Tips for Laying a Paver Patio
By: Danny Lipford
Laying a paver patio can make a great DIY project, but it’s important to be sure the ground under it is prepared properly first. Here’s how to go about it.
Steps to laying a paver patio:
- Patio Layout: Decide on the area the patio will cover, and pull strings to mark the borders. Allow for about 1” of slope away from the house for every 8’ of patio so water will drain.
- Excavation: Dig out the soil 5” deep plus the thickness of the pavers from the desired finished height of the patio to allow for 4” of base material, 1” of sand, and the pavers. Use a plate compactor (available for rent at tool rental centers) to compact the soil to prevent settling.
- Base Material: Add 4” of compactable base material, such as crushed limestone, to the excavated patio area. Pack down the base material using a plate compactor. Misting with water while compacting the base material reduces dust and aids in compaction.
- Level Sand: Lay straight 1” thick steel pipes on top of the base material on each side of the patio to act as guides for leveling the sand. Pour 1” of sand on top of the base material, and use a straight 2×4 on edge as a screed on top of the pipes to level the sand to a consistent thickness. Remove the pipes, and fill in the void left behind.
- Lay Pavers: Start at one corner of the patio and lay the pavers on top of the sand, being careful not to step on the sand. Use a concrete saw or wet saw (available for rent at tool rental centers) to cut any partial pavers to size (wear an approved dust mask or respirator if dry cutting pavers).
- Secure Edges: Pour concrete halfway up the thickness of the pavers around the outer edge of the patio to secure the paver border in place. After the concrete has set, cover it with dirt or grass to hide the concrete.
- Fill Paver Joints: Sweep paver sand into the joints between the pavers to fill them.
Watch this video to find out more.
- How to Lay a Paver Patio (video/article)
- How to Build a Brick Paver Patio (video)
- Installing a Paver Patio (video)
The first step when installing a paver patio is defining the space it will cover. Pull strings to identify the perimeter and desired finished height of the patio, making sure the corners are nice and square. The lines should have slight slope, about an inch of fall for every eight feet of distance, so that water runs off of it and away from the house.
Next, you’ll need to dig out the soil in the space six inches deep and just outside the strings. Once the grade is set, pack the soil down with a plate compactor to avoid any settling. On top of that soil you’ll pour a packable base material, like crushed limestone. Add one inch to the thickness of the pavers to allow room for sand to be added later on, and bring the base material up to this distance from the line that represents the finished elevation.
Now, use the plate compactor again to pack the base down tightly. You may want to mist it with water to aid compaction and hold down the dust.
Before you pour in the paver sand, lay a pair of identical steel pipes across the space. These should be about an inch in diameter so that you can scrape the sand off level with them to leave a consistent one inch of sand over the whole patio area. When you remove the pipes the voids can easily be filled with more sand and leveled with the surrounding material.
Finally, you’re ready to lay the pavers. Begin in a corner and work out in a triangular fashion, but make sure you don’t step on the sand as you’re laying the pavers. If an occasional paver needs to be cut, use a concrete saw or wet saw to make the cuts.
To secure the edges, mix up some concrete and trowel a small amount against the sides of the outer pavers. Keep it about halfway down the thickness of the pavers, so the landscape or grass will cover it.
Finally, spread more paver sand over the finished surface, and sweep it into the cracks between the pavers. This will help the sand settle between the pavers and ensure a long life to your patio.
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