Enhance your property by laying a new patio – part #6

Grouting patio joints

One thing you don’t want when you’ve just grouted your patio is to have torrential rain in the next 24 hours which is exactly what we got. The grout had time to harden to a reasonable state but the excessive rain did cause what is known as effervescence where the salts bubble up to the surface and cause white staining on the grout. The grout is supposed to be a charcoal gray colour. We will have to let the grout harden fully for a few weeks and then deal with the discolouration by applying an acid effervescence cleaner to correct the problem.

Salts effervesce from grout
Salts bubble up and effervesce from grout due to heavy rain directly after application

Where the ground level had been graded and lowered below the concrete surrounding the fence posts this was structurally improved using bricks and a cement render made up of 3 parts sharp sand to I part cement and some SBR to aid the mixture sticking to the concrete.

That is the patio at the side of the house pretty much complete except for finishing and now it was time to move onto the patio round the back of the house.

The first job was to sort the frame that fits onto the foul sewer inspection chamber. This will have a slab insert in order to minimise the visual impact of the inspection chamber access cover. The inspection chamber in this instance is a Osma Drain 4D960 inspection chamber and the frame being used is a Clark Drain Recessed cover. The spigot on the Clark Drain allows for different internal diameters of inspection chamber but does not offer much adjustment up and down so the spigot from the old Osma Drain frame cover 4D961 was cut off and the first ring of the spigot from the Clark Drain was also sawn off. This allowed the spigot from the Osma Drain to fit inside the Clark Drain spigot and to be glued using PVC pipe weld adhesive giving a very strong and airtight seal and also allowing some vertical adjustment when setting the frame in place.

Spigot sawn off from Osma Inspection Chamber
Spigot sawn off from Osma Inspection Chamber
Osma Drain spogot glued into Clark Drain spigot
Osma Drain spogot glued into Clark Drain spigot

Next the riser for the inspection chamber needed to be cut down to allow for the height of the cover frame. The riser was marked round with tape to the correct height and then cut with an oscillating multitool. The burrs were cleaned up with a coarse emery cloth.
Inspection chamber riser marked ready to be cut
Inspection chamber riser marked ready to be cut

The height around the riser was built up with type 1 and tamped down then mortar was trowelled into place around the riser and the frame set in place to the correct height of the surrounding slabs and with a slight fall matching the rest of the patio. The slabs around the frame were cut using an electric tile cutter which had a water tray for the blade to suppress dust. Also water was dribbled onto the slab while it was being cut. The operators wore face guard, face mask and ear defenders. Type 1 was added around the frame and tamped down and then the slabs were set in place.
Inspection chamber access cover frame set in place
Inspection chamber access cover frame set in place

Enhance your property by laying a new patio – part #5

Slabs laid ready for grouting

With the ground levelled, falls going the right way around the property and the MoT type 1 spread over and compacted with a petrol plate the slab laying is now well under way.

Slab laying well under way
Slab laying well under way

The cement was mixed with a 4 to 1 sand to cement ratio and some plasticizer was added to aid workability and the whole mix was made up in an electric cement mixer.
Cement mixer setup under gazebo in case it rains
Cement mixer setup under gazebo in case it rains

When laying the slabs the mortar bed was built up a couple of centimetres above the height that was needed to allow for the slab to be levelled once put in place.
Cement mortar bed waiting for the slab to be laid
Cement mortar bed waiting for the slab to be laid

The slabs were set a few millimetres above the edge of the channel drain and because the slabs had a waney edge they were set back at least 10 millimetres from the drain itself.
Channel drains taped up ready for grouting
Channel drains taped up ready for grouting

A rubber mallet was used to tap the slabs down in order to level them and a spirit level was used to make sure the slab was level with the surrounding slabs and also that the fall on the slab was going in the right direction. The cement was checked to make sure that there were no voids under the slab. On the smaller slabs to borrow a phrase from the tiling world the slabs were “back buttered” with styrene butadiene copolymer or SBR for short to aid adhesion and stop them from popping up when trodden on although this will be mitigated by the grouting process.
Small slabs back buttered with SBR to aid adhesion
Small slabs back buttered with SBR to aid adhesion

Once the slabs were laid they were allowed to set for a couple of days. It was time to start the grouting process. The channel drains were taped up to protect them from the grouting process. A gunnable cement mortar grout mix was being used. The mortar being used has structural properties to give the overall patio strength once all the bedding mortar and grout have set fully after a few weeks. The mortar was mixed with the right amount of water in a bucket using a mixing paddle.
Mixing gunnable grout mortar using paddle mixer
Mixing gunnable grout mortar using paddle mixer

Once the grout mortar had been mixed properly it was placed into the mortar gun with a grout mortar piping bag having had the nozzle cut off to allow the mixture to flow easier. The mortar grout mixture in this case is fairly runny anyway and flows easily.
Grout piping bag
Using grout piping bag to fill grout gun

The grout was applied into the slab joints after well watering the joints and mopping up any standing water. The grout was allowed to set for a couple of minutes before being struck off with a grout strike. A sponge was used to wipe off the excess from the top of the slabs being careful not to rake out the grout from the joint.

Enhance your property by laying a new patio – part #1

Old uneven patio

Now that the summer is fast approaching it is time to start thinking about your outside spaces. This patio is twenty years old and is beginning to show its age. The patio slabs have sunken in places and have become uneven in high traffic areas. It’s time to pull up the old pavers and lay down a new patio.

When the original house builders laid the patio they put down a very thin sub base of hardcore and then laid a thin layer of sand on top without compacting the earth underneath. This has led to the slabs sinking and becoming uneven in places. See the picture below.

The first part of the project is to pull the slabs up and prepare the groundwork. This will involve taking off the old sand base layer and digging out the hardcore sub base and some of the earth below that to give enough depth for the sub base, base and slab layers. This will allow for a new sub base of 100mm of sub base Type 1 MoT. MoT stands for Ministry of Transport which is the specification for the type of hardcore used for sub base layers also known as DoT or Department of Transport. On top of the Type 1 will go a base layer of cement to a depth of 40mm. The base layer will be made up of 3 parts sharp sand and one part cement with the slabs being laid on top of the base layer. The depth of the slab should be taken into account as well to allow for a gap of 50mm if possible below the level of the damp proof course (DPC) so that the risk of water penetration into the brickwork from the splash back of droplets against the wall when it rains is minimised.

Cloak-room makeover

Corner sink basin

This cloak-room has remained the same since the house was built in 2000. It was uninspiring then with all the inlet and waste pipes unflatteringly on display below the wall hung corner basin. Now was the time to give the cloak-room a makeover and give it a more contemporary feel.

Old cloak-room in need of renovation
Old cloak-room in need of renovation

The first job was to pull up the old carpet and level the floor with a self leveling screed. The old toilet was unscrewed and removed (nb the toilet and corner basin were recycled on the freecycle website reducing waste costs and helping the environment at the same time!) making sure the waste pipe was taped up to stop waste gases coming out of the pipe and into the house. A long spirit level was used to show high points in the floor.

Cloak-room concrete floor
Cloak-room concrete floor

Once the floor was leveled it was time to lay some tiles. A dark gray square porcelain tile was chosen and laid in a square brickwork pattern with a 4 mm grout joint width.

Gray slate porcelain tile laid in square brickwork pat
Gray slate porcelain tile laid in square brickwork pattern

The tiles were laid with a rapid flexible adhesive that requires only three hours setting time before the grouting can be applied. A light gray grout was used and as always pulling the grout float at 45 degrees across the grout lines so as not to drag the grout out of the joints and then taking the excess off with a sponge before it dries hard on the tiles. The grout was left to harden for 24 hours before the tiles were then cleaned up with a grout remover using a non scratch scouring sponge and washed off with plenty of water.

Gray grout
Gray grout

Next job was to cut off the old overflow pipe and fill the remaining hole as the new toilet has an integral overflow outlet that vents into the pan and to re-position the water inlet pipe to accommodate the new back to the wall close coupled WC.

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Remove overflow and re-position inlet

To re-position the copper water inlet pipe the old elbow had to be removed and replaced with a new one at a different angle. First the water was turned off, the pipe was cut after the elbow and any water in the pipe was taken out. The paint around the joint was rubbed off with emery cloth and flux was brushed around the joint. Then to de-solder the elbow joint heat was applied to the elbow very carefully by placing a heat protecting soldering mat over the pipe to stop the flame from burning the wall. Map gas was used in the blow torch as this burns hotter than propane. Heat had to be applied to the joint for about a minute right in the hottest part of the flame about an inch from the torch nozzle before the soldered joint released itself and the elbow could be taken off.

Soldered copper elbow joint to be removed
Soldered copper elbow joint to be removed

Then a new elbow was soldered on making sure the pipe and elbow were cleaned up first with wire wool and flux was placed around the inside of the copper elbow and outside of the pipe. A new piece of pipe was soldered on the other end of the elbow and a 1/2 inch straight tap connector soldered onto that. This enabled a braided hose with an isolating ball valve to be screwed on the end to connect to the cistern inlet for the water supply.

Soldered copper pipe for cistern inlet
Soldered copper pipe for cistern inlet with elbow and isolating ball valve

Next the wall was painted and the new back to the wall toilet and cistern were connected and screwed down. With there being no gap behind the WC it does make connecting the waste pan connector and inlet water supply slightly tricky. A flexible pan connector and 500 mm braided hose for the water supply give enough play to allow the joints to be made without too much trouble. A tip for putting the pan connector on is to put washing up liquid over the exterior of the pan outlet pipe to aid sliding the pan connector on.

Back to the wall WC
Back to the wall WC

Next the sink was removed and the rest of the walls painted . The hot and cold water supply inlet copper pipes were cut to allow 1/2 inch straight tap connectors to be soldered on and isolating ball valves screwed on to those in order for the tap connectors to be attached later when the sink gets installed.

Isolation ball valves and tap connectors for sink
Isolation ball valves and tap connectors for sink

Next the vanity unit was altered with cutouts made in the shelves and carcass to allow it to fit around the pipework. The vanity unit was screwed to the wall at the top and bottom to make it stable.

Altered vanity unit carcass
Altered vanity unit carcass

With the vanity unit fitted the tap and clicker waste were installed in the sink with clear jointing compound placed around the joints of the clicker waste to help the seal and the sink was put in place with dobs of silicon placed around the top of the vanity unit carcass to keep the sink in place. The tap connectors were screwed on and the waste connected up with a flexible hose and the door put on the vanity unit. A tiled mosaic splash back was created around the sink using a contrasting tile of grays, greens and browns with a light gray grout to tie in with the grout used for the floor tiles. Then the skirting board was fitted and the fixtures and fittings put on the wall.

Cloak room makeover
Cloak-room makeover
Vanity unit in cloak-room makeover
Vanity unit in cloak-room makeover
Cloak-room makeover finished
Cloak-room makeover complete