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Laying brick in The Cabin's Courtyard, circa 1984

Laying brick in The Cabin’s Courtyard, circa 1984

Summer is almost over, which means barbecues with family and friends will slowly disappear as the weather gets colder. While this undeniably sad, it does present an opportunity to spruce up your backyard! One way to make a great impact on the aesthetics of your backyard is to add an outdoor brick patio. And if you live in an area with a storied tradition of historic architecture and responsible deconstruction practices, you can find historic brick with some patina to make your patio really stand out. The best part is, you can do it all yourself without having to spend extra money on a mason!

We have a beautiful brick patio in the Courtyard at The Cabin Restaurant that was put in 1984-85 after the Schoolhouse was moved on site. We use it for weddings, receptions, and all sorts of parties. Below are 12 easy steps for installing your very own brick patio with reclaimed bricks. Good luck!

1. Choose the area where you want to lay your brick patio.

2. Measure the area you want for your patio. Use a measuring tape. Leave a 2-inch gap along the outside edge of the bricks.

3. Place wooden stakes 18 inches deep into the ground every 2 feet around the perimeter of your patio.

4. Excavate the area with a shovel. Remove all grass, objects and enough dirt to a depth of 8 inches. You need to be mindful of drainage if you plan to put your patio next to your house. Your patio should slope slightly away from the house so water will drain away from it. A level can be used to check your excavation’s slope.

5. Lay 4 inches of gravel in the excavated bed. Maintain the integrity of the slope you have developed in the bed. Be sure to pat down the gravel and check to make sure everything is still sloping.

6. Use wood screws to secure wooden strapping to the stakes. The strapping is used to define the edges of the patio.

7. Fill your bed with 1.5 inches of sand or stone dust. Stone dust is a good choice to lay under the bricks. Stone dust acts like concrete after it gets wet and dries a couple of times. Make sure to only lay as much stone dust or sand that will make your bricks level with the surrounding landscape.

8. Screed the sand or stone dust. Screeding is the process of leveling your area by sweeping a flat level object over the surface, using the ground, or strapping, as the guide. You can use a 2 x 4-inch piece of wood to do this.

9. Lay the bricks in place.

10. Use a mason’s line to make sure your bricks are straight.

11. Spread a layer of sand or stone dust over the bricks. Carefully sweep the sand to fill in the cracks between the bricks and along the edge.

12. Spray the bricks with water, allowing material to settle between the bricks.