Sunday, September 11, 2005


The path and patio are done.

Two weekends ago, my parents came down on a Saturday and put in a long 8 hours of work. Mary and I had started earlier - Mary was laying the remaining bricks, and I picked up the last of the gravel we'd need. After offloading the gravel, it was time to pick up the saw. The saw that was to be my companion for the next two days.

Mom and Dad spent the whole day measuring bricks, marking them with crayons, and then placing the cut pieces into the path. Dad's idea of using crayons for marking was perfect. The wax held up well in the water from the brick saw, and the bright colors made it easier to see the cut lines.

So we cut and placed bricks all day, like a big jig-saw puzzle. Mary finished laying down almost every last whole brick in the patio and helped mark and place bricks. All I did was ferry bricks to the saw, cut them, and ferry them back.

The saw was noisy and dirty and wet. I didn't use gloves because they would have been soaked - big mistake. By the end of the day my fingers had holes in them and were very painful. I put my gloves back on, but it was too late, they hurt as though I had sharp needles poking in them.

The saw came with its own power cord (well, I rented it) because it takes so many amps. I tripped the breaker pretty early on, or I thought I had. None of the circuit breakers actually showed being tripped. I flipped all of them on and off, but no luck, that circuit was dead. We were using the plug on the front deck, which is also the same circuit as the socket on the back patio, and the sockets in both of the bathrooms (but not the lights). So we switched to a plug inside the house. We tripped that breaker several times throughout the day, but that was easily remedied by flipping the breaker back on.

Fast forward two weeks to today (we'll get back to the patio shortly), I replaced every 15 and 20 amp breaker in the box, and nothing helped. The only two breakers I didn't replace are the two double breakers (30 and 40 amps each), which I doubt are the problem as they're labeled the stove and the dryer. What the hell? I've no idea what to do now. But, back to the stone cutting.

We took Mom and Dad out to Mexican because we were all starving, and it was the least we could do to repay thank them for their help. They drove home afterwards, and left us with just a couple hours of work left for Sunday.

As luck would have it, Mary got a call in the middle of the night - a family went into labor, and the midwife couldn't cover it because another client was in labor at the same time. So Mary threw on her cape and headed out to catch a baby.

I slept in some and took my time eating breakfast. I wasn't really looking forward to using my painful hands, but the bricks called.

Because I was solo, things moved a lot slower than the day before. I tried to gather up 10-15 cuts at a time in a wheel barrow, then head over and cut them all, then back to the patio where I tried my luck at re-assembling the jigsaw puzzle. Progress was slow - my fingers hurt, and my thighs were killing me because of all the crouching I'd done the day before while cutting the bricks.

Mary got home from a healthy birth, very tired. So she took a nap until I hit my thumb with the sledge hammer. I tried not to yell too loud, but she was in the spare bedroom and the window was open. My loud mouth and throbbing finger were right outside that window. My thumb still hurts today - I think I could have given myself a hairline fracture.

I finished the edging along the south side of the patio, and Mary joined me for a few hours until it got dark. With her help, we finished putting in every last bit of stone. We even did some fancy off-angled cuts on the bricks that abut the asphalt. All in all, a very nice patio.

All we had left to do was put some sand in between all the stones.

That brings us to last weekend. We rented the vibrating plate compactor to help set the bricks in the sand. Now, it'd been over two months since we started laying bricks, so many had already settled, but we figured we'd try to do the "right thing."

It turns out the vibrating compactor helps out quite a bit by setting the sand that you've swept between the blocks. We swept sand over and over in the same spot, trying to force it into all the little cracks. Just a few seconds of the vibrating plate and the sand all settled down.

One of the downsides of the vibrating plate is the potential of cracking and breaking one of the stones. I only broke one - an uncut stone (thank goodness). Plus it was on the edge of the path, so replacing it was very easy. That, and the fact that this plate compactor smoked like a chimney and stunk to high heaven when running. Other than that, it saved us tons of time sweeping.

The only other thing we did was to glue down the edge pieces sitting on the cinder blocks. Now you can stand on the edge of the cinder blocks without fear of the bricks flipping over from your weight.

That was it - nothing left to do for the bricks. With all the sand in place, the patio feels as solid as poured cement, and it looks awesome.

This weekend I finished the downspout we relocated by the back patio - it looks pretty good now because the pipes are all painted.

Now it's time to plant the plants.

Here are some pics of our lovely patio.

curve of path to front yard

view 1 of patio from back yard

patio detail with jade

path from front yard

path in back yard

patio from front yard

patio from back yard

patio from the curve

the y in the path


Anonymous said...

holy shit man
that looks good.

Anonymous said...

It looks professionaly done!

Portia said...

Looks great! But from your description I don't know if I will ever want to do that. Much harder than it seems on the tv shows.