How to Put in a Tuscan-style Brick Paver Patio Yourself (pictures)

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I've always liked the look of red brick pavers (it evokes that Tuscan feel), and have wanted a patio in our back yard for eons. But we had a major problem in our patio design: the spot for the patio was on a slope.
This summer we finally tackled the patio installation and overcame the obstacle! Following are the steps we took to install our new "old world" brick patio.

Things You'll Need

  • Reclaimed red brick
  • Gravel
  • Slag (coarse patio sand)
  • Sand
  • Gravel compactor
  • Straight-edged shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Mark off the lawn area that will become your patio with string or paint. Remove sod. If you can't afford to rent a sod cutter, you can tackle the job one section at a time with a straight shovel and a hoe. Just cut 2'x2' (or so) squares in the sod with the shovel until the whole brick patio area is cut.

  • With the hoe, chisel away each square of sod and remove it.
    You can move the grass to another area of your yard that needs greening (did you know 50 square feet of lawn has the cooling equivalent of a 1000 square foot capacity air conditioner?).

  • Again with the hoe, scrape away at the dirt to leave a 4" layer for gravel and sand (that is, if your soil is pretty sandy already. If not, allow for 4" of gravel and 2" of sand). This is a critical base of any patio installation. If you are working on a slope as we were, dig a trench around the patio area for a retaining wall. Place concrete cinder blocks in the trench (they should be level on the outside with the slope of your lawn).

  • Level the dirt in the entire area of your brick patio with a 2x4.

  • Add two inches of pea gravel and spread with a rake, then tamp down with a pea gravel compactor (which you can make yourself. See my article link below).

  • Add a two-inch layer of slag (coarse paver sand) and spread evenly over gravel. Make sure it is all level. The hardest part of installing your patio pavers is done!

  • Place reclaimed red brick pavers in any desired pattern. When using reclaimed brick, you will probably have a lot of imperfections, so don't worry about getting the patio perfectly flush. If you want an Edward Scissorhands patio, reclaimed brick is not the way to go. However, if you want that old world Tuscan feel, your finished work will look like it's been there since the days of Napoleon. So gorgeous!

  • Spread a layer of fine sand over the top of your almost-finished brick patio and sweep into the cracks. Finally, tamp everything again with your pea gravel compactor. Hose the patio down. This will fill the gaps under the pavers and between the pavers even more.

  • Not only do you now have an extra outdoor room in your back yard to lounge in, but your home equity just shot up a few points.
    [Stay tuned for the big reveal--with furniture, plants, & general superlification!]

Tips & Warnings

  • If weeds are a concern, wait 90 days for the brick pavers to settle completely, then fill the gaps between them with polymeric sand. When wet, polymeric sand will harden and prevent weeds from popping up through the pavers.
  • Warning: If you're not into headaches, cease and desist from the use of reclaimed brick pavers!!!! Use concrete pavers instead. Uniformity would have been a blessing indeed.
  • Adventencia! Si no le gusta el dolor de cabeça, don't even think of using el reclaimed brick-o pavers!
  • Achtung! Used brick pavers bin ein krank kopf fur dir!
  • N'eHow Ma!
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