How to Lay Concrete Patio Slabs

Updated February 21, 2017

A patio serves as a gathering for family members and friends for outdoor fun, barbecues and other gatherings. While there are a variety of options for patio layout, many homeowners choose concrete slabs, which are inexpensive compared to other stones and can create a safe, uniform patio surface. Installing these stones requires extensive preparation to ensure a level surface and proper drainage below your patio for a lifetime of use.

Put down wooden stakes to lay out the design for your patio area. Tie long nylon cords between the stakes to mark off the area.

Excavate the area 7 inches deep, using a garden spade or flat-edged shovel. This will remove grass and loose soil, revealing the sturdier subsoil below. Check periodically with a level and tape measure to ensure that you are maintaining a uniform 7-inch depth.

Level the newly-exposed area with a plate compactor or hand tamper. This will create a smooth, even surface to support your patio installation.

Cover the area with landscape fabric to create a smooth, even base for your installation. Landscape fabric will also aid with controlling drainage and water runoff beneath your patio.

Cover the landscape fabric with a 4-inch layer of patio/paver base material. Use a garden rake to spread the material fully and evenly across the fabric. Use a level if necessary to check the proper lay of the surface.

Moisten the patio paver base and compact the material with your plate compactor or hand tamper. This will solidify the base for a more firm support.

Spread 1 inch of paver sand over the area. Level the sand by running a flat board over the top, skimming uneven areas away. Moisten the sand slightly to create a compact, even surface. This surface must be completely flat to properly support your patio slabs.

Start at one corner of your patio area. Press your first concrete slab as close against the corner as you can, and press the next slab in directly next to it. Lay the slabs on top of the even sand surface; no glue is required.

Tap an uneven slab gently into place with a rubber mallet to create an even surface. If the slab is too low, add a little sand beneath the slab and then tap it into place.

Cut pavers to fit into corners or tight spaces, using a diamond-blade wet saw.

Fit slabs into their proper places until all slabs are installed. Add a retaining edge around the slabs, set about 1 inch below the patio surface. Push the edge tight against the pavers and hammer spikes into place to hold it there. This will prevent the slabs from sliding out of place.

Pour paver sand over the patio surface. Brush the sand into the joints between the slabs with a stiff-bristle broom, sweeping any excess off the patio. This will create a more uniform look to the slabs.

Mist the patio with your hose to work the sand deeper into the joints. Fill any gaps with more sand until the patio is complete.


It may help to lay out your patio design beforehand, so that you know what order to install the pavers and how the final project will look. Before you dig, consult your local gas and electric companies to check for gas or electric lines in the area that you can damage. Local ordinances and laws may require certain steps for patio installation to ensure proper drainage. Consult your local officials for details. Some concrete slabs require stone sealant; consult your manufacturer for details and application instructions.


Some concrete slabs are heavy. Never try to lift slabs that are too heavy on your own, to avoid injury. Always wear protective gloves and goggles, as well as a dust mask and ear guards, when cutting stone to prevent injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden stakes
  • Nylon cord
  • Garden spade or shovel
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Plate compactor or hand tamper
  • Landscape fabric
  • Patio/paver base
  • Garden rake
  • Hose
  • Paver sand
  • Rubber mallet
  • Wet saw
  • Retaining edge
  • Hammer
  • Spikes
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.