How to Lay Pavers for Your Garden or Patio in 7 Steps

How to Lay Pavers for Your Garden or Patio in 7 Steps

A Complete Tutorial On How To Lay Pavers Like A PRO

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This tutorial will take you through the steps of creating a walkway and wrap-around for your porch with pavers. The final result is a gorgeous paved walkway that will impress anyone who visits your home. 

For this tutorial we used 6″ x 9″ and 6″ x 6″ pavers but you can use any type of pavers you want as long as you calculate the depth of them. Because you need to add in gravel and sand which takes up some of the space. 

Step 5: Continue Laying the Full Paving Stones

Eventually I got in the groove and after 3 days I was half way there. Save all the cuts for the end when you have set all the full pavers in place.

Video

Adding Paver Sand and Compacting the Walkway

We poured a layer of paver sand in between the paver stones and tamped the sand down. Because I didn’t want the pavers to shift when the plate compactor ran over them, we laid 2×4 spacers into the grid lines. This helped ensure the spacing and alignment was consistent, while also holding the paver stones in place while the plate compactor vibrated above it. We were worried that the plate compactor would damage the paver stones, so we laid a scrap sheet of plywood over the entire walkway before making a few passes with the compactor. The paver sand helped lock the paver stones in place, enough that we were able to remove the 2×4 spacers and make another pass with the plate compactor. Again, we used the plywood sheet to protect the walkway and the tool.

The vibrations from the plate compactor shifted the pavers ever so slightly, which I only notice because I’m absurdly perfectionistic. It does bug me a little, but I don’t know how else to keep all of the paver stones in their precise positions and still stay married to my husband. Adam isn’t one for attention to detail and can only take a certain percentage of my annoying perfectionism. After all is said and done, when I stand back and look at the walkway as a whole, the fact that the pavers aren’t perfectly aligned doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. At least that’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night. Bottom line, we’re not professional landscapers, we’re just DIYers and this is the best we can do at this point in time, and that’s just going to have to be enough.

4. Excavate dirt and debris

Excavate the dirt and debris to 7–13” below the finished grade, depending on the type of traffic the pavers will receive. If the pavers are only for pedestrian traffic, dig 7” below finished grade. If the project will be receiving vehicular traffic, excavate 9–13”.  

We recommend excavating this deep because vehicular traffic requires a super sturdy base. The deeper the base is excavated, the more gravel you can add and compact.

Pro Tip: If you remove large debris and are left with large divots do not backfill with dirt. Instead, backfill those depressions with gravel and hand tamp them before laying geotextile.

Prepping and Grading the Area

The first thing we had to do was clear the area. Adam pulled up the trash bushes and raked out the flower bed, then he and Liam pulled up the flagstones with a shovel and a mattock. Thankfully, the flagstones came up pretty easily. Then we raked out all of the stones and debris from the path and tried to level and tamp it down as best we could.

How To Lay Pavers On Your Base

Step 8: Start Adding Pavers

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Now it’s time for the fun part. Add your full pavers down in the sand. This is similar to tile. You will use primarily full pavers unless trying out one of the many paver patterns which mimic brick bonds. So choose your pattern early on.

Then, add pavers starting in one corner and working your way in a pattern. You can do this any way that you want since this isn’t tile that can’t be walked on while you are working. A little weight won’t hurt the pavers. 

Step 9: Cut The Pavers

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There may be some areas where the pavers need cut. This will be around the corns of objects and such. For this, you will need to find the cutting tools that work for your pavers. Not all pavers are the same. 

As long as the pavers are cut straight, then there shouldn’t be any problems later on. You can even try scoring and breaking the pavers if they are the right kind. Whatever works for you will work for the pavers. 

Step 10: Tamp It All

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After all the pavers are laid, even the cut ones, you need to tamp the pavers down. Tamping the pavers will prevent accidents and keep things secure, making the paved walkway last much longer than it would without tamping.

You can start at one corner and tamp away. It may not shift at all, but if it doesn’t then that’s a good thing. You don’t need to press down hard enough to break the pavers, just enough to make sure it won’t shift later. 

Step 11: Add Grout To The Pavers

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For the grout for pavers, something like polymeric sand is your best bet. This sand is made for use as grout in pavers and more. If you can find it then it will be worth it. All you have to do is add it and smooth it out.

Then, you can wet the pavers down and wash the excess away. You may need to let the sand set for a while. Just read the bag and you can find out how you need to go about the process of grouting the pavers. 

How to Prepare the Ground for Pavers

Follow this step-by-step guide to prepare the ground where you will lay your pavers:

  1. Choose and measure your worksite. Use a tape measure to plot out the area that you plan to pave. Outline the area you will be paving with white paint or stakes. Make note of the square footage of your work area, which will help you calculate how many pavers you will need.
  2. Gauge your slope. You will want your pavers to be very slightly sloped to avoid water pooling on the pavers. Use stakes and string to mark the height of the highest and lowest edges of the paving area to gauge the direction of your slope.
  3. Excavate your paving area. Use a spade or shovel to dig into the soil and clear the grass from your paving area. Use a tape measure or ruler to measure the depth and slope of your evacuated area. You want your area to be deep enough to accommodate six inches of gravel, one inch of sand, and the depth of your pavers.

Install the Pavers

Lay the pavers closely together according to the chosen pattern and design. Start from one corner and work your way around the area. Use a diamond saw, a masonry chisel, or mechanical splitter and safety glasses to cut pavers to the sizes required. While installing, tap the paver with a rubber mallet to ensure solid contact with the underlying compacted bedding. Lay the first pavers parallel to the foundation, and then lay the remaining pavers in a running bond or other patterns.

Learn More

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1. Establish a layout

Whether you’re laying a 10’x10’ patio or a 100’ driveaway, you’ll need to establish your layout. First, mark out your area using white marking paint. It’s important to use white marking paint so that your markings don’t interfere with any geolocates.

Pro Tip: Get a locate to ensure there are no utilities located below the project area.

After making initial markings, you’ll want to extend the area of the paint by 6” on all sides to ensure enough room for the pavers as well as an edge restraint.

If you are laying a circular patio, place a stake in the center of your project space. Tie a string to the stake that is 6″ longer than the radius of your patio. Use that string as a guide and spray a circle border.

Step 7: Sweep Dry Sand Into Gaps

After all the cuts were done I was on the home stretch. I started by sweeping some dry sand into all the joints. I planned on using pave set later, a sand/gel compound that hardens when wet, but to fill the majority of the gaps I used the much cheaper option. The sand is there to keep gaps between the pavers but also to slide into any gaps underneath the pavers. So the first 20kg bag disappeared pretty quick.

Sealing

Sweep clean the newly paved area. Apply a sand binding sealant over the area to prevent settling and growth of seeds or moss between the joints. Sealant further protects the pavers from hard to clean spillages.

When to Call a Professional

While laying patio pavers is a fairly simple, straightforward outdoor project, handling the base materials and the pavers is strenuous work. If you have a large project or if you want to use large-format pavers (24-inch by 24-inch or greater), you may want to have a contractor or landscaping company do the job for you.

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