How to Lay a Patio on Sand
- Select an area that’s firm, level and well drained
- Remove about 170mm of top soil and vegetation
- Rake and compact using a garden roller, tamper or plate compactor
- Ensure the finished level of your patio will be 150mm below any damp proof course
- Install edge restraints that are sufficiently robust
- Lay a 100mm sub base layer (Type 1), compacted in 2 layers of 50mm
- Add a compacted 30mm layer of well graded “grit” sand
- Lay patio slabs in the bed, 2-5mm apart
- Fill in the joints with kiln dried fine sand
What tools do I need?
- Sprit level
- Rubber mallet
- Tape measure
- Garden roller or tamper
- Soft brush
- String line
- Plate compactor
- Screeding bar
What materials do I need?
- Sharp sand
- Patio slabs
IN DETAIL: LAYING SLABS ON SHARP SAND
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.
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. 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 slabs 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.
Would you prefer your patio to be installed by an expert? Click here to find your nearest Marshalls-accredited installer.