How to Build a Paver Patio

STEP 1 – Site Preparation & Excavation

Spray-paint a line 8 inches outside the outline of your walkway to act as a line for excavating. Strip away the sod at this point, so grass doesn’t get in the way of the guide strings you’ll soon be setting up. Use the bottom of a door or a set of stairs abutting the area as the starting point for establishing the final height and slope of your patio or walkway. Your entire slab should slope away from the foundation at a rate of 1 inch every 4 to 8 feet. Soil density and conditions may vary greatly, so be sure to remove any pockets of loose dirt or black soil.

STEP 2 – Leveling for Drainage

Use stakes and guide strings to achieve the finished height and slope to maintain adequate rain runoff. Excavate 7-1/2 inches below these lines to provide for a 4-inch sub base, 1-inch sand base, and 2-1/2 inch pavers (4″ + 1″ + 2-1/2″ = 7-1/2″). If the area is hilly, go back and forth between excavating, leveling and setting strings to get things right.

The first level (subbase) of material will bring the area up to a height 3-1/2 inches below your strings. It should be at least 4-inches deep in all places and extend 8 inches beyond the edge.

STEP 3 – Provide Weed Barrier

By replacing the loose soils now, you’ll be less apt to have uneven settling once the pavers are in place. Compact the subbase using a hand tamper or vibratory-plate compactor (not shown). Go over the area at least twice or until you are satisfied with subbase firmness.

Insuring this surface is level will make it easier for the sand base and pavers to follow.

STEP 4 – Spreading & Leveling

Ideally, the sand should be about 1″ inch thick, but it’s okay to be a bit thicker or even thinner in spots. Try to maintain a firm, flat surface for laying pavers. The idea will be to embed the pavers into the sand using a vibration process.

Next, use a 2×4 screed board or other straight edged piece to carefully level the sand over the compacted subbase material. Fill in low spaces and rake away excess sand as you drag your 2×4 board over the area. Shuffling the screed lightly from side to side as you move from the starting point to the end of the project area.

STEP 5 – Install The Pavers

You should now be standing before an expanse of sand that’s flat and slightly sloped. Take down the guide strings used to determine height and slope and put up new stakes and strings to mark lines for your pavers pattern.

Start along your house or other long straight edge and begin laying down the border (pavers). A border isn’t essential, however adds a crisp finished look, especially along curves. Continue laying the rest of your pavers stopping to measure over to your string every few rows. This will help to keep your rows straight and even. Laying the rest of the pavers should go amazingly fast.

With all pavers cut and in place, vibrate the entire patio or walkway. Start at the outer edge and working inward using a circular motion. The vibrator will lock the pavers into the sand and help even up the surface. Now enjoy your beautiful new patio or walkway.