What are the Best Tips for Laying Pavers?

K.C. Bruning

When laying pavers, it is important to approach each step of the project carefully and in the proper order. Planning, buying sufficient materials and properly preparing the area to be paved are crucial elements of a successful project. A variety of specialty tools are necessary to complete a paving project; these can typically be rented.

Moss growing between cobblestone pavers.
Moss growing between cobblestone pavers.

The first step to take when laying pavers is to plan where the pavers will be. Use chalk and string to mark the paving area with straight lines. This will make it possible to envision the project area. When selecting the paving area, be sure to account for drainage. The paving area must slope away from the building in order to allow storm water run-off.

Before beginning a project, design a plan that allows for drainage.
Before beginning a project, design a plan that allows for drainage.

Once the paving area has been established, calculate the area to be covered by multiplying the length by the width of the area. Always buy 10% more pavers than the anticipated need. This is partly to account for breakage, but also because it can be difficult to find a good match for pavers if it becomes necessary to go back for more. Also purchase enough road base and bedding sand to cover the area.

In order to prepare the area, the primary task is to compact the ground so that the pavers can lie flat. Pavers should be flush with the lawn and lay flat across the area. Dig down 8-9 inches (20-22 cm) in the paving area in order to make room for the stones sand and pavers. Use a vibrating plate compacter to thoroughly compact the ground in the paving area. Pour in 6-7 inches (15-17 cm) of road base, and follow with a layer of sand, spreading it so that it is even and flat.

Once the area has been prepared, it is time to start laying pavers. Start in a corner or by a fixed object such as a house wall. Use the string or chalk lines from the planning phase as guidelines for keeping straight edges. There should be a 3 millimeter (0.11 inch) gap between the pavers so that the pavers are close, but not too tight together. Instead of walking on the laying bed, step across the area on the middle of the pavers so that they do not tilt.

It will likely be necessary to cut some pavers for edges and smaller spaces. Use a diamond saw for best results. Measure each paver carefully before cutting.

Once the pavers are laid they can be compacted. Use a mechanical plate compactor with a piece of rubber mat or carpet under the compactor to prevent damage to the pavers. Once the pavers have been compacted, spread more dry sand over the paved area. Sweep the sand into the gaps between the pavers. Allow the sand to settle.

Some varieties of pavers will need the protection of a coat of sealant. This helps to prevent stains and keep weeds from growing. Remove the extra sand around the pavers, and then coat them with the sealant.

It is generally a good idea to always by 10% more pavers than the anticipated need.
It is generally a good idea to always by 10% more pavers than the anticipated need.

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