Building Back Step and Laying Patio - What Comes First?

30 Dec 2009
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United Kingdom
Hi All,

After the success of my shed base I am now ready to move on to my larger project - back steps leading on to a patio.

There will be 3 or 4 flights of steps leading to a patio measuring 21'x20'. Maybe a silly question but should I build the steps on the patio or build the steps first and lay the patio round them?

Second question is - do I have to lay a hardcore base for my steps do you think?

Many thanks,

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steps first.

if youre building them from brickwork youll want concrete foundations not hardcore
make sure you carefully think out your levels as regards the steps. You'd be surprised how many times you see steps which have been set out in relation to the finished patio level only for the diyer to realise they also have to put their flags/pavers on the steps too and end up with a 9 inch bottom step.
Hi All,

Thanks for the replies, don't worry, although I am a DIYer and will ask silly questions to start with I am planning this meticulously!

A few more questions if you don't mind....

Regarding the steps - yeah sorry I meant hardcore/concrete. Do I then have to in-fill each level?

The area where the patio is going is well trodden ground, grass with a clay sub. Do I lay my bedding straight on to this sub after excavation? Or will I need a concrete base? Have been reading this website that is excellent but also bewildering!

Secondly - where do you start to lay the slabs, especially as we are getting randomly shaped indian stone?


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no you need a decent mot base, well compacted.

With regards laying the patio, it is dependent on may things. Eg sqaureness of the area, size of patio in relation to where cuts will fall, how it will be viewed from inside the house, etc etc. Its one you need to ponder and look at before you start laying
When he says lay it straight onto the hardcore he is reffering to the MOT as hardcore.
Hi Thermo,

Thanks very much for your help - I've found this old post, in it you tell the chap to lay the mot straight over the I need a hardcore base also?


Sorry for all the questions, they will stop soon!



no a decent layer of well compacted mot is much better. you can get it nice and smooth to the exact levels and falls you want.
Brilliant, thanks again. I think I'm about ready to last thing regarding the MOT, does it set hard?

Can I order it and spread it one day and compact the next? And when compacted can it be walked on ok so I can leave laying the slabs until the next weekend? It's only me laying the patio, just wondering about timing!


its a self binding mix of stone chippings. basically rake it out nice and flat, go over it with teh whacker (at least 4 passes) and its done and ready to lay the paving on straight away. marvellous stuff
As for the mot, you can certainly approach it however best suits you.

Put it down leave it for a week or a day or a few months. Just get it flat and to your desired level and then plate it again before you start.

If its slightly damp it goes very dead (goes dead dry too) but more importantly when damp it doesn't kick up any dust which is nice.
Ok great - so if I buy a whole load and only manage to get half down in a day, and then it rains all week, what I have left wont be a giant rock hard mess that I can't work with!?

Just persuaded the Mrs that I'm up to this......


no you wont. its a pile of stones and dust, nothing sets. great thing is once its down and compacted you can shovel it about if you want to adjust it and recompact it
Just be aware that it's a real PITA to shovel it out of bulk bags on the pavement. If you can, get it loose tipped or cut the sides of the bags they deliever so you are shovelling it off tarmac not out of the bag itself. That will save you loads of time as well as your back.
Hi All,

Me again, sorry for resurrecting this post. I'm just about to start ordering everything after a lot of digging.........

I just want to check how thick the MOT should be, it's going on top of very clay-y soil and I'm going to bed the stones down on a wet mix.

Thanks, wish me luck.


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