Consider making a tough driveway, a nice path, or a fantastic patio at your place? If you’re looking into this, you’re making a smart move. Using stone blocks of brick or concrete can really change how your outside space looks. They last a long time, and you can pick any style you like, simple or fancy.
Putting them in is pretty easy, but you need to plan carefully, be ready to do some work and have patience. DIY can be a great way to make your home nicer and save some cash too.
Table of Contents
- Transit Level
- String, stakes, and a level
- Measuring tape
- Graph paper and pencil
- Plate compactor or tamper
- Screed boards or pipes
- Masonry saw or guillotine-style stone cutter
- Eye protection
- Paving stones (pavers)
- Base material (such as coarse gravel)
- Edge restraints or concrete toes
Check with your local utilities company before starting any construction. Installing pavers may be easy, but it’s necessary to check with your local utility company before beginning to ensure that you don’t accidentally strike or obtrude any cables or pipes.
How to Lay Paving Tiles
Step 1: Plan Your Project
A good plan is crucial for a successful paving project. Start by deciding the location for your path, driveway, or patio.
Then, take graph paper and create a scaled drawing of the surrounding area where you plan to work. Incorporate your paving design into this drawing. You’ll like to modify your design a bit, so using a pencil will help you keep your drawing neat and easily changeable.
The drainage of your paving area is also important for safety and durability. Ensure that it slopes away from your house and other structures. For effective drainage, aim for a slope of at least 1/8 inch per linear foot. Some recommend a slope of 1/4 inch per foot for even better water management.
Step 2: Choose the Pavers
When it comes to picking pavers, you have lots of options. Most are made of brick or concrete, and they come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Look online or visit a local building supply store to find a style you like.
- For projects with simple shapes, you can figure out how many pavers you need by measuring the area in square feet and adding 5%. If your design includes curves, add 10% more to your square footage estimate.
- Always buy a few extra pavers. You’ll likely need to cut some to fit your design, especially if it’s complex.
- Remember, pavers are very heavy. It’s usually best to have them delivered, and there might be a fee for this.
- Keep a few things in mind when shopping for pavers. Their prices can vary a lot, so it’s wise to decide on a budget first.
- Consider the surface you’re paving and its use. For example, driveways need tougherpavers that can handle the weight of cars.
Step 3: Calculating the Number of Pavers Needed
To figure out how many pavers you need, first measure the width and length of the space you want to pave. Multiply these two numbers together. Then, you will the square footage of the area.
Always add 5% to this number. This extra amount is for the pavers you’ll need to cut to fit around curves and in unusual spaces. If your design requires cutting many pavers, then add 10% instead.
Step 4: Plan Your Slope
To prevent water from pooling on your pavers, they should be slightly higher than the surrounding ground. Start planning the slope from the highest point, usually near the front door or close to the house.
- Put a stake at this high point and mark the height where the pavers will meet the door or structure. Tie a string to the stake at that height.
- Place another stake at the far edge of your project area, the lowest point. Use a line level on the string, then tie the string’s loose end to the outer stake at the level height. From there, move down at least 1/8 inch for every foot of length (for example, move down 1 inch for 8 feet). Mark this new line and adjust your string to it. Use more strings across the project area to mark the proper depth everywhere.
- If your area has different slopes or a complex shape, you should do this in several places. Getting the slope right is very important, so use as many stakes as needed.
- Consider hiring a professional with a transit or laser level and measuring rod for quicker and more accurate results.
- Remove the string before you start working to avoid tripping over it.
Step 5: Dig Out the Area for Installation
When preparing for foot traffic areas like paths or patios, you typically need a base layer of 4-6 inches. For driveways or areas with very wet soil, you might need up to 12 inches of base material. Check with the manufacturer or your building supply store to know the right depth for your base. Then, add about 1-1.5 inches for the sand layer on top of that, plus the thickness of your pavers, which is usually around 2 3/8 inches or 3 1/8 inches.
The total depth you need to dig is the sum of the base depth, sand layer, and paver thickness.
- Remember to dig 6-12 inches beyond the edges of your project. This extra space is needed for installing edge restraints, which is a crucial step.
- Level and smooth out the soil where your paver edges will go. You can also spread the base material slightly past where the edging will be, then flatten it using a compactor or hand-tamping tool. After that, put in your edging firmly.
- Always measure the depth of your excavation from the string marking your slope, not from the ground surface.
Step 6: Choose Your Base Material
The base material you use should typically be coarse, crushed stone with sharp, irregular edges. The essential qualities of a good base material are its strength when compacted and its ability to drain water effectively. These are crucial because a base that doesn’t stay strong or drains poorly can spoil your paving project, no matter how well everything else is done.
Step 7: Lay the Base Material
After digging out your area, the next task is to put down the base material, which usually means crushed rock, like 3/4 minus gravel. This rock contains stones of different sizes with sharp edges, which helps it compact well. Crushed gravel with a bit of moisture in it can make compacting easier.
The thickness of your base layer depends on what you’ll use the area for, which varies based on the type of soil underneath and the weight that will be on the pavers. A soft clay sub-base needs a thicker layer, and driveways need more than patios. Check with your supplier for advice on thickness.
Spread the gravel evenly over the area. It’s a good idea to do this in three smaller layers, compacting each one before adding the next. Use a plate compactor to go over each layer several times. Ensure the compacted gravel is level, has the right slope, and matches your set height.
Step 8: Put in Edge Restraints
Edge restraints are essential to keep the shape of your project intact over time. These restraints, typically made of plastic, aluminum, or steel, should be placed around the edge of your project area. Secure them into the ground using 12-inch spikes. If your design has irregular shapes, you might need to cut the restraints so they fit the edges of your design properly.
Step 9: Lay the Sand Bedding
Before placing the pavers, you need to prepare a layer of sand over the compacted base. This sand layer acts as a bed for the pavers and helps to protect the sand joints from erosion.
Start by laying one-inch diameter PVC pipes across the base material. Then, spread a layer of sand that’s between one and one and a half inches thick over the pipes. Use a 2×4 board to screed (level) the sand. Run it over the top of the sand so that the PVC pipes are exposed. Carefully remove the PVC pipes afterwards. This method ensures that your sand layer is uniformly one inch thick.
For the best results, consult with your material supplier to get advice on the best type of sand to use for this bedding layer.
Step 10: Cut Pavers
It’s common to need to cut some pavers to fit along the edges of your project. Instead of trying to bend the pavers to match the edge shape, first lay all the full-sized pavers you can in each row. Then, go back and cut pavers to the correct sizes to fit along the edges.
For clean cuts, use a masonry saw, which is a wet saw that you can rent from a local tool rental company or a guillotine-style splitter. If you’ve made sure to have extra pavers from the start, you’ll have plenty of material to work with, even if you make a few mistakes.
Sawing cement-based materials can release dust with silica particles, which is harmful to both the person sawing and bystanders. Long-term exposure to this dust can cause serious health issues, including silicosis.
Step 11: Lay the Pavers into the Sand
Lay the pavers following the pattern and design you have planned. Place them close to each other. Note that some pavers come with built-in space bumps as part of their design, which help maintain consistent spacing.
After laying all the pavers according to your pattern, use a plate compactor to press them into the sand. Run the compactor over the pavers at least three times to make sure they are firmly set in the sand.
If there are gaps between the pavers, sweep polymeric sand into the joints until they’re about half full. It helps prevent the pavers from moving during compaction. Be cautious if the pavers are loose, as they might become uneven when compacted.
When using the compactor, vary your direction or pattern to ensure even compaction. To protect the pavers from scuff marks, cover the plate compactor with heavy-duty fabric, like a gunnysack, before compressing them.
Step 12: Sand Joints
Sweep sand over the pavers to fill the gaps between them and lock them in place. It’s essential to use fine-grained sand, not coarse. Play sand that has been sifted and bagged, or sand specifically labeled as “paver sand,” is ideal. Fine sand compacts better and fills the joints more quickly. Make sure the sand and paver area are dry before you start this step.
- For this task, choose a broom size that matches your area: a large push broom for big spaces or a small push broom for smaller areas. Sweep the sand into the joints, moving the broom in various directions to ensure even coverage.
Step 13: Maintain Your Pavers
Pavers usually require little maintenance if they are laid correctly. They should remain stable in both function and use.
However, you may need to re-seal your pavers regularly to keep their color and appearance and to protect them from stains, algae, and loss of joint sand.
It’s recommended to clean and sweep the pavers regularly, especially if they are in shaded or damp areas. In these conditions, they are more prone to developing efflorescence (chalky salt deposits) and moss.
Be cautious with power washing as it can dislodge the joint sand. If you do power wash, you’ll need to repeat Steps 8 and 9, which involve re-laying the sand and compacting.
For specific cleaning needs, there are various products available on the market for different types of situations.