Home Construction Improvement http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com Expert Home Improvement Advice Sun, 18 Mar 2018 17:36:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Building Custom Chess Board http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/building-custom-chess-board/ http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/building-custom-chess-board/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 17:36:30 +0000 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/?p=12867 How To Build A Custom Chess Board I first learned how to play chess with my dad as a young boy. Now I get the pleasure of playing with my son so I decided to build a custom chess board for he and I to use. After scouring the web for examples I decided to…

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How To Build A Custom Chess Board

I first learned how to play chess with my dad as a young boy. Now I get the pleasure of playing with my son so I decided to build a custom chess board for he and I to use. After scouring the web for examples I decided to create my own design. For this project I used a combination of Maple and Walnut due to their contrasting colors and availability. In fact, much of the wood was left over from some of the cutting boards I’ve built in the past. Additionally, I used some plywood for the base material for the top and bottom along with a divider inside the storage area.

Building The Chess Board Top

Arguably the most important part of the chess board is the playing surface which is an 8 by 8 grid of varying colored squares. Sitting looking at the board from the players position, the bottom left corner is a dark square, and the bottom right corner is a light colored square.

I decided to build a thin layer or alternating squares of Maple and Walnut glued onto a layer of 1/4″ thick plywood. The plywood will help keep the top flat and avoid warping and movement.

For the squares I used the bandsaw to slice off 1/4″ thick slices of both Maple and Walnut. After resawing the material I ran it through the thickness planer to get each of the pieces flat and the same thickness. Next the material was ripped on the table saw to the narrow strips the width of the playing squares.

Once the strips were ripped to width, they were glued on edge in alternative pieces of Maple and Walnut. To accomplish the glue-up I first planed parchment paper on the bench, then glued each piece next to each other. Then I placed some straight pieces of wood (culls) on top of the boards to keep them from buckling. Clamps were used to apply pressure to the full width of the glue-up.


On my bench I have some T-Slot track mounted so that I can attach clamps. This is really handy when doing these type of glue-ups.

After this assembly was dried I then cut it cross-wise the same width as the individual strips. This creates a strip made of 8 squares of alternating Maple and Walnut.

Next these strips are glued again on edge, each one flipped end for end to create the alternating checkered pattern. In addition to being glued on the edge, the strips were also glued to a piece of 1/4″ plywood, all in the same step. As was the case in the first glue-up, culls and clamps were used to keep the board flat and pressure applied to the assembly while drying.

For this project I used Titebond II for all the glued joints. I’ve had really good luck with all the Titebond products over the years so I stick with them. I used the Rockler glue bottle with glue roller and it works really good.

After gluing up the top pattern I made a frame to wrap around the checkered pattern. The frame is made from Walnut with mitered corner joints. I made the same frame for the bottom and top.

The bottom frame just holds a piece of 1/4″ plywood, and the top frame holds the plywood and hardwood laminate. For the top frame I used a rabbit to allow the top to be flush to the surface, and the bottom uses a dado.

Building the Cabinet Sides

The cabinet has two sides attached to corner posts. The two sides leave an open front and back to allow for drawers to store the chess pieces in. The two side panels are made from Walnut while the corners are made from Maple.

To add some character to the cabinet, I used a router to route some half-round slots along the length of the sides, and also to create a fluted look on the corners. I milled a dado in the corner pieces to accept the tenon on the side panels.

Assembling the Chess Board Cabinet

The Maple corners are mitered together with a glue joint. The two sides are next glued to the bottom. I also installed a piece of plywood in the center of the box between the two sides. This helps stiffen the entire box, provide support for the side panels, and additional support for the top and bottom to prevent warping.

The last step was gluing the top to the lower assembly. Glue was applied to the top of the side panels, corner blocks, and the center support.

Chess Board Storage Drawers

Next I made two storage drawers with Walnut front panels and Maple sides. I used 1/4″ hardboard for the bottoms. I attached the drawer sides to the drawer front using a dovetail joint. The drawer fronts have the same half-round slot details that the sides of the cabinet have. The back drawer sides are joined to the drawer back with half-lap glued joints.

I also lined the inside of the drawers with green felt to protect the chess playing pieces.

Finishing The Chess Board

The last step in this build was finishing the chess board and cabinet. For this project I decided to try using brushing lacquer. I read lots of great things about this product so I figured I’d give it a try. First off, this stuff is brutal, you need to wear a respirator! Secondly, I didn’t think it was as easy to get “brush” free results as many online state. After several coats and wet sanding in between coats I ended up finishing off with a couple coats of aerosol lacquer from Deft. Either way, I’m very pleased with the finish.

I added two small knobs to the drawers and some wooden pieces that I found online. I think this was one of my favorite woodworking projects to date, and one I’m quite proud of!

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Grid-Tied PV Solar Systems http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/grid-tied-pv-solar-systems/ http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/grid-tied-pv-solar-systems/#comments Sat, 23 Dec 2017 15:44:56 +0000 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/?p=12854 Grid-Tied Photovoltaic Solar Systems With the continued increase in electric costs and improved solar panel technology, residential solar systems are becoming very popular. Grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) systems consist of solar panels, an inverter (sometimes more than one), power conditioning equipment, and a connection to the utility system (grid). By tying the solar system to the…

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Grid-Tied Photovoltaic Solar Systems

With the continued increase in electric costs and improved solar panel technology, residential solar systems are becoming very popular. Grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) systems consist of solar panels, an inverter (sometimes more than one), power conditioning equipment, and a connection to the utility system (grid). By tying the solar system to the utility grid, excess electricity that’s produced can be “sold” back to the utility or credited to the producers account and used to offset times when the solar system isn’t producing sufficient power for the home. The home can still draw power from the utility grid during the night, or poor solar generating days due to weather or time of year.

Roof Mounted Vs Ground Mounted PV Solar Systems

One of the first decisions to be made with regard to installing a PV Solar System for your home is whether to use a roof mounted or ground mounted PV system. Roof mounted systems are mounted directly to the roof in a fixed position. Depending on the orientation of your roof the efficiency of the system will vary. South facing roofs are ideal and its important that they are not shaded by trees or other nearby buildings.

Ground mounted systems can be either fixed or tracking. Fixed systems are oriented for the ideal southern exposure and avoidance of shading from trees and buildings. Ground mounted tracking systems come in two different versions. Single-axis tracking and dual-axis tracking. Single-axis trackers follow the sun from east to west in a single line. Dual-axis trackers an follow the sun more precisely in a circular motion from the east to west improving efficiency even more.

Which one is best for you? Well that is a loaded question and best answered with the help of your solar contractor. However, here are some of the things to consider for each:

  • Roof Mounted PV Systems – Roof mounted PV systems are typically the least expensive to install because the roof becomes the supporting structure. While this type is often the cheapest, it comes with some compromises such as: roof penetrations, fixed orientation to the sun, extra roof loading on your home, and the need to remove the panels when new roofing is needed.
  • Ground Mounted Fixed PV Panel Systems – These are a great option when a roof isn’t large enough or doesn’t have a good southern exposure. These are cheaper than the tracking units but do require space in your yard. A nice benefit over the roof mounted systems is not having to remove them for a new roof.
  • Ground Mounted Single-Axis Tracking PV Panel Systems -These are typically used for non-residential large scale systems. Not likely to be an option for home owners.
  • Ground Mounted Dual-Axis Tracking PV Panel Systems -These are the most expensive yet most efficient systems. The increased efficiency will certainly pay for the extra construction costs over the life of the system. These systems are often smaller in size as well due to the increased efficiency. In some cases these can be as much as 40% more efficient compared to a fixed roof system. Tracking systems can require some additional maintenance to the tracking motors.

Grid-Tied Net Metering

I recently had a large ground mounted, dual-axis, tracking system installed at my home. The system is 14.4 kw in size due to our very high electric consumption. Our peak usage occurs in the summer time when we have central air running, a pool heater, and electric dryer. This is an ideal situation because the summer season is also the highest solar potential especially here in New England.

However, even though our high usage matches well with our high production, net metering allows us to store electric credits when we produce more than we use, and apply those credits to times when we’re using more than we’re producing. What’s really neat about a net metered system vs one that uses batteries to store the excess power, is we’re helping power neighbors homes. When excess power from our system goes back out to the street through the meter, it’s used by adjacent properties.

At the end of each month the power bill can vary depending no the time of the year and power use. In some months users might have a small net power charge for any supplemental electricity needed that wasn’t produced. Some months the bill may include credits for excess power that was generated. Those credits can be applied to future bills.

Above is a snap shot from our solar monitoring software that tracks our daily power generation. On this particular day we generated 66.3 kw-hours of power. We likely used about 90 kw-hours of power for the day so the net power needed from the grid was only about 24 kw-hours. This was on December 17th, which is almost the shortest day of the year, so as the days get longer, and the sun gets higher in the sky, the system will generate much more power.

Does Solar Power Make Sense For Your Home?

Lately lots of our customers have been asking about the financial feasibility of installing a solar power system at their home. In most situations a solar system does make financial sense in the long term. So if you’re planning on being in your home for quite some time, and you’ve got the room for a system whether on your roof or in your yard, the long term payoff in most cases makes good sense.

The system I just installed at home home was just over $50,000 to install. However, with an average power bill just north of $6,000 a year, and a 30% tax rebate on the installation, the payback is only around 6 to 7 years. The system will perform for well over 25 years and likely longer than that so the math made lots of sense for us.

If you’re interested in going solar, call several installers, meet with them, ask lots of questions and get several estimates. Do your home work, check references, and look at all the numbers to see if the payback meets your financial needs and goals. Good luck!

 

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Nest Pro – The Smart Trade http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/nest-pro-the-smart-trade/ http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/nest-pro-the-smart-trade/#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 19:40:39 +0000 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/?p=12832 Nest Pro The Smart Trade Every day new technology is changing the world of construction and benefiting end users. Smart home technology is forever evolving how we control and interact with our homes resulting in reduced energy consumption and improved living comforts. As a builder and general contractor I know first hand how important it…

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Nest Pro

The Smart Trade

Every day new technology is changing the world of construction and benefiting end users. Smart home technology is forever evolving how we control and interact with our homes resulting in reduced energy consumption and improved living comforts. As a builder and general contractor I know first hand how important it is to keep up with this dynamic technology in order to provide our clients with as many options as possible. Smart home technology has really created the “Smart Trade” in which general contractors are having to coordinate and offer their clients these new connected products.

A 2016 article on houzz showed that 45% of recently renovated homes had smart systems or devices installed. The article also shows that the top smart systems being installed are home security/safety, entertainment, climate control, and lighting. The key component in smart systems is connectivity with a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) allowing users to interface with systems while in or out of the home. The study also shows that a vast majority of home owners rely on professional assistance with installation.

With so much movement towards smart home technology, contractors that adopt and embrace these products can set themselves apart from their competition. This is where the “Smart Trade” term really resonates with me. It’s “smart” to offer these new smart home technologies to your customers and broaden your business offerings.

Nest Thermostats

Nest provides a wide range of smart home products that contractors can offer their clients. By becoming a Nest Pro, contractors can offer customers the latest technology allowing them to control the climate in their homes, security systems, and monitor fire and carbon monoxide all from their smart phone or tablet. Nest PRO’s get exclusive pricing, training, and live VIP support and even referrals.

I recently installed two Nest Thermostats (Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E) in an effort to see how easy it might be and also to get an idea of how well they perform. The two Nest Thermostats offer two price points and several styles to match most any decor.

  • Nest Learning Thermostat: Priced at $249 this thermostat is available in 4 colors (white, copper, black, stainless steel), offers a high resolution screen, and shows the time, temperature or weather on the screen. When connected to your homes Wifi the device can also be controlled by your smartphone or table.
  • Nest Thermostat E: Priced at $169 this thermostat offers a more cost effective option and is available in white only with a frosted display. When connected to your homes Wifi the device can also be controlled by your smartphone or table.

As a general contractor I can tell you that we’ve tried to install other “wifi” controlled thermostats in renovated homes with little luck because older homes are typically wired with only two thermostat wires. For the two Nest Thermostats that I installed, I was nervous because the home I installed them in was an older home with (2) wire thermostat controls. Much to my delight, both Nest thermostats work off the low voltage control wiring even if the system only has two wires (in my situation a red and white wire, which is very common here in the northeast for homes with heat boilers).

Installation was very straight forward and only took about 30 minutes each including the initial setup of the devices. Connecting to the homes Wifi  and the Nest App was very straight forward. The Nest system really impressed me with it’s ease of installation and setup. While the directions were a bit vague on two wire systems, I was able to figure it out quickly.

The Nest App is very intuitive and provides lots of great information and full control of all your Nest devices. In the first screen shot you can see both of the thermostats I installed (both can be remotely controlled from the App). In the second screen shot, you can see one of the energy use pages that shows the history of energy use for the zones the thermostats are connected with.

Join The Smart Trade

If you’re a general contractor, remodeler, or even a handy man now is the time to jump into the Smart Trade and offer your clients smart home technology that they desire. Teaming up with a reputable supplier like Nest is an easy way to get a line of products you can offer along with the support you need to give great service. I was very impressed with the ease of integration, ease of installation, and the performance of the products I tested.

The real payoff here are the savings that home owners can realize by using products that save energy without sacrificing comfort.* Whether you install these products yourself or team up with your electrical and mechanical sub-contractors, there’s no reason to wait any longer to offer these products to your clients.

* Independent studies showed that Nest saved people an average of 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling. Based on typical energy costs, we’ve estimated average savings of $131 to 145 a year. Individual savings are not guaranteed.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Nest. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Durgin and Crowell Enhance™ Pre-Coated Pine http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/durgin-crowell-enhance-pre-coated-pine/ http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/durgin-crowell-enhance-pre-coated-pine/#respond Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:23:09 +0000 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/?p=12840 Enhance™ by Durgin & Crowell We’re very fortunate to build homes in an area of New Hampshire filled with local wood mills producing flooring, paneling, and even timbers for timber frame homes. Just down the road about 10 miles from my office is Durgin and Crowell, a family owned fully integrated lumber company producing up…

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Enhance™ by Durgin & Crowell

We’re very fortunate to build homes in an area of New Hampshire filled with local wood mills producing flooring, paneling, and even timbers for timber frame homes. Just down the road about 10 miles from my office is Durgin and Crowell, a family owned fully integrated lumber company producing up to 30 million board feet of Eastern White Pine lumber each year. One of the products that they offer is called Enhance™ which is a pre-coated Eastern White Pine paneling product available in several finishes and profiles.

Over the last several years we’ve been using the Enhance™ pre-coated pine products from Durgin & Crowell in the new homes we’ve built. The photo above is a custom timber frame home that has Douglas Fir timbers and the Natural Finish Enhance™ V-Groove paneling. The paneling was used for ceilings and some of the walls within the home and really helped showcase the timber frame.

We’ve also used it in more traditional homes as accents for ceilings inside the home and on covered porches and three-season rooms. Above is a recent lake home we built with traditional framing and some accent ceilings that used White Wash Finish Enhance™ V-Groove paneling. The owner wanted something a bit brighter than the natural finish, and they just loved this finish as it shows off the natural beauty of the Pine with a brighter finish.

Ehance™ Pre-Coated Eastern White Pine

Enhance™ by Durgin and Crowell is a pre-coated, UV cured, Eastern White Pine paneling product. Durgin and Crowell starts with high quality Eastern White Pine that they mill themselves and is hand selected specifically for pre-coating. After the Pine is milled and brought to their pre-coating facility it’s sanded using a profile sander and 4 different grits. The profile sander not only sands the face, but also the tongue-and-groove profile ensuring superior adhering properties for the final coating.

After sanding the board passes through a high speed air knife that removes all the dust from the sanding process. Finally the coating is applied through a temperature controlled vacuum coater to all 4 sides. Immediately the coating is cured using ultra-violet (UV) light. As the wood leaves the UV curing it’s stacked and packaged for delivery.

The UV cured coating is very resistant to scratching and blemishes due to transportation and general installation. We’ve had incredible luck with having very little waste and damaged product which is a huge benefit when working on tight project budgets.

Durgin and Crowell’s company moto is “We are pine passionate.”  This is certainly evident by the quality and selection of Eastern White Pine products that they manufacture and sell.

Pre-Coated Paneling : Faster, Less Waste, Better Quality

So why do we use pre-coated paneling? The answer is pretty simple and comes down to speed of installation, less wasted material and overall better quality for our clients.

  • Faster – We’ve installed lots of this pre-coated Pine paneling and it’s much faster than raw wood. Because the wood is sanded on all the surfaces including the tongue & groove profile, and then immediately coated and cured, it fits together much nicer than raw tongue & groove material. We’ve found that the material remains straighter after it’s coated which also speeds installation.
  • Less Waste – Every time we order Enhance™ we’re amazed at the small amount of waste on the project. Typically when we order raw un-coated Pine paneling we’ll have 10% or so of waste due to crooked, twisted, cupped and waned material. However, with the pre-coated material we seldom get any boards that can’t be used. We feel this is a result of the material being coated and cured immediately following final sanding.
  • Better Quality – The pre-coated finish that Enhance™ offers can’t be beat even by the best finishers in the field. These boards come completely finished with no runs, no streaks and an extremely smooth consistent finish.
  • Shorter Construction Schedule – One of the other reasons we like using pre-coated material is the faster construction schedule that it gives the project.  With a traditionally applied coating in the field the material would get sanded, cleaned, finish applied, scuff sanded, and likely several coats of finish applied. This takes considerable time and reduces access to the space for other trades.

Cost Effective Solution

Enhance™ pre-coated paneling is certainly a premium product with it’s performance. At first glance you might feel the price is also at a premium, however, if you compare the price of this product to buying un-finished wood, then culling out the waste, installing it, sanding it, and finishing it, an argument can be made that pre-coated material is actually cheaper.

It’s also a relatively small increase to go from painted drywall to pre-coated lumber. We can install the pre-coated material for between $4 and $5 per square foot. Painted drywall runs between $3 and $4 per square foot installed. But the real savings is in time, which on larger jobs can be quite extensive and  ultimately save money on financing.

Environmentally Friendly

Lastly, Enhance™ is a very environmentally friendly building material. Eastern White Pine is a sustainable building material that’s been a cornerstone for builders on the East Coast for centuries. Combined with the instant curing of 100% solid coating free of VOC’s ensures no harmful chemicals are brought into the home during construction. And an added bonus for us here is the ability to use a product grown, milled, and finished locally to our job sites.

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Building A Paver Patio – Part 2 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/building-paver-patio-part-2/ http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/building-paver-patio-part-2/#respond Thu, 29 Jun 2017 05:01:59 +0000 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/?p=12788 Building A Paver Patio – Part 2 This article is Part 2 in a series describing step by step of how to build a paver patio and fire pit. I had been thinking of building this project for quite some time so when Sakrete contacted us wondering if we had any outdoor projects coming up,…

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Building A Paver Patio – Part 2

This article is Part 2 in a series describing step by step of how to build a paver patio and fire pit. I had been thinking of building this project for quite some time so when Sakrete contacted us wondering if we had any outdoor projects coming up, I took the leap and started tearing into the lawn.

In case you missed it, Part 1 was all about excavating and building the base of the paver patio. This part is all about laying out and locking in the patio.

Disclosure – Sakrete is compensating me for writing these articles but I’m doing all the work myself and the opinions are my own. I’ve used their bag mix concrete for years but this was my first time using their Paver Set product. I had been thinking about using it for some time because I’ve been so unhappy with all of the other polymeric sands I’ve used in the past. Sakrete just provided the extra incentive to get the project started.

Layout The Circles

Now that the paver sand layer is screeded off, it is time to draw out some layout lines. With a round patio, this means a series of concentric circles. I drove a stake into the center of the fill area. The stake had to be wide enough to accept a screw in the top. I took the screed board and drove a screw through it near the end and into the stake. I then pulled a tape measure down the board and drove screws at 18″, 25″, and 8′. I then pushed the board around the sand area while the screws drew perfect circles in the sand area. The circles marked the inside and outside of the fire pit and then the outside paver edge. With these lines in place, the next few steps go really fast.Paver Patio -6

TIP: Dampen the sand a little, it helps the lines show up better.

Install the Edging

With any paver patio, one of the key components of a nice looking patio is secure edging. Edging is made of hard but flexible plastic. The edging is secured by plastic or steel spikes, often from the same manufacturer as the edging. To do a curve, the back straps of the edging have to be cut with a tin snips. Cut every strap on the edging and lay it out along the line in the sand. Drive a plastic spike every 12″ or so securing it in place.

Paver Patio -7

So easy, your kids can help too!

The last section of the circle wasn’t a full stick of edging so I took it to the miter saw and just buzzed if off to the right length. Being that it’s made of plastic, the carbide-toothed blade cuts right through it.Paver Patio -8

Backfill the edging with dirt so that it is sufficiently supported when the pavers are being laid.

TIP: Be sure to buy more spikes than you think you need. Every piece needs a spike on each end plus every 12 inches. So a 6 foot piece actually needs 7 stakes.

Lay Up The Fire Pit

As I mentioned in Part 1, we picked a 36″ steel fire ring liner that fit with common landscape block. I set the liner on the inner circle drawn in the sand earlier and started laying in the blocks right on the sand. The ring takes two block styles, a wedge (3.5″x7″x7″) that helps with the curve and a small block (3.5″x1.75″x7″) that helps widen the curve a little. Each course is made up of 17 wedges and 19 smalls. Over three courses that’s 51 wedges and 57 smalls in the complete ring.Paver Patio -9

After the first course is dry laid around the steel ring, pull the ring out and set aside. The blocks may move a little pulling out the ring but that is ok. Grab a couple tubes of landscape or construction adhesive, and lay out a couple 3/8″ beads on the top of the first course. Place the next course of block on top of the first while offsetting them so that the head joints do not line up. After the second course is done, lay down two more beads of adhesive and add the third and final course. Once this course is laid, drop the fire ring back in and tap all the stones inward towards the fire ring. I just lightly kicked them with my boots to tighten up all the courses.  The wet adhesive helps them move easily.Paver Patio -12

TIP: Space out the blocks around the perimeter of where they are going to be laid so that it is really easy to just grab and place them once the adhesive is down.Paver Patio -13

Lay Out Full Pavers

With the fire pit and plastic edging set, now it’s time to start setting the full pavers. With our design we only had two paver sizes, a 6″x9″ and a 6″x6″. We picked a pattern that looked to be somewhat random but was very simple to lay. The style of paver was called Tumbled Belgian. It is a concrete paver that has been tumbled in a large steel drum to give it a rustic, weathered look.

I started by laying the perimeter first and with the 6″ face against the plastic edging. Don’t cut any of them, lay them all out and slightly adjust the spacing so that they come out evenly. There will be slim pie-shaped pieces between them but the Paver Set will take care of those later.

Next start the field pattern. We picked a very simple pattern. I set my first pattern somewhat centered so that the cut pieces on each side will be roughly the same. Since there was a fire pit in the middle, I had to measure. Then I kept duplicating the pattern all the way around the circle. When it was time to meet up on the other side, things were off by almost an inch. I slowly adjusted and brought everything together by lightly kicking the pavers from both sides until they met up. I laid out as many full pavers as I could until only cuts remained. This step took 2-3 hours. Pretty fast.Paver Patio -14

TIP: Print out your pattern so that you have an easy to follow diagram while you’re laying up.

Cut And Fit The Remaining Pieces

There is no way around it, this step took quite awhile. I had to mark and cut every piece and fit them in one at a time. I used the RIDGID 7″ tile saw with a segmented blade. It cut very well and was very safe. The cuts are a great place to use up some of the overly tumbled pavers. Sometimes you can even get two cut pieces out of a block. Since the pavers were tumbled, I lightly chipped the cut edges so that they blended in with the rest of the patio. A buddy came and helped me and this step still took us over 4 hours.Paver Patio -16

TIP: Lay the paver in place and mark the edges of where it needs to be cut, use a plastic rafter square to connect the marks to form the cut line. The plastic square handles the abrasiveness of the pavers better than an aluminum square.Paver Patio -17

Spread And Compact Paver Set

The final steps of a paver patio is to spread and compact the Paver Set sand. The generic name is polymeric sand. It is a mason’s sand with a water activated polymer binder mixed in. I’ve used a number of other brands of polymeric sand from the big box store as well as the landscape supply but Sakrete’s Paver Set is the only one that I’ve had really good initial results. Most other brands I’ve tried do not work well for joints over 1/2″.  In fact one brand’s sand cracked and broke up after a week. That one was half the price of Paver Set so it probably had way less polymer.Paver Patio -19

Paver Set comes in 40 lb buckets from Lowes in either tan/brown or gray in color. It has a moisture content of almost zero making it easy to spread. It is spread by sweeping it into the joints with a push broom. When the joints were completely full (or overfull), I ran a 150 lb compactor over the pavers. I just drove it around in circles like I was mowing the lawn. The vibratory action did two things. It compacted the pavers into the sand base layer below but it also vibrated the Paver Set deep into the joints between the pavers. I swept another couple buckets of Paver Set into the joints and compacted again. I did this until the joints couldn’t hold any more Paver Set. A final sweep and a few passes with the leaf blower and this step was done.Paver Patio -22

Paver Patio-28

TIP: Keep the leaf blower at a very shallow angle so that it only blows the excess sand off the surface of the pavers and not out of the joints.

Sprinkle Down The Whole Patio

The Paver Set sand is activated by water so the final step was to get out the garden hose a gently sprinkle down the whole surface. The key is to do it slowly so that the water percolates down to the bottom of the joints instead of running off and taking the polymer with it. My paver patio wasn’t too large so I could water it all at one time.Paver Patio-25

TIP: Larger patios may have to be watered in multiple sections. You want to water slow enough that the water penetrates the full depth but not so slow that it starts to set up and harden.Paver Patio-24

Paver Patio Done

With the paver patio sprinkled don’t rush to use it right away. Sakrete recommends staying off of it with foot traffic for 24 hours and vehicle traffic for 72 hours. We could hardly wait that long and were out there making s’mores and enjoying each other’s company by the next weekend.Paver Patio-26

I’m not going to lie, this project can be hard, dirty work but there are products that help boost the longevity of your hard work. Like I mentioned above, Sakrete’s Paver Set polymeric sand is the best one I’ve found so far and you can bet I’ll be using it on the next patio build.

Paver Patio-27

Time for S’mores!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sakrete. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Building a Paver Patio – Part 1 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/building-paver-patio-part-1/ http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/building-paver-patio-part-1/#comments Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:38:42 +0000 http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/?p=12785 Building A Paver Patio – Part 1 Ever since we’ve move into this house (15 months ago), we’ve wanted a fire pit and paver patio. The backyard had a generous sized deck, a playset for the kids, and some old raised garden beds but no place for a fire pit. Our last house we had…

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Building A Paver Patio – Part 1

Ever since we’ve move into this house (15 months ago), we’ve wanted a fire pit and paver patio. The backyard had a generous sized deck, a playset for the kids, and some old raised garden beds but no place for a fire pit. Our last house we had a concrete patio and then a fieldstone fire pit further out in the yard. It was a great place for friends and family to gather and enjoy each other’s company. I had been thinking about doing it for sometime but needed that last little push to actually do it. When Sakrete contacted us asking if we had any outdoor projects coming up, I decided to jump in with both feet.

Disclosure – Sakrete is compensating me for writing these articles but I’m doing all the work myself and the opinions are my own. I’ve used their bag mix concrete for years but this was my first time using their Paver Set product. I had been thinking about using it for some time because I’ve been so unhappy with all of the other polymeric sands I’ve used in the past. Sakrete just provided the extra incentive to get the project started. Paver Patio -2

Plan The Layout Of The Paver Patio

Like I said, our new yard didn’t really have a good spot for a paver patio and fire pit. I wasn’t going to move the playset because the kids really enjoy it. The raised garden beds in the back corner of the lot though were full of grass and weeds and were a real pain to mow around. They weren’t even raised more than about 6″ out of the ground. The grass had no trouble invading them and choking out our vegetables. We weren’t attached to them and the wood was starting to rot anyway. This seemed like the best spot for the new yard focal point.

We decided to incorporate the fire pit into the paver patio so some planning and drawing had to take place. To determine the overall size of the patio we had to start in the middle with the fire pit. Menards (a midwest home improvement store) have steel fire ring kits in both 28″ and 36″ diameters. They also carried a 36″ square ring. These kits were designed to work with common sizes of landscape blocks so that it is relatively easy to build. We wanted a round ring but the larger 36″ size.Paver Patio - 30

Starting with a 36″ diameter ring we also figured out the width of the landscape blocks. The blocks were 7″ wide so doubling that and adding the ring diameter gave an overall outside diameter of 50″. That’s the outside diameter of the complete fire ring. Knowing this we could start planning how much space we wanted for seating so that the chairs could sit on the pavers but could still back up far enough if we had a good size fire burning. Right around 6′ is a good amount of space from the fire ring. This leaves plenty of room for larger chairs like adirondacks as well.

If we add all this up, 6′ plus the fire ring width of 50″, plus another 6′ is 16′ 2″. The two inches isn’t a make or break deal so I rounded down to 16′. This is the overall diameter of the patio. Since we were putting it near the corner of the lot it we needed to know if the city had any setback requirements. Our lot has 4′ utility easements so that meant the patio couldn’t be within 4′ of the property line.

Call Before You Dig

Build A Shed -11Now that we knew the setback and the dimensions of the patio we could stake it out. The first thing I did was measure in 12′ from both the side and back property lines. This number is the 4′ setback plus half the diameter of the patio (8′). I dropped a stake here and then proceeded to spray paint the perimeter of the excavation area. The excavation area is a little larger than the patio finished size. I marked out 18′ diameter.

Marking the excavation area with white marking paint gives a clear spot for the utility companies to come and check for conflicts. I can’t stress this enough. Any time you’re going to be digging/excavating in your yard it is very important to call at least 3 days before you want to dig. In my state, MN, they say you only need 48 hours but in the middle of summer, the location services are really backed up and sometimes they need more time. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. Never dig before everyone has been there to mark!!

The image below is the status directly from the ticket from all the utility companies concerned. It’s a lot more utilities than I initially thought it would be. There are a few underground piplines in the area so that’s why there are so many gas companies listed. When everyone has marked status, it is okay to dig.

Paver Patio-1

Gather Supplies

With a larger outdoor project like this, it is going to take some time to do. The less time you have to spend running around to the big box store or landscape supply is more time you can spend working on the project. In an effort to save you a little time, here’s the list of everything I needed to complete the paver patio.

  • Class 5 gravel sub base (dump truck delivery)
  • Washed sand paver base (available in bulk or bag)
  • Vibratory Plate Compactor (rental item)
  • 1″ steel pipe and 2×4 screed board
  • Polyurethane Construction or Landscape Adhesive (if building a fire pit)
  • Paver edging and spikes
  • Pavers (Order more than you need, a round patio has more waste than square)
  • Paver Set Polymeric Sand (160 lbs covered this 16′ diameter patio)Paver Patio -20

Remove The Topsoil

When it comes to a paver patio, people only see the finished product. If the patio looks good, it’s because the base was meticulously prepared. It’s definitely all about the base when it comes to a patio. The first step in the process is to remove the topsoil. Removing the topsoil does a couple things. 1.) It gets rid of the plants and organics near the surface. 2.) It gets you down to the more stable/undisturbed soils.

To remove the topsoil there are two ways to go, either do it by hand or rent a skid loader or a dingo. If your soil is loose or sandy, by hand is an easy and cheap way to go. In my area though, the soil is really thick black dirt, a skid loader was the only way to go. Even with the loader it still took the better part of the day to excavate out 9″ of black dirt.Paver Patio -3

So how much dirt do you remove? Remove until you hit stable soil. I removed until I started to hit clay. The clay was far enough down that I can get in 6″ of class 5, an inch of sand, and then the 2-1/4″ pavers. Having that much dirt out will give plenty of drainage too. Being in a northern state, drainage is very important. If it doesn’t drain and then the frost comes into the ground, it will heave the patio all over the place. Drainage helps insure its longevity.

At this point, all the steps are now additive. That means that all of the removal is complete. At this stage of a paver project, I’ve heard some landscapers say to throw in landscape fabric as a weed block. When you remove 9″ of soil and have 9″ of compacted base, weeds are not the concern. If you dig out all the topsoil and the underlying soil is still unstable then you should use a geotextile fabric. This serves to isolate the patio from the surrounding soils, it helps to keep it stable.

Grade the Fill

As I said, I wanted to have roughly 6″ of sub-base for stability and drainage. So that’s roughly 3.75 cubic yards of gravel. Unless you have a big dump trailer, this fill isn’t something you can fit in your pickup. You have it delivered by dump truck.

Before filling up the hole with fill, I checked my dirt work with a laser. I’m wasn’t shooting for level in both directions, just one. This way the patio follows the natural slope of the yard and the patio will drain. The laser gives lets me know how much fill to put in. I used the Bosch GRL 500 HCK. Having a rough idea, I started filling up the hole.Paver Patio -4

It’s important to note that the fill must be compacted. If you’re using a large plate compactor than only one lift is needed. If you’re using a small plate compactor like me, the fill must be compacted in multiple lifts. I compacted 3″ at a time.

When the hole is close to full I checked it again with the laser to see where the high and low spots are and adjusted accordingly. Once everything is hunky dory, I compacted the fill one more time.

Screed the Sand

After the fill is all graded and compacted, a uniform layer of sand is needed. The sand layer helps the pavers settle in and stabilize. To obtain a uniform layer use steel pipes 1″ in diameter. I used galvanized steel pipe but EMT is a much cheaper option at under $14 for two 10′ sticks. You will also need a long straight 2×4. The board will serve as your screed over the two pipes.

Lay the pipes on top of the compacted layer of fill parallel to each other and roughly 8′ apart. It doesn’t matter which direction you lay the pipes as long as they are parallel. Then set the 2×4 on one end of the pipes. Start filling in between the pipes with sand. Rake the sand just a little higher than the pipes. With a back a forth sawing motion across the pipes, pull the screed towards yourself down the pipes. Take small passes, the sand is heavy to pull by yourself. If the sand is quite a bit higher than the pipes, you’ll have to take multiple passes. The sawing motion helps keep the 2×4 on the pipes ensuring a uniform thickness of sand.Paver Patio -5

With a square patio, you start in one corner and leapfrog the pipes around until the area is filled in. With a round patio though, I screed off the sand in the center first and used that as a wet line to screed around the rest of the perimeter. When you have all of the sand placed, pull the pipes and fill in their voids with sand.

It is important to note that this layer isn’t compacted yet. It will get compacted after all the pavers have been set. Now that the sand area is set, it is important not to walk around and tear it up too much. If you do, use your push broom and a light touch to smooth it out again.

 

Paver Patio To Be Continued…

Now that the base is all prepared, it’s time to get to the good parts, setting the edging, laying up the fire pit, setting and fitting the pavers, and finally locking them all together with Sakrete Paver Set. I’ll show you step by step how to complete this project with tips and tricks along the way. Click the link below to continue onto part 2.

Building A Paver Patio – Part 2

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sakrete. The opinions and text are all mine.

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