7/8/13

The patio that almost killed me...

When we moved into our new house months back, we were THRILLED to finally have some outdoor space. MAJOR outdoor space for us, especially compared to our last place where we had a very small (and sooo not private) backyard.
Part of what made me fall in love with our new house was the huge screened-in porch with more than enough room for a huge living area AND a big table. We also scored a huge backyard that is super private, perfect for entertaining. Outdoor space, check. However, we didn't have a great spot for things like our grill and gas fire pit.   While we had a really nice, level spot right off the screened-in porch stairs, we really wanted a paved area for those things. The other side of the porch slopes way down with more stairs from the backyard to a little area off the basement. Since the stairs from the actual house come down on this side, we thought it made more sense to have a little extension for outdoor living stuff on this side. We always thought that little area should have totally been paved already, so we took the plunge and did it ourselves.

Looking back, I think it's safe to say we definitely would not do this again if we had it to do all over. We LOVE the result, but the work was kind of back-breaking.

Let me just say before we begin... We are not experts at this and definitely did not do this perfectly. The result is pretty darn good (we think), so we're happy with it.
Here's the before...


Our original plan was to pave the entire area from the little cement slab from the porch stairs, all the way to the area where the wood stairs to the backyard begin (around the bottom-center of the photo).  We soon realized that wouldn't work because our irrigation system got in the way. About a foot in from that little corner, an underground sprinkler head pops up when that section is turned on. Not conducive to paving over. So we figured instead of removing it and going through all that trouble, we'd just stop the patio a little shy of it.
This area seems small, but it nearly killed us...
The first trick was picking up the pavers. We chose these from Lowes.


For our area, we calculated that we'd need 68.  Lowes helped us load them which was awesome. Unloading them was awful. Brad is really strong and could get a few at a time. I struggled with one, and I'm usually pretty strong.  These were HEAVY.

Check out all the pavers piled up... At this point, I was thinking, "What have we gotten ourselves in to??"  I think Waylon was thinking the same thing...

Next, we started digging. The main trick to this whole diy-paver patio thing is getting the area perfectly level.  So we each took a shovel and started to sort of "skim" off the grass.  It was SO hard for me to do, so Brad took over most of that job. I went around and scooped dirt and worked to further level areas that were obviously not.
Then, we worked together with our shovels to level it even further. I'll be totally honest here... We didn't "stake off" the area and use string to level it. We didn't use a level. We totally eyeballed this. However, we had a great advantage because the area was already pretty level and we had the nice wood retaining wall to sort of guide us.

Next, we put down 8 bags of "paver base". This stuff is basically really thick, moist sand. When you do this, wear gloves, people. Sometimes we didn't and I ended up with tiny cuts and splinters all over my hands and fingertips. I got really scared for a second there and thought I had totally ruined my hands. All my fingertips felt like I had at least 10 splinters in each. Not a good feeling.
Here's what that looked like during the spreading...


After you spread it (you can use it to further level your area), you can use a flat rake or even a big metal tamper to settle it all and make sure its flat and smooth.

Then you put down paver sand (not polymeric sand...yet) on top of that. Just a thin layer.

Thennnn you put down the pavers. You can put them down in any pattern you like.  This is the part that started really getting to me. One by one, we took turns grabbing the pavers and bringing them over. We'd each work on one, then go get another. It really made the process go quickly.  But the next day, my legs were feeling the burn...haha. All that squatting with the heavy pavers was serious business.

By this time, it was literally 11pm so we called it a day.

The next morning, we did the last (and most fun) step. Applying the polymeric sand. This step was so satisfying. Polymeric sand comes in buckets (we used two big buckets, not sure of the exact size, but you can get an idea from the bucket in the photo below) and basically keeps your pavers in place by turning to cement when you apply water to it. So we dumped it evenly to small areas at a time and spread it with a large push broom. The idea is to push it into the area in between the pavers and off of the paver tops themselves.  Brad did most of the sand dumping, and I did the spreading.
Until he really wanted in on the action and I gave up the broom...


We then took a leaf blower (per the polymeric sand's instructions) and lightly blew off the surface of the pavers to get all the sand off, while keeping as much in-between them as possible.  
Oh and I almost forgot to mention- on the edge of the pavers where they meet the grass (behind Brad in the photo above), we used some of the hammer-in black edging that you purchase especially for these. We didn't use it against the wood (because the wood kept it in place) or on the area to the right in the photo above against the pine straw area because that area goes up a little and we felt the area we dug out would be more than enough to keep it in place. Not that skipping that in those areas is what you should do, but that's what we did and it's working.

Finally, we gave the patio a light shower with the water hose to set the polymeric sand. We followed the sand's directions and stayed off of it for 24 hours. Then, when we stepped on it for the first time, we were pretty darn impressed with ourselves. 


For reference, where the flower pot is on the right side of the patio, is where I always stand for my outdoor OOTD posts. So YAY for no heels in the grass anymore! haha


That little wonky, muddy area to the right of the patio area in the photo above is another sprinkler pop-up area. Yeah we could have cut out the stone pavers in a way that would allow it to pop up through it, but we didn't. We're going to get that area grassy again and maybe add some large river rocks (too large for Waylon to scarf up)  in the same color of the patio to round it out a bit.

We also have some plans for the area to the left of the grill in the photo above. Eventually, we'd like to build (or maybe have it built) a stone grill enclosure there. That would free up some more space on the patio and look so much nicer.

Here's a closer shot...


Oh and the grand total we spent on this project was around $300. Not too bad. We had a sweet Lowe's coupon and the pavers rang up a LOT cheaper than they were advertised. So we're totally not sure what happened there. But we'll take it.

So my final thoughts. Don't do this... 
Unless you have a pretty level surface to start with. If you're dealing with a tricky area that is oddly-shaped, or really uneven, leave this to the professionals.  I would N-E-V-E-R do this again. Ever. haha, dramatic, I know. But seriously, we have been really enjoying it and we love the results, but I don't think I could make it through another one of these guys.  

Have you guys ever done this? Any huge diy projects you've been tackling lately?

44 comments:

  1. It turned out so good Tiffany! I love how you get down & dirty with Brad when it comes to DIY projects! Us makeup ladies can be manly when need be haha Great job!

    Hugkissmakeup.blogspot.com

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  2. I love it! It turned out so great!
    http://modernbeautygirl.blogspot.com/

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  3. I am soooo impressed! It looks like a professional job, and such a great outdoor area. And I hear you on the digging - it is such hard work. I've always sworn that if I were ever captured by mafiosos and forced to dig my own grave, they would give up and go home. Morbid, but I really am a terrible digger, and when you're digging the mind goes to dark places, hahaha!

    I love these before and after posts - I hope you keep doing them! :)

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  4. nice job! Those kind of jobs are always back breaking!

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  5. WOW that looks amazing!! But what an adventure...those outdoor projects can be exhausting! The patio looks great! What a perfect backyard/patio area to have a nice dinner party in the summer. Amazing job!!

    <3 Kelly | The Patch Diaries

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  6. This looks great Tiffany! I love all your DIY related posts on your blog :) keep them coming!

    A beauty, food and life blog by Izzi

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  7. all your hard work turned pretty good!

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  8. Your hard work paid off!! It looks great!!

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  9. It does look lovely though! Bet it's worth it when it's warm :)

    Nicky
    zeeblikesit.blogspot.com
    xx

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  10. I think it looks AMAZING! You guys should be proud of all your hard work. Really really good

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  11. Looks lovely - well done :) Love your Home & Decor posts!

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  12. I love it Tiffany, it turned out great!!

    xo,
    Sincerely Miss Ash

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  13. Wow, DIY at home projects are blessings and curses because they test your patience and perseverance with your loved-ones as well as your handiness skills. I've done a few DIY projects and hated it while I was doing it, but felt accomplished afterwards. So props to you my dear and it turned out great! I love your gardening touches as well. It seems like you put a lot of thought into this backyard ad making it a home. Do enjoy!
    xoxo

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  14. All the hard work paid off, it looks amazing!

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  15. WOW I'm so impressed! Projects like this are so challenging but you did a beautiful job!

    Katie's Beautique

    Katie’s Beautique on Bloglovin’

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  16. It looks gorgeous! Worth the hellish work?

    We did a paved patio about twice as big a few years ago. I said the same as you - never again. NEVER! There are some things I'm willing to pay for.

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  17. Nice work, it looks great! I am very impressed!

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  18. Awesome! I want something similar to this off of our back porch so we don't have to keep the grill on the porch anymore. With our littles we like for the porch to be their area and whether the grill is hot or not it makes me nervous to have it up there with them. Ya'll did a great job!!!

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  19. I agree, I think it's great and I love outdoor space to entertain. We had out backyard professionally done - it was too uneven so we left it to the pros. My husband loves firepits and we have a nice custom made stone pit....I call this space our new living room because practically every weekend until the holidays we spend outdoors around the fire pit and have a great time....no TV, no distractions - just family, the dogs and great conversations. Good luck!

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  20. Looks really nice! Love these type of posts :)

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  21. I love patio's! Yours turn out great :)
    xoxo
    Suzanne from written by suzanne

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  22. Good job! Is clear and cozy! But I belive the hard work that you've done!
    Kisses
    Maria

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  23. Yes,around $300 is not bad. This patio look very nice and i think it will your favourite place for summer time)

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  24. I´m really impressed that you do this as an DIY because this is not easy. Well done!! In my opinion you are able to handle the stone grill project. A friend of mine has done this as a DIY and it worked really well. My friend told me it is only important to let the cement dry completely before you use the grill the first time. Otherwise the stone grill will crack.
    Greetings from Germany --- Alex

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  25. amazing house.
    xx Stephanie (www.stephaniesstyleblog.blogspot.com)

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  26. First of all...it looks great!!! I love the look of pavers but it seriously feels like you handle them about a thousand times, lol. We've talked about doing something similar in our backyard but haven't yet for the exact reason you mentioned. It's WORK! We're going to do the stone fire pit and surround the grill at some point. Not sure if you have a General Shale, but they sell kits really cheap and it looks easy to do. Or of course they'll do it for you. ;) xo Crystal

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  27. Very pretty Tiffany.....I have a similar screened patio, but did not think of this extension before....would you be able to show your patio decoration? would love to get some ideas.....thanks a lot for sharing.....Monica.

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  28. Which was worse? The powder room or this? Haha! I really have to say that I LOVE these home project posts you've been putting up lately! I love makeup, but this is refreshing and fun to see this side of your personality too.

    erinbulger.blogspot.ca

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  29. i am curious how far down did you dig? i keep seeing all these instructions of digging something like 2 feet deep and that's the part that completely turns me off from doing it myself....(and it'll just be me doing it)

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  30. If you don't want to dig you can rent a sod cutter! It saved our butts when we did something similar.

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  31. This turned out amazing! But I agree, I wouldn't want to do it twice. Or maybe even once! haha.

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  32. The place looks great for barbecue! :)
    http://makeupbyjoanna909.blogspot.com/

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  33. The patio looks great! Good job to you and Brad!

    I'm loving these home project posts, please keep them up! Your walk-throughs and photos are so fun to read through!

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  34. My husband, way back when he was my boyfriend, did this at his house. We are now married and share a house, and I begged and pleaded with my life that he not do this anywhere in or around our home. We don't square off often, but this time we did and I won. I'm not counting though.

    I love the look, but not the process at all.

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  35. I love what you did with it! I like how you left a patch for a bit of grass and plants to surround the pavers. But I have to agree, that can be quite exhausting! If you plan to expand it, I think you can still do it by yourselves, but probably get someone else to lift things for you. Heh.

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  36. Thanks a lot for blogging this, it was unbelieveably informative and helped me tons.

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  37. I love this blog and it's images are really beautifully decorated with Patio Pavers .

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  38. Great job on the DIY extension! That really looked like it took a lot of effort.

    When we did our own patio, we skipped the ground leveling part and went directly to the paver base, using it to level stuff for the paver later on. Worked out fine, and it made for less work. And yes, I love the part when you have to put the polymeric sand too!

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  39. I say all that effort was worth it! Also, you got to work with polymeric sand! But yes, if you’re planning to expand or remake it, best get help. Hauling blocks is hard work! The firepit/mini-pillar in the middle was a nice touch.

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  40. This is great! It adds so much to your landscaping! Way to go with all the hard work! It paid off!

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