How to lay a paver walkway

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

I just completed a project in our backyard that I’ve wanted to do since we moved in over a year ago. To get from the deck to the water hose requires walking through dirt and mud. We’ve wanted some type of pathway or stepping stones to keep our shoes from getting all muddy every time we go turn the hose on or off.

Because of all the tree overhang and shade, grass doesn’t grow very well in this area. It’s just dirt and mud. (Check out the awesome tire swing tutorial.)

Around the corner where the hose is is even worse. The faucet drips a bit when it’s turned on, and with all the dirt below it, the area is always muddy.

I spent about 4 hours one morning to create an awesome step-stone walkway. Check it out!

Not only is it functional, but it looks good too. Obviously it needs even more work in the future in the form of hedging lining the house, mulch, and even some ground cover, but for now, let’s just focus on how awesome the pavers look.

For the soupy wet water hose area I added lots of extra pea gravel to prevent the constant mud we had before.

I did all the work for this by myself, and I’m just so dang excited with how it turned out.

To create the stepping stone sidewalk I first headed to True Value Hardware for my supplies: 18″ square pavers, 60# bags of all purpose sand, and Flexible Downspout Extension. I also used a few supplies I already had on-hand: gravel, shovels, and a wheelbarrow.

The very first thing that needed to be done was taking care of the gutter extension. Before, water would pool at the house causing a muddy mess and potentially harming the foundation of the home.

I removed some of the dirt so the extension could be partially buried, added a bit of gravel for drainage, then laid the extension being careful to keep it at enough of an angle that water shouldn’t pool inside the extension or back up in the gutter.

After the gutter extension was in place I loosely laid out the pavers where I wanted them.

Now would be an excellent time to run some string to mark exactly where you want your pathway to go. It will give you a perfect line to follow. To do this, grab a few stakes and stake them into the ground. Tie the string to the stakes. Super easy and will make your job a whole lot easier. I did not do this. I waited until my path was looking very off-center and then realized I should have used the string and stakes, at which point I added them.

Once I knew where I wanted the pavers, I moved them all out of the way. Using a shovel I began removing some dirt to create a very flat, level base surface.

The previous owners of the house left a fairly large pile of gravel in the backyard so instead of buying more gravel for the project I just shoveled wheelbarrows full and repurposed it. Once I had the ground level I put down a layer of gravel.

After the base layer of gravel is set it’s time for sand. I’ve found the easiest way to deal with sand is by adding it to the wheelbarrow first and then shoveling it where you want to put it. To open sand bags just stab them with your shovel and tear the bag away. Works great!

The sand was added on top of the gravel and then smoothed out.

At this point the pavers were not lining up the way I’d hoped so I busted out the stakes and string:

See how much easier it is to get a perfect line by using a piece of string as a guide?

Once your sand is on top of your gravel, it’s time to put the pavers into place. Using the string as a guide, lay the pavers on top of your sand. It was fairly simple.

In addition to doing the straight pathway I also wanted the path to wrap around the house and stop at the water hose. For the area under the faucet, water hose, and downspout I added a bunch of extra gravel to help with drainage. Usually the faucet drips a little when you are using the hose and we end up with mud everywhere, but now the water drips into rocks instead.

And here’s the finished result of the pavers by the watering hose. I reused the gutter splash blocks I blogged about here. They work really well!

All in all, it took me about 4 hours to lay the entire pathway (not including driving to True Value to pick up all the supplies). It wasn’t a difficult project, but required a fair amount of hard labor (I was sore for a few days afterward!).

I really love how clean the lines are and how evenly spaced everything is. I am drawn to very straight, clean lines and this turned out exactly how I wanted it.

One of the last steps I did was to circle back to the drain extension and add a bunch more gravel. I also added a brick to help with erosion.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the new drain extension.

I placed the pavers away from the house as far as they are because we plan to add some box hedge along the house eventually. It will help with erosion around the house and will also look good.

That, my friends, was my adventure in path laying. I love how it turned out! It was hard work, but the end result is awesome. The backyard now looks slightly more polished (it still needs so much work) and our shoes don’t get a thick layer of mud on the bottom every time we turn the hose on or off.

A few Before and Afters (because everyone loves a good before & after!)

  

  

  

Click here to see all my previous True Value projects.


     

Widening a single door to glass panel french doors

Well Hello there! It has been a long time since I’ve updated. About that. Summer came and went, and I’ve been doing all sorts of fun activities with my family. It’s not really an excuse, I could have sat down and blogged, but I didn’t. And I’m sorry! The kids start school again next week and honestly, I will miss them terribly but am really looking forward to getting back into a routine and spending more time with all of you. I miss you. Good thing this blogging gig isn’t my job or I’d be so fired by now! I’m glad to be back though, and I hope you will take me back.

Now that all the excuses and apologies are out of the way, lets get on with the point of todays post – widening the doorway to the Game Room and installing glass panel french doors. While the kitchen was being renovated, I tacked on a few additional projects that I knew needed to be done before the new wood floors were laid. One of those was widening the doorway into the Game Room.

Here’s the door before we tore it out. In fact, this is before we even moved in. I took this picture while the new carpet was being installed.

The reason I had my heart set on widening the door and installing glass panel french doors is three-fold.

* First, I wanted the room to feel more like a game room. With a regular door it felt a lot like a large bedroom without a closet.
* Secondly, light. The hallway has no natural light, so when the three doors at the end of the hall are closed (Ben’s office, kids’ bathroom, and game room), it feels like a dungeon in there. By adding glass panel doors we were able to bring light into the hall (the game room has several big windows).
* And finally, the biggest reason for me, I didn’t like the kids holed up in the game room with the door closed. By adding the glass panel french doors we are now able to see what they are up to and still keep the doors closed for noise reduction.

The work crew started by ripping out the old doorway, building a new wider header, and installing everything. I considered trying my hand at door framing, but knew it would take me days to complete what these guys did in about an hour.

I was already giddy excited just seeing the doorway opened up. Check out all that natural light! No amount of lightbulbs will ever compete with unadulterated natural light.

Once the doorway was opened up we had a few more steps before the new doors could be installed. First and foremost, the light switch. You can see where it used to be in this picture:

We could have moved it down the wall a little but the new french door would block it. We could scooch it down a lot but it didn’t feel like a natural place to look for a switch while entering the room. I opted for the hardest solution: moving it to another wall completely.

The new light switch location is far enough away that it’s not behind the door while the door is open, yet it feels like the first place you would look when entering the room and looking for a switch. The electrician seemed a little annoyed that I made him move it this far, but I was paying him so he pretty much did whatever I told him to do.

Another step on the road to getting a new door installed was to add new drywall and then have it textured. As always, drywall and texture was a mess, but so worth it. I would have tackled this smaller project myself, but we had a lot of drywall and texture to do throughout the house so I had the crew do it as well. I love that I know how to DIY all sorts of stuff, and that I’m capable of doing it myself, but sometimes it’s just really nice to have someone else do it for you!

Here’s a view of the threshold so you can see how much we widened the doorway. If I remember correctly I want to say there was a 30″ door initially, and we widened it to 48″ wide.

Finally, the door install day! This was done by the finishing crew who also installed all the baseboards, doors, and shelving (I haven’t shown you the shelving yet. It’s on my to-do list).

The doors came prehung and even had half the door casing already attached. The finishing crew just plugged up the hole with the door and then added additional door casing on the raw side. This is the way to go when hanging doors! Find a local company that will sell them pre-made like this. So much easier. The local company here that my builder used is called ProBuild (in case you are wondering). Their website shows that they have tons of locations, so you might have one near you as well. They had a ton of baseboard and door options (way more than the big box stores).

*Also, note that the glass is covered in a plastic film that I haven’t peeled off yet so the glass is looking slightly hazy. I’m waiting until I paint the doors to remove the film.

Here are the doors wide open. Please keep in mind that we were wrapping up a huge renovation and had been living in this room for a few months. It was a mess!

And a view from inside the (very messy) game room. The doors make it feel so much more like a game room now. My sister came over and said that even though she loved the kitchen and the new floors, she thinks her favorite part of the entire renovation was widening the door and adding the french doors.

Also, yes, we moved the piano into the game room. We are trying it out. So far I like it better than in the dining room, but I’m not 100% sold yet.

And check out all that light streaming into the hallway. Plus, now mom (me) can see exactly what the kids are up to. The game room is at the end of the hall kind of hidden away. Now I feel like they will keep themselves out of trouble a little better knowing we are watching them. ;)

Aaaaaand open.

Here’s a view from the hall looking into the game room with the doors closed. The (very dirty!) black door goes into the bathroom. It’s dirty from all the overspray from the texture. Also, as we chipped up tile the door got dinged up, so a fresh coat of black paint is now in order.

Obviously we still have a lot of painting to do. As soon as the doors are painted I will install the doorknobs too.

Before and Progress:

  

Now here’s the big question… paint. Should I paint them black like the rest of the doors in the house? I’m leaning that way. I saw some beautiful french doors the other day that were stained a dark brown and they looked so classic and upscale. Should I stain instead? Paint the hallway side black and stain the game room side? Once I paint them it will be virtually impossible to ever consider staining, so I want to make sure I’m totally committed before I bust out the can of primer.


     

New $99 rugs in the family and dining rooms

Last week I showed you our brand new kitchen.

You probably noticed a new rug in the dining room. I’m here to give you the low down.

I’ve been searching for a rug for the dining room and living room for awhile. I’ve mostly looked online, but haven’t pulled the trigger on anything for a few reasons: a) rugs are expensive!, b) there are way too many options to pick from and I just get overwhelmed and bored clicking through page after page of rugs, and c) I like to see stuff in person before I make a purchase.

I just happened to be at Sam’s Club with my sister and came across 6 different styles of 8×10 rugs for only $99 each. They had 4-5 styles in a beige tone and one bold royal blue style.

The price was more than right (only $99 for an 8×10 rug? I’ll take two!), but I got hung up on the color. I usually like to go neutral so that it never goes out of style, but I’ve got a lot of neutral going on already (brown floors, brown cabinets, brown table, brown sofa, tan walls, black coffee table and entertainment center), so I just threw caution to the wind and bought two of the royal blue rugs.

So glad I went with the blue. I just love the richness and warmth they bring into my home, and it’s enough color to really make a big impact.

The rugs are pretty darn soft and haven’t been shedding at all, but they are not padded, if that makes sense. They are basically like having apartment-grade carpet without a pad. I may end up purchasing some rug pads to go under for a little added squish.

I ended up buying two of the same rug because my living and dining area are so open. I like that they tie the two rooms together a little more.

That’s the dealio with the new rugs. They are huge 8×10 rugs for only $99 over at Sam’s Club. I’m usually a Costco shopper myself, but after going to Sam’s with my sister and seeing all their cool home decor, I may have to purchase a membership there as well.

Speaking of Sam’s and Costco… Are you a member of either? Which one? Neither? Why? Is it because you like one more than the other, or because it’s all your city offers?

We’ve always been a Costco family because I like buying stuff in bulk and because they do all the weeding out of crappy brands for me. I like that Costco offers one or two middle of the road options on pretty much any home-related product. They’ve done all the research for me and I’m confident that if I purchase a home-related product at Costco it will end up being a good, safe, middle-of-the-pack option. I know if I buy an appliance from them it is most likely a very good brand with a good rating. It saves me from having to wade through tons of product reviews to find the best product. Also, they have great produce, food, and snacks, and are starting to offer tons of great gluten-free and organic options.

Are you a warehouse shopper?


     
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