how do i lay a patio on sand

How to Lay a Patio on Sand

Darius Negahbani Darius Negahbani Tuesday 6th November, 2018
  1. Select an area that’s firm, level and well drained
  2. Remove about 170mm of top soil and vegetation
  3. Rake and compact using a garden roller, tamper or plate compactor
  4. Ensure the finished level of your patio will be 150mm below any damp proof course
  5. Install edge restraints that are sufficiently robust
  6. Lay a 100mm sub base layer (Type 1), compacted in 2 layers of 50mm
  7. Add a compacted 30mm layer of well graded “grit” sand
  8. Lay patio slabs in the bed, 2-5mm apart
  9. Fill in the joints with kiln dried fine sand

What tools do I need?

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Sprit level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tape measure
  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Garden roller or tamper
  • Soft brush
  • String line
  • Plate compactor
  • Screeding bar


What materials do I need?



Preparing the bed

Dig a 150mm bed in your garden turf, ensuring there’s enough soil left over to go around the outside of your patio. Make sure the soil is levelled out evenly.

Layering with landscape fabric

Add a layer of landscape fabric – it’ll help prevent weeds growing up through your patio. Cut to size and lay it down inside the bed.

Framing your patio

A wooden frame will keep your patio in place. To make sure your patio is laid straight, lay one of the planks down perpendicular to your house and use the string and stakes to mark where the corners join. Once you have your first corner marked out you can then build the rest of the frame. This is a good time to think about how you’ll lay the slabs on the sand – how many you need, and where you want to put them.

Adding gravel

Pour in a 100mm layer of gravel. You may need a fair few bags so make sure there’s enough on hand – but it’s important you have enough, because the gravel layer helps water drain through the patio stones. Once you’ve added the gravel, use a screeding tool like a board to smooth off the layer and make sure it’s even.

Adding sharp sand

If you’re not confident about making a concrete bed, don’t worry – sharp sand is easier, and works just as well. It holds just as firm as cement and still allows water to escape beneath. When laying a patio on sharp sand, it’s also very simple to work out how thick the layer of sharp sand needs to be – it’s just the difference between the turf level around it, and the thickness of your patio slabs. Ensure the layer of sharp sand is packed down and levelled off, with a gradual slope away from your home to help drain off surface water.

Laying Patio Pavers on Sand

Now it’s time for laying the patio on the sand. Whether it’s marble, sandstone or concrete paving  you’ve gone for, lower your first slab into position – firmly placing it about 15mm into the sand. Keep adding the slabs and ensure there’s a gap of about 10-15mm between each stone. When you’re laying the slabs, make sure you kneel on the sand rather than on the slabs you’ve already laid – the extra pressure may bed in the slabs too deep and make your patio uneven.

Sweeping and spraying

Fill the gaps between slabs with more sand. Use a broom to sweep in the sand so it fills up those spaces – it’s important to put enough in to completely cover up the gaps. Spray the patio down so the sand can settle in.

Keep on packing

Once the sand has dried and settled there’ll more gaps will appear, so repeat the process above, adding more sand in, and do the same again a week or so later. Now you’ll have an even more packed layer of sand in between the gaps – and a sand-based patio you can be proud of.
Laying a patio on sand can be challenging and time consuming. Would you prefer your patio to be installed by an expert? Click here to find your nearest Marshalls-accredited installer.

When it comes to stone paving, limestone and sandstone are the two most popular options on the market. They’re almost always the options compared by anyone thinking about starting a new driveway, garden or patio project, but it can be difficult to decide which would be the better choice.

So what are the differences between limestone and sandstone paving? We’ve put them head-to-head in a bid to help you decide which one is most suitable for your latest project. Looking at four key areas – durability, style, texture and versatility – we’ll be analysing their strengths and weaknesses to see which paving material comes out on top. Plus, we’ve created a helpful comparison table which compares them side-by-side so you can pick the best option for your garden.


Both limestone and sandstone score well in this category. Weather conditions in the UK are notoriously diverse, so any stone paving must endure all weathers. Luckily, both limestone and sandstone generally tend to absorb minimal amounts of water, meaning they are ideal for all outdoor spaces, especially if you reside in an area of the country prone to rain.

One minor difference between the two stones is that lighter shades of sandstone are slightly more porous than darker colours. Because these lighter variations take in a little more water, they may require extra cleaning or sealant application, although the difference is minimal.

Both can withstand tough weathering, and all our limestone and sandstone paving is guaranteed for 12 months, so in the unlikely event of any problems, you’re covered.

Winner: Limestone

An incredibly tight round, but limestone edges to the front. As lighter-coloured sandstone absorbs slightly more water, you may notice a subtle difference. But it’s unlikely to impact the stone too much, and if aesthetics are what you’re after, sandstone is a great choice too.


Limestone is consistent in colour and comes in some select colour choices, usually buff-grey, blue-grey and blue-black. Options like the striking premium grade paving Fairstone Limestone Aluri Riven come in these darker colours with natural veining, giving you some excellent choices, whatever garden design you have planned.

Sandstone also offers a huge selection of colours and styles. At Marshalls, we offer ten sandstone options, from the subtle blends of Fairstone Sawn Versuro Sandstone(available in four colours including Caramel Cream and Antique Silver) to the tessellated Riven Harena Kaleidoscope, a mosaic-style paving with an array of laying patterns.

When choosing limestone, sandstone or any other natural stone paving, it’s advisable to check beforehand what the stones’ appearance will be once wet. Often overlooked, it’s an important question to ask, as rain and wear can alter the colour of stone paving.

Winner: Sandstone

In the style department, the extensive palette and range of sandstone styles outscores limestone for choice with its sheer variety.


When it comes to texture, limestone and sandstone are quite different. Limestone tends to be flatter and smoother, with less ridges in its finish. Consequently, this even finish means it’s ideal for driveways and also many indoor purposes too. Limestone’s natural characteristics give it an orange-peel texture, and some options boast a natural split surface texture too.

Sandstone on the other hand is slightly more uneven, with a rippled texture. With a sawn finish, it’s a more contemporary option compared to limestone. Sandblasted options like the fine grained Fairstone Sawn Versuro Linear paving give a grittier feel for added slip resistance.

Each type of stone can be adapted to suit the design you’re going for. The lightly brushed Fairstone Flamed Narias Paving is a sleeker, more modern option, and its textured surface adds to the vibrancy of its colour.

Winner: Sandstone

Sandstone gets the upper hand, with a wealth of textural choices available. Whatever style you’re after, from sleek and modern to a rougher Mediterranean look, sandstone is a fantastic option.


Both limestone and sandstone can be easily cut into various sizes and shapes and adapted to fit in with any style or garden project, making this a difficult category to score.

When it comes to versatility of use, sandstone and limestone are both great choices – their strength, durability and range of finishes and colours mean they can adapt to almost any style of garden.

Sandstone makes fantastic patio and garden path paving for any property type, contemporary or traditional.

Limestone on the other hand is suitable for a whole host of areas, both internally and externally. Driveways, gardens, patios, pathways, stepping stones and interior flooring, the list could go on.

Winner: It’s a tie

It’s too close to call in this final round, with both being versatile in their own unique ways. Sandstone has an unrivalled range of colours and finishes. Whereas limestone is equally unmatched with its exterior and interior applications.


In the battle of limestone vs sandstone paving, sandstone has managed to pave its way to success. With the huge selection of colours, finishes, products and textures on offer, we feel it’s a worthy champion.

However, an honourable mention must go to the durable limestone, which should definitely be considered by those looking for hard-wearing paving in their garden.

Whichever paving choice you make depends on your own preferences, property type, project and desired finish. To help you make an informed decision, check out our comparison table below, which matches the different characteristics of limestone and sandstone.

Why not discover more about our extensive limestone and sandstone paving ranges? We stock a huge selection of both options along with a whole host of garden paving products, suitable for any property type and project.

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