Professional Deck Builder contributor John Caroll gives you a tips on how to install and rebuild a brick patio.

The owner of home with a 20-year-old patio, last year hired me to repair the loose bricks along the patio’s perimeter and repoint some areas of deteriorating grout. As I removed the loose bricks, however, the next row of bricks came loose; and when I removed that set of bricks, the next row came loose. It soon got to the point where more than a third of the bricks would need to be replaced. Not only would that have looked bad, but it also would have left two-thirds of a deteriorating patio in place. After I showed the owner just how easily the bricks were coming up, we decided it would be best to remove them all and start from scratch.

Although I was concerned about a settlement crack in the existing slab, the end had settled only about 3/4 inch over the course of 19 years. I reasoned that it would not settle any further, especially if I resolved the grade problems that had led to water being trapped on the patio, which had caused much of the damage to the brickwork.

Because even the tiniest differential movement between the two parts of the slab would probably cause the existing crack to telescope up through the new brickwork, I decided to install a Schluter-Ditra uncoupling membrane on top of the old slab before installing the new brick paving. The membrane would let the masonry bear fully on the slab while permitting slight differential movement between the slab and the masonry. Although Schluter’s literature doesn’t address the membrane’s use with brick pavers, I had used it for both interior and exterior tile applications and could see no reason why it wouldn’t work here.

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