Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Patio Building Exploits

The sun is out and the weather gurus have forecast a high of 17C, or about 65F today. That means we will start to put down the slate tiles for the pathway to our front door. The slate we ordered to build our patio and walkway, as well as the roofing tiles for our new entrance (more about that later...) arrived about 2 weeks ago. We thought about storing the pallets until next Spring, but really, we'd love to get the job done before winter sets in.

The weather is lovely today, compared to yesterday where we froze our nubs off, and Eric still has 2 days off before going back to work, so we figured we might as well give at least the pathway a go.

We had built the base for the patio and walkway in September, excavating the clay to an approximated depth of 12" to 16", lining the base with a geo-textile membrane, and back-filling with 3/4" gravel. Our first mistake: we were told to use 3/4" gravel for optimal drainage, however, we should have used 0-3/4" instead. We discovered this when we added the gravel screening on top and compacted it using a compactor. Had we used o-3/4" gravel, we would have used less screening, now we have to keep our fingers crossed that the screening won't just disappear into the gravel over the next few years. Once these tiles are down, we hope they stay flat. We don't want to take them up again because the prepared surface might heave with repeated freezing and thawing cycles.

So Eric got 2 trailers of screening that we off-loaded onto tarps. This keeps things tidier and makes it easier to move using the front-loader. No scooping up chunks of grass and earth at the same time. We added about a 1" to 2" layer of screening on top of the gravel (which Eric compacted using a rented compactor below), and yours truly went mad with a rake, smoothing and straightening the surface under Eric's eagle-eye. Eric then compacted this screening, and we now have a lovely, smooth base ready for the tiles which are shrink-wrapped on the skids in the picture below.

Notice the geo-textile membrane. We are folding the edge under the tiles as we go, and we hope that the membrane will keep the compacted screening from shifting a bit. Can you tell we're just making this up as we go along? (And can you tell someone gave us the membrane, and we figured: we might as well put it to use!)

Next step is to place the tiles: they are 12" x 24" and are so heavy, I can't even take one off the pallet. They are placed in specially-made boxes on a regular pallet frame, and for the life of me, I can't even lift one out of the box. Eric is going to have a bit of fun today, I think! One bug with the tiles is that they aren't all the same thickness, there can be a variation of about 1/4" from one end of the tile to another, so I think we are going to curse a bit when we put these into place!

If I make it through today, I'll let you know how things turn out!

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