Reclaimed Space

by Cait

I’ve mentioned a few times how Robert and I want to work on the backyard this summer. We built the shower surround earlier this spring, and we had plans for a few other projects before it got derailed by the guest bathroom. Since I am impatient (and scatterbrained) I have been trying to come up with a more budget friendly idea for a patio or deck. Preferably something that we can do once and be done with it. We strongly considered trying to make a deck with pallets, but in the end we decided to go with a brick patio (partially because of this post on Re-Nest, and a bunch of pretty pictures on Pinterest).  

Brick seemed like the most economical option after poking around in the blog world, and especially after we found out that a local wrecking company has a very, very large pile of brick for 40 cents a brick. That price beats pants off of the cheapest patio pavers at Lowe’s or Home Depot, and it’s reclaimed, which makes me feel better than buying brand-spanking new pavers.

for scale, the smallest pile is probably about four feet high

We were lucky enough to get two smaller piles of reclaimed brick (the below is only half of it) from my parents and Ryan’s dad.

this is a Ford Ranger’s bed with about three layers of brick

My basic plan (especially after talking to Emily and hearing her & Pete’s experience) is to break up the weird concrete & tile, level & tamp the ground, weed block, add sand, lay the brick and fill in gaps with sand. I know that generally speaking it is recommended to use gravel after tamping the ground and before the sand (and that not doing so seems to go against my desire to “do once and be done with it”), but Emily said that neither her mom nor Pete’s parents used gravel and their patio/walkways have been fine. So, this is me throwing caution to the wind. Please hold any I-told-you-so’s until our plan crashes and burns, k?

We really don’t want a picture-perfect patio, we are much more drawn to the rustic look. Besides, our brick is reclaimed and a lot of them are broken in half anyway.

Last night (after half-off frozen yogurt, because I’m a cheap date) we were piling our second truck load of brick in the backyard and I pitched the idea of using the brick from Ryan’s dad (which is slightly larger) for the perimeter of the patio, and the brick from my parents (which we think came from my grandparents’ house) to fill in. If we need more fill-in brick we will buy some of the 40-cent bricks from the wrecking company, because it looks to be the same size and general style. 

Then I mocked up this design, but it looks to perfect and uniform (I was impatient and just made three basic brick sizes for the interior and then alternated them). Basically we want to stagger the rows of brick, sort of the way you stagger subway tile except that our brick is not anywhere near uniform.

Hopefully this post was less scattered than the previous two have been.

Does anyone else have patio plans in the works? I’ve been loving Rebecca & Mike’s patio.

19 Responses to “Reclaimed Space”

  1. Looking forward to seeing the work on the patio. I think (at least for me) something gets overwhelming (or time consuming or money consuming) and I choose something ELSE to DIY. For example, master bath? Slightly out of price range right now. Light for kitchen? Do-able.

    So good luck on the patio. I’ll cross my fingers for the skipping of the gravel.

    • Thanks Emily!

      I completely agree! The guest bath is a huge time & money suck, so if we can do the patio for cheap? Big win in my book! (Despite the fact that it will definitely be a total time-suck.)

  2. We’ve so many different irons in the fire, I usually dart from one to the other leaving skid marks in my wake :o) I loooove the rustic patio look but we have our hearts set on a small deck, especially since our backyard is three steps down from our back door. Maybe next year … :o)

    • I’m glad we aren’t the only who are ones all over the place, Micha!

      A small deck and and one-day a rustic patio sound fun! Our back porch is three steps down from the house, so I know what you mean. Sometimes I think there was a deck where our screen porch is (would explain the concrete with rebar, but the weird tile?) I would love to have a deck, but at least we’re (eventually) going to have a galvanized tank pool in one corner of the yard, and that will have a deck. :)

  3. We tried the brick patio route at our first house…but brick patios and Iowa don’t mix well. We went with concrete at our current house. I love that you are using reclaimed materials. I’m excited to see how it turns out!

    I also love Rebecca’s patio. My husband is glad I didn’t know about this while deciding on ours (because he’s cheap. :P)

    • Thanks Michelle!

      So sad that bricks and Iowa don’t mix. I hear that the coating like what Rebecca & Mike have (or at least a similar style) can be added later. Maybe that or a brick version of that would be an option for you?

  4. LOVING the pattern you picked!!! It’s totally modern and amazing!!!

  5. I love an old brick patio that looks like it’s been around forever! And that’s awesome that you’ve acquired bricks from a few places!

    I am also extremely house scatterbrained. I was just thinking we should paint our powder room this weekend, when we have an unfinished but primed entryway and landscaping to finish up.

    • Thanks Rebecca! That’s pretty much the look we’re going for :)

      And I’m glad I’m not the only one who is scatterbrained! Lowe’s has Valspar exterior paint on sale this week, so we’re thinking about painting the walls on the porch this weekend instead of working on the bathroom or the patio.

  6. House DIY Scatterbrains – Unite! *LOL*

  7. I’m the worst at taking on multiple projects at the same time. Part of it is exhaustion (project gets overwhelming), part of it is lack of money to do what we really want, third is my attention span ( or lack of).
    We have been working in our yard non-stop lately to finish our gas fed fire pit/pull up bar. About a year and a half ago we bought patio pavers and laid them in our front yard. We bought a travertine paver at home depot, I love how it patinas over time.
    The brick looks awesome, if I would have found a deal like that I would have been ALL over it! Nice score! I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

  8. What a great find!! I would love to take on a DIY patio project, but the ammount of work and getting-it-just-right steps worry me! I’ll be closely following your progress. (I know that you’ll be honest about the experience!)

    • Thanks Leslie! And of course we’ll be honest! Because trying to DIY a patio in June or July in Florida? It’s gonna SUCK. Thankfully when we got the quote for sand and whatnot the owner of the local place we went said that in Florida you don’t really need gravel, just and inch of sand as a base and then the layer to fill in the gaps/joints. So we’re looking at about $190 for weed blocker, sand and delivery. We still have to price out renting a compactor (tamper? whatever those are called…), a concrete saw to bust up the weird concrete and we might need some more reclaimed brick (40 cents a brick), but it totally beats some of the other prices I’ve seen for patios.


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