We now have 30 years of experience with Indian stone paving here at Bridge Street Stone, so you can trust us to know everything there is to know about the UK’s favourite type of stone paving. And as you’d expect, our expertise extends far beyond just the knowledge of their physical characteristics - we’re also pretty well-versed in the best ways to lay them, too! So with that in mind, if you’re sizing up your outdoor space for new Indian paving slabs, here are five of the most useful tips bits of advice we can provide to ensure the job goes smoothly.
Make sure you’re prepared
We’ll start with one that might sound fairly obvious, but some people tend to have different definitions of the word ‘prepared’! First of all, get another pair of hands to help you. While laying paving slabs is something that can technically be done alone, it’s generally far safer and easier if you can halve the carry weight between at least two people, if not more.
Similarly, make sure that you’ve got proper Personal Protective Equipment, such as long sleeves and long, protective gloves. (Protective eyewear is never a bad idea either.) Wet and dry cement can sometimes cause skin irritation, and you’ll never want to find that out the hard way.
Do a (literal) dry run first
Long before you cement your slabs fully into position, it’s a good plan to carefully measure and mark out your space down to the last centimetre. It might sound painstakingly tedious, but as all too many of us know, when it comes to DIY sometimes it’s the smallest mistakes which can end up having the biggest consequences.
Here’s where a builders line (marker tool) will come in handy, if you’ve got one. At its core, it’s essentially a very long piece of string, but hugely reliable for this sort of work. Even before you start digging, lay out your builder’s line to the point where you’d like your slabs to sit, and measure the area they’ll cover. This is particularly important if you’re eventually planning to use it for barbecues and social gatherings, as it gives you an opportunity to lay out your furniture in advance, so you can tell what will fit where on your finished patio.
While we’re on the subject, don’t forget about the 10mm rule. If you’re laying paving slabs next to a lawn area, make sure to put the slabs at least 10mm below ground level, as it’ll ensure that it’s much easier for you to mow the lawn.
Prepare your ground properly
Before you lay your Indian paving slabs you’ll need a full bed of mortar, so that your slabs remain secure. You probably don’t need too much detail on that point - we covered it pretty exhaustively in our guide to laying calibrated sandstone paving. Another good thing to do, though, is put down some weed suppressant fabric before laying down your hard core. That will do a great job of preventing weeds from growing up from the gaps between your slabs.
Consider how rain might affect your patio, both before and after laying
The sad truth is that even in the midst of summer, the UK can be a bit notorious for rain, and building a patio can be a multi-day job. That means there’s a reasonably good chance that your half-finished patio could be exposed to its fair share of showers. To prevent the rain from ruining all your hard work, we’d recommend covering your patio with a weatherproof cover when you’re not actively working on it, giving you the peace of mind you’ll need to finish the job later on.
Even once you’ve properly laid your patio, rain can still pose a problem. Specifically, water can settle and pool on your flagstones, potentially causing those dreaded brown rings, and other discernible marks. (That’s largely down to the fact that Indian sandstone is quite porous.)
To avoid that, it’s worth considering whether you want to slope your slabs. If you choose to, the best way to do it is by using a builders line to create a measured incline - start at the peak of where your slope will be, and run your builders line incrementally down to the bottom angle of your slope. That makes it a lot easier for you to lay your paving slabs by following the incline of that angled line. Try to avoid laying any uneven sandstone slabs, as they can all-too-easily become a tripping hazard.
Don’t walk on them
We know it sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how often this happens. Very few people need to be told not to walk on sandstone slabs immediately after laying (unless they’re below a certain age, that is), but it’s not uncommon for people to underestimate the amount of time that mortar needs to dry. That’s generally between 24 to 48 hours. If they’re stepped on before that, they’re liable to move - which not only affect the appearance of your lovely patio, but the safety of it as well, since uneven slabs might pose a tripping hazard.
If there’s absolutely no other option, it’s worth putting a large wooden board over your patio slabs before you step onto them. That can help spread your weight out a bit more evenly, reducing the pressure on your patio slabs, and thereby minimising their chances of movement.
So, those are all the top tips covered! If you need any more specific advice, or you’ve got any questions, our team is only too happy to help. In addition to our 30 years of expertise, we also offer a varied range of Indian sandstone to choose from here at Bridge Street Stone, so you’ve got no shortage of choice in terms of achieving your vision. All are sourced directly from India, and we’re able to offer free delivery to most areas. To make an order, feel free to give us a call today on 01282 860571.