Being the focal point of backyard BBQ's and summertime parties, the patio is a very essential part of the outdoor living and entertainment part of life.  Patios serve many purposes and provide for an easy transition from the inside of the home to the outside, not to mention adding value and class to the site.  Patios can be made with concrete, stone, brick, block, and flagstone, and can come in a variety of different shapes, colors, textures, etc...   
    Lots of times, people are not sure whether they should put in a wooden deck or a patio.  The answer depends on what kind of a finished look you want the area to have.  Patios made of brick can conform to any shape you want and bricks come in a variety of colors.  However, if the area you want to build on is slightly elevated, a wooden deck will be much easier to construct than a stone patio.  Patios usually tend to last longer do not weather as much as wooden decks do.  Patios also require a little less maintenance than decks.
    A very common choice for a patio is a brick on sand patio.  This kind is relatively common because there is no mortar involved; just brick and sand.  The steps below will walk you through the making of a brick-sand patio.

1) Planning: While most people automatically think to put the patio directly behind the house, think about alternative positions.  Is there a spot in a garden not being used?  Are there any spots in the yard where grass won't grow?  Put your thoughts down on paper, drawing the entire yard and then the area where the patio might go.  Try to use irregular shapes, as out of the ordinary styles draw attention to the patio.  If there are to be any walkways, take two hoses out to the yard and make the outline of the walkway with them until you find something you like (walkways should be 3-4 ft. wide).   Now, to estimate your patio's size, divide the patio up into sections and add the square footage.  A good rule of thumb is 5 bricks per square foot, so this will tell you how many bricks you will need.

2) Selecting bricks: An assortment of bricks can be found at any home improvement centers.  The cheapest bricks are called paving bricks and are made from concrete, while the most expensive ones are used bricks with some mortar still on them for character.  However, a good brick for patios is the building brick, which comes in a variety of shades.  Since bricks are heavy (500 to a ton), you will need to have a brick supplier deliver them.  Sand, unlike bricks, is difficult to gauge on the size of the patio.  You will need enough sand to cover the whole patio 2 inches deep.  A 12 square foot patio will take 1 ton of sand.

3) Edging: The patio will need some type of edging in order to hold the bricks snuggly in place.  Some common choices include bricks which are stacked on end and placed in the ground, and treated lumber, which is stabilized with pieces of rebar driven into the ground.  Treated lumber is a good choice because, since the edging will be partly in the ground, you will need something that will not weather easily.

4) Excavating: After the edging is in place, dig the interior of the patio out to a depth of 5 inches.  Try to keep the entire area as level as possible.  Then, lay down a special cloth that can be found at most nurseries which allows water to seep in but keeps out weeds.  After this, cover the entire area with 2 inches of sand.  After the sand is in place, walk on it or smooth it out so that the area is level.  By running a screed over the whole area, the sand will go down to about 3 1/2 inches deep, the depth of a brick.

5) Brick laying: After the sand is leveled out, you can begin to lay down the bricks.  Start next to the edging and place each successive brick snugly next to the others.  Upon reaching the other edgings, you may need to cut bricks to fit the size that is necessary.  This can be done with a circular saw and an abrasive blade.  When all the bricks are put down, sprinkle the entire patio with dry sand so that the sand fills in the spaces between the bricks.  This will hold the bricks in place.  Now, you have a patio.

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