How to Build a Patio

The patio has had an unfair time of it in recent years. Television makeover programmes pushed a whole nation towards decking, as it looked good, was easy to lay and made a dramatic highlight of any home or garden makeover. Watching concrete dry did not make for sparkling television.

But the concrete patio is still a long-lasting and sensible solution to providing a transition from home to garden. It can be left as plain or polished concrete or topped with bricks, pavers or tiles, so it need not look dull or cheap.

how to build a patio

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Building a patio can be heavy work, although it is certainly a task that the keen DIY-er can attempt. It just requires a good deal of measuring out, calculating, digging, mixing, pouring and finishing. So if you are not confident in how to build a patio then a professional should be your first port of call. A good builder or landscaper will finish the job in half the time that you can and probably provide you with a cleaner finish as well.

How to build a patio

A good patio will need to be built up from six to eight inches below ground level. So, the earth must be dug out to this level. You may wish to go deeper if you are laying slabs or other materials atop your finished patio. This extra depth will be determined by the thickness of the top surface you are laying. In most cases you or your tradesman should layer four inches of hardcore or gravel as a sub base below the concrete. This is topped off with four inches of concrete.

how to make a patio

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A tradesman will know the amount of concrete needed off the top of his head for this kind of job, but your DIY store should be able to help you if you are laying the concrete yourself. Most suppliers have online calculators that do the work for you if you tap in the size of your patio.

Two main things to look out for, whether a tradesman is carrying out the job or you are, are the angle of the patio and how it will expand or contract in certain weather conditions. The angle is important, as the patio will abut your home and if you angle it wrongly then it will simply be tipping water back towards your house when it rains. It should very lightly slope away from the house at a ratio of around one in sixty. This is almost imperceptible to the naked eye, but it will stop water pooling on the patio.

how to build patio

Image source: Pinterest

Any large area of concrete will need breaks in it, which are joints that will stop it cracking during freezing weather or summer heat. These control joints are packed with material that can soften any movement. There should be one against the wall of your home if the patio comes up against it. There should also be control joints placed at least every four metres in any direction.

The finish of your patio is up to you, but a professional will be able to offer you a number of different looks, from plain to high gloss and textured, slab or brick top layers. Take a look at what your neighbours are doing or turn to landscape or home design magazines for further inspiration.

If you’d like to leave the building of your patio to the professionals, then post a job on Rated People to receive quotes from recommended and trusted tradesmen.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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  1. This advice is brilliant as we have “inherited”a patio which regularly floods and looks very unsightly. Thank you.

    1. Hello,

      If your post your job using the webform on our main website (, up to three trade members will be able to get in touch to quote on your job. Best of luck!

  2. Concrete is so environmentally unfriendly. Decking allows drainage and the land can much more easily be turned back into a living garden afterwards, when garden fashions change.

  3. Hey,

    Great post, you very well explained how to start a concrete patio. It is interesting to know that you need to dig out 6 to 8 inches below ground level before laying slabs or any other materials atop your finished patio. Something to be taken note of.

    Keep it up

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