blood, sweat, and beers


Mostly finished project..don’t mind the mess..I cleaned that…eventually

This project was actually accomplished this summer when we still had the motivation and time to do stuff and it was 300-degrees outside with 300% humidity. I love Florida in July. It’s a magical place where the air literally sweats and the mosquitos are the size of dinner plates. Anyway, when we bought the house, we had a new lawn put in and it was beautiful. For five minutes until Ranger and Tonto figured out that digging was fun. Welp, there went our lawn. We patched and re-sodded their favorite spelunking sites over and over but finally grew tired of that drill and just decided to expand the porch. Our existing one was kinda small anyway and didn’t have enough room for the beer pong table. Priorities. Also, Husband was worried that I would light the porch on fire when I tried to make s’mores with the fire pit so close to the house. He said he needed to relocate my pyrotechnics. At least he didn’t ban them entirely so I’m cool with that.


Here is what our yard looked like before we moved in…so pretty…


…and after our dogs became excavating experts…

Naturally, we had no clue what we were doing. Thankfully, the internet exists and YouTube is shockingly helpful. I’m sure anyone with construction experience would be horrified to know we learned how to use a wet saw from a YouTube video, but hey – we still have all of our fingers and most of the bricks ended up in roughly the right shape.

Additionally, this project was intense and took a million trips to Lowe’s (our favorite store). They know us by name and I’m pretty sure have our credit card number memorized. If something were to happen to us, Lowe’s would be the first to notice we were missing.

Back to the patio project:

Step one: Google how the heck to build a brick paver patio.

Then mark out desired area. This required the use of neon orange spray paint. (fist pump). Calculate square footage of area. Or just guess. It’s way more exciting and means you get to make more trips to Lowe’s when you’re wrong. Not that I would know anything about that.

Here is a rough formula from the Lowe’s website that is pretty handy:

Calculate the Amount of Material Needed

To estimate the amount of material you need for the patio, measure the length and width, and multiply the two numbers together to get the square footage of your patio.

Example: A 10′ X 10′ area is 100 square feet.

Amount of Gravel

For 4″ of gravel you will need to calculate the volume. Length x Width x Height = Volume

Example: For a 10′ X 10′ patio with 4″ of gravel, you will need (10 X 10 X .333)= 34 cubic feet or 1.25 cubic yards.

Amount of Sand

Once you have the amount of gravel needed, calculate the amount of sand. You will need 1″ of sand above the gravel base. You must allow for sand to filter into the gravel base and space between bricks.

Example: For a 10′ X 10′ patio, 1.25 cubic yards of gravel is needed. Multiply 1.25 X .333 to calculate the amount of sand needed. You will need .42 cubic yards of sand or 11 cubic feet of sand.

Number of Bricks

Standard brick pavers measure 4″ X 8″. To cover 10 square feet you will need about 45 pavers. A surplus of five to ten percent is recommended to allow for breakage and future repairs.

Example: For a 10′ X 10′ patio, the patio is 100 sq. feet.

45/10=4.5 and 4.5 (100)=450 bricks.

Be sure to add five to ten percent for breakage. 450 X .10= 45. So you will need 495 bricks to do a 10′ X 10′ patio.

If you are using pavers that are not the standard size, find out the surface area of your material and take that number and divide it into the surface area of the patio for the number of units needed.

Bust out the credit card and acquire materials. The patio consists of 4 layers: Sand, gravel, bricks, and Sakrete Polymeric paver sand. Our yard is literally all sand (there is no actual dirt in Florida) so we didn’t have to buy any of that but did have a buy an entire pallet of gravel (we used a 3″ base), two pallets of bricks (one of each size) and 12 buckets of Sakrete. When in doubt, over-estimate. Lowe’s is a pretty stellar place and will happily let you return everything you didn’t use as well as any bricks that arrived broken. All of that weighed in at about 8 tons so we had it delivered instead of hauling all of that around in our car. I highly recommend this option. Totally worth the extra money. You’ll also need the following:

  • shovel
  • work gloves
  • rubber mallet
  • mason’s crayon
  • broom
  • hose and sprayer nozzle
  • level
  • 2×4 (easiest way to smooth layers)
  • edging of choice
  • wet saw (we rented one)
  • plate compactor (again with the renting)
  • muscles
  • beer

Now get to work! Remove all of the sod (but save some!) and dig out area. We dug 6″ down. Your patio will need to have a gradual slope away from the house for drainage. 1/4″ of drop per every foot is a good rule of thumb.

Smooth area with 2×4 and use the level to make sure you’ve got it right. Test the level in several directions to make sure. Use the plate compactor to tamp the sand until solid. Test again with level.

Spread gravel over the area to a depth of 3″. Using the 2×4 is the easiest way. Go back to Lowe’s for more gravel because your math was wrong. Level and run the plate compactor again and check level. You might have to do this a few times to make sure you have it right. Or maybe we’re just special…


sand and gravel base smoothed and set

Whew! Take a break for some liquid refreshment. Delicious. Now begin to lay the bricks. You want to work from the inside out, so we started from the existing porch and moved outward. Use a rubber mallet to firmly set the bricks in place. Go back to Lowe’s to get more bricks since you can’t count. Since we were way ambitious and wanted a curved design, we found it easiest to lay out the all of the bricks and then use a mason’s crayon to mark off the curve. This helped us keep the curve continuous. Cut bricks with the wet saw. This was my favorite part because power tools are super fun. In order to have a nice, uniform edge, we used small (uncut) bricks to outline the whole thing.



even Ranger and Tonto wanted in on the fun



getting there…

When all bricks have been laid, run the plate compactor over the area. Spread Sakrete over the patio and sweep into all of the cracks. Keep going until all joints are filled. Mist the area with water to set the Sakrete.



Take another break. Install edging. We used this plastic stuff that came with directions and works fantastically, especially around the curves. Re-lay the sod over the edging and crack open a well-deserved cold one while you watch the dogs dig up a new area of the yard. Yay!


I love comments. Did you also threaten to burn down your kitchen? Do you know how to get dogs (or ducks) to stop digging holes? Please tell me about it.

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