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How to Install Pavers

Like most building materials, there are many different types of pavers with varying applications and degrees of difficulty of installation. When it comes to stormwater management, there are specially designed pavers that can help water soak into the ground called porous pavers. A porous paver installation is truly the installation of an entire system. This requires a licensed professional that can ensure that the system functions properly and safely.

Installation of non-porous pavers can also provide stormwater benefits in that some water can flow through the joints depending on how far apart they are laid. However, this is not the same thing as installing porous pavers. The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute is a great resource for familiarizing yourself with different types of installations and for finding certified installers. The following instructions will give a homeowner a sense of the scope of a paver installation project and are not meant to take the place of a professial consultation.

(Materials amounts will depend on the area to be paved.)
Compacting machine
Masonry Sand

Step 1. Create your Design

  • Sketch out your design or create a scale drawing of the area you plan to pave.
  • There is a basic method for installing pavers with variations depending on the uses and applications of the area. A pedestrian walk or courtyard can have a slightly more informal approach than an area receiving auto traffic.
  • Determine the number of pavers you will need by calculating the area of the space you will be paving. This can be done by multiplying the length by the width.
  • Add a little extra to this number when ordering your pavers to allow for changes, curves, cuts or breakage.

  • Step 2. Excavate

  • Excavate the area, being mindful of buried utility lines or potential hazards.
  • The depth of your excavation is a combination of the height of your pavers and the base layer of gravel that will provide a foundation for your pavers.
  • Factor in a gradual slope to help excess water drain away from your house or structure. Set up guides for your excavation by tying string to stakes.
  • Once you have reached your determined depth, compact the soil with a compacting machine.

  • Step 3. Install the Base Layer

  • Lay a base layer of crushed stone or gravel to provide a firm foundation for your pavers and to give water a place to be held as it is absorbed into the soil below.
  • The depth of this layer depends on the use of the area.
  • A base layer of 5 inches should be sufficient for foot traffic. Areas that will be used for auto traffic should have a more substantial base layer of approximately 8 inches.
  • This layer must also be compacted with a compacting machine.

  • Step 4. Install Edging

  • Edging will help keep your pavers from spreading over time and reinforce the installation.

  • Step 5. Bedding

  • A bedding layer of sand will need to be applied over the base layer to give the pavers something to grab onto. This layer should be about an inch in depth.
  • Take time to smooth and evenly distribute the sand.

  • Step 6. Laying the Pavers

  • Start laying the pavers according to your design, starting in a corner or along a straight edge. You can use a string on stakes to help keep your rows straight, measuring and moving it with each row laid.
  • Keep a small space between each paver.

  • Step 7. Sanding the Joints

  • With your pavers in place, a final layer of fine masonry sand will fill the spaces in between each paver.
  • Spread the sand over the pavers and sweep it into the joints.
  • Use the compacting machine and alternate sweeping and compacting, to ensure the joints are filled. You may need to sweep more sand over the next few days as the pavers settle into place.

  • For More Information: Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute  EPA Factsheet: Pavers
    Concrete Paver Installation Instructions

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