Pavers have become a great popular option to sprucing up the outdoor look of your yard. For many homeowners this is also a great way to create a walkway or even a patio area where none existed before. The great news is that you can hire an expert or make installing pavers a DIY landscaping project.
If you are considering doing this yourself, here are some of the basic guidelines for installing concrete pavers to help you along the way. Although you will probably want a more in-depth guide if you decide to tackle the job yourself, this is a good starting point:
- First, determine where you want to use pavers and which style of these you want to use for your yard. This guide is the basics for concrete pavers but many other styles follow mainly the same ideas. The important thing is planning your layout. For example, you may want to create a walkway as well as a patio and should draw this out. However, if you cannot take on both of these right now, at least plan one with the other one in mind so you can add on at a later date.
- Drawing it out is the next step. This is important so you can see how large an area you want to cover and to also make sure you plan around gardens or existing structures. Deciding how much materials you need is based on this sketch and the measurements you take.
- After you have the materials, you will need to do some excavating. Make sure you contact your utility company before starting any digging. Stake out the area as the one you sketched and mark with stakes so you have an idea of the shape, outline and size. You can also mark the outline with spray paint so you don’t get confused, or prior to the utility companies arriving. The other important thing to keep in mind is that even the least bit of slope must be taken into consideration and adjusted if this could possibly send water towards the foundation of your home. Work with the same path for natural drainage already present.
- Since this type of patio and pathway is designed only with foot traffic in mind, you do not have to plan for the area to hold more weight such as vehicles. This also means a base of gravel should suffice. If you are placing the walks around pools, you will need to have a thicker base of this gravel.
- After digging or excavating you should compact the earth before adding the base. Once the base is added, you can compact again to help create a smooth and sturdy base. Adding some water helps with the compacting process. You should also test the gravel by walking through it. Places where your footsteps still leave indents means you may need more gravel and more compacting.
- Your next step is to install your restraints. These restraints may also be called edging and is meant to help keep the pavers in place once laid. You also have different choices for materials and looks for restraints, but keep in mind they are an important part of the process.
- You must also install a bed of sand before laying down the pavers. To make sure this part of the project matches the size of the project you are working on, it is better to do a little more research with you own project measurements in mind. This will help ensure you get it exactly as needed.
- The next step is to lay your concrete paving based on the pattern or design you have chosen. You should leave a 1/8” space between what you lay to allow room for them to settle without overcrowding. In some cases, you will need to cut pavers to make them fit along the restraints which is fine. Different materials have different methods for cutting paving stones so you can cut to the size you need.
- Once you have all of your pieces in place it is time to go back over your work. Keep in mind, you should be checking how the pattern looks as you go because it is easier to fix mistakes earlier rather than later. Now, you should sweep the top layer free from debris. After this is cleared, it is time to cover the area with masonry sand which you will then also sweep from the surface of the stones into the joints. There will be some sand remaining on the surface of the paving stones which will eventually blow off or work into the spacing.
- Finally, you need to compact the paving stones as well with the plate compactor. You may need to repeat the sweeping, sanding and compacting steps a few times until everything seems to fit nicely and be compacted into place as best as possible. Some of this compacting will come naturally over time with foot traffic but you should be starting with as smooth and flat a surface as possible. Wobbly areas can be a hazard to those walking on the patio or pathway.
- The last steps will probably need to also be repeated over the course of several days. Rain and foot traffic will help complete the job but use the sweeping, sand and compacting process as much as needed over a few days time to get the desired finished look and results.
There is not much more involved in the installation of your pavers. Over time, you may need to replace or mend broken stones. At some point, you may also want to enlarge the area or add on to what you originally started with.
It is also important that you learn how to care for your paving stones based on the material you chose. Basic cleaning and maintenance is no more complicated that using warm soapy water, a broom or hosing off the area when needed.