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A safe, cozy and welcoming patio

Plan drawing

We have planned and measured. Thought and thought again. We have had lots of patience, measuring tapes and strings to help us. We discovered that the easiest way to measure how much curb stone you need is with the help of the strings.

Black = house body

Before start

The part of the garden that we want to change is the one that leads from the street into our entrance. Since we live on a hill, it is important that we get a flat surface on which we can hang out.

Floor plan with photos in

1, 2, 3, 4 – pictures from the street to the entrance

We imagine that we will lay approximately 35 square meters of flagstone (Orlando 60), cover the stairs with approximately 20 square meters of granite slab (Stockholm) and soften it with a lovely 65 square meter wooden terrace. We will keep our private lilac arbor and build a flower bed and a corner where we can barbecue. With the help of lighting from in-lite, we want to create a warm atmosphere and bring life to the environment.

It will be nice to get rid of the leftovers from last year's drainage job. Now we can get started!

The hallway towards the house

The drainage work can be seen here

The stairs from the road up to our house

The place where we want to be able to hang out

Phase 1 – the terrace

We have started digging. 20 holes that will become the foundation for the terrace. In order for the family to still be in the garden during the construction period, we are keeping some of the old paving stones that lead to the entrance for so long.

All new stone and lighting is at Stenbolaget. It went smoothly! Now we are waiting for them to be delivered home.

How do you secure your garden against a small person (or her toys) falling into the deep hole you just dug?

A coiled mesh placed in each hole that sticks up quite a bit. Great.

Problem – Oops! Solution

Back to the start and the pre-digging phase

When I went to Stenbolaget in Sköndal about 2 weeks ago, I asked my husband if I had a veto to buy all the stone and lighting on the same day. One ambitious goal considering that I had not done any research before about some of the products I was going to buy. In addition, I had both my girls with me (1.5 and 3 years old). My husband, who was in India at the time, said that I was happy to decide and shop for everything.

I had a scale drawing with me and my first comment to Jimmy Fagerlund at Stenbolaget was: "My ambition is to leave here today with everything I came here to buy". Almost 5 hours later, I left the store happy as a lark and with a light heart. - Everything I wanted was written down on an invoice that was to be paid within a few days.

Part of the invoice

Light, light - in-lite

How should you think when choosing lighting outside?

Perhaps years of poring over interior design magazines and other people's gardens helped when we made our choices. But to be honest, I haven't read much, but planned with a little common sense at home together with my husband. Then once I chose the lighting at Stenbolaget, there was competent staff on site from in-lite who helped with the right fixture to get the effect we wanted.

During the winter, it's a bit scary to come home after 3 o'clock because it's pitch dark. The only working lighting that exists today is the one right at the entrance and on the two corners of the house.

1. I looked at my scale drawing and walked with it in hand from the stairs by the street, to our entrance, and out onto the area that will become the terrace.

What do we want to highlight and why, I asked myself?
 I want to have a good look when I get home in the winter. At the same time, I don't want to be blinded. Therefore, I chose Fish Eye Low (see A) for the area immediately after coming up from the stairs. Fish Eye Low we can angle as we like and the luminaire creates harmony without dazzling.

 The path to the entrance also needed light. It must be light with fall down, I thought. Blink (see B) was perfect!

 To see the beginning of the terrace and cast a soft light upwards, we chose Fusion 60 (see E) for the upper step.

- Our lilac arbor just has to be seen, especially during lovely summer evenings! We chose Scope (see C) for it. Someone once told me that it is good to illuminate an object a little further away in the garden. It will apparently give the garden a little more depth. Therefore, we use another Scope to illuminate a beautiful coniferous tree.

- Our terrace will have at least two steps. I wanted to highlight these through lighting. I also wanted the light to spill out onto the lawn. To get that effect I chose DB-Led (see D).

A, B, C, D, E

This is where the lighting should be

Delivery - check

We have received our stones home. I find it difficult to check if the delivery is correct when we have so many stones to count. The eye gauge says it's ok.

I have decided that the curb stones can be checked off when it is time to lay them. It might be a stupid decision, but I have a hard time justifying picking up and counting every stone before then. Have to trust Stenbolaget until further notice.
However, I look forward to opening the box with the lighting. Exciting.

Some pallets Orlando 60

Curbstone, granite and more Orlando 60

The terrace - phase 2

The part of the plot where the terrace is to be laid is very varied in height, so it was not possible to use the slightly more convenient ready-made plinths. Instead, we had to cast our own, some deeply buried in the sand (between 70-80 cm) and some very short on rocks during the day.

We chose to attach the support lines directly to the post shoes and let the studs rest on the cast pipes while the concrete hardened. The casting pipes were cut to the correct height using a cross laser in the dark of night – which is quite late at this time of year.

Laser in the night

Carrying lines in place

You take what you have

To boost my husband's strength to continue working in the garden, I asked him to sit down with a cold one and cozy up. Since we don't have that many seating areas at the moment, we figured out that you can actually make temporary benches out of the newly installed joists. And our table was a perfect height for it.

The next step – cables Before we lay the wood that will become the floor, we must place the cable from in-lite. We bought quite a lot of cable because it is relatively cheap. Then we can with a clear conscience drag it to a few more places than planned to secure if we possibly want some kind of lighting there later on.

There are several reasons why we chose in-lite. 1 Low voltage – safe when you have children and nice because you don't have to bury it as far as you need with a 240 volt cable.

2 Another reason is that you can easily connect new lighting afterwards without having to hire an electrician.
Hope it works.

1 hard day's work

Less spillage

Before we cut the beautiful granite stones, it felt important to be sure we found a pattern we liked. I drew a pattern on paper first, but once we stood and looked at the stairs and counted how many stones we have, we realized that we needed to change the pattern.
To get a good feel for how it would look, we drew the pattern in place on the poured concrete and suddenly we had less spillage.
Think how easy everything becomes when you have the solution.

New pattern drawn on site

Sketch pattern (viewed from above)

It depends on the case

I realized that I forgot to mention that we intended to cast together our entrance stairs with the balcony door that leads to the kitchen and cover the new platform with Stockholm granite stone. We want the terrace to be level with the entrance. Everything to get that flat surface that we long for.

Ever since we moved into our house three years ago, it has bothered me that the entrance is so cramped for the size of the house. It has been a pain to get in and out with the pram. In addition, it has annoyed me that I have to go outside and downstairs when we eat outside. The number of times I've been about to fall when I've carried food out through the balcony door is many...

Both my husband and I wanted to find a solution to the problem, and when a good friend hatched the idea that we should lay the terrace at the same level as the platform we were planning to build, the matter was clear - so obvious.

Lesson 1
Talk to loved ones about the project. They have lots of ideas.

Lesson 2
When building a floor for wet rooms inside, it is important to have a proper fall. The same applies outdoors. I was taught that you need to have a fall of 1–2 cm per meter . Our balcony door sits 5 cm lower than the entrance door. It's like made to be cast together!

Our little concrete slab school:
STEP 1: Remove the top step of the entrance stairs
STEP 2: Dig (how deep depends on the subsoil and how thick the concrete slab is to be made)
STEP 3: Build a mold
STEP 4: Fill with rock crusher
STEP 5: Mix concrete and place in the mold. Be careful with the case that should strive away from the house.

Lesson 3
To prevent the concrete from hardening too quickly and risking breaking, we have continuously watered it.

Lesson 4
We have let the size of the granite stone plus gap for joint determine how wide slab we would cast. Everything to try to keep the granite stones in the fine shape they have and to reduce the work involved in cutting the stones.

Drawing – Entrance and balcony door

Rock crusher in cast form

Molded plate with case

A new feeling

When I looked out through the hall this morning it hit me - How cruel it feels - the hall continues outside the door! The new concrete slab together with the terrace will provide that space that we dream of.

We are satisfied with the results so far.

The hall - inside and out


What type of overhang should you have when laying granite stone?

It's all about taste. Personally, I think that about a centimeter is good when you have plates as thick as ours. Hold up a plate and test. Only way to make a decision.

Demo of our overhang

Safety first

A construction site is not always optimal for little feet. It's easy to get caught up in it all and forget that sometimes it's not safe. Then an upside down boot can easily solve the problem.

Sharp rebar

Today's savior

In the middle of the cross

To be able to place tiles at the right distance from each other, these small fine crosses are fantastic tools to have at home. My eye measurement is quite good, but 3 mm gaps are difficult to achieve without them. What an amazing invention!

Tile cross

Out with the 70s

The whole family is involved when it is finally time to lift away the old stones from the 70s and start preparing to lay the new stones. I was surprised at how quickly and easily it was possible to lift away 35 square meters of tiles. With a little collaboration and lots of laughs, we ended the afternoon with bare ground.

Protect your back!
I am happy that I know that I should lift with my legs, i.e. bend properly at the knees and use my leg muscles, instead of lifting with my back. Also, I'm glad we inherited grandpa's old hammer. Without it, I don't know what we would do.

Hacking off plates with filler hammer

A victory to see bare ground

Grandfather's hammer

A tribute to the string

I began my story by praising the string and I intend to continue with it. Here we use a string to check that we got the right slope and to check that we will dig deep enough. From the level of the string and right down into the soil, we need to dig 24 cm.

White string strung between two sticks

24 cm concoction

We have done research and it says a few different things about the layers under the tiles you plan to lay.

What we have cooked up and will do is the following:
1 At the bottom is land
2 On the ground we lay a fiber cloth
3 On top of the fiber cloth, we put 15 cm of crushed stone (0–32 mm)
4 We place fiber cloth on the next layer
5 On top of fiber cloth no. 2, we put 3 cm of setting sand (0–4 mm)
6 Finally, we lay tiles

Layers under slabs

Simple means that save money

It is often small funds and the simplest ideas that make life so much easier when building or renovating. Making an extended spirit level is one such idea. They can be bought in all possible lengths, but to keep costs down you can instead do as we do: make your own from a straight disc, some tape and a shorter spirit level.

We dig and dig and dig. Several days pass before we are satisfied with the result. My hands ache, my husband's whole body aches. Soon we will have to lay the fiber cloth. It feels like a big step.

A self-made spirit level

Steps 1, 2 and 3 of 24 cm concoction

We have laid the first layer of non-woven fabric and are struggling to get through 13 tons of rock crusher that will lie on the non-woven fabric. Heavy. A wheelbarrow and a good concrete shovel are a must.

First layer of fiber cloth in place

We scoop on 15 cm rock crusher

Steps 4 and 5 of 24 cm concoction

When we finally spread out 15 cm deep crushed stone on our surface, we feel very proud. But no one but me and my husband seems impressed. You can't see it! Not afterwards anyway. It is the oh-so-important foundation, which means that the tiles will lie stable, which by far takes the longest time. Excavate soft parts such as sand and soil to fill up with crushed rock. In retrospect, it would have been good to have an excavator.
Plate vibrator
To bring down and flatten the rock crusher, we borrow an 80 kg plate vibrator. It was less fun to lift up our stairs but turns out to be worth all the effort when we fill it with gas and drive off. What a dance floor!
Steps 4 and 5 We lay fiber cloth again that overlaps 20 cm to the neighboring fiber cloth. On top of it, we start filling in with sand. Crazyr but MUCH easier to handle than the rock crusher.

Soon we will have to lay tiles.

Plate vibrator in action

Overlap of 20 cm on the fiber cloth

Dax to fill with sand

Flat as a pancake

Iron pipe to help
To flatten the setting sand, we use the plate vibrator again. Then we place two iron pipes in the sand and to remove excess sand we draw a straight disc over the iron pipes. It really makes work easier.

Size of the stones in the Orlando series
While the husband lazes in the sand, I draw patterns. We have 4 different sizes of tiles in the Orlando series. I draw how they are delivered from Stenbolaget: Yellow 21.5 x 32.5 Blue 32.5 x 32.5 Pink 43.5 x 32.5 Gray 54.5 x 32.5
Stone saw for the "white pieces" Once I have the size and number of stones clear to me, I draw out a pattern for the first 5 meters to be paved. We don't want any lines to meet each other. On the far right of my drawing are white pieces. We will cut them as soon as we set all the other stones. Orlando 60 is a 6 cm thick stone that requires a stone cutter. We will rent it and since we want to rent it for as few days as possible, we want everything prepared beforehand.

Smart move
It turns out to be a smart move to draw a pattern because the tiles are heavy and that's the last thing we want to think about when we're going to lay the stones.

This is how the plates are delivered

The iron pipes that facilitate the work

5 meter pattern ready

First day tiling

After the first day's laying of Orlando with mixed sizes, the following can be stated:
• Small tiles, small problems. Big slabs of stone, big problems that are both harder and harder to fix. Just like with children.
• If you have a plate vibrator, only lightly drive over the setting sand, otherwise it will be very hard to work in.
• Go out often and inspect the lines in the tile rows from several directions, both near and far.

• If such resources exist, try to divide the work so that one person works with the brain and one person works with the body.
• The staff at Stenbolaget suggested that we should buy smaller stones that would have been easier to work with for us who need to have quite a lot of slope on the ground. Listen to the staff!

We start building our pattern

I feel a little stupid

Which way should the granite slabs lie?
We had help putting the large granite stones on the steps leading down to the road. Somewhere along the way the guys asked which way to put the tiles and without thinking both my husband and I said they should lay with the smooth side up. When I got home the plates had several ugly marks which could not be removed with water.
I called Stenbolaget and the staff there were extremely helpful. They asked me to send pictures and said they could fix the problem with new tiles. Unfortunately, it was not a good option as we had already laid the tiles and it would be expensive to re-lay them. Then one of the sellers (whose name is Daniel) came to our house and checked the brands. He stated that the plates were in the wrong direction (!)

What do we do now?
It was less fun that we put the tiles in the wrong direction, we thought. What can be done about it? Well, I completely sonic sat down and sanded away the marks with very fine sandpaper. I should add that I also mixed some water into the treatment. And voila – the ugly marks are basically gone.

Ugly marks

Almost no marks left

Tools for the treatment

One week later

We continue to struggle with laying the tiles according to the pattern we drew up. It is difficult. But somewhere after a week (not full time) we had a result.

We save the stones to be cut for last

The rest of the way

Finally flat rocks but can draw on!

Two little ones are overjoyed that we will soon be at the finish line with our project. The first thing they wanted to do was draw on the newly laid stones. And why not? It will be nice.

Stones can be used for many things

Fine adjustments

Yellow cross After we have placed all the stones, we take a turn and check that the stones do not tip over. Those who are unstable get a yellow cross. We lift and flatten, add or subtract setting sand, fine-tune to the best of our ability.

Get perfect results
In order not to disturb the setting sand, it is good to do as in the picture when putting the tile back, i.e. place half the edge against the tile that is lying firmly and knock down the tile that was lying unsteadily. We discovered the least risk of it being wrong then.

Put the plate back like this

Put the plate back like this

Measure to be able to cut

How do you get the right size of the plate that needs to be cut? Yes, you measure the hole. It may seem obvious how to do it, but I drew up how we did it for anyone who feels unsure.

Step 1 - We measure the left side of the hole...

step 2 ... and we measure the left side of the plate. Then we mark the size of what we measured with a small yellow line.

Steps 3 and 4 - We do the same thing on the right side.

Steps 5 and 6 - We finally draw a long line between the two small yellow lines. Then we have the right size to cut.

We measure tiles

Gloves, gloves, gloves

I read somewhere that it takes a lot of gloves when laying new stones. I naively thought it was a joke, but it wasn't. Here are some of them.

Broken gloves

Cut stone

Handheld or one on a table? We rent a hand-held, electric stone cutter with a water-cooled blade to cut the 40-50 stones that need to be split to fit. We considered for a while whether we should rent a saw with a table, but after talking with the renters, we found out that you can cut almost as straight anyway and that it would be a big project to get the table home, which weighs over a hundred kilos .

Let the machine do the work The water supply cools the blade and, just as importantly, binds enormous amounts of stone dust that would otherwise plague the whole block.
The landlords advised us to let the machine do the work and we thought that's what they always say about all machines, but in this case it really helped.

About half way through the cutting we had found the correct method in first cutting a shallow cut without water supply at the surface of the stone (because the water blurs the marking line). The shallow cut helped guide the saw. Then it was easy to let the cape "sink" through the stone and do the whole job.

Dax to cut

We set the curb

Before we cut the stones that need to be cut, we set curbstones. First provisionally and later we pressed them into concrete.

Temporary solution

Concrete curb

Panic! We have to join.

We realize that it is getting to be the latest to lay joints, at least if you want a flexible hard joint. Talked to two professional guys at Stenbolaget in Botkyrka at the end of September. They advised against joining next year. We debated back and forth whether we should possibly lay sand for a while instead, but then we took a chance and laid the joint we bought a few months ago. It's a beautiful day, it's been a beautiful late summer so far. Let's go!
Step by step 1 First, we sweep down the joint sand as best we can with a small brush. Realizes that it takes too long and takes a bigger brush instead. What we discover is that it is important to have a brush that has soft and short bristles. We brush diagonally.
2 Since we only have 35 square meters to join, it doesn't take that long. Estimate we spent about 6 hours on it. After brushing down the joint sand, we carefully swept away the excess sand and dried each tile individually with a dry cloth. It was a bit time-consuming to lie on all fours with a cloth in hand, but worth it to ensure that no joint ended up on any slab.
3 Finally, we gently watered each joint, using the flower spray setting on the hose, to set the joint. We are very satisfied with the result.

Joints with a small brush

Joints with a larger soft brush

The light in the darkness

Dear father-in-law comes by and helps with the lighting. It's easy to fix and quick to pull off but I have to admit it's nice to have an extra pair of hands at this stage.

The second of three Fisheye in place

Cost of the project

The intended budget for this project was SEK 100,000. It has been cracked by around 20% at present. We will go over budget by almost 30% when we are completely ready.
Stones and labor costs for setting the granite stones cost SEK 93,727 minus SEK 14,000 in ROOT. The terrace cost SEK 39,517.
In total it was SEK 119,244.
There are a few thousand more that are added because a bill has not been invoiced yet. In addition, we will need some more wood for the back part of the terrace and the barbecue corner. So I guess we will end up at approx SEK 130,000 in total.

The project has cost approximately SEK 120,000The project has cost approximately SEK 120,000

The project has cost approximately SEK 120,000

Summary part 1 of 2

This is how we intend to show the end result Yes, it has come to the final push regarding the project. That is, summation. Finally, or what do you say?
We refer to pictures 1–4 that we took before we started. We show them, the end result in daylight and the end result in evening light. A total of 16 images.

The stairs from the road up to our house

The hallway towards the house

No more traces of the drainage work

The place where we want to be able to hang out

Summary part 2 of 2

Target image
One of our goals with this project was to create an oasis, a lovely place that is safe, cozy and inviting. The children would get a new sandbox, one with a lid instead of digging in the gravel and the remains from the old drainage job. We wanted to create a flatter surface on which we can hang out.

We started this project in the tank properly already in March/April 2013. Then we planned, measured, drew, thought. We tried to figure out what we wanted and how it would look. The planning stage laid the foundation for everything. We put a lot of time into the planning and it has turned out to be a good move.
Learning We have learned a lot during the journey. Here are 10 things that we are happy to highlight and share with us.
1 Planning is essential.
2 Everything usually takes much longer than expected.
3 Have a budget, but be prepared to change it (usually upwards).
4 Buy quality and think long term. The stone company has been around since 2005. Not very long, but long enough for us to feel safe buying tiles from them.
5 Always buy extra plates. If any slab breaks, it's good to have extra so you don't have to buy a whole pallet or risk it no longer being available.
6 To get it right, take your time. Lay the foundation properly. The tiles will probably be there for 50 years. Make sure to get them straight and fit well.
7 Keep the family together by having small milestones. And talk to each other. Have the same level of ambition with how much has to be done.
8 Use Stenbolaget's other competition projects and get inspiration. Learn from everyone's mistakes and how they succeeded.
9 Rest sometimes. And have fun. It's easy to get carried away because you want to get everything done as quickly as possible. Try to enjoy the process.
10 Think holistically when you redesign the surface you have available. It's easy to focus on details and forget the big picture. Light sources are one thing you easily forget. And now that autumn is here, the light sources are something we really appreciate.
Reaching the goal We both feel that we have reached our goal. The children got a sandbox with a lid, we all got a great place to be outside. In the spring, we will also buy some nice sofas to cozy up in.
Writing here has been a lot of fun. We will miss it. But who knows, maybe we'll do it all over again next year, with our next project – the stairs along the house.

Our lovely oasis has grown

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