Technical Information


Step 1: Remove Old Material
Removing an existing concrete or asphalt driveway is no simple task. It requires hours of backbreaking labor with jackhammers, sledgehammers and pry bars. Depending on the size of the driveway, it might make sense to farm out the work to a contractor. Another option is to rent an excavator from the local tool rental shop.

Step 2: Prepare Base
Measure and mark the outside edges of the new driveway. Use the excavator or shovels and dig down approximately 7” below grade. Spread crushed limestone across the entire area and compact well with a power tamper to form a level surface 4 ½” thick. Spread and level coarse sand over the gravel base and smooth with a rake. Use the power tamper to compact the sand.

Step 3: Lay Border Cobble
Run a line along the outside edges of the driveway by tying a piece of string between pieces of rebar. For the border segments, cut 16” cobble mats in half lengthwise. Begin laying the border pieces by the garage and work all the way down the driveway, making sure to follow the string guideline. Repeat for opposite side of the driveway.

Step 4: Lay Field Cobble
Begin laying the field cobble between the borders, starting at the garage. Line up the mats so that a consistent joint size is maintained. Adjust the placement of the mats by tapping with a rubber mallet. If you have curves, flares or decorative elements it may be necessary to cut the cobble. Options include a stone splitter, hammer and chisel or diamond blade-equipped saw.

Step 5: Compact Cobble
When all of the tile is in place, wet the driveway down and use a power tamper to compact the tile into the base approximately 3/8”. Work in straight lines to ensure even compaction across the entire driveway. Finish by cleaning out the joints with a leaf blower.

Step 6: Prepare Grout
In this project, the joints are filled in with epoxy grout, but they also can be filled with coarse sand. Lightly spray the inside of a concrete mixer with water. Prepare the grout mixture according to manufacturer’s instructions. Only mix up as much as can be used within 15 minutes. When ready, pour into a slightly wet wheelbarrow.

Step 7: Grout Cobble
Lightly spray cobblestone and foam squeegees with water before beginning the grouting process. Begin grouting at one end of the driveway. Draw the squeegees diagonally across the cobble to work the grout mixture into the joints. Work in manageable sections one at a time. When the joints are filled, run the squeegee across the stones to remove excess grout. Rinse the squeegees frequently to keep them in good working condition.

Step 8: Allow to Dry
Avoid walking on newly grouted areas for about five hours. Depending on weather conditions, the cobbles should be ready to drive on after 24 hours.


The frame
The key to constructing a good decking area is the frame. If the decking is being built on an existing patio it should be built of sawn treated timber 50 mm by 100mm (approx.). Before building the frame you need to decide which way the final decking boards are going to run and build the main joists of the frame in the opposite direction at approx 400mm centres. The frame can either be built directly on to the patio or can be built using small brick pillars to increase the height. If the brick pillar method is used then you should use a pillar every 1.25 metres along every second joist. In general the more the pillars the better as this will help stop the deck from having too much of a spring. Before building the frame it is a good idea to cover the base with a ground sheeting material to stop any weed growth once the decking is finished. Screwing the frame together is the best way to ensure you maintain the strength over a number of years. Building a deck is a great addition to any home. level and build the decking so that the frame has a slight fall about 1 in 100, which means for every metre the frame travels the change in level, will be 1 cm. The fall should be away from any buildings.
Once the basic frame has been constructed it should be strengthened with cross members to add additional strength.

The finished surface
The key is to keep the wood in as long a lengths as possible. When laying the surface you need to screw it to the frame. This is best achieved by marking out the lines you wish the screws to go and pre drilling the holes, finally using an electric screw driver to secure the decking boards .Nailing the boards to the frame is a waste of time because the boards will twist pulling the nails out.
A good tip is to use a small spacing bar to make sure the space between each board is the same. This space should be between 2 and 5 mm. Once the decking is finished we normal recommend not painting or treating it because this only creates additional work in the years to come


The secret to a successful panel fence is in the preparation.

Tools and materials
Saw, Cordless drill, Silicone sealant, Spirit level, Hammer, Concrete, Fencing, Nails

Erecting a panel fence
Bear in mind that this project is hard work and you’ll find it a lot easier if you have at least one helper. Clear away vegetation and pot any shrubs or plants that you will want to replant once the fence is up. Prefabricated fence panels come in a standard 1.83m width and are generally available in four heights (900mm, 1.2m, 1.52m and 1.83m).

1. Drill six evenly spaced pilot holes into the batten framing of the panel on both sides and at each end. Raise the panel 50mm – 75mm above the ground, this gap will help prevent it rotting from the bottom up.
2. Lay a spirit level on the panel to check it is level, then nail it to the post with galvanised nails through the pilot holes. The top of the panel should be a consistent distance (at least 25mm) below the top of the post.
3. Attach the second panel to the post, using temporary props to keep the fence vertical. Continue working this way until all the panels are in place.
4. Make sure each post is touching both builder’s lines, and check that it is vertical using a spirit level. Fill the post hole to just above ground level with concrete. Smooth the surface downwards so that rainwater will drain away from the wood.
5. Soak the post caps in a bucket of water – this will help prevent splitting as you nail them on. Apply a siliconebased sealant to the underside to reduce the chance of water seeping beneath and rotting the top of the post and then nail a post cap to the top of each post.

Gravel board
Gravel boards are specially treated timbers that are fitted horizontally at the base of a fence. They protect the fence panels from rot by raising them off the ground. A rotten gravel board is much easier to replace than an entire fence panel. To fit gravel boards as you build a panel fence, leave a 150mm gap below the panels. Measure and cut 25mm-thick boards to fit between the posts. Fix them with galvanised screws or nails inserted at an angle into the posts. Countersink screws or drill pilot holes for nails.

To erect a panel fence on a slope, you still need to fix the posts vertically and the panels horizontally, as you would on flat ground, but you should step the fence panels to match the gradient. Remember when ordering materials that longer posts will be required to compensate for the stepped panels. If you can, try and keep the steps even, if necessary digging out or building up the ground beneath to ensure the triangular gap below each section is roughly equal. Fill this gap with a length of gravel board, which is easily cut to fit.

Erecting a closeboard fence
A closeboard fence is a popular alternative to panel fencing. Featheredge boards, tapered on one edge, are nailed to horizontal arris rails which are secured to the fence posts. This kind of fence is very good for privacy and security but can be quite expensive.
Some fence posts come with ready-made slots (housings) for the triangular arris rails; others will need to be notched prior to installation. Use three arris rails for a fence over 1.2m high; two for anything lower. Make sure each post is the right way round: the back of the fence is the side where the arris rail is visible. The distance between posts should be half the length of your arris rail sections, less 50mm (cut this off each rail). Remember to position the posts on your side of the boundary.

1. Put the first three posts in their holes and prop each one up with temporary supports. Insert one end of the upper arris rail into the notch of the first post and the other end into the third post. Check the arris rail is level and mark and saw off any excess: the end of the rail should reach exactly half-way across the third post. Nail it in place using 75mm galvanised nails and fit the lower arris rail in the same way. Keep checking both are
2. The joins in the arris rail sections need to be staggered for added strength. Therefore measure and cut the central arris rail to the distance from the outer edge of the first post to the midpoint of the second.
3. Nail the central arris rail into position using galvanised nails. The next section of the central arris rail should be a standard two-post width.
4. As well as making sure each post touches your builder’s lines, keep using a spirit level to check the fence is vertical and level.
5. Continue fitting posts and rails to create your skeleton fence, supporting it with timber props as you go. Checking again that each post is vertical, concrete them into the ground and leave to set for 48 hours. Slope the concrete away from the post to drain off rainwater.
6. Fit gravel boards horizontally to the front of the posts across the base of the fence. Drill pilot holes for the nails before attaching the board to prevent the wood from splitting.

Attaching the boards
1. Using 50mm galvanised nails, nail the centre of the first board to the upper arris rail. Check the board is vertical before nailing it to the bottom rail and finally the central rail. Make a spacer by cutting an off-cut of timber to 20mm less than the width of a featheredge board. Align this to the thicker edge of the first board. Butt the second board up agaisnt it and fiz it in the same way.
2. Continue fitting boards, using the spacer to maintain an identical overlap between them and checking that each is vertical with a spirit level. When you are six boards from the last post, measure how much space you have left and increase or decrease the overlap of the last few boards so that you meet the outer edge of the post neatly.
3. Run the capping strip across the top of the featheredge boards. Nail it in place using galvanised nails. If you find the wood is splitting, drill pilot holes before nailing.

Galvanised Brackets
1. Another method of building a closeboard fence is to fix the arris rails in palce using specially made galvanised brackets. These allow you to use standard fence posts without needing to cut mortises to hold the arris rails.
2. The brackets come ready-drilled with holes for nailing them in place. End brackets have additional flanges through which they are nailed to posts. These brackets are also ideal for reinforcing a broken arris rail.


Paving blocks are bedded into a layer of sharp sand on top of compressed Type 1 sub-base stone. They aren’t fixed with mortar, so there must be a retaining edge or kerb to stop them spreading. These edging blocks are securely bedded on mortar.

Tools and materials
Spirit level, Builders tools, Timber offcut, Builders / plasterers float, Edging blocks, Rubber mallet, Concrete and mortar, Sharp sand, Fine kiln-dried sand, Angle grinder, Block paving, Vibrating plate compactor

Laying a retaining edge
Excavate a strip around all four edges of the sub-base and lay 100mm-thick concrete footings for the edging blocks. The footings should project 75mm to the outside of the edging blocks and no more than 25mm to the inside.

1. When the concrete is dry, lay the edging blocks on a bed of mortar. Use a builder’s line and spirit level to position the blocks and allow for the fall across their surface. Bed the blocks down firmly into the mortar with a rubber mallet.
2. Use a spirit level to keep checking that the blocks are level with the string line across their width.
3. To hold the edging blocks in place, build up the concrete against their outer edges to at least half the block height. Leave to harden for 3 days.

Sharp sand for bedding blocks
With the edgings in place you can cover the sub-base with sharp sand. This is levelled to the correct depth with a board supported at each end with carefully positioned timber offcuts.

1. Dampen the sharp sand slightly and spread it to a depth of about 65mm. Use the board to level the sand, pulling the excess towards you.
2. Compact the sand to 50mm using a vibrating plate compactor, then loosen the top 10–15mm with a rake.
3. Use a builder’s float to smooth the sand down around any drainage point.

Laying paving blocks
Paving blocks can be laid in all sorts of different patterns, but when you are using them to make a drive the joints must be staggered to ensure the surface is strong enough to take the weight of a car. The pattern here is totally random, but you could lay different-sized blocks (small, medium and large) in regular sequences. Dry-lay a few rows first to check your design will work, especially at the corners and edges. Try a few different patterns to see which you prefer. It’s a good idea to work from several packs of paving blocks at a time, mixing up the individual blocks, as colours may vary slightly from pack to pack.

1. Starting from one corner, lay the blocks on the compacted sand in the pattern of your choice. Butt the blocks tightly up against each other. Wear knee pads and kneel on a length of timber so that you spread your weight over several paving blocks.
2. If you have to pave around anything, such as a rodding point, loose-lay the blocks that will need to be cut to fit.
3. Use a straightedge to mark the cutting line in pencil on the blocks.
4. Place each block to be cut on a bed of sand to hold it firmly in place. Wearing protective clothing (see below), cut the blocks one by one using an angle grinder with a particle diamond disc.

The perfect result
The laid paving is finished by filling the joints with fine sand. Then the blocks are compacted down into the sand, bringing them level with the top of the retaining edge.

1. Once all the blocks are laid, fill in the gaps between them with fine kiln-dried sand, brushing it into the joints with a broom.
2. Press the paving blocks into the sand with the compactor. If they drop too low, or they won’t compact enough, take them up and adjust the sand bed. Brush more kiln-dried sand into the joints, if necessary.

Paving Slabs

Laying Paving Slabs

Digging Out
Firstly you should plan out your area and include a fall to ensure water will drain away. We would suggest something like 1:40 cross fall and 1:80 end fall drainage. Also take into account the thickness of the paving, sub base and bedding layer to ascertain how deep you need to dig out. Remember that if you are laying paving up to a building then your finished top level needs to be at least 150mm below the DPC. (damp proof course)

Sub Base
The sub base is the layer that takes the load and gives your paving strength and durability. It isn’t essential to include a sub base in every application but It’s recommended in most cases to prolong the life of your paving application. A sub base would usually be about 150mm of a DTp1 aggregate (This is usually a crushed rock mix) well compacted, leaving little or no gaps for the bedding layer to run into. The sub base should be even in thickness and the finished sub base should reflect the final profile of the finished paving.

For applications such as drives (or other surfaces which will be supporting heavy objects) you should use thick slabs and a sub base of concrete – consult an expert for more details if you’re in doubt.

Bedding Layer
The bedding layer is the material that holds and supports the paving slabs. The Bedding material is a coarse grit sand mixed with dry cement to the right level which will leave the stones flat and level. Do not use building sand – it’s too soft. A 10:1 mix of sand/cement is around appropriate as this will stiffen the mix suitably. The thickness of the bedding layer will be determined by the variation of thickness of your paving slabs. The bedding layer needs to “make up” the thickness of the thinner stones to ensure a level final result. You need to know how thick your thickest stones are to calculate how much bedding layer to allow.

Before laying the slabs spread out an area of bedding mix and compact it down. Take care to check the thickness of the slab to be laid and level the bedding mix accordingly. Use a trowel to slightly ripple the bedding mix this will allow the stone to “bed down”. Now it’s time to lay the stones. Smaller ones can be lifted into place but larger stones should be carefully tipped from an already paved or solid place. Use a “maul” (a big, rubber-headed hammer) to help you align the stone. Take care as certain rubber hammers can leave marks on the stone. Some form of protection such as laying out a cloth over the stone may be required. Then tap lightly towards the edge of the stone to make it flush with the others. When you’re satisfied, stand on the flag and check that it doesn’t rock around, that the bed is good and the stone is flush with the surrounding stones. If the stone is too high or low, you’ll need to lift it, add or remove some bedding, and replace it.

Jointing or Pointing
Dry Jointing – Our recommendation here is to brush in a dry mix of sand and cement as long as the paving is completely dry and there is no chance of rain. A 4:1 mortar mixture is mixed dry then spread over the finished paving. Using a soft brush you sweep the mix into the joints. Each joint is then packed down with the edge of a trowel or similar implement to pack the dry mix into the joints. this process may need repeating several times to ensure a good solid joint. Obviously any residue on the surface needs to be swept clean to avoid any cement staining the stones.

Pointing – possibly more time consuming but can achieve longer lasting results. Mortar is mixed wet and toweled into the joints. Using two trowels can speed the process, holding mortar on a large trowel at the edge of the joint and feeding it into the joint with a smaller trowel. This will also help minimise any staining on the edges of the paving slabs. The mortar will need to be pressed down into the joint and then finished with a jointing trowel.

Road Kerbs

A concrete edging stone is a mini kerb. Whereas kerbs are used for roads, edgings are used for driveways and paths. Usually, one edge has a rounded “bull-nosed” edge which softens the look of the stone and also protects car tyres when used on a driveway. This project deals with straight, concrete edging stones. There are many types of edging stones for varying uses around the garden. Some just sit in soil, some on a mortar bed and some need concreting. The principle is the same.

Edging stones are used to stop the base spreading as weight is applied to it and as such must be laid in a strong mix of concrete themselves.

A couple of inches (50-75mm) of concrete mixed at 6 to 1 (see our mixing concrete project) is laid along the line you would like the edgings to follow. An edging stone is laid at one end and tapped to level, usually with a paving mallet or the handle of a lump, or club, hammer. A string line is then attached to the back edge of the stone and run out to the other end of the drive or path where another edging stone is positioned in the same way. This stone will probably be temporary as it may have to be replaced by a cut stone depending on the length of the path or drive.

Remember to take into account the slope of the drive, and if using edgings on both sides, use a long piece of timber to level across. If the distance is too great, transfer the level using pegs banged into the ground.

Once the two end stones are in and the string line is in position you can lay the rest of the edgings. Tap each one down into the concrete butting one up against the next one. There is no need for a joint. You may need to cut one or two edgings to fit the length of the drive or path and this can be done with an angle grinder as shown below. Make sure you hire or buy stone cutting disks as metal cutting disks will not get through stone or concrete.

When all the edging stones are in position concrete is placed at the back and front of them. Almost always the main pressure against the edging stone is from the front so most of the concrete needs to be at the back as you will probably have a sub base of some kind at the front. Remember to leave enough depth for a little soil if you are reinstating turf etc behind the stones and compact the concrete well using a flat piece of timber or preferably a wooden or plastic plastering float. Angle the concrete away from the stone so water does not sit on the top of the concrete.



Cold-cure tarmac is a simple way to resurface an old tarmac drive or path. It comes ready to lay from a sack and can be rolled level with a heavy garden roller (or purpose-designed roller hired from a tool-hire shop). Cold-cure tarmac comes in two colors – red or black – and is sold in 25kg (55lb) sacks. A single sack will cover just under 1m sq. (1sq. yd) at a thickness of about 12mm (1/2in). Each sack often also contains a separate bag of decorative stone chippings for embedding in the soft tarmac as an alternative finish.

It’s easiest to spread tarmac on a warm, dry day. If you are planning on working in the cold, store the materials in a warm place the night before so they are easier to work with. A couple of days before you lay the new cold-cure tarmac, pull up any weeds and grass growing through the old surface and apply a good, strong weed killer. Sweep the area clean and level out any potholes: cut the sides of holes vertically, clean out the debris, paint the inside with bitumen emulsion then fill with 18mm (3/4in) layers of tarmac, compacting each layer until the surface is flush with the surrounding level. To make a firm bond between the old surface and the new, on a dry day, apply a tack coat of bitumen emulsion to the entire surface to be covered. Mask off the edges and any surrounding areas to protect from splashes.

Stir the emulsion well first, and then pour it on. You can pour direct from the container, but you may find it easier to control if you decant the emulsion into an old watering can – without the ‘rose’ sprinkler on the end. Use an old stiff-bristled broom to spread the emulsion. Try to avoid splashing surrounding surfaces and don’t leave puddles of emulsion.

Let the tack coat set – this usually takes about 20 minutes. While this is setting, wash the broom in hot, soapy water. Shovel on and then rake the tarmac to a layer about 18mm (3/4in) thick. Use a straight edge – or the flat side of the rake – to scrape the surface and press down lumps with your foot. Spread three sacks of tarmac and then roll. Keep the surface of the roller wet to stop specks being picked up. Spread and roll the next three sacks of tarmac. If you want to use the decorative chippings scatter them now and then roll the whole area in different directions to compact it evenly.

Useful Tips – Protecting Tarmac
You can walk on cold-cure tarmac as soon as it’s laid – but don’t wear high heels or stilettos for a couple of days and wait two or three days before you drive or park a car on cold-cure tarmac so it sets firm.
Always protect tarmac from chemical spillage-especially oil and petrol from cars and power tools.
Although it's not essential, edging the tarmac with a brick or concrete block edge will improve the appearance and also prolong the life of this vulnerable area.


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