Paving the Way for Home Improvements:: DIY Brick Patio

{If you'd rather skip the long-winded back story and just read about our DIY home improvement, skip down to the pictures below.}

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When Jonathan and I got married we bought a townhouse. We thought it was a great idea because of it's location and relatively low price for the area we live in. At the time I was attending grad school about 45 minutes north of our new home and Jonathan worked about 30 minutes (with traffic) south of our home. We figured it was a good compromise of location because of how far we each had to drive and because we loved the area surrounding us and the options it gave us when we weren't at work or school.

The plan was to live here the three years I was in grad school. After graduation, we were going to stay here for another 1-2 years and continue living off of only Jonathan's salary while I used all of my salary to pay off the student loan. Then, we would move to a bigger home and start having babies.

Well, God had a different plan for us.

My third year of grad school we accidentally got pregnant. Though it was an accident on our part, we know that it was no accident on God's part! The timing was impeccable. I was able to finish my last year of grad school in May 2009 and Brody was born 3 weeks later. While Brody was a newborn I studied for my boards. It was tough to say the least, but that's another story for another time I suppose. After passing the boards, I continued to stay home and raise Brody until he was just shy of a year old.

That's when we decided it was time for me to go to work part-time, 2 days a week. At the time, it was summer and we were able to find babysitters to watch Brody while I worked a few hours each week. But, once the Fall semester began we lost our daytime babysitters and had to put Brody in a local "preschool" {really, it was daycare where they taught him during the day}. That worked fine for awhile, but eventually Brody cried every time I dropped him off at "school." It broke my heart. I had never planned to be a working mom. We took a look at our finances and realized I was not making any money by the time we paid for Brody's school and the gas I used to travel to patients' homes. Since I had been working for almost a year and had gained some experience, Jonathan gave me the "OK" to quit working and stay at home with Brody full-time again.

All this to say, here we are in the same townhouse SIX years later...two years longer than we thought we'd be here. With my student loan still weighing on our shoulders and the economy's downturn, it seems impossible to get out of our home anytime soon.  With Baby #2 on the way {two more babies than we thought we'd raise here}, we are finding ourselves beyond cramped in our three bedroom townhouse and annoyed to still be here. Annoyed mostly because there have been several home improvements we always wanted to do to our home, but never did them...because we thought "we'll only be living here for 4 years and then we will buy a new home."

Well, we've recently accepted defeat and decided that we are no longer going to put off the home improvements we want to make in order to be less annoyed while we are stuck here in this townhouse.  Because, who knows, we might be stuck here another six years {eek!} and we'd hate to look back at all the things we should have done to make living more comfortable.

And this leads me to our first home improvement.  The home improvement that is paving the way for many more home improvements...a brick patio for our grill.  Our new grill to be precise! Jonathan has been dying for a new grill for years now since the grill we had was the one handed down to us by my grandmother when we got married six years ago. It was my grandfather's grill prior to our ownership but once he passed my grandmother had no need for it.  It was old when we got it to say the least.  For six years, Jonathan has been cooking on it while trying to avoid getting rust into our food. I'm laughing as I write this because it sounds so terrible and I can't believe we dealt with it for so long.  But, once again, it was one of those things we thought we would buy once we moved to a new home.  Ahh! What a cycle we were caught in!

So, for Father's Day {in addition to the cute pictures Brody took for his daddy}, we gave Jonathan a new grill! With the little bit of money I have made from this blog we were able to get him a decent grill and buy the materials needed to pave a brick patio where the grill would sit.  You see, prior to this past weekend, the grill always sat on top of pine straw.  Since that's a fire hazard, we would roll the grill over to the cement patio each time we cooked.  Besides being a pain each time we wanted to grill, it was a huge eye soar. But, enough explaining.  Let's take a look at the before and after of our weekend project!...




Here is how we did it:


Step 1: Begin with a hideous area that severely needs some brick lovin'!


Step2: Remove all pine straw {or whatever is in your way of the ground} and dig down 4-6 inches.  We were lucky enough to have 3 sides bordered with the house and patio.  If you don't have a border already in place, you would need to create one at the point.  {You can google how to do this}.  We only had to add one border which we created with treated wood.


Step 3: Refill the area with paver's dirt {which is basically crushed granite}, making sure to level and pack down the dirt every couple of inches.  This will create a solid base for your bricks, making sure they don't shift during inclement weather and day-to-day use.  The paver's dirt should be added until you've reached two inches below your desired patio level.  {This is assuming your bricks are two inches in height as our were.  A typical brick is 2"(h)x4"(w)x8"(l).}


Step 4: At this point you really want to make sure your paver's dirt is as level as you can possibly get it.  Making the area level was the hardest part of this project...especially if you are perfectionists like Jonathan and I.  At some point, we finally realized it didn't have to be perfect, just good enough. Then you can begin laying the brick in the pattern of your choice. There are lots of patterns to choose from and you can do a simple Google search to find them.  We used the ever-so-popular running bond pattern as this is perfect for small spaces.  We started at the end that would be most visible and worked toward the wall. This assures you are left having irregular cuts in the area less visible.


Step 5: This brings us to cutting the bricks.  We used a circular saw with a masonry blade to make the cuts at each end and at the top edge.  Don't laugh...we obviously need a cutting bench too.  The  cooler did the trick well enough for this project though. :)


Step 6: Once all your bricks are in place, sweep paver's sand {not the same thing as paver's dirt used in step 3} across the bricks.  The sand will fill into the "joints" of the bricks.  Once you've covered the entire area, sweep all the remaining sand off of the area and use a light mist from your water hose to wet the area.  *Note: It's important all the sand is swept off before wetting the area. Otherwise, you will be left with stained bricks.  Also, when wetting the area, be careful not to spray directly into the brick joints.  Let the area dry completely and repeat this step at least 3 more times.


Step7: Once the fourth layer of paver's sand has dried into the brick joints, you should be left with a brick patio that can withstand daily use and harsh weather.


Step 8: Then, all you have to do is enjoy your new patio and feel proud that you did it yourself!  We sure feel like we accomplished something huge this weekend...even if it was just a small area that will be mostly covered by the grill and the hose.  It looks a TON cleaner and much more organized in that area now, and we can't stop looking at it!


The best part...we did it together and had fun learning the process together! You may be wondering though...where was Brody in all this?

Why, playing in the dirt, of course!!! :)



...And swimming in his inflatable pool.



Now it's time to think about the next project...building a new {Pottery Barn inspired} bed for Brody so that we can use the crib for Baby Girl...who, by the way, is coming in less than 3 months!!!

And let me just add here that even though Brody was unexpected, he is the ABSOLUTE JOY of our lives and we would not trade him for anything...not even to have my loan paid off and live in a bigger house.  Absolutely nothing would be worth trading this sweet little guy for!!! We truly believe that God saw we were about to miss the opportunity of having him in our life and He said, "No! This one is too good to pass up!" :)


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11 comments:

  1. i'm in grad school and i can't imagine going through pregnant BUT the Lord provides and children are a blessing :) found you via the blog hop and am excited to follow along xo

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  2. Hi I also believe in God planning the pregnancy even if others were not. My first born was an unexpected blessing and is still filling our lives with challenges and joy. Also everyone needs a little square footage and the pathway looks really good.
    I am looking forward to your next post and hope you follow back.
    Jillian
    http://puzzlemecomplete.blogspot.com/

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  3. Wow! You and Jonathan did an incredibly awesome job!! It looks great!!
    Just this past weekend I was watching HGTV and they were putting down pavers. It made me think back to last year when you and I got a wild hair to lay pavers on your patio, but after figuring up the cost of our little project, we decided NOT to do it since you would not be living there much longer!! Haha...we should have done it while we were so gung-ho about doing it!
    I'm so glad God wanted to bless you and Jonathan with the "joy of our lives" sooner, rather than later. I love that little boy to pieces.
    I'll be back up before too much longer so tell Jonathan to get the grill fired up when I arrive and I will buy the steaks/chicken! (Mmmmm...my mouth is already salivating!) Love you!!

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  4. I can't wait to read about this pottery barn inspired bed you will be building!! Maybe you should just go ahead and make 2 while you are at it....one for Brody and one for MK ;). Who knew beds were so stinking expensive!!

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  5. Looks fantastic! I found you from the blog hop and am a new GFC follower. I looked at some of your other posts as well. Looks like you and Brody have a lot of fun. I love the photography posts as well.
    Have a great night!

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  6. I was on the other end of the spectrum as far as a child--MY PLANS were to have a baby ASAP after I was married--GOD saw different He was teaching me patience A trite I would find MOST useful one our lil bundal of joy did arrive. I'm right there with you on living in the place for longer then expected---but I like the DIY and the step by step photos are great for anyone who'd want to try it themselves.
    THE END RESULT IS SPECTACULAR!!!

    Popin' in with Happiness is... Hop

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  7. OMG this is amazing. I'm seriously impressed. Something like this always looks so easy to me, but seeing all of your step by step pictures shows me it definitely isn't! Good job!

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  8. Wow this a wonderful idea.you have done a great work.I want to try this in my house.

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  9. It seems, you had a hard time. You are the idol for other house wives. By the way, your son is so smart.

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  10. i wouldn't be overbearing, id go to home improvement stores and wait in the parking lot most people who go to these stores are either remodeling now or planning to remodel. its hard these days to do what your doing because most people remodel themselves to save money. i wish you luck though, i hoped i helped.
    http://www.allevaconstruction.com/home_improvements.html

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  11. I would say that is a beautiful transformation. Patio looking colorful.

    Exterior Siding Cleaning

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I L.O.V.E each and every comment. Keep them coming!

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