When it comes to the world of patios and paving, it can be a right headache trying to sift through all of the options, all of the costs, and all of the time considerations. Even once you’ve chosen the materials and you’ve booked some time for your patio to be installed, finding the right team for the job can be tricky. This is even before we mention things like weather, digging & tool hire.

In this article, we are going to explore every cost associated with laying patios and paving, whilst reminding you, dear reader, of the most important aspects of any patio or paving project:

  • Quality = Results. A poor quality ‘professional’ with bad materials and a lack of care will result in a wonky patio that absolutely will not stand the test of time
  • Quality comes at a price. There’s good, there’s cheap, and there’s fast, the problem is, you generally can’t have all three. Finding good quality at a suitable price is a challenge for all customers. 

The size is all-important. It’s important that patio and paving customers consider that costs and times scale with the size of a patio. You can learn more about these scaling costs by using our Patio Cost Calculator, which will ask you for the length, width, location, and who is undertaking the work. Use our Paving Slabs Calculator to figure out how many slabs you will need.

Before we progress onto the next section, where we will look at the process of laying a patio, we first want you to consider the six main factors that affect costs in any given project:

  1. The location. Laying a patio in Central London will cost considerably more than laying one in Lincoln
  2. The size of the patio, as mentioned before, creates a scaling material cost
  3. The choice of slab is all-important to the ultimate quality of the project, with a more expensive slab typically lasting longer and giving a more esteemed finish
  4. The material beneath the desired patio, as different types of soil and clay can create unique issues that result in further costs
  5. Access to the garden or future patio area, as issues can result in additional costs or risks
  6. Additional extras for a supreme finish, such as lighting, raised bedding, or steps will accrue extra costs

Laying a Patio - The Process

The first step in your patio project actually isn’t required in 99% of cases, but should you fail to check, you might just land yourself in hot water and we really wouldn’t want that. This issue relates to planning permission and as we say, it’s highly unlikely you’ll require it, but it can’t hurt to double check with your local authority (or read this article).

Now that miniature hurdle is out of the way, let’s ask you two preparatory questions about your patio or paving project.

What time of year are you looking to carry out this project?

Why would the season matter? Well, you can have your patio installed any time of year, but each season will present different hurdles. During a particularly hot summer, those laying the patio will face difficulties with the mortar drying out too quickly. In the autumn, rainfall is a big issue, with the curing process being made much trickier. The winter, naturally, is the coldest season, which means frost and snow can affect the mortar and rain can make keeping the site dry an issue. When the temperature falls below zero, the project becomes much more difficult. Spring offers the fewest problems so it can be worth holding out until then.

Are you going to hire an expert and a labourer, or try and take on the project alone in a DIY fashion?

We highly recommend bringing in a couple of landscapers or paving professionals to handle your patio project, namely because it’s easier for things to go wrong than it is for things to go right. Professionals come up against a multitude of challenges and through years of experience, have learned how to navigate them effectively. If you choose to take on a project yourself, you are inviting many hidden costs which we will cover in the section titled The Costs of a DIY Job.

Once you’ve chosen your season and decided whether to hire experts or go about the project yourself you will need to face the six steps of preparation for laying a patio:

  1. Digging out
  2. Mixing the mortar
  3. Building a sub-base
  4. Laying the slabs
  5. Grouting between the slabs (full guide here)

Two to three months after the patio has been laid, you should go about sealing it. We’ve put together a thorough guide on this activity which you can find here.

Laying a Patio - The Material Considerations

Material

Costs per square metre

Advantages

Disadvantages

Concrete

£15-70

  • Handles seasonal weather changes well
  • Easy to move, replace, and repair
  • Great in damp weather conditions
  • Doesn’t allow for fancy designs
  • The colour fades quickly and noticeably
  • Cannot be used over plumbing or electrical wiring

Slate

£50-80

  • A great design aesthetic for a quality finish
  • Doesn’t absorb much liquid
  • The colour doesn’t fade
  • Easily scratched
  • Can flake and break in extreme weather
  • Poor quality slate can trap water between it’s layers. If this water freezes, the layers can come apart.

Stone

£40-95

  • Offers the best longevity and durability
  • Flexible and high quality
  • The colour is unlikely to change much over time
  • Irregular surfaces
  • Invites the growth of weeds and mould or moss
  • One of the most expensive materials to procure for a patio

Porcelain

£65-140

  • Ultra-low maintenance
  • No fade or change over time
  • Power-washing can make it look brand new
  • An expensive option
  • Manufactured, so no original or unique features like stone
  • Difficult to cut and install without a professional

In the UK, one of the major problems that paving slabs face is cracking. This is because the UK is a wet country with a winter that presents a lot of frosts. Water enters the slightly porous slab material and then when the temperature drops, it freezes and expands, making small cracks. The frost then thaws, the water leaves the slab on drier days, and the cycle continues. Eventually, the small cracks turn into big ones and the whole slab needs replacing. The only way to avoid that eventuality is to invest in higher quality construction materials that are designed to either avoid cracking or to handle the freeze and thaw process.

Additional or unexpected costs

When redesigning your garden, a patio is just one aspect, albeit a very large one. Once you’ve got the floor sorted, you’re going to have some additional costs in furnishing your garden, so remember not to consume your entire budget just on the patio. You may want solar lighting, an outdoor heater for your great new external space, and some stylish new furniture to make the garden a more social area.

The DIY Route - Costs to Consider

So, if you’ve decided that you are the man or woman for the job and that a professional is an expense that you can’t justify, then this section will help you better understand the costs you are facing. Perhaps, however, the following section will serve to demonstrate how much additional value a patio and paving professional truly brings.

 1. Typical labour costs

Whilst we can’t speak for the whole industry, what we believe to be the average price of a landscape gardener for one day is at least £100-150. These landscape gardeners are typically going to bring a general labourer with them at a cost of £80-100 per day because laying a patio is a two-man job.

Regional cost considerations must also be factored in. Labour costs in London and the surrounding areas could be double those of professionals in parts of the North. As well as that, there is going to be a price difference between working with a well-established firm and a sole trader.

The reason we are telling you about labour costs, even though you’re going it alone, is twofold. Firstly, you’ll need a general labourer or a good friend to help you, secondly, it’s good that you know how much you’re saving by not hiring a professional - at least £100-150 a day for a two-day job.

 2. The Tool Costs of a DIY Job

Most people don’t typically have the right equipment for a patio or paving job laying in their shed, so that means taking a costly trip to the tool hire shop to rent and buy some gear.

You’re going to need to hire:

  • A cement mixer at £15 per day
  • A wheelbarrow at £10 per day

If you don’t have these already, you’ll want to buy:

  • A trowel - £20
  • A rake - £20
  • Pegs - £5 per pack
  • A tape measure - £20
  • A spirit level - £20+
  • A rubber mallet - £10

Add that all up, and you’ll be lucky to get away with spending less than £150 on tools. A professional, however, will bring all of these things with them, potentially covering a day’s labour cost.

3. The Safety Costs of a DIY Job

The equipment doesn’t stop at tools. You’re going to need to protect yourself on the job, because whilst it might not seem it, laying a patio or paving can present some dangerous hazards.

You should buy:

  • Knee pads - £25
  • Ear defenders - £25
  • Steel toe-capped workman boots - £60+
  • Dust mask - £10
  • Rigger gloves - £10
  • Safety goggles - £15

With all of that safety equipment, you’re going to add on another £150 to your DIY project. Hiring a professional would mean saving all of these costs and spending the money on an expert instead.

4. Skip Hire Costs for a DIY Patio

Depending on the size of your garden and how much waste is going to be generated, skip hire can cost anything from £80 to £300 for the length of the project. Even when hiring a professional, if you’re going to generate large amounts of waste, you will have to pay waste disposal costs, however, they’re usually going to be significantly less when working with a landscape gardener.

Patio repair and maintenance costs

Whether you work with a professional or do a DIY job, you have to accept that the elements will be constantly attacking the materials, this is simply nature. The difference is that a professional knows these materials and how to install them like the back of their hand, so they can fit them in a way that they will last far, far longer. In the long run, this is going to save you on considerable repair and maintenance costs.

Repairs typically take one day, which will cost one day’s labour for a landscape gardener and their labourer (total of up to £300) plus replacement materials.

What if the patio slabs are cracking?

Over time, cracking is completely natural, but it’s something that shouldn’t happen for a good few years. If cracks are appearing in the first couple of years, something is wrong. Using cement, sand, a chisel, a club hammer, PVC glue, repair filler, and a polythene sheet (total cost around £120), a professional can make the slabs ‘as good as new’. Don’t forget to use personal protective equipment.

To be quite frank though, it’s typically not worth your time and money to try and repair patio slabs, instead, it’s better to replace them.

What if the patio needs re-jointing?

Re-jointing is needed when the mortar fails, which shouldn’t happen for a considerable amount of time if a professional joined it. If it does fail, you’ll need to hire a cut-off saw and a pressure washer to remove the old mortar and give the area a proper clean. Hiring costs for these two pieces of equipment will set you back around £50-100 a day. New sand and cement (or a jointing compound) will then be required to re-join the gaps, with costs being highly variable depending on how much is needed. You’ll also need to get some gloves, boots, and goggles to maintain your personal safety.

What if your patio is sinking?

A sunken area can be a real pain to fix, but a professional will know exactly what to do, using just a screwdriver, a trowel, a screed board, some sand, and some screed. These material costs will scale based on the size of the sunken area but could cost up to £80 on materials just to get started. Protective equipment is a must.

Sinking is perhaps the best reason to go with a professional in the first place, because it can ruin your entire installation and cost you hundreds or even thousands to a fix. A professional will know all the telltale signs a of a garden that has a high risk of sinkage, and how they can stop it happening.

How do you clean paving slabs?

If you opted for paving slabs, you’ll want to clean them periodically to ensure that your garden looks clean and welcoming to guests. Be sure to sweep your slabs before trying to clean them and do a trial clean on a small, less used area of slab, to ensure that your washing technique or cleaning solution will not damage it.

The table below explains the cleaning do’s and don'ts for several common paving slab materials

Material

Do’s

Don’ts

Sandstone

Read more about sandstone paving here

  • Use a diluted bleach mixture to help kill moss and algae
  • Be careful not to use too much bleach as it can dye and lighten the slabs
  • Avoid using any cleaning products that contain iron
  • If using a pressure washer, keep the pressure very low to avoid discolouration

Limestone

See our limestone guide here

  • Use a pH neutral detergent and warm soapy water
  • Test a small area first to ensure you’re happy with the results
  • Don’t use anything acidic, such as lemon or vinegar as this can result in permanent discolouration

Slate

  • Use a pH neutral floor cleaner and warm water only
  • Find a specialist slate cleaning product for optimal results
  • Use a low power pressure washer
  • Don’t use a brush with metal wires as it can permanently scratch and damage the slate and ruin the beautiful finish

Granite

Find out more about granite paving slabs here

  • Use a pressure washer to remove the top layer of accumulated dirt
  • Find a special cleaning mixture for granite
  • Don’t use any cleaning mixture with acid or bleach as it can stain the granite