Pavers can be used to build landscape features like patios, steps and retaining walls. Landscape pavers come in different materials including brick, slate, concrete, limestone and granite. Because most pavers have two or more flat sides, the simplest way to build with them is stacking them like blocks and attaching them with mortar. You can use this stacking technique to build a doorstep on top of your existing pavement. You also can use the stacking technique to build a raised bed that is up to 2 feet tall around an existing garden.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Tape measure
- Chalk pencil
- Engineering bricks
- 2-inch-thick piece of slate, 38 inches by 26 inches
- Cold chisel and brick hammer, or circular saw with masonry blade
- Garden hose
- Chalk spray
- Rubber mallet
- Bullnose bricks
Measure a rectangular outline for your doorstep with a length of 35 1/2 inches for the section parallel to the doorway and a width of 23 1/2 inches for the two sides. Mark each corner with a chalk pencil. Draw the three sides of the outline of your doorstep with your chalk pencil and a yardstick; the section of your house where you door opens will serve as the fourth side.
Cut each engineering brick in half by using a tape measure and a pencil to mark the halfway point on each brick. Place a cold chisel on the pencil mark and tap it with your brick hammer until it breaks in half or cut the bricks in half with a circular saw that has been fitted with a masonry blade.
Scoop mortar onto your trowel. Use the flat side of the trowel to spread the mortar following the chalk line on the pavement. Use the comb side of the trowel holding it at less than a 45-degree angle to comb the mortar evenly onto the pavement surface.
Bed the half-bricks by pressing them evenly into the mortar aligning each brick with your level as you work. Re-comb the mortar if it becomes crusted or remove it and apply more mortar. Repeat the process until the first row of bricks has been completed. Add rows until the doorstep is at the correct height for your door.
Spread mortar over the entire top row of bricks using the flat side of the trowel. Place the piece of slate onto the mortared bricks and press it down firmly. Use a mallet and level to tap down the slate step 1/4 inch lower in the front than in the back to direct rain water away from the doorway.
Use a garden hose to make an outline of where you want your raised bed to be built around the outside of your existing garden. Spray a chalk line next to the hose to show where you should position the bricks. Lay out a practice row of bricks to check on the spacing then remove them.
Following the chalk line dig a 1 1/2-inch trough around your existing garden with your spade that is an inch wider than the width of the brick . Fill the trough with sand using your spade. Press each brick firmly into the sand using a level to check alignment. Tap bricks when necessary with a rubber mallet then check with your level to keep them aligned.
Scoop mortar onto the trowel. Use the flat side of the trowel to spread the mortar onto three bricks at a time about 1-inch thick and almost as wide as the brick. Use the comb side of the trowel to gently comb the mortar onto the first group of bricks. Press each brick down firmly into the mortar using a level and rubber mallet to align the bricks.
Continue the mortaring process for each row until the raised bed is one to two-feet high. Add bullnose bricks as the final row to give the raised bed a finished look. Let the mortar dry following manufacturer's directions before watering your plants.
Tips and warnings
- You can use frost-proof house bricks or frost-proof artificial stone blocks instead of engineering bricks.
- Be sure the slate doorstep hangs over the top row of bricks by at least 1 inch all around. You can make the measurements for the doorstep larger as long as the piece of slate for the step has an inch of overhang.
- Your skin and eyes can be damaged if they come into contact with wet cement, which is an ingredient of mortar.
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