Q. We are replacing an old patio. We previously had wooden decking laid but it didn’t weather well and we are hoping to install Mediterranean-style porcelain tiles instead. They are 7.9ins by 7.9ins.
Would you be able to advise what type of groundwork needs to be carried out to lay the tiles? We have been advised that we need to pour a concrete base and put the tiles down on that. I am just concerned that if the base isn’t perfectly level we may end up with puddles when it rains.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated on this option or an alternative that you could recommend.
A. Yes, there is no doubt that the vast array of timber decks installed during the heyday of the Celtic Tiger era (my own house included) have long since reached their sell-by dates. I guess in the hysteria of that period in time we imagined with our new-found wealth, the sun would never stop shining, and the decks would stay dry and decay free but eventually, when the storm clouds gathered, the rain came and washed it all away.
So, what to do? The first thing to remember is that a timber decking set-up and a paving set-up are very different. Decking is fixed to timber joists which are usually set level to the internal floor of your house and in many cases, they are suspended quite a height above your garden level on vertical posts. So, you may have quite a height to deal with when this is all stripped away.
Typically, the water passes between the decking timbers onto a membrane above your ground below (which may have decayed somewhat by now) and this water dissipates locally to the surrounding soil or perhaps a gravel margin, depending on the original design.
When you consider your new design, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind. Firstly you will need to set your new paving level. If the ground level outside is considerably lower than the floor level in your house (eg 300mm or 1ft) it may be simplest to install a step or two out from your patio door to transition in height from inside to outside. If you wish to avoid this you will need to install a considerable amount of compacted layers of hardcore to make up the levels and you will likely still need a step or two to transition down to your back garden.
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