Friday, July 27, 2012

New Patio

Our deck has been slowly rotting out from under us, and last weekend we put in a new patio.  We spent one day in demolition of the old one.

We started by removing the top boards with a crow bar, then we cut through the supports or demolished them with a sledge hammer. It took us two loads to get the whole thing to the dump, and I even drove one of the trips.  The sledge hammer was the best part - I treated Mike to lots of advice about the way to use it best every time he tried to take a turn.

I wanted to replace our high deck with a low deck and stairs, but Mike really wanted a patio.  We compromised on a recycled rubber tile. I wasn't sure about it first, but now that it has been in a week, I really like it.  It has a bit of give and great grip.

Just like a stone patio, you lay a bed of gavel and level it, then add a layer of sand and level it. That took us most of the second day. We rented a tamper (to compress the sand and make it hard), then laid out the tile to see how it would look. To the right is that version before the stairs were in.

On the final day, we put in the proper boarder (I wish we had done that before tamping, as it would have saved a lot of time) and Mike built the stairs down from the patio door to the patio itself. Then we cut and placed all the partial tile. Cutting them was pretty hard at first, but Mike got the knack of it. He needed a really good grip to be able to push the jigsaw through. I think I would have struggled. He also did a number of tiles with an exacto knife.

I did come up with a good system of chalking the back of tile to get the exact line we needed. I got the idea from the chalk lines used for roofing. I chalked the back of the inside edge of the boarder, then snapped the tile against it to mark it.  Mike was pleased, but still pointed out more than once that it would have been much easier to have a plain square patio.  He's right, but this version fits the amorphous shapes of the planting beds, and makes a lovely conversational shape for the table and lounger.

Once we were done the tiles, I added a series of beds the next day to make the patio feel embedded in the yard.  Above is a photograph with the look from above so the layout is clear.

We are still debating putting tiles on the stairs, but the top small deck is painted to match the house. It is salvaged from the old deck.  We are hoping we can salvage the old bench as a boarder on the south side to block the view of the airconditioner and provide more seating.

The last thing we did was buy a few lanterns so I could sit out at night and some solar lanterns to mark the step down. We also set up Mike's outdoor kitchen between the patio and the garage (it is on the right of the night time picture). I love to be out at night reading or listening to Mike play guitar. That's where I am headed now. You can see all the images of the new deck in Mike's photos.


  1. Awesome. Very awesome. Congratulations. Rubber sounds like a nice surface. I never thought of that before.

    How did you level such a large area of sand/gravel? I know from painful experience that it's not easy.

    The amorphous shape is pretty and all but if it were me -- I gotta go with Mike on this one -- I'd have just made a rectangle.

  2. Compared to working with stone tiles, the rubber is like a dream. The tiles are about 3.5kg each, which meant that I didn't have a sore back the next day.

    Re: Leveling
    It isn't easy at all, but there in lies one of the benefits of the rubber tiles.
    Step 1. We eyeballed the leveling, with sleight grade for drainage. We scraped the surface with a straight 2x4x10
    Step 2. After the tamping and tile placement, I immediately began to complain about dips and imperfections.
    Step 3. Wendy reads to me from The Wheel of Time while I peel back half a dozen tiles and continue the leveling process with a makeshift wooden trowel. The weight of the tiles makes this very easy.
    Step 4. Wendy restrains herself from laughing, simultaneously admitting that it does look substantially better.

  3. That looks amazing. We need to rebuild our deck too. Now that you are experienced, you can dome do ours :)