Laying a stone patio: An Alliance Guide

August Bank Holiday weekend provides the perfect opportunity and ideal dry climate to lay a stone patio. Once you know how, patio laying is not that complicated, although it does require a bit of pre-planning. The Alliance team has compiled a step by step process, including a list of all the tools and equipment you need, conveniently available to hire from a depot near you. 

Stage 1: The groundwork

Before you start excavating your patio area, we recommend using a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) to check for any underground obstructions, such as pipes and cables or drainage services. Technically pipes should be at least 450mm beneath the surface, but it’s best to check, especially with older properties. There’s nothing worse than a burst pipe dampening your bank holiday spirit!

Stage 2: Planning out your patio

Start by working out the size of your patio. You’ll want it to look in proportion to your garden, and may already have garden furniture and a BBQ that you want it to sit on which will help to determine the overall square footage. Your patio should be a minimum of 150mm below the damp proof course of the house, and have a gentle slope, known as the fall, away from the house to allow for effective drainage. 

The ideal fall is dependent on the type of paving slabs being laid. If your slabs are smooth, aim for a fall that is 1 in 60 (16mm drop in level per metre), whereas if they are textured, the fall should be 1 in 80 (12.5mm drop in level per metre). 

Stage 3: Preparing your patio base

Once you’ve decided the layout and location of your patio, prepare the sub-layer upon which the stones will sit. 

Mark out the area using wooden pegs, driving them in at 1m intervals around the edge level with the ground. 

The area then needs to be cleared and raked, removing any turf or stone to a depth of 100 – 150mm. It’s good to check at this stage that everything’s as level possible, before applying your hardcore to make up your sub base. Hardcore is a mix of crushed brick, rock and concrete and other composites which is ideal for effective drainage. Rake a layer of hardcore to a depth of around 50-80mm across the foundation and hire a Plate Compactor – also known as a Wacker Plate – to get a flat service. 

Tools to hire for stage 3: 
Rake to hire from Alliance Tool Hire

Stage 4: Cutting your paving slabs 

For some paving projects you’ll need to cut paving slabs. Our range of Disc Cutters are ideal for cutting stone precisely and safely. These petrol powered cut-off saws can be supplied with wet systems where water is sprayed onto the rotating cutting disc, which counteracts the dust produced when cutting stone. 

Tools to hire for stage 4:

Stage 5: Laying

Before starting to lay your patio slabs, check all your measurements and make a mortar mix, five parts building sand to one part cement, in a Cement Mixer

Start in a corner of your patio and lay 50mm – 80mm of mortar on top of the sub-base. If you’re working with big slabs, it’s worth considering a Two Man Vacuum Slab Lifter, to safely move the stone without risking injury. 

Check the alignment and once correctly positioned, tap the paving slab with a rubber mallet to set into the mortar. Continue to work around your patio area following the same process, using a spirit level to make sure everything is aligned and your fall is correct. Wash down your stones when you’re finished. 

Tools to hire for stage 5:

Stage 6: Pointing your patio

The last step is pointing your patio, i.e. filling in the gaps. Prepare your mortar, four parts sand to one part cement and mix in a Cement Mixer. Add a little water at a time to get a smooth consistency. Use a pointing trowel to press into the gaps, being careful to wipe any excess from the top of your slabs as you go. Go over these with a damp sponge to make sure there’s no cement left. Once the mortar has completely set (best to wait 48 hours) use a Pressure Washer to thoroughly clean your patio, ready to enjoy the last stretch of summer. 

Maintain your patio with our Pressure Washers: 

Patio Laying Hire Tool Kit:

Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT)

Cement Mixer


Wacker Plate


Disc Cutter

Pressure Washer

Slab Lifter

Looking to lay a patio? Or perhaps you need to give it a good clean this weekend? Get in touch with your local Alliance Tool Hire branch and hire all the high quality equipment you need. 

Find your nearest Alliance Tool Hire branch and speak to our friendly and experienced team. 

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