Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Install Pavers Over a Concrete Patio Without Mortar

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Paver patio

I have a small poured concrete patio, and that Iā€™d like to cover with brick pavers. Can I do this without using mortar?

According to several paver manufacturers, paving blocks can be installed on top of concrete without mortar if you first lay down a 1/2″ to 1ā€ bed of coarse sand. The process is nearly identical to laying a paver patio over ground.

However, this type of installation should be done with caution, since drainage, settling, and cracking can be a problem. Keep these tips in mind when laying pavers over a concrete patio:

  • Drainage: The biggest problem with laying pavers over a concrete slab is the inability for water to drain through the blocks and down into the earth. Before you begin, make sure your concrete is properly sloped and doesn’t puddle. Keep this drainage slope in mind when adding your pavers, and make sure the edge that drains water stays low and permeable. You can also drill small drainage holes through the concrete every few inches, to help any puddling water seep into the ground.
  • Sand in Joints: When you’re finished laying the blocks, firm them up by filling the joints with polymeric sand. While sand joints are still permeable, if properly set they can help excess water run off the surface rather than puddling.
  • Edging: Like any other type of installation, a concrete slab paver patio needs to be firmly edged, to keep the sand and pavers from settling and squishing around. However, your edging needs to allow for water to drain; if it’s watertight, your patio could turn into a bowl of water when it rains.
  • Red brick pavers

  • Semi-Mortared: Rather than dealing with edging, some builders use mortar or adhesive to hold the perimeter course of pavers in place. To do this, you’ll need a clean perimeter around the sand bed, so the blocks can stick directly to the concrete. Make sure the mortar and sand bed are the same thickness, so the blocks will be level. This method can create a nonpermeable edge that could cause water to puddle under the pavers.
  • Height: Your new patio will be up to 3ā€ higher than the original concrete slab. Be sure to plan for transitions to other areas, especially if the patio adjoins your house. Most building codes specify how far a masonry patio should be from a home’s siding, and you may need to install flashing to keep water away from the house.
  • Concrete Condition: If the concrete slab is broken or in terrible shape, you might be better off ripping it up and starting over.
  • Not for Driveways: In general, this isn’t a good method for driveways. The underlying concrete doesn’t allow for the pavers to give, so they’re more likely to rock and crack.
  • Patio Extension: You can also extend the size of your patio, by digging out the soil around it and installing a proper gravel and sand bed, then screeding and tamping the sand across both the old and new areas to make it level. However, keep in mind that the non-concreted areas will be more likely to settle, and over time your patio may become uneven.
  • Don’t Rule Out Mortar: If you’re new to this project, don’t be intimidated by the prospects of mortaring a permanent paver patio. In my opinion, mortar would be less work!

Julie

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5 Comments on “How to Install Pavers Over a Concrete Patio Without Mortar”

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  1. doug becker Says:
    April 12th, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Re. Julie’s article on installing pavers over concrete.

    I plan to do this on the walk leading to my front door. The existing concrete (in good condition) like many other sidewalks consists of a series of 3 foot sections. If these are expansion joints, the groove is only a half inch deep. The question is can I go over these joints with pavers? Do I have to avoid going over these joints when I set the edge using an adhesive or mortar? Thanks. Doug

  2. Joe D. Says:
    June 25th, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I’m laying pavers over my existing concrete patio. I have mortared in the two sides, but left the front of it unmortared to allow for drainage. I planned on building the soil level up a little here so that it allows drainage, but also some restraint. Does this sound like a good method? If not, what do you suggest? Thanks, Joe.

  3. Ryan Westwood Says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Another area to consider when making lawns and gardens look great is professional concrete curbing. I haven’t read any articles here that speak about it. Curbing will really enhance the look and feel of your property, either residential or commercial. Installing concrete curbing is what we do and it makes all the difference.

  4. Dee Says:
    August 30th, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Hi Danny,

    Thank you for providing this service to home owners.

    I’m the second owner of a townhouse and pavers were added to the concrete patio in approx. 1996 (I’ve lived in the house 6 years). The pitch from the middle of the patio has changed and its slopping toward the house and now my laminate floor is warped because of the moisture from the water absorbed by the concrete slab my house is built on.

    Since I’ve lived in this house from spring thru fall, high powered sprinkler have been saturating the patio and vinyl siding,leaving puddles of water all over patio.

    Also, the paver stones by the wall of the house are all lifted up or sunken down. There are 3 brick borders edges around the patio but not at the edge of the house where the sliding door is, instead the is about a 1″ space between the pavers and the wall.

    The question: would almost 19 years of water saturating the patio and the house cause the downward sloping of the patio and the pavers to shift and come up and sink down? The homeowners association is responsible for outside maintenance and the sprinklers and they are trying to shift the responsibility for this issue. I would appreciate any information you can provide. Thanks.

    Dee

  5. Gina Says:
    September 30th, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Dee, I think you need an attorney. I am living testimony to the effects sprinklers can have on on structures. For six years I wasn’t particularly careful about water hitting the wood fence that borders my backyard garden. By last fall the cedar posts needed bracing to keep it upright, and this summer I had to replace it–to the tune of $7,000. Good luck!

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