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patio stones/deck question

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We have these roman pavers making a patio, with a retaining wall. I never liked the finshed product after the contractor left, but the contractor said I couldn't have it my way...it had to be his way. Anyways, it's not big enough, and not flat. He said I had to have grading for run off, well he left it so we can't put a table and chair without it tippy.

Our original reason for having a stone patio is so I would have a flat area in our backyard for the kids to play on. Or put a kiddie swimming pool on, and I can't.

I want to pull all the stones up, and redo it bigger, and make it flat. The retaining wall has caps cemented on. Can we take this apart without damaging anything. Can we do this ourselves?

What equip do I need? I have pictures if you need to see them.

ALSO: How much weight can a wooden deck 15ft off ground hold? Can I put a kiddie swimming pool on the deck and it be safe?

Thanks for answering BOTH questions.
Any ideas for this?
Hey sorry for not answering you the other day. I did the same thing with my stone patio. I made the retaining wall to the height that I thought I wanted and then changed my mind (my wife said I lost it but I think I just changed it Very Happy ) So I needed to lower it one layer. I used those retaining wall blocks with the lip in the back. the top layer is glued with adhesive they sell (looks like construction adhesive or liquid nails). I just took a brick chisel which looks like a heavy all metal chisel with a broad flat 2" wide chisel end and put it where the glue joint is and hit it with a 2 lb hammer. A few whacks and pop the top pieces popped off! No damage to any. So if yours are put on like this I'd say no problem . If they are mortared together the try and see if this will work too.

Are the roman pavers flat on the top but the whole deck is tilted ? Is this why the table is tippy? Or is each stone paver not flat enough?
If the whole patio is tipped as you say for drainage then you will need to pull all up and start over. Not too much of a big deal but you will need to make the old and new area flat. I made my patio tilted about 1 1/2" from the house to the outside edge which is about 18' out. It has rained and snowed record amounts with no drainage problems. The patio is about 2 feet high from grade.

As far`as the wood deck goes... the baby pool will weigh about 8 pounds per gallon, and the average pool will have about 100 gallons I would guess and so thats 800 pounds or 4 guys standing in a circle. If you think the deck is strong enough to hold 4-5 guys all standing in a small circle then it's OK. You could have someone look at it first though to make sure the floor joists and decking are sound and secure.. Also make sure the railing is secure... 15 feet is a long way down!

Good Luck

Is there also a way to check and ensure the ledger is securely attached to the house with lag bolts?

Finally, is there anything you can do for a deck that's wiggly?
That's true! Look under the deck and make sure there is at least 1 big lag bolt (the head should be about the size of a quarter) every 16" or so.

To make the deck not wiggly from side to side, just put a board (like a 2x6 on the flat) under the floor joists (from the bottom looking up) from corner to corner to make two big triangles.

Nail or screw the new board to all joists it crosses. The triangle shape will COMPLETELY stop the deck from flexing from side to side! Really!

Thanks, the deck itself is secure...we've had 15 adults on it and approx 10 little kids last summer for a party, with chairs, BBQ etc...it was crowded. At any given time there was min 6 adults. We need to replace one board. I'll look for those big nails, and see if we make extra support for underneath. It is very windy where we are.

Our patio stones are individually uneven...it goes around the upper deck. It is at grade or maybe slighlty lower. Lower than the black paint on the house. We had them put in a nice circle, and steps to the grass. It's just not working if we can't have anything on it. I didn't watch them to see if they glued or mortered the top caps...I will assume mortar. It is on there really good. The stones themselves are settling now, making it worse. Some have sunk right in. The grade he gave the stones is not gradual at all, one chair can't sit without being tilted. Then all the water pools at the caps of the retaining wall.

I watched most of the procedure, and the only tool I saw them use was a tamper, rake, and shovel. Then a broom to sweep the sand inbetween.

The guy had a nice team, and they did other work that was nice or done well. But the money mostly went to these stones, and retaining wall. He HATED our yard, and it set him back on all his other projects....so what should have been a couple weeks ended up being 4 months. We have alot of clay, and water in the back. You could say we get a mini pond, behind the fence, and it takes along time to dry. He had problems from day one with the equip. So he had a bad attiude by the time we got to start the stones. I think too he was very inexperienced in stone laying.

I'll see if we can take the caps off. Thanks Guru.
Questions: Did you see any leveling being done on this patio job? Did they bother to shoot the site to determine drainage, did they shoot the forms as they installed the pavers? When they screed the sand down, did they use a level at any point? how about after tamping down? How much underlayment sand was used? I can well understand the guy's frustration if he was not experienced in all situations.

Are there tree roots under this project? Even the best job can be soon destroyed by enlarging roots under the project. But even with roots, the initial job should have been level....roots don't grow that quickly, LOL.
No trees, the backyard is free of all water/sewer/gas/power/phone too. It was a very slopey yard, and unuseable.

They made a grade with layers, of rock(gravel), dirt and sand. They used a string to do level checks, mostly eye bawling it. They did use a tamper, laid down the stones, used the edging pieces to hold it tight, and covered with sand and brushed it in.

I guess they didn't tamper the ground tight enough to see it look so wonky now. Fixing this will be a big job, but if I can do it then I will. I can't spend another $7000 to do it. Like I said the wall, is good, and he did the fence and a nice iron scroll gate, laid sod...some of this died. The whole job cost us a little more than $10,000. He said he lost money on it.

To hire the one I knew could give me exactly what I wanted would have cost double that...he does beautiful work.

I can't imagine if I picked the guy who was even cheaper than this guy. I did get about 5 estimates, and I tried to get referrals...noone helped. So when he said yes I can do this, yes we can have it like I imagined, all at price we could afford, with the materials we wanted...we hired him. After he started he started to say no you can't have this, no the grade has to be like this, no, no, no....it was very frustrating...and I had to compromise my whole vision, and do it his way. Now that I've lived through it, I will know better for next time.
It will be a big job to redo, the sub structure is critical to success. He hurried that part along, probably not wanting to excavate as deeply as needed. Also consider installing drainage, like french drains, if you feel it will help the project. Water kills projects.

One of the nicest (short) artilces was in Home Handyman about a year or 2, 3?? ago. Don't have the old issue, sure wish I did. You might want to go and talk to some contractor supply people and see what they recommend for your part of the country. The gravel sounds suspicious to me.....and the dirt. We used fabric on some jobs along with the coarse sand. If heavy cars were to be on the project, well that meant a whole new substrait. Gee, I can remember one project where we poured concrete and then put the pavers over the top.

You can rent small Bobcats or other earth moving aids, LOL! I might speed things along once you get the pavers up. At least it would hurry the project along. A wheel barrel takes time.

$10,000 doesn't buy much these days....but sure makes a dent in the bank account. Having been in the business for 20 years I can say it was the inexperience that would eat us up......we learned quickly to ask other experts, never overestimate our ability, research before we gave an estimate (dig a hole to see what the soil was like).

Let's see what else the guru has to say........it's been awhile since I did this and I'm sure new ideas and techniques are out there now.
He did use a bobcat, but everytime he came in the ground was wet and all he was doing was pushing mud/clay around making it somewhat level. Once it started to dry up he did the retaining wall, back filled with crushed rock, and dirt. His level of things wasn't deep, not alot of gravel, or dirt to lay sod back down. He did redo the retaining wall, burying 1 and then 2 Allan blocks below sod level, and we have 3 above, then the cap.

And now that it's all settling some of the stones near the wall have gone down 3 inches (approx 1 width of paver). Some are less, when looking at it, it almost gives the impression of a wave...frost heaveing maybe. We have it joining the exisitng sidewalk, and had it fit to the same level, now it is lower making a lip...if your not careful you will stub your toe. And instead of making the step area to the grass level, he really made the slope funnel down. The rain runs off well, but that is our widest area, and I was hoping to put the kiddie pool there.

I might just do what you reccommend, have another guy take a look at it. See if this will happen again, it's been through 2 winters now. Then see if it's worth taking apart, or just relay what we have.

Thanks for the info.
Have another guy (or girl) look at the yard. Maybe you need a bunch of topsoil with gras on top to help soak up the water that gathers because of the clay. How deep does the clay go? do you think some of it may be removed? or mixed with something else with a big roto tiller to make it drain better? Just some Ideas to throw around with the 'other guy'!

My 60' wall (made with those stackable concrete interlocking blocks, hasn't moved at all in 3 years. its 2' tall and goes 1/2 to 1 corse below grade. There is 25 yards of course sand behind, that was compacted every 6" with a walk behind vibrating compactor thingie. Then interlocking concrete random shaped (1.5 square foot each) 2"thick pavers on top. They kind of look like a lobster claw if I had to describe them, and has the look of stampcrete. I have yet to fill the space between with sweeping sand. I heard that you could mix portland cement with the sweeping sand dry then sweep in. When all done wet it and it will become hard. This is supposed to slow down the 'weed between the pavers' problem. I havent decided if this will work or not. The debate continues!!! This summers outdoor project!
can I e-mail you a picture? Or if Ron will set it up I will insert the picture here.

I am getting another 2 estimates, this time I got a referral of a few different companies. What we decided to do is remove the steps and redo that part of the wall to make it one big patio, big enough for a kids pool.


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