Sunday, July 24, 2005

First Pavers

This weekend we lay our first pavers. Yay.

Mary and I started actually laying pavers down in our side yard, creating this thing we've just talked about for several months now.

Saturday went a little slower than we'd hoped. We had to start the job with putting in the large step-building blocks (80 pounds, measuring 12x16x6) down to build up the raised step right outside the sliding glass doors. I didn't realize the blocks were just 16 inches long, I thought I read 18 inches - which means the 8 blocks I ordered was 1 short of what we needed to fit the 12 foot span. So, in the middle of all this I have to head out to buy the missing step. Of course, the gap is no longer 16 inches because there are small spaces between the blocks, it's actually 15 inches. How the heck am I going to fit a 16 inch block in a space of only 15 inches?

I had the brainstorm to stop by Corvallis Rental to get them to show me how to use the brick saw I'm going to rent a little later on. So, they showed me how to use the saw and took off the inch I needed from the side of the block. Yay for quick thinking.

We got all the blocks in place, leveled out, and only slightly off the original measurements (they're about 1/2 inch low on one side).

One thing we did have to muck with were the large screw-thingies poking out of the foundation (which were used to support the wooden deck I tore out). I did end up removing the board that was under the sliding doors - it poked a little higher than we could handle. I was able to get the board off by chiseling out the wood right above the screws and letting the board drop down. However, we had two of these 5 inch puppies poking out of the foundation exactly where we wanted to put the large step cinder blocks. Mary cut most of the protruding screw off with our trusty hacksaw. Unfortunately, the siding on the house prevented her from cutting it flush. What to do?

The hardware store had the sledge hammer I wanted to buy (gotta have one handy, don't know how I survived without it - oh yeah, I just used two hammers at a time). I was really there to buy a manual tamping tool because we just weren't going to cover enough ground (pun intended) to warrant the motorized one. While there I also picked up a cold-chisel, which the hardware store guy said was always handy - it could be used to cut through metal (knock off stubborn, rusted-on bolts and the such). I thought, "great! I can just chip off the remaining inch or so Mary won't be able to cut off." Nope, the cantilevered screw just acted like a spring-board and absorbed 99% of the force. All I could do is bend it a little bit.

The hardware man was right, the chisel was invaluable, and I got to act like Mr. Caveman and chip away at stone. I chipped a hole in two of the cinder blocks to fit around the little bit of the bolt. Because we didn't get the blocks perfectly level, and as a result one side is oh so slightly lower than where it should be, some of the pavers actually hit the bolts poking out of the house under the sliding doors. Again, the handy cold chisel was used by Mr. Caveman, and the pavers were made to fit.

All of this effort, and more, led to use paving 36 square feet of space. Yes, it took us nearly all day to lay nearly 150 pavers. But it looks good.

Sunday went much faster. We'd tamped down the gravel the night before after getting it graded just right. So we started with screeing off some sand and laying the first paver of the big semi-circle that is to be the main part of the patio. Mary laid all the pavers, quite nicely if I do say so myself. And I provided all the grunt work of hauling sand and pavers to the job site.

Considering the fact I'd mis-calculated the number of 80 pound stepping blocks, and I'd mis-measured the level of said blocks on one end, oh, and I'd mis-measured the locations of the holes in said blocks for the protruding bolts (requiring chiseling the holes twice), it shouldn't be a surprise that we don't have enough of the so-called 3/4 stones to finish the patio. You see, the pavers needed to create a circle come in "circle packs" and they have enough stone to create a 10' diameter circle. We're going to have a semi-circle with an 11 foot radius, and then another circular pattern 8 feet in diameter. If you'll notice, most of the stones in the circle pattern are either "Large Circle" (LC) or "3/4" stones. The LC stones are slightly wedge-shaped, while the 3/4 are completely rectangular (and are about 3/4 of the size of the 6x6 stone - 2/3's is actually more accurate). Anyway, we have enough stone to cover the entire are we want to pave, just not enough of the 3/4 stones to finish the job nicely.

So, we cannibalized the second circle pack and completed 7 1/2 feet of the diameter. We'll need to get about half a pallet of the 3/4 stones to be able to put in the 8 foot round.

But, running out of the stones provided us with a nice stopping point for our day. We cleaned up the yard somewhat, put away the tools, and sat on our new patio, admiring our handiwork.

We've got a lot left to do, but we can actually see what it'll look like, and it looks good. Plus, we're doing a pretty nice job of it ourselves, especially considering that we've never done anything like this before. It doesn't feel like you're walking on a roller coaster when your cross the patio - which is more than can be said about the gravel that makes up the base for the yet-to-be-installed path.

1 comment:

BFW said...

Ahem! Point of clarification: I (Mary) did not sit around like a princess waiting for bricks and sand. I helped on greater than 50% of the loads!