A lot of people think that a paved patio is simply a flat surface where you can put some chairs and a table. However, there’s a lot more to it than that. If you’re thinking about adding a paved patio to your home, there are some things you need to know before you get started. In this blog post, we will explore the top mistakes people make when they are designing their new paved patio. From improper measurements to not taking the time to plan ahead, read on to learn more about what NOT to do when you’re designing your new patio.
Not having a plan or design
When it comes to paving your patio, one of the worst mistakes you can make is not having a plan or design in place. This often leads to an uncoordinated look that doesn't flow with the rest of your home's exterior. To avoid this, take some time to sketch out a basic plan or use design software to create a more polished final product. Ensure the size of your patio is not disproportionate to the size of your home whilst at the same time, it needs to be a useable size. Work out what you will be using it for and ensure there is room for the garden furniture you would like to use with some extra room for moving chairs out and walking around the area. In all cases, having a clear vision for your paved patio will help ensure the end result is something you love.
Hiring an inexperienced contractor
When it comes to hiring a contractor to build your new patio, you may be tempted to go with the cheapest option. However, this could end up being a mistake if they are inexperienced. Here are a few things to keep in mind when hiring a contractor:
1. Make sure they have experience with paving projects similar to yours. An inexperienced contractor may not know how to properly prepare the ground for your new patio, which could lead to problems down the road. Similarly, some paving such as porcelain paving requires cutting and laying in a specific way and if your contractor is unfamiliar with the material, they may render it ususable.
2. Ask for references from past clients. This will give you an idea of the quality of work you can expect from them. Ideally, you want to have a look at their previous work and speak with their customers too.
3. Get everything in writing before work begins. This way, there will be no surprises later on and you'll know exactly what you're paying for. Make sure you know if the quote includes or excludes VAT and whether it is a fixed price proposal or an estimate which may vary. Sometimes you will pay a little extra for a fixed price quote as the contractor is building in an element of risk, however although an estimate may seem to be the cheaper option to begin with, you could end up paying extra at the end of the job if the contractor discovers extra work.
4. Be prepared to pay more for an experienced contractor. While it may be tempting to save money by going with a less experienced option, it's often worth it to spend a bit more for someone who knows what they're doing. They will have the experience to deal with any irregularities along the way and leave you with a patio that you are pleased with.
Skimping on materials
One of the top mistakes when designing a new paved patio is skimping on materials. This can lead to a number of problems down the road, including cracked pavers and uneven surfaces. When selecting materials for your patio, be sure to choose ones that are durable and will withstand the elements. Also, make sure to select a UKCA marked paver as this ensures your paving has been tested to ensure it's suitable for use in the UK (all paving sold at Paving Superstore is UKCA certified). This will help to prevent cracking in frost, over porosity which will cause excessive algae and other damage.
Some unscrupulous contractors will cut corners on their quotes appearing cheaper than others as they quote for a smaller quantity of sub-base materials. The sub-base is what stabilises the ground and prevents the paving from sinking, moving or lifting.
Similarly, only using spots of mortar instead of a full bed will cause ugly marks to appear on the surface of the stone once laid.
Not making it level
One of the most common mistakes when designing a new paved patio is not making it level. This can be a big problem, especially following rain. If your patio is not level, water can pool in certain areas and freeze in winter, creating dangerous conditions for anyone who uses your patio. In addition, unlevel patios can be unsightly and make it difficult to furniture or other items on your patio. To avoid these problems, be sure to use a level when designing your new paved patio. The patio should gently slope away from the house to prevent water pooling at the entrance to the house. Ideally, the surface run off should be directed to a free draining planting bed or even a soakaway. Sometimes drainage channels should be used.
Not getting planning permission or building regulations
If you're planning on designing a new paved patio, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not getting permission. In the majority of cases, planing permission and building regs are not required, however always enquire with your local planning office if constructing a new patio in a conservation area, adjacent to a listed building or if the patio is raised. Driveway projects may also need permission if you are unable to drain surface water into a soakaway within your own proerty or cannot use permeable block paving as part of a SUDS installation. Without the proper permission, your project could be halted and you could be fined. To avoid this costly mistake, be sure to check with your local planning department to see if you need permission for your patio project.
Using the wrong edging material
If you're paving a new patio, it's important to choose the right edging material. Otherwise, your patio may not last as long as you'd like. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when choosing edging materials for their patios:
1. Not haunching up the edge of your patio
If you choose not to use an edging brick or sett, it's advisable to ensure the finished edge of your patio is haunched to prevent the stoine from becoming exposed and gradually chipping or crumbling away.
2. Using house bricks
House bricks may look as though they are suitable as an edging material to your patio, but they're not as durable as paving materials. If you choose a house brick that's too soft, it could crumble over time especially in wet or frosty weather and will look unsightly. If you are looking for a brick style edge, either use cobble setts, block paving of clay pavers.
3. Using metal that will rust.
Metal edging can look nice, but it some types of metal will eventually rust if it's exposed to the elements. This can cause stains on your patio that will require ongoing maintenance. Some metal edging such as corten steel is designed to rust as a feature of the material. The water run off can stain a light coloured patio.
4. Laying the edge at the wrong height.
When using an edging stone around a patio laid next to a lawn, it's essential this is at the correct height to allow the lawn mower to traverse over the edge of the paving without causing damage. It should be set slightly lower than the lawn.
Laying pavers upside down
Did you know that laying pavers upside down is one of the most common mistakes made by inexperienced contractors. Some patio stones such as granite have a textured face and a smooth face. For safety reasons, and due to the smooth face being matte in appearance with machine marks on the surface, it is always necessary to lay granite paving with the textured face uppermost. Similarly, paving with a tapered edge should always be laid with the larger face facing upwards. When laid upside down, you will see large jointing gaps between the slabs which are unsightly.
Using the wrong joint size
If you use the wrong joint size when laying your paved patio, it can cause a number of problems. Firstly, it can make the paving lines look uneven and unsightly. Some paving is designed with a specific joint size in mind. Too narrow and the paving may suffer from 'picture framing' where the slabs always show a wet perimeter. Secondly, wider joints may be caused if the paving has been laid upside down. Finally, it can make the edges become exposed and therefore more prone to damage.
Getting cement on the surface
One of the most common mistakes when laying a new paved patio is getting cement on the surface. This can happen for a number of reasons, but it usually occurs when the mortar has been left to dry on the surface of the stone instead of being cleaned off during laying. It can also happen because the patio is not level or the ground is not level. If you have any low spots in your patio, it's likely that cement mortar will harbour in these areas. This can be easily avoided by making sure your patio is level. When using jointing mortars, this can also stain the surface if the stone is not thouroughly saturated with water prior and during usage. Always ensure the instructions are followed when using jointing mortar to prevent spoiling your patio so close to finishing the job. Never use acid based cleaners to remove cement mortar from the surface of your paving as it can drastically affect the colour of the stone in many cases.
Hopefully, these top tips will help ensure you do not suffer the many pitfalls of laying paving!