I have a rectangular patio which I would like to drain toward one of its corners. Is there any subtlety that the installer needs to know in order to create a proper grade for this? Do you need to install your pavers in a specific way?

I have seen this a lot done in Downtown Toronto where pavers where installed on walk ways and the walkway was installed to allow disabled people to go on or off the walkway with their carts. I have also seen it in large areas around buildings that where built on slopes

I need to do something less complicated than the above, something like in the picture below.

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  • 2
    I don't understand your edit. That's a very different problem than the sloped flat patio. I think you're way overthinking this project. That said, in general, the main benefit of using pavers is that they are a rather flexible option for dealing with surface variants. If you had to do the latter, you'd prep the base and lay the pavers just as you would on a flat patio. The big difference is you'd have to do some crazy custom cuts in the latter. They actually make paver sets for handling circles and radii that are precut (though not sure specifically for elevated spiral patios...)
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 21:49
  • (BTW, overthinking projects is one of my biggest problems too. I tend to over plan and still screw something up, so I've slowly gotten in the habit of spending less time planning, more time trying, and worse case, I just have to try twice to fix it. :)
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 21:53
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    Right now that is all I can do about this project: think! My patio is covered in snow :D
    – MiniMe
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 23:40
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    possible duplicate of How would you grade this patio?
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:33
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    How to do it is answered at the question I referenced. I see no point in rehashing it.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


Stake out the four corners. Find a way to mark each stake at the same height. A laser level would be easiest. If you don't have one of those, you can get string-line levels that hang from a string between each stake.

Once you have 4 level marks, you can now figure where the mark should be on the high end. Figure out where you want the top of the patio to be, then subtract the height of the brick. This will be where the sand base has to come up to. Now measure from that point to the original level mark you made. Let's say that's 4".

Now figure out the slope you need for the two adjoining corners. Most say you want the slop to be 1/8 - 1/4" per foot.

So if this is a 10' patio, and we want 1/4" per foot, that'd be a total slope of 2.5". Mark these two corners at 6.5" below your level mark. (4 + 2.5).

Now for the last corner (opposite the first) we'd mark that at 9" below level (6.5 + 2.5).

You now have the 4 corners marked at the proper slope.

After you get your grave base compacted, bring in the sand, and put down screed guides to line up with each of these points. I like using conduit for this. Not too pricey and comes in long lengths. Lay your screed on these as you go along to keep a consistent slope to the sand base.

Now, with this example, the outside edge of the patio is 9" lower than the high end of the wall. That's a pretty big difference. You may want to stick with a 1/8" slope (at least along the direction parallel to the house) but either way, keep in mind that height difference before laying the patio so that the outside edges are still above grade to allow full water run-off.

  • Water level, a piece of plastic tubing taped to two stakes, and filled with water is very easy to use. Example: wikihow.com/Use-a-Water-Level Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 4:13
  • @WayfaringStranger I've used that before too. Might be a bit tricking being so close to the ground, but could work too.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 4:17
  • thanks to both of you for the suggestions but I was looking for tips on how to combine the bricks together, I have seen it done in a very nice way in DownTown Toronto, it is remarkable how smooth the slope is considering that it was done manually. I do realize that going on a slope with the pavers is challenging because you need to adjust the spaces and the angles between the bricks. The bedding is crucial in this but you have to be careful how you lie the bricks in order to have uniform gaps between them. Any tips for doing that ?
    – MiniMe
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 16:37
  • @user2059078 I'm not following your concern. You may be over thinking this. If you screed the sand using the guides, it's a flat plane. The bricks will fit together just fine. There's no real need to lay them in any particular pattern. Also, most patio paver blocks are designed with built in spacers. It's hard to not have uniform space.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 17:54
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    @user2059078 right...but why are we talking about warped spiral patios now? I thought you were laying a flat square patio? You keep moving the goal posts on us.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 23:41

For low-cost leveling, use flexible plastic tubing and fill it with water and food coloring. This will allow you to level the forms at each corner, or, in this case, to an offset of your choosing.

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