Patio in a Day

A couple of months ago, I posted here about building our first patio. I said that I couldn’t wait to complete our second patio in the next couple of weeks. Ha.

Fast forward 3 months and here we are with a new patio! Not just a walkway like the last one, but a real 160 square foot patio that we can use to enjoy the beautiful North Carolina summers (and falls and winters and springs ūüôā )!

Before and After DIY Patio
Top photo: Before, Bottom photo: After!

I figured this patio would not be that difficult to complete. Our first one required digging (my least favorite thing to do, as you may recall) and cutting stones. This time around, since we were placing the material on top of the old driveway, there was no need for digging. Plus, the perfect rectangular shape made it seem easy to lay bricks evenly. Just dump some sand in place and lay the bricks on top, right?

My optimistic outlook quickly faded as we began the process of making calculations and planning out the bill of materials. Like any seasoned DIYer knows, the prep work is the most time consuming phase of most home improvement projects! This one proved to be no different and came with its own set of roadblocks.


  • Where will the patio begin? Where will it end? The driveway made an excellent barrier from side-to-side, but there are no end caps from front-to-back.¬†Acquiring a 70-year-old house¬†means acquiring backyard treasures. Over the past year, we had built up quite a collection of found bricks from the yard. Even though we had lamented the seemingly endless¬†pile of red bricks, it actually turned out to come in handy for this project! Ben built a short brick¬†retaining wall on each end of the area for our patio space. He acquired a skill for brick laying when beginning¬†to build a wall on each side of our back porch stoop (a¬†project that is still in progress).
DIY Brick Retaining Wall
Adding the finishing touches to the brick retaining wall
  • The depth of the area we were using is only about 5 inches. A stable patio requires at least 6 inches of clearance for paver base, sand, and paver stones.¬†Instead of using paver base gravel, we came across Brock Paver Base Panels. We had considered using these panels for the first patio project, but the paver base gravel made more sense for use with natural dirt and the 6″ depth we had created. Plus, we would have needed to trim the panels significantly which would have caused a lot of waste.¬†Because our baseline was concrete from the driveway and we had a small amount of depth to work with for this new patio, the half-inch panels were the perfect stabilizing solution. The panels are quite expensive – about $13 for one panel that is 2′ x 3′. The packaging says that each¬†is equivalent to 5 bags of base gravel. We definitely overestimated and purchased 34 panels yet only needed 20. And we¬†did have to cut a few in half, but all-in-all we are thinking it was a good investment!
DIY Paver Base Panels
Dad laying stones on top of paver base panels
  • The drain pipe off the side of our mud room empties right on top of the driveway where we wanted to build. ¬†Mo’ water, mo’ problems.¬†Y’all have read about our drainage problems before so it should not be a surprise that it¬†came into consideration when planning for this patio. After spending 2 hours in Lowe’s to no avail and consulting with both dads, a solution finally came to¬†fruition. By attaching a catch basin to the drain pipe with a metal screw and connecting it to line of PVC pipe that is buried underneath the patio, water will¬†not drain onto the paver stones. There is already a¬†nice¬†slope to the patio, so rain water will hopefully flow nicely down the driveway, but we didn’t¬†want extra drainage water to damage¬†the patio. My dad also suggested¬†a clever way to clean this 20′ PVC drain pipe: we ran a string through the pipe to catch the muck and grime that we can replace from time to time.
PVC pipe drainage
This photo shows an incomplete PVC pipe connected to the drain pipe. It has since been completely attached.
PVC pipe
PVC pipe will drain water from drain pipe.

After we dealt with these conundrums, the actual patio building part only took one day! Of course, the title of this post¬†is still slightly misleading. What with one whole day spent demolishing the deck that had been in its place, another day (or two) clearing out all of the debris, and a day dedicated to Ben’s brick laying shenanigans. But overall, because we learned a lot from our first project and had a few extra hours of daylight, this patio was a cinch in one day. Extra thanks¬†to my dad who spent the first day of his retirement doing manual labor!


  • Lowe’s delivery service saved us about 8-10 hours of time. We shelled out $59 for 3 pallets of material to be dropped off right in our driveway. Totally worth it!
Lowe's Delivery
Lowe’s Delivery
  • Unlike my initial anticipation, we did need to cut paver stones to fit the area properly. Instead of using the ol’ chisel and hammer, we invested in a circular saw and stone cutting blade. In about 2 hours, all of the missing puzzle pieces were perfectly trimmed and installed.
Circular stone cutting saw
The circular saw was an unexpected, yet time-saving cost!
Cut Paver stones
Perfectly cut paver stones!

Now that we have the perfect spot to enjoy our backyard, I think we’ll take this summer to sit back and relax!

DIY stone patio
Before and After!