A weekend patio installation project is the perfect way to help liven up a dull and useless backyard. Before the installation begins, tiles should be chosen, and all materials, like pea gravel, sand patio edging, wheelbarrows and shovels, should be gathered beforehand. A tile cutter may need to be rented for the job, depending on how large the patio is and how many tiles will be cut. Safety glasses, gloves and proper tools, like a rubber mallet and brooms, should also be used when installing a patio.
The installation of patio tiles starts with some basic groundwork. Clear any debris from the area where the patio is going to be installed. Partition off the area with an outline of the shape of the patio, using a spray can of paint. Use mason twine and string lines on wooden stakes to block in the area that will be worked on. Dig to a six-inch depth below the string line and lie the landscaping fabric inside the area and install the edging for the patio over the material, making sure the edging sticks two inches beyond the edging. This material can be trimmed off later. The gravel that is being shoveled into this area should be at least a four-inch layer, with tamping down of the gravel between every two-inches used. Level the gravel using a leveler, and dump a load of sand over the gravel.
The sand should be at least an inch thick and tamped down with a tamper specially designed for the job. After slowly dragging a leveled board across the layer of sand to smooth it out, start laying the tiles in the desired pattern. The starting line will be against the edge closer to the head of the patio area. Using a rubber mallet, tamp the tiles gently into the sand 1/8 inch apart. Use tile spacers to make sure the tiles are spaced evenly. Finish the project by dumping more sand on the tiles and into the cracks left by the spacers, which are removed. Water down the tiles, and repeat with the sanding process until tiles are set rigidly set into place.
Installations over a dull, existing patio can be done easily, with placement of new tiles on top. Cleaning of the patio is imperative to the installation of the new tiles. Using a stiff-bristled push mop and a solution of water and Clorox, wash down the existing patio thoroughly and let dry. Sweep the patio clean and mix up the grout to be used for the new installation of tiles. Measuring and cutting the tiles to fit requires attentiveness to edging and fit to match the size of the bottom layer of tiles.
Any adjustments to the size of the tiles on the edges can be done with a tile cutter. Working from the center of the existing patio tiles, carefully trowel on a good layer of grout and a one-half inch layer on the back of the tile. Push the tile on top of the old tile, and make sure the edges are even. Continue in this pattern until all the tiles are laid. When the grout dries, clean it off with a damp sponge. Patio edging can consist of durable rubber edging that lays flush with the edge of the patio.