DIY Magic: Building a Small Tile Patio to Boost the Function and Appeal of Your Home
Not every homeowner has the outdoor space for, or even wants a big deck. A smaller tile patio is a stylish alternative to a deck that is a DIY project that takes quite a bit of effort and a little know-how but the end result can be a beautiful one that not only adds to the visual appeal of your home’s exterior but its function as well. And if you ever decide to sell your home, even a small patio is often a big plus in buyers’ minds versus a simple, open lawn.
Getting the Right Materials
Before we get into the how of building a tile patio it is worth mentioning that it is very important that you select the right kind of tile before you begin. Not all tile is suitable for outdoor use so make sure you tell your tile salesperson that you are looking for outdoor grade tile so that they can help you select the right product for your project. It is also important that the grout and tile cement you purchase be rated for outdoor use as well, which is where the salesperson can be of great help once again.
Even when you are shown your outdoor tile options, you’ll find that there are choices to be made. Granite, slate, marble, travertine, limestone, and quartzite are good options, but may be the more expensive choices. Because of their exceptionally good water resistance, outdoor grade porcelain tiles are a very popular choice as well, and tend to be somewhat less expensive.
Building Your New Patio
When the day comes to begin your project allow yourself plenty of time to get the patio built the right way. Getting a few friends in to help is a great idea, as long as everyone stays on the same page while the patio is progressing.
The first step in tile patio construction, once you have figured out your design, is to mark off your designated building area by hammering four wood stakes into the ground at each of your corners. You should then “cordon off” the area by tying a string between all the posts.
The foundation for your new ceramic tile patio should begin by excavating down by at least six inches. Once your excavation is complete (really the hardest part) it should be made into a permanent structure by adding edging all around it, anchored down with stakes.
For the most stable results, a 2 inch base of gravel should be poured, tamped down and then covered by a 4-inch layer of sand that should then be thoroughly raked before you begin laying the tile itself.
You should begin laying down your tiles starting in one corner. Use a rubber mallet to gently pound the tiles into place on top of the adhesive but don’t hammer too hard, or you will end up cracking the tile. This process should not be rushed, so yes, it will probably take quite a while, which is why watching the weather forecast before you begin is an essential part of your planning process.
Once all the tiles are in place leave the whole thing to set for at least 24 hours. If rain or pesky pests are a concern cover the area with a trap to protect it. Once a day has passed fill any cracks between the tiles with a thin layer of sand, using a broom to distribute it evenly.