Patios are popular in the UK for a good reason. We don’t have much fine weather, but when we do, many people like to enjoy it. A patio gives us somewhere to relax and appreciate the outside.
However, many people still don’t have one. So, if you want to learn about laying a patio, and how much it costs, carry on reading.
The average cost of laying a patio of around 20m2 is between £1000 to £2500. But it can be as cheap as £300 for concrete or slabs. Or, as much as £4000 for slate or stone.
To fully understand the type of patio you need, requires an appreciation of how to build one, the types of materials available and how long one takes to build. We intend to cover all this and other useful snippets of information. And hopefully, persuade you that a patio might not necessarily be out of your reach.
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How Much Does It Cost To Lay a Patio?
To save some money, you could build one yourself. However, although building a DIY patio might look easy, it’s better to hire a professional unless you have DIY experience and know what you’re doing.
A typical landscape gardener costs between £100 to £150/day. Or, you could use a bricklayer costing between £150 to £250 per day. Both these trades need the help of a general labourer charging around £100 per day.
On average, a small patio of around 10m2 takes about 2 to 2.5 days to complete. A 20m2 patio takes around 3 to 3.5 days. While, in comparison, a 40m2 patio might take 4 to 5 days.
Building a patio doesn’t only need the top surface. It also requires excavation, and a variety of materials to give a stable foundation. Using hardcore isn’t strictly necessary unless your garden is particularly wet and boggy. But, laying a patio on sand mixed with dry cement gives a level surface that bonds to the pavers.
Average material supply only costs
The following table shows relative prices you might pay for the different materials needed. Bear in mind that all the information comes from various online resources. So, treat all figures as a guide. You can only obtain accurate figures from a tradesperson after an inspection of the site, and a discussion of the type of patio you require. All amounts must have VAT added on top.
|Patio type||Average cost|
|Hardcore||£40 to £60/tonne|
|Sand||£40 to £70/tonne|
|Cement||£4 to £6/bag (25kg)|
|Brick pavers||£35 to £60/m2|
|Concrete pavers||£35 to £70/m2|
|Slate flag||£45 to £85/m2|
|Stone flags||£45 to £100/m2|
Perhaps you live near a quarry supplying sand, gravel or building stone. If so, you can often buy these materials at a heavily discounted rate. And, sometimes get them delivered too. Likewise, many local trading estates contain companies that make paving slabs from the local raw materials. And, cut local stone to sizes suitable for patios. Alternatively, ask at your local building supply merchants for the ranges they have in stock. Often these sources sell patio material at a lower price than equivalent ranges found in garden centres, especially if you choose a locally sourced material.
Let’s look at the different types of slabs, pavers and flags available for your new patio.
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Material & labour costs
The following table provides more information about the different materials. It gives an idea of the amounts you must pay for a typically sized patio of about 20m2. Notice that stone flags of varying types usually cost more than materials like brick pavers, poured concrete or concrete slabs. You can probably use the table as a patio calculator if you compare the information with your specific plans. Of course, you can do more with the information than calculate the cost to build a new patio. It’s also useful if you want to build a straight or meandering garden pavement through the lawn. Or, relay a patio that has cracked or subsided.
|Material||Cost per m2||Total material for 20m2||Labour cost||Total cost|
|Coloured concrete slabs||£30||£600||£600||£1200|
|Smooth concrete slabs||£30||£600||£600||£1200|
|Limestone block paving||£60||£1200||£700||£1900|
Labour day rate charges vary considerably, with areas such as London and the Southeast costing up to 20% more than elsewhere in the UK.
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Types of coverings
There is a big difference between slabs, blocks and stones that you might not realise.
Paving slabs come in varying sizes and shapes. However, the commonest are 300mm x 300mm, 300mm x 600mm or 300mm x 900mm. You can either stay with a single size or use a combination of different sizes. Most people choose a straightforward pattern using just these sized slabs. But, circles, semicircles and segments allow the designer to make something unique.
Paving blocks look like bricks when laid, except that they are smaller and thicker. You can use these as a patio covering in their own right, or use them as decorative edging around your patio. You can buy these in a single size or mixed sizes depending on your patio’s design. The smaller, thicker blocks allow you to cover contoured areas easier than with paving slabs. And, thicker blocks can support heavier loads such as vehicles, if you want the patio to match your driveway.
Carpet stones are another concept entirely. They consist of square stone cobbles fixed onto a flexible mat. You can trim the mat to any size or shape you want. Therefore, they are perfect for dealing with awkwardly shaped patios, around garden ponds or for a garden path.
As you can see from the table, there are a few different materials from which you can choose. Let’s look at them and see how they differ.
This is a man–made slab or flagstone, fired up to 1400°C to provide a glazed, stainproof surface, impervious to scratches and fading. The firing also strengthens the material and makes it more durable.
Granite is a hard and resilient rock, suitable for withstanding heavy loads. Usually, the rock comes in different shades of grey or brown and different complementing sizes to allow mixing and blending.
Limestone comes in different shades and contains varying coloured veins for variation. It’s a natural stone, so the paving has slight variations to make the overall effect more interesting.
Almost every quarry that provides sandstone has a distinctive range of colours, unique to the area. The distinctiveness came from the various impurities present when the sand initially compressed into rock. You can therefore buy sandstone in many different colours to complement the other colours on your property.
Natural slate is a layered rock that can we can split in one direction, but not the other. Slate pavers are usually hand split (or riven) into layers and diamond sawn into the correct sizes. In colour, it’s usually blue/grey or blue/black. Moreover, some have multicoloured inclusions to make the overall effect more interesting.
Concrete is a man–made product made by mixing sand, small stones, and cement with water and then pouring onto a pre-prepared surface of hardcore and sand. It is incredibly versatile and replicates the feel of natural stone. Concrete has other names and is also known as engineered stone, reconstituted stone, cast stone or artificial stone. It can be poured into moulds to produce stepping stones, paving slabs, and ornaments. It is a low–cost surface, popular, and undercuts other more expensive garden patio prices
Generally, slabs and flags have a larger area than blocks and bricks, while the latter types are usually thicker. These two facts mean that we should lay them differently, too.
Slabs & flags
These have a larger area so they can straddle uneven ground easier. It also means that following the contours of the ground is more difficult.
Blocks & bricks
These have a smaller area so they can follow undulations in the ground easier. In contrast, it’s more difficult to maintain a smooth level surface. They are thicker than slabs; therefore, they can support larger loads, such as vehicles.
The type of ground you have in your garden determines whether you need hardcore or not. Firm, well–drained ground has enough support, so hardcore isn’t necessary. However, it’s a good idea to level the ground using sharp sand mixed with cement. If you need hardcore, compact it to about 10cm to 15cm followed by around 40mm of sharp sand and cement.
Even if you have a sloping garden, flagging a garden is possible. It’s always a good idea to build the patio as horizontal as possible (allowing for a small gradient for shedding rainfall). You now have a choice of whether you should excavate the ground to the level of the lower edge. Or, build a small wall at the lower edge to raise the surface level with the upper edge.
A raised patio on the lower side is usually the better option. Usually, excavating more than necessary can be difficult, because you must then build a retaining wall to prevent subsidence. So, keep the patio at the level of the ‘uphill’ side and build a low wall at the ‘downhill’ side. Infill with hardcore to bring up the level, followed by sand and cement dry mix.
It’s always a good idea to build the patio level to make using tables and chairs easier. However, incorporate a small gradient into the patio surface to prevent rainfall from puddling on the surface. Usually, a slope of 2cm per metre keeps the patio surface clear of puddles and sheds the rain to the side where runoff goes into a drain or the garden.
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Patio Laying Cost Factors
Many factors affect the cost of your new patio. Some are a conscious choice, such as quality of slab. While others depend on the conditions of the ground in your garden, such as using hardcore or not.
A professional garden designer can design your patio based on your ideas, or you can design it yourself. If you intend using a garden designer, use their skills to incorporate landscaping and plant choice as well. To design a small garden costs from £1000 to £5000. Based on an hourly rate of £100, you can break this down into typical sections such as :
- Survey and site analysis. 3 hours: £300.
- Drawing up. 2 hours: £200.
- Concept plans. 5 hours: £500.
- Final masterplan and specifications. 4 hours: £400.
These figures represent a basic design but can be higher, depending on the complexity of the ideas.
To excavate the patio requires a hired excavator, or someone with a shovel and wheelbarrow, depending on the excavated volume. Don’t forget you have to take into account the access to your back garden. Most modern houses in the UK only have a small path around the side of the building. So it might be challenging to move soil from the back garden to the waste skip on the driveway.
You’ll need a waste skip to remove the surplus soil. Waste skips start at around £120 for the smallest, up to around £400 for the largest domestic skip. But, consider whether it’s more economical having two or more small ones or one large skip.
The size of your patio determines the cost. For example, a small patio of around 10m2 costs between £600 and £1200, while a more extensive 40m2 patio can cost up to £5000.
Quality of slabs
Remember, you get what you pay for. You can go for a poured concrete patio starting at £15/m2, which looks cheap and very basic. But, if you use expensive materials, you’ll also pay higher labour charges. Either because the materials are difficult to work with, or because you need someone with better skills.
You also have to choose which type of slab you want. Cheap concrete slabs contain lots of air bubbles, which soak up water and crack when frozen. Eventually, the slabs break, needing replacements. Generally, high–quality slabs contain fewer air bubbles which subsequently last longer.
We’ve already mentioned that labour costs vary with geographical location. But, they also vary depending on whether you choose a specialist company, building company, handyman or landscape gardener. Generally, sole traders charge the lowest rates and often produce a better quality product.
Usually, patios need a sub-base to give firm and stable foundations. If the subsoil is firm and well–drained, you might not need to use compacted hardcore. However, you don’t know how the ground will change over the years. Hence, it’s better to incorporate hardcore and compact it before going any further. You can either use coarse hardcore such as broken brick or concrete, or use MOT Type 1 broken rock. Both these materials require compacting before going any further. However, broken rubble is difficult to compact and needs blinding with sharp sand to fill all the cavities and smooth off the surface before compaction. In contrast, quarry stone compacts better and when blinded gives a good firm base ready for laying slabs.
Sometimes, allowing the rainwater to run off the patio onto the lawn might not be enough, especially if you have a large patio. In this case, you should incorporate a drainage channel at the edges, diverting the runoff to a soakaway or surface water drain. Generally, to install a soakaway costs between £500 to £1000, depending on patio size.
If you want to prevent weeds from growing through the patio foundations, consider using a weed–suppressing fabric. First, ensure you have removed all roots and weeds from the ground, before laying the weed membrane. Prices vary depending on the effectiveness and quality. But, products range from £12 (14m x 1m roll) to £25 (2m x 20m roll), or £80 (2.25m x 50m roll). If your patio dimensions are wider than the roll width, you must overlap the fabric by at least 200mm. Also, don’t forget to have at least 200mm overhang at the edges to turn up the excavation sides. You can trim it later on.
Sand & cement
Bed the slabs or blocks onto a mixture of 4 parts sharp sand to 1 part Portland cement. Some professionals prefer to use a dry mix (similar to floor screed) and allow the moisture from the surroundings to activate the cement. In contrast, others like to lay slabs onto a wet mix, similar to laying bricks in a wall. Both methods have their pros and cons, and you should leave the choice to the tradesperson. However, a dry mix is firmer, and you can use the patio almost immediately.
There’s no need to buy specialist grout for pointing slabs. Use a dry mix of 1 part sand to 1 part cement and push the mix into the joints with a hand brush and jointing tool. Afterwards, brush the surface with a stiff broom to remove any excess. If you want to use coloured grout, mix in a mortar dye. It’s crucial only to grout the slabs on a dry day because any moisture causes the cement to stain the surface.
Calculating the slabs
When you know the area of the patio, you can calculate how many slabs to buy. It’s a good idea to use a sheet of graph paper and draw the patio to scale. To make things easier, design your patio with dimensions of a multiple of slab sizes. For example, if you choose 600mm x 600mm slabs, make sure the patio dimensions are 1200mm, 1800mm, 2400mm, 3000mm, and so on. Building it this way means you won’t have to cut the slabs. However, if you can’t do this, try to position the slabs centrally on the patio and use a smaller slab or brick along the edge.
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How to Lay a Patio
The method of laying a patio is pretty straightforward, so if you follow the instructions to the letter, anyone who enjoys DIY can do it. However, it’s strenuous work, and you need to be reasonably agile, so if necessary, hire a professional to do it for you.
1. Prepare the area
Before you start digging in the garden, check there aren’t any buried services you might inadvertently unearth. They should be a minimum of 450mm below the surface, but you never know.
Mark out the perimeter of the patio area with pegs and string. Try to keep the dimensions a multiple of the paver’s size. Measure diagonals. They should be the same length if the area has 90° corners.
Lay the pavers out on the grass, so you can see what goes where. Draw the pattern on paper and then remove the pavers to somewhere safe.
Remove the turf and store in case you need any to patch up the edges.
Dig down about 215mm to the highest point. This depth accommodates all the sub-base layers and the pavers.
Mark out a series of wooden stakes with the depths of the various layers and hammer them into the ground about 1m apart. These give you a level guide when compacting.
3. Fill sub-base
Pour and compact each layer into the excavation, using the pegs as guides, before moving on to the next task.
- 100mm sub-base of MOT Type 1 hardcore. Ensure there is a slope from one edge to the opposite edge. The gradient should be about 2cm drop per 1m span. Compact the layer before moving on.
- Compact a shallow blinding layer of sharp sand or ballast.
- Next, allow enough room for a 50mm layer of mortar. Or, a dry mix of sharp sand and cement.
- Finally, allow about 65mm thickness for the paving slab (or whatever thickness your pavers are).
4. Laying pavers
Start in one corner (preferably the highest corner). Lay enough mortar (or dry mix) on top of the sub-base to bed one paver. Wet the reverse side of the paver to help with adhesion and to give a lubricant when adjusting.
Place this first slab onto its bed and tap level using a rubber mallet. Fill gaps underneath the edges with mortar using a trowel.
Place a bed for the next slab. Then, wet the slab and place it on the bed. Using a long spirit level to indicate the direction of fall, tap the paver with the mallet to ensure it’s level.
Continue with each paving slab, in turn, keeping the gradient level in one direction and sloped in the other.
Between each paver place small pieces of wood to act as spacers.
When finished, allow the mortar to dry before grouting the joints.
5. Grouting the joints
Mix 1 part sand with 1 part cement into a bucket and pour this ‘dry’ into the gaps between pavers. Sprinkle the mix onto the gap and brush in using a small hand brush. Keep the surface dry and don’t allow any dry mix to remain on the pavers; otherwise, the cement stains the surface.
Finally, compress the joints using a jointing tool and continue adding more grout until the gap becomes full.
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Patio Types & Finishes
The type of patio and its finish depends on your preference and your budget. However, each type has its pros and cons.
£15 to £70/m2.
- The slabs are easy to replace or move around if you desire.
- Good damp prevention.
- Can withstand extremes of cold or heat.
- Its rigid shape makes it difficult to design anything other than a patio with limited flexibility.
- Pigments and dyes fade over time.
- Not a good idea to build over plumbing and electrical installations.
£15 to £50/m2.
- Scratch and warp resistant.
- Low maintenance.
- Easy to repair and replace.
- Difficult to install.
- Needs sealing regularly.
- Sometimes prone to frost damage.
£50 to £80/m2.
- Colour fades very slowly.
- It doesn’t readily absorb water or stains.
- Not commonly used so can be a unique patio.
- Slate scratches easily.
- It holds puddles easily and can freeze in winter.
- Prone to splitting and flaking.
£40 to £100/m2.
- Stone holds its colour.
- Very durable.
- Can be easily shaped to fit awkward places.
- Irregular surfaces.
- Prone to accumulated blown soil and weeds.
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Alternatives to Patios
Patios can look rigid and formal, and might not look good in certain types of garden. If you want an alternative to a patio in your garden, consider using one or a combination of the following.
You can buy chipped bark in small bags from garden centres or in large quantities from wholesalers or sawmills. Prepare the area to contain the bark in the same way as for a patio. Therefore, you should have a weed suppressant layer, compacted hardcore and sand to provide a firm base, and a low retaining wall. Bark has the advantages that it’s soft as a play area and allows water through. A disadvantage is that it is easily blown around if your garden suffers from high winds. Bags of play bark retail at around £90 for 1m3, whereas good quality mulching bark costs from £60 to £110 for 1m3.
Use gravel of your choice embedded into a resin. Unfortunately, it needs a firm surface such as tarmac or concrete, to support the resin. So, it might be suitable as a top layer if your existing patio looks in poor condition. The material is difficult for an amateur to work with, so use a specialist company unless you know what you are doing. An advantage is that the natural gaps between the gravel allow easy drainage. Prices vary with geographical location and quality of the material. But, average prices vary from £40 to £70/m2.
People commonly use gravel as an alternative. Prepare the sub-base, in the same way as for a patio. But, allow for between 50mm and 75mm of gravel as a top layer. Less than this wears away over time, while more than 75mm is difficult to walk on. Over time, gravel eventually finds its way scattered across the garden. Still, it’s cheap enough to keep a bag or two stored for topping-up. Prices vary depending on the type of gravel you choose. But, standard 10mm pea shingle costs about £40 to £50 for a 1–tonne jumbo bag.
No matter which type of patio surface you decide upon, there are standard maintenance tasks you should do.
- Check for subsidence as it can indicate a failed sub-base.
- Remove weeds that start to sprout as soon as they appear.
- Wash with a stiff broom and proprietary patio cleaning chemical to remove moss and dirt once or twice a year.
- Wash with a stiff broom and clean water once a month.
- Clear area of blown leaves and soil.
- Check the grout’s condition between slabs and stones, and replace if necessary.
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Planning Permission & Building Regulation
There are no Planning Permission restrictions on building a patio in your back garden. However, you might need to apply for permission if the patio requires a large amount of banking or terracing on sloped ground. Furthermore, if you live in a listed building, you might have to apply for permission. You should also check with your local planning department whether there is a pre-existing planning condition or covenant prohibiting developments of this type.
Similarly, no parts of a patio come under the Building Regulations. However, you must ensure that none of the alterations associated with the patio makes access to your home more difficult. For example, to add steps where none existed before. To do so would be a contravention of Approved Document M (Access to and use of buildings).
Patio Installation: Hiring Tips
When looking for someone to build a patio, there are some simple guidelines to follow so you don’t end up conned or billed for more than you anticipated.
- Get quotes from three different companies. Don’t necessarily choose the cheapest, instead look at the complete package and see which one you feel the happiest working with.
- Ask how long they have been trading and whether they have any references for similar types of work. If they have references, follow them up and speak to the patio owner, and look at the standard of work.
- Check the tradesperson holds insurance to protect them and you, in case anything goes wrong.
- Agree on a method of payment. It’s acceptable to pay 10% or 15% of the total price as a deposit, followed by the remainder on successful completion.
- Agree who supplies the materials. Will you or the tradesperson? If you get them, you won’t pay the tradesperson his percentage for getting the material. But, if the tradesperson gets the materials, you don’t have the hassle of finding a reasonable price and organising delivery.
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Patio Laying FAQ
Can you lay paving slabs on sand?
Yes, but make sure you use compacted sharp sand as a base.
Can you lay slabs on soil?
Yes, you can. However, there are some considerations you should take on board:
- Ensure there aren’t any roots likely to push through and use a weed-suppressing fabric.
- Add sharp sand to the soil to assist drainage. This prevents rainwater pooling under the slabs.
- And compact the soil/sand mix to give a firm flat surface, so the patio doesn’t sink.
What is the least expensive way to build a patio?
There are two, depending on your preferences.
- Poured concrete, when set, provides a hard, durable surface that is easy to lay and maintain.
- Generally, gravel is cheaper than concrete, depending on the type you choose. It’s easy to top-up the surface. But, weeds often gain a root hold in the gravel, and the individual stones usually end up spread over the lawn.
What’s the best sub-base for a patio?
Probably the best base materials are as follows:
100mm to 150mm of compacted MOT Type 1 aggregate, followed by a shallow blinding layer of sharp sand or 40mm-to-dust ballast. Make sure to compact the base using a vibrating plate compactor.
How much space is needed between pavers?
Generally, leave around 3mm to 5mm between slabs. You don’t have to measure them precisely, but make sure they look even. It’s a good idea to run a string line against the edge of the pavers so you can see if they are in line.
Do you tamp sand before laying pavers?
Yes. The last thing you want is for the pavers to subside because the base isn’t firm. Therefore, tamp the hardcore and the 50mm layer of sharp sand before laying pavers. Better still, use a vibrating plate compactor for best results.
What is the best flooring for an outdoor patio?
Well, this answer depends on which you prefer.
You could mean which is the most economical, in which case you should choose poured concrete, gravel or the cheapest paving slabs you can find.
Or, you might mean, which looks more in keeping with your house, in which case use a brick or stone to match.
Or which is the most durable, in which case stone is the best.
Find Patio Installer In Your Area
Building a patio in your garden tends to bring your living room into the outdoors. Not only do you have a place to relax or entertain on a sunny day, but you might also make your home easier to sell. Many people build their own. But, if you don’t mind paying the cost of laying a patio, you will find that a professionally built one lasts a lot longer and often looks heaps better.
So, complete the form on this page, and you’ll receive 3 or 4 quotes from patio installers near you. Then, choose which one you prefer.
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