DIY Hardscaping Tips for Paver Installation

Main Image

Make no mistake, tackling a DIY paver project is not an easy task and will require assistance from friends and/or family.  However, enterprising folks can get the job done and the results and return on investment are well worth it.

Just as with any do-it-yourself home improvement project, you'll need to research paver installation before you begin. Trust us, if you are lucky enough to have family and friends lend some muscle while you install your pavers, if you do it incorrectly your luck will run out if you're looking for someone to help you uninstall them.

In order to help you in your research, and keep missteps to a minimum, here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about installing pavers.  

What is the "overs' standard for pavers?

Here's where many people go wrong when buying pavers. Because pavers come in so many different shapes and sizes, you'll need to make sure to account for more than just the square footage needed to cover your space. Variables such as the paver style and pattern you chose will need to be taken into consideration. In order to allow for cuts required to do the installation to meet your design goals, the industry standard for ordering pavers is 5% more than the actual square footage required to pave the dimensional surface. It should be noted that curvilinear construction typically generates more waste than square or rectangular construction.

I just need to get it flat, right?

Preparing the ground for your pavers is more than setting the paver bed; especially if the pavers abut your house or other structure.   In order to keep water from pooling on your patio, and potentially draining towards your house, you'll need to ensure that you build a slope or pitch away from the foundation. (Defined as a slope that is a gradual and strategic decrease in height.) The lowest point will allow the water to flow away from your structure to promote surface drainage. It is recommended that for every foot of linear distance, a quarter-inch drop will suffice in keeping your home dry. That means if you have a 10-foot patio, the lowest point will be 2.5 inches lower than the highest point. This should be a gradual transition, one that won't be noticed in the finished installation.

How do I determine how much modified stone base material and sand I'll need?

As a rule of thumb, use a minimum of 6" of base material for walkways, 6"-8" for patios, and 10"-12" for driveways. The sand setting bed should be 1" thick. One ton of modified stone or sand will cover 100 square feet 2" thick. Using a 10' x 10' (100 square feet) patio as an example, you would need 1/2 ton of sand for the setting bed (1" thick) and 3 tons of modified stone for the base (6" thick). You'll need some additional sand (about 5%) or two bags of Techni-Seal Polymeric Sand for the joints between the pavers.

Tell me about the sand setting bed

The material for the bedding layer should be coarse concrete sand. Do not use stone dust or screenings; they do not allow the pavers to "seat" properly and do not allow for drainage. The sand should be an even 1" thick layer. Do not compact the sand setting bed. Do not mix Portland cement into the sand used for the setting bed or the joints between pavers. It defeats the flexibility of the system, and it cannot be cleaned off the surface of the pavers.

What type of sand should I have in between my pavers?

The proper sand for sweeping into the joints between pavers is either mason's sand or coarse washed concrete sand. Both of these have a larger grain size than play sand, which will tend to blow or wash out. If you wish to stabilize the sand in the joints between your pavers to prevent washout and to thwart weeds and insects, use Techni-Seal's Polymeric Sand. Both of these are available at many of our distributors.NOTE:If you are replacing existing joint sand with polymeric sand, you must carefully remove it to a depth that is 1 1/2" or more from the surface of the pavers before reinstalling. Careful use of a pressure washer will achieve this; make sure you don't disturb the bedding sand. Without a sufficient amount of polymeric sand the cohesive strength needed to stabilize the sand joint will not be achieved. Make sure that you read and carefully follow all of the directions of the product before you start your project and the pavers are completely dry.

Someone recommended that I use a fabric under my installation. When and where is it used?

EP Henry recommends a separation fabric (e.g., Mirafi®) under all paver installations. The fabric is laid over top of the compacted soil in the excavated area and extended up the sides of the excavation.  This keeps the aggregate base material from working its way into the soil subgrade. This is especially important where the soil contains a lot of clay.  At a cost of pennies per square foot, the separation fabric provides an insurance policy against base failure.

I have an existing concrete walkway that's in pretty good shape. Can I lay pavers over it?>u>

While not the preferred method, pavers can be laid on top of existing concrete walkways., but before doing this, two issues must be addressed. First, the grade will be raised by about 2 3/8" to 3" (the thickness of just the pavers or the pavers plus the bedding sand). This is particularly critical if any doorways are involved. Second, if the existing concrete slab should raise or drop with freeze/thaw conditions, then the pavers will do the same.

How do I prevent the pavers from shifting?

Without a proper edge restraint system, pavers are prone to shifting.  Any edges that are not up against a permanent structure will have to be secured with a restraint material to prevent lateral movement. EP Henry offers the Snap Edge Paver Restraint System. This one piece system does it all; straight edges, curves, and even a complete radius, without waste.  

Can pavers be used for my driveway?

Absolutely. For residential driveways, 10" - 12" of compacted dense graded base material is recommended. A standard 2 3/8 think paver can be used for light vehicular (cars and pickup trucks) applications. A herringbone pattern works well in for these applications as it promotes disbursement of vehicular loading over more pavers.

Because the pattern involves interlocking the pavers at 45-degree or 90-degree angles it reduces the possibility of movement of the paving blocks (pavers) Note: Some larger surface size pavers are not appropriate for vehicular applications. Be sure to consult with the supplier from whom you purchase.

ep henry install pavers
Disclaimer:These tips have been compiled to serve as general information regarding paver installation. They are in no way complete instructions and are not to be regarded as instructional.