water or falling apart.

Starting in the corner, trowel a bed of mortar to cover the area intended for the first paving flag. The depth of the mortar bed should be approximately 35-40mm. Level off but ensure the mortar is not compact as you want the flag to sit within the mix about 10-15mm deep.

Remember, when lifting and carrying paving units, always consider the weight before attempting to lift. If it is heavy, sought the help of an extra pair of hands. Take care not to trap fingers whilst handling paving units.

Lower the first paving flag into position, holding it diagonally will make it easier to lower it. Settle it cleanly into the mortar, without sliding it about, so that a good bond forms between the mortar and paving flag.

Line up the paving flag with the string lines and gently tap it into the mortar using the rubber mallet.

Repeat the process, continuously checking against the string line. Also, use the spirit level to check the surface is at the correct level.

To check that the edges aren’t standing proud, simply run your hand over the joints. Ensure gaps are consistent, ideally there should be 10-15mm between the slabs.

Leave the slabs for at least 24 hours so that the sand and cement mix can set.

You can either buy ready-mix compound or, using the shovel and trowel, prepare a jointing mix of 5 parts building sand, 1-part cement and water to a damp, semi-dry consistency.

Firm it into the joints using the trowel and finish with the pointing iron, compacting the mix into the gaps and producing neat grooves.

Carefully remove any excess pointing material using the trowel and yard broom, ensuring no residue is left on the slab surface.

Other chemical jointing compounds are available, contact our Customer Services Team on 0845 60 80 570 for more information.

Having the right equipment for any job will help to deliver the best results. And it’s just as important to keep your tools and materials close to hand, reducing time and unnecessary cost. Quantities of the following materials will vary depending on the size and sub-base requirements of your patio.

Materials

  • Sub-base material (MOT Type 1)
  • Brett building sand
  • Cement
  • Paving flags

Tools

  • Trowel
  • Pointing iron
  • String line and pegs
  • Edging iron
  • Rubber mallet
  • Builders square
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Spirit level
  • Skip
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Pick axe
  • Tape measure
  • Yard broom
  • Vibrating plate compactor
  • Diamond disc cutter (Optional)
  • Mini-excavator (Optional)
  • Cement mixer (Optional)

 

You will also need essential personal protection equipment;

Gloves, Safety Goggles, Dust Mask, Ear Defenders, Knee Pads and Safety Shoes.

How to lay block paving

There’s an art to laying block paving, but with the right materials, tools and Brett products, you could turn your art into a masterpiece. Simply follow this step-by-step guide, or visit our block paving page, to achieve a driveway to be proud of.

Before you start

Draw a simple plan of your home and garden, sketching where you would like areas to be paved for your driveway. Once your plan has been finalised, lay out lengths of string to mark out the dimensions of your proposed driveway in position. Once you’re satisfied with your layout, you can begin.

Depending on the size of the area, using a shovel or mini excavator, dig out to the advised level. This will depend on your existing surfaces; our Customer Services team will be able to advise as to the appropriate depth.

If you find soft spots in the soil, further excavation may be required. These spots can then be filled and consolidated with sub-base material.

Remove all waste materials from the site using a wheelbarrow and skip.

IMPORTANT! When using excavation machinery, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, including the acceptable levels of exposure and, in particular, the recommended use of ear protection.

When preparing the cement mix, please avoid direct handling of cement, always wear the correct gloves to protect your skin.

Using the cement mixer, mix 1-part cement and 6 parts ballast to create a concrete foundation that is 100mm thick, ready for the edge restraint. Ensure that the edge restraint unit that is to be placed on the foundation will sit at the required finished level using the string line and spirit level.

The edge restraint can either be a kerb unit of a thick paving block (at least 60mm). Mortar these units into the foundation using the trowel and rubber mallet, and again using the concrete, form a haunch up at least half the block height.

Apply the sub-base of MOT Type 1 with the rake and thoroughly compact using the Vibrating Plate Compactor in layers of 50mm until your desired level is reached.

Apply a 50mm level of slightly damp, coarse sharp sand and compact down, again using the Vibrating Plate Compactor, to an approximate depth of 35mm.

A further 20mm layer of sharp sand then needs to be raked on top and, using the screeding rails and string line, levelled to the correct falls.

IMPORTANT! When using the vibrating plate machinery, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, including the acceptable levels of exposure and, in particular, the recommended use of ear protection.

Remember when lifting and carrying paving units, always consider the weight before attempting to lift. If it is heavy, take care not to trap your fingers whilst handling the paving units.

Ideally starting from a right angle or straight edge, place your blocks on top of the laying course, ensuring that they sit 5mm proud of the finished level.

Following your desired laying pattern, ensure that you pick blocks from three or more different packs at any one time, in order to minimise the risk of colour patching.

Once all of the blocks are laid into position you will need to cut a number to complete the area. Cutting blocks is best done using a block splitter or diamond disc cutter. Wherever possible, always obtain water suppression cutting equipment.

IMPORTANT! When using cutting equipment, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, including the acceptable levels of exposure and, in particular, the recommended use of ear and eye protection.

Using a yard broom, brush the kiln-dried sand into all of the joints and thoroughly compact, again using the Vibrating Plate Compactor, ensuring that all of the blocks are at the desired finished level.

Subsequently top the sand and re-compact to ensure that no joints are left unfilled.

Please note, if you are using the distinctive Brett Aura range of paving blocks, Brett Permeable Chippings need to be applied in this finishing process.

Having the right equipment for any job will help to deliver the best results. And it’s just as important to keep your tools and materials close to hand, reducing time and unnecessary cost. Quantities of the following materials will vary depending on the size and sub-base requirements of your project.

Materials

  • Sub-base MOT Type 1
  • Sharp sand
  • Concrete and mortar
  • Brett kiln-dried sand
  • Block paving

Tools 

  • Trowel
  • Pointing tool
  • String line
  • Rubber mallet
  • Screeding rail
  • Spirit level
  • Shovel
  • Skip
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape measure
  • Yard broom
  • Vibrating plate compactor
  • Block splitter or diamond disc cutter
  • Mini excavator (Optional)
  • Cement mixer (Optional)

You will also need essential personal protection equipment;

Gloves, Safety Goggles, Dust Mask, Ear Defenders, Knee Pads and Safety Shoes.

Safe Working Guidelines

Doing things properly and responsibly is what Brett is all about. So, before starting work please take the time to read the following guidance from the British Precast Concrete Federation on safe working with concrete products.

Download the Safe Working with Precast Products Guide

Manual Handling

Many of our products are, by their very nature, heavy and will frequently require specialist lifting equipment. When used together with sensible handling precautions, it is possible to ensure a safe working environment during installation.

Of course, as always, the Brett team are here to advise and support you from the beginning of your project right through to the end. Contacting us at the very start of your project will help overcome many potential site handling issues , whilst helping design-out on-site cutting and unnecessary lifting.

Please click here to download our Manual Handling Guide

Please click here to download the Safe Working with Precast Products Guide

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