Wulf's Webden

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This weekend, I’ve mainly been slabbing. No, not the illegal stimulant for trolls in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld – I’ve a suspicion that would be lethal for other races, even if it existed. I’ve been relaying part of the patio outside, which is made up of 40cm square slabs.

I’m not doing this for fun or because I have run out of other jobs that need attention. However, we are hoping to get a new shed delivered soon and it needs a firm base to go on. There was previously a shed on that bit of the patio but apparently it was in poor condition and started to fall apart as the owners began taking stuff out of it. The space underneath was covered with a variety of slabs – some 3′ x 2′ concrete monsters and some much small offcuts and, as far as I can tell from my excavating, they were on loose sand or occasionally fitted using dabs of mortar.

I’m going for a thorough job. There was hardcore underneath and I’m using the sand to level that off but taking the time to compact it using a punner (a flat-based square of metal attached to a long handle). I’ve also calculated a drop that will avoid the risk of puddling. A lot of sources said 1 in 60, which seemed quite steep; I’m a little closer to 1:70 but it should still be sufficient. On top of the sand, I’m adding a mortar mix (4:1:1 sharp sand / builders sand / cement) and applying that as a full bed rather than just using separate dots.

Along the way, I’m learning a few tricks, like tamping down enough sand for a row of slabs in one batch, mixing the mortar relatively wet (although not to the point of becoming a slurry) and levelling it to only just above the final height needed before lower the slab and tapping it into place. It is still hard work though and relatively slow.

I’ve now replaced a good number of the slabs I took up, although I’m going to have to lift a few more so that the groundwork is good underneath the entire footprint of the shed. I also need to finish off round the edges, which will require a bit of cutting slabs too. Hopefully I’ll get it finished early this week, before the drier, sunnier, warmer weather goes away and then I can chase up and see what the news is on the shed.

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