The patio took us a few weeks to build. I laugh when I see the articles about making a patio in a weekend. Maybe if you have lots of help, equipment, and someone else hauling all the materials.
Step 1: Pick a place, pick what kind of pavers you want, and calculate how many pavers you need. Multiply that number times how much each paver costs.
Step 2: Put back those really pretty antique marble looking pavers and go search in the cheaper concrete paver section. Repeat step 1.
Step 3: Dig a hole about 7 inches deep where you want the patio. Make sure that it will be big enough for all your pavers plus a couple inches on all sides.
Or wing it.
Digging was the hardest part - our dirt is hard clay with lots of rocks, so it took a couple weeks. I would use the pick-ax for a while, dig that dirt out, and repeat. and repeat.
Step 4: Tamp that dirt down. You can rent a plate compactor, or buy a hand tamper. Just be warned for whatever option you pick, there's going to be a lot of tamping. We went with the hand tamper. You can buy one pretty cheaply.
Step 5: Add about 4 inches of gravel base. Some people like to put down landscaping fabric before this, but we didn't. You should tamp the gravel base every couple of inches. Water needs to run away from the house, so we made sure to try to add a slight slope. Tamp some more.
Step 6: Add sand. Lots and lots of sand. Level it, tamp it, level it, tamp it. In order to level it, we laid two pvc pipe lengthwise on the gravel base, filled between and around them with sand, and then dragged a 2x4 along the length of them to level the sand. Make sure in your leveling that you are keeping a slight slope downhill from the house.
Step 7: Add the pavers and pound them in with a rubber mallet. Tamp some more.
Some people add landscape edging around the patio to ensure that the stones stay where they should be. We were tired at that point, so we just backfilled the dirt around the stones.
Tada! It just needs some flowers nearby, don't you think...?
And you know all those stones we dug up from the hole for the patio? I now have edging for a lot of my flower beds: