I Did A Thing: Building a Patio

I built a patio with my own hands and strength. Yup, I did this thing, and I am a rock star!

I extended my existing builder brick patio by approximately 200 sqft with pavers from Pavestone, style: Panorama, color: travertine.

I'm planning to get my lawn aerated the end of June, once that is done, I will finish the patio area by adding top soil and sod where the patio ends so there is a smooth transition from the patio to the lawn and you won't see the edging.


Why did I choose the build the patio myself in 90 degree heat in Houston, TX? Well a few years ago, I planned to extend my patio with concrete. I wanted the concrete to be colored, not stained, but colored throughout the same color as the grout in the bricks on my existing patio so that it would be cohesive. And with a brick surround, so it flowed nicely.  I also wanted to create a walkway on the side of my house, plain concrete. 

All of the quotes I received were 2 - 3 times what I estimated. So, I did not go forward with that improvement in 2018 and instead saved up more money, so I could do it debt free. Well, it is 2022, the world is living in the upside down, and inflation is running away in America (more on that in another post). I had actually hired a company to build a concrete patio, do the side yard walkway and replace my fallen down fence. That company turned out to be a nightmare. They cheated me on the walkway, did a sloppy job with the fence and we mutually decided they would not build my patio.

After getting several quotes which ranged from $5,500 - $9,000 for a concrete 200 sqft patio - I decided they were all on crack. The $5,500 was more than what I was quoted for the patio and walkway in 2018. They are not building a structure, they are not rerouting my sprinkler line, just pouring concrete. And not evening coloring the concrete, but staining it. A process I would have to repeat every 2 years to maintain color.

So, I did some more research and realized that many of the quotes I was getting for concrete were now exceeding what it would cost to have custom pavers placed. So, I had a company come out and give me a quote for pavers. That quote matched the high end of the concrete patio quotes. Again, a price that I thought was a bit high for such a small patio extension that would not include anything else. No benches or build out for the grill. No raised garden for planting a herb garden or flowers.

I was really dismayed and heart broken. Especially since most of my patio budget had gone towards a walkway that I was cheated on and a fence that was done sloppily.

Sweat Equity

I decided to research what it takes to build a patio. And discovered a product, Brock PaverBase, that made the possibility of me building my patio a reality. Brock PaverBase reduces the amount of soil you need to dig out and the amount of base you need to bring in for the patio. So instead of digging down six inches. I only had to dig down just over an inch; that is .68" for the Brock Paverbase and .5" for the leveling sand. Since my pavers are the same height as my brick, and they are above ground. I did not have to dig down the 2.75" for the pavers, for which I am grateful.
Not having to dig down six inches and then back fill it, meant that I would not have to try to figure out what to do with all of that soil. I even had one guy come by to give me a quote on the patio, ask me what I wanted to do with the soil after he dug it out. SMH.

It also meant, that I did not need to have tons of gravel placed on my driveway that I would then need to cart to by back yard and painstakingly compact. Essentially Brock PaverBase was a lifesaver.

But it didn't mean that the job was easy, regardless of what they claim on their website. It took days for me to dig out the sod and dirt (I saved the sod to place elsewhere on my property). And then days to tamp/compact that clay soil and level it out. It was an arduous process, especially since summer showed up two months early here in Houston, so I was doing all of that in 90 degree temps.

Leveling Soil

After painstakingly leveling the soil with a tamper, I realized that in some spots I took out too much soil. I had placed that soil behind my fence for erosion control, so I brought some of it back. But it wasn't enough so I ended up purchasing 16 bags of topsoil to level the patio area.
After leveling the soil, I put down a weed barrier, whose purpose is more to prevent the sand from going into the soil, than to prevent weeds from growing up. After placing the weed barrier, I added 1/2 inch of leveling sand, then the Brock PaverBase and finally the pavers.

Laying the Pavers

The next hard part was carting two pallets worth of stone from my driveway to my backyard. I purchased two pallets plus an additional 20.6 pavers, which ended up being 480 pavers + 48 additional pavers. So instead of each pallet containing 10 rows of stone they contained 11 rows of stone. I actually purchased too much stone as the pavers were in great condition with no breakage. There were a total of three chipped pavers out of the 528 pavers I purchased. 
Sadly, I forgot to photograph the pallets of stone before I started using them. So, here are pics of when I was almost done.

One pallet was dated May 2021 and the other March 2022. All of the stones from 2021 were darker and most have efflorescence, much to my chagrin. This happens when the stones aren't aired out prior to packing on a pallet. And since those stones sat on a pallet for a year, wrapped in plastic, enduring rain etc., the salts and minerals in the stones rose to the surface. I did not budget for efflorescence cleaning. So, I will wait a year to see if it goes away on its own before I decide if I should clean it. Plus they say to wait 60 days for all of the stones to breathe before cleaning.

The other pallet had lighter stones. So, I arranged them in a random fashion. After I placed the stones down, I thought, perhaps I should've done more of an Ombre instead of a patchwork quilt color layout. I wanted it to look like the randomness of the brick on my house. To be honest, I like the lighter stone color more than the darker and thought that was what I had purchased. If they would've given me two pallets of stone from 2022 they may have all been the lighter brown to the cream color. But altogether, I think it is fine.

Excess Pavers

Since I plan to have built a pergola hammock combo cat tree with a covered cat house on the top (I won't be building that I have to find a carpenter that can do that job for me), I will have enough pavers to hardscape where the hammock will go. But that is a job for 2023 (fingers crossed).

Job Well Done

Well I am three shades darker than I was when I started this project May 2022. My body aches, like all over, yet I am really proud of the work I did. It is not an expert job, my slope is not perfect and there are a few high and low spots, but over all the patio looks great and fits my needs. And that, my friend, makes me quite happy.

Actually, in hindsight, this paver patio is way better than a concrete patio. It is a higher end product and will not crack over time like concrete.

How to Build a Paver/Stone Patio

If you are interested in learning more in depth how to build a patio like this, go to my teaching blog, Tanya Owens Designs. There I will include the steps I took, videos that guided me in the process and my overall budget for the project. 

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