A step by step GUIDE

Please note:

Ensure you are wearing appropriate safety protection throughout your task. Wet mortar can burn exposed skin so make sure you are wearing suitable protective gloves and long sleeves to protect your arms.

Ensure you read our advice before beginning work on your new design project - this will mean you are fully prepared and have everything to hand, ready to complete your perfect garden.

Be advised, this is a simple guide mixing mortar for patio laying. We highly recommend consulting with a Bradstone Assured member for a professional installation.

Tools you need

Having the right tools and materials before you start mixing cement for your patio will simplify the entire process. Here, we recommend making mortar by using a mixer to speed up the job. You can still make mortar by hand however it’ll be a more arduous process. The things you will need to mix your mortar are:

  • Cement
  • Sharp sand
  • Water
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Buckets for measuring ratios
  • Protective clothing such as work gloves
  • Powered mixer

Cement can be corrosive, so wearing protective gear whilst cement mixing is essential. Before starting the project, we recommend discussing the materials with your builder's merchant or installer. 

What is Mortar?


If you are researching mixing mortar for your patio, it is essential first to understand what mortar is. 

Made from a mixture of cement and sand, mortar is a glue-type building material used in masonry. We’ll clearly need to compare mortar to its sibling concrete. It is similar to concrete in many ways including most of the ingredients, durability, as well as intentions, however we are unlikely to be using concrete for our paving requirements.

Mortar is generally at a lower strength than concrete and rarely used in thick applications, but it’s certainly ideal for achieving our intended purposes of laying a patio. As well as that, one of the advantages of mortar over concrete is it is much more workable, a great benefit when working with a garden space.

Mortar mixing may sound complicated, but with the right tools and an understanding of the required techniques, anyone can make light work of mixing mortar for your patio.


STEP 1 Measure Your Materials


The first step in mortar mixing is crucial to ensure you get the right consistency. 

The ideal ratio is 4:1 using sand and cement.

Use your bucket as a method to measure your materials accurately & consistently.

STEP 2 Set Up Your Cement Mixer


Your cement mixer will need to be close by and within easy reach of a power source. If this is not possible at your home, you can hire a site generator or petrol-powered mixer.

Using the safety and operation instructions, turn the cement mixer on and clean it before starting.

STEP 3 Add Water And Half Of The Sand


After you have measured out your materials when mixing mortar for your patio, add some water first to the mixer to prevent sticking then add half of your sand.

STEP 4 Add Cement


Then add your cement to the container. Once you have added both materials, start to run your mixer to combine them.

 STEP 5 Add The Rest Of Your Sand


The ingredients used for mortar mixing must be combined to create the adhesive. It’s recommended to add a little water as you go depending on the consistency of the cement you need; ideally, your mortar should be wet enough to pour, but not too runny that it loses its shape. 

It’s best to start off small as you can always add more, so gradually add a small amount of water and mix it with the dry materials. Keep adding water until you’ve reached the consistency you are looking for. You’ll be looking to achieve a fairly dry, but pliable mixture.

 STEP 6 Apply The Mixture With A Slurry Primer


Once you’ve mixed your cement and sand to reach the right consistency, you can use the mortar mixture to lay your patio! Remember, all paving needs an application of slurry primer to the underside of the paving slab prior to laying on your mortar bed. For more advice on laying different kinds of paving stones, take a look at our advice section.

If you want high-quality paving stones to improve your home and landscape your garden, your local Bradstone stockist can help. Please click here to find yours. Alternatively, visit our website to order up to three free samples today!

STEP 7 Pointing the joints

Use a pointing trowel to smooth off the mortar that has been squeezed out as well as filling the gaps

STEP 8 Adding coping stones

If you're adding coping stones to the top of the wall, then plan the joints you need to avoid vertical joints coinciding, allowing a 10mm joint gap between each coping stone.
If you're using flat coping stones, ensure there is an overhang both along the long face and the short end.
Then lay following the same steps as the walling blocks.

Four tips for success

As a reminder, follow our three tips for success:

  • Make sure the foundations are level and solid
  • Check your levels frequently with your spirit level
  • Never build more than 6 courses at a time