Patio bricks can be laid in a variety of different patterns. The pattern is strictly for looks, and the brick surface will perform the same regardless of the pattern. For beginners, it makes sense to use a simple pattern that requires little or no cutting of bricks. Perhaps the best option is the basket weave, which is decorative and eye-catching but also very easy to install. And if you choose to build a square or rectangular patio and size it to fit the bricks, you shouldn't have to cut any bricks at all.
The best bricks to use for this project are paving bricks or brick pavers. These are about 2 inches thick and have smooth, solid faces to create a nice walking surface. For a basket weave design, which has a checkerboard pattern, you want the widths of two bricks to equal the length of one. Therefore, an ideal size of paver is 4 inches wide by 8 inches long.
The easiest way to install a brick paver patio is the sandset method. The bricks are laid on the ground, over a layer of compacted gravel topped by landscape fabric and a smooth layer of sand. After the bricks are laid, you sweep sand into the cracks between the pavers to lock them in place.
Codes and Regulations
Call your city office to learn about all building code requirements, zoning laws, or land use restrictions that may apply to your project. In most areas, you do not need a building permit for a simple paver patio, but zoning and land use rules may come into play. If the proposed patio is located near a property line or an easement or right of way, the city may require a survey of the property and possibly other documentation before you can build.
If clay bricks are kiln-fired, they are harder than concrete.
Equipment / Tools
- Tape measure
- 8 Stakes
- Small sledgehammer
- Mason's line
- Line level
- Long, straight 2x4 board
- Carpenter's level
- Hand tamp or plate compactor
- Rubber mallet
- Plywood scrap
- Garden hose
- Paving bricks
- Brick patio edging
- Compactible gravel
- Landscape fabric
Mark the Patio Edges
Use stakes and mason's line to create layout lines for the patio. Base the dimensions on the brick paver size; the lines should represent the outer edges of the brick, not the edging. You can create a layout with just four stakes, but a better method is to drive two stakes at each corner, placed about 2 feet beyond the sides of the patio. When you tie lines to the stakes, the points where the lines cross mark the actual corners of the patio. This setup allows you to excavate and prepare the entire patio area without having the stakes get in the way.
Make sure the string layout is square by measuring diagonally between opposing corners (where the strings meet); the layout is square when the diagonal measurements are equal.
Slope the Strings
Place a line level on each layout string and adjust one end of the string up or down, as needed, so the line is perfectly level. Then, lower the strings on the downhill end of the patio 1/4 inch per linear foot of patio length. For example, if the patio is 10 feet long, it will slope down 2 1/2 inches from one end to the other. The downhill end is where you want water to run off of the patio; typically, this should be the end farthest from the house so surface water sheds away from the house foundation.
Excavate the Area
Excavate the patio area to a depth of 8 inches, extending the excavation about 6 inches beyond the brick layout on all sides. Slope the soil to follow the layout lines, measuring down from the lines as you go to maintain an 8-inch depth. Excavate to full depth along the two sides, then dig out the center, checking with a long, straight 2x4 board and a level to ensure the entire area is flat and level from side to side; the soil base will slope toward the downhill end but will be level from side to side. Tamp the soil thoroughly with a hand tamp or a rented plate compactor.
Add a Gravel Base
Pour compactible gravel inside the excavated area to a depth of 4 inches. Rake the gravel smooth and level, slope it to follow the string layout, and tamp it so it is thoroughly compacted.
Install Paver Edging
Install paver edging along the perimeter of the patio, following the manufacturer's directions. Standard plastic edging is designed for brick patios and is largely concealed when the bricks are in place. It is installed with metal spikes. Line up bricks along the edges to make sure the edging placement is accurate (so that you won’t have to cut any bricks). The edging should fit snugly against the test-fit bricks. Remove the test-fit bricks, keeping the edging in place.
Add the Sand Layer
Lay landscape fabric over the gravel; this suppresses weeds and separates the gravel from the sand layer. Pour 2 inches of sand over the landscape fabric. Use the 2x4 as a screed to smooth and level the sand. There should be 2 inches between the top of the sand and the top of the patio edging. Remove the layout strings and stakes.
Spray the sand with a gentle mist of water until it is thoroughly soaked. This helps to concentrate and compact the sand.
Lay the First Row of Bricks
Lay the first bricks, starting in one corner and running along the edging to complete a row. Alternate each pair of bricks so that two are horizontal, then two are vertical, and so on. Press the bricks gently into the sand, and put them together as closely as possible. Tap the bricks with a rubber mallet to settle them into the sand, if necessary.
Run a mason's line across the first row, aligned with the leading edges of the bricks. Pull the line taut and secure it at the ends with stakes, or simply clamp them to the edging. Straighten the bricks in the first row, as needed, so all leading edges are even with the line.
Lay the Remaining Bricks
Install the remaining bricks, one row at a time, moving the mason's line for each row. For comfort and to prevent moving the installed bricks, lay a sheet of plywood atop the bricks to kneel on while you work. The last row should fit snugly against the edging.
Lock the Bricks With Sand
Spread sand over the bricks, then sweep across the patio surface with a push broom to work the sand into the cracks. Sweep in multiple directions to reach all cracks, adding sand as you go until the cracks are filled. Gently spray the patio with a garden hose to settle the sand in the cracks. Spread and sweep more sand into the cracks, and spray again, until the cracks are completely filled and the sand is settled.
Backfill the Edging
Backfill behind the brick edging with soil and sod or other landscape material. This partially hides the edging to create a finished look, and it helps to hold the pavers and edging in place.
Tips for Building a Brick Patio
If you need to cut some bricks to fit your layout, you can use a hammer and masonry chisel or a circular saw with a masonry blade. But if you have a lot of cuts to make, it's worth it to rent a brick splitter or a masonry wet saw for half a day. These tools make much faster, cleaner cuts than a hammer or handheld saw. The best blade to use for saw cuts is a diamond blade. Alternatively, you can use an abrasive blade, but it may wear down quickly and won't cut as cleanly.