This is Part 2 in my series on the Gazebo / Patio / Bench thing I built in the back yard. For part 1 - Foundation click here
There are a few choices for what to create your base out of for the Gazebo floor.
- Mortared Bricks - expensive and difficult, but long lasting
- Concrete Slab - expensive, but long lasting. difficulty depends on size
- Pavers - moderately expensive, moderately difficult. difficulty increases with pattern
- Gravel / Compacted Soil - cheaper, good drainage, may have to re-compact each year
- Compacted Native Soil - cheapest, good for a remote area, difficult for weed control
We choose to do a brick look with 1.5" thick pavers for several reasons. The rest of our patio is brick and we wanted to mimic the look. The cost of a 1.5" thick paving stone is cheaper (by about 1/2) then a brick. We wanted a hard permeable surface. The installation we very fast and we got the look we wanted.
However there were a few downsides to our choice as well. The first being that we used left over decomposed granite (DG) to fill in the gaps. This was a major mistake as the material is not as fine as sand and was quite difficult to compact. Further, the DG goes out of the joints and makes the surface uncomfortable to walk on barefoot (possible solution to this problem with a sealer of some sort). Lastly, we didn't end up with a perfectly level surface because of the method (& the execution) we used.
The following pages describe the method we used and some lessons learned.
- Non-expansive fill material (sand, decomposed granite, ect..)
- Pavers (we used 1.5" thick of varying sizes and colors)
- Straight 2x4
Tools (not required, but makes the job easier)
- Plate tamper or mechanical compactor
- Flat shovel
- Spade shovel
- String line
- Level (larger than 2')
- Rubber mallot
Step 1: Step 1: Soil Base
Continuing on from the structural back fill of Part 1:Foundation from the previous instructable.
Stop the native soil fill 6" plus the thickness of the brick, from your level floor line. (You still have your center stake in place and marked for finish floor right!) Make sure your soil is good an compact. Use a mechanical soil compactor if possible, about $50 from a rental store for 4hrs.
Loosely place another level of non-expansive soil material across the whole area. We used decomposed granite for this. Its cheap, drains well, compacts well, and is non-expansive; plus we had some on hand for other projects.
With 6" left to the bottom of the bricks, place a little more than 4" of loose material and compact by walking on it. Fill in any low spots and then screed the material to 4" and compact with a manual plate tamper (shown in the picture) or a mechanical compactor (prefered method).
- To screed, find a straight 2x4 and a friend. With the 2x4 tall side up, draw the board across the surface to level it. You can even set up guide boards to take all the guess work out of this by drawing the screed board along the guide boards.
- While moving the screed board use a "sawing" or "chopping" method.
- Because our shape was a circle. One person held one end of the board at our elevation mark on the center stake. The other walked the screed around in a circle, keeping as close to the outside level line as possible.
Once this lift is level and compact, place the final 2" of fill and repeat the steps above.
Step 2: Step 3: Pacing the Pavers
Now for the fun stuff, placing the pavers!
- Estimate the square footage and purchase the recommended amount of pavers.
- Move into position around the area to be placed.
- If using a few special pieces (we had some double and triple wide ones) place then around in a random fashion. It is easier to do this first, and they can always be adjusted later.
- Place the outermost ring first, use something like a piece of a thin board to ensure spacing is consistent.
- When placing the second ring, try to split the joints of the first ring.
- Continue placing the rings until there have been 4 or so rings placed.
- Place sand on top of the bricks and spread out along the first 3 rows, this can be done with a flat shovel.
- Broom the excess sand around and remove when all joints are filled.
- Continue in this fashion until you have placed all the rings you plan on.
- Using a stick or some tool, compact between the bricks (alternatively you can leave excess sand on the bricks and compact with a mechanical plate tamper)
- Place more sand on the pavers and broom around again.
- Clean up and admire your work!
Step 3: Step 4: Centerpiece
Originally we wanted to build a giant concrete bowl fire pit, so we left the center free of pavers. After a few failed attempts at making this work, we decided the scrap the idea. However I didn't want to buy more pavers, so we looked at other options.
I found some 2" thick stone from a land slad on the side of the road and thought it would be fun to give it a try. The stones looked something like a flag stone, but not as perfect.
We first placed the stones around in our empty place in the center of the circle of pavers, in a fashion to fit like a puzzle. Then we made them more or less level by forcing points into the compacted base, and underfilling with sand (DG in our case). Finally we filled the voids with DG and hand compacted (same method as with pavers).
This actually turned out better then I thought, and since it is under a fire pit we don't really have to worry about people walking on it.
Now Part 2 is complete, click to continue to Part 3: Structure and Bench