Concrete Pavers

Concrete pavers or paver stones as some call them are typically composed of concrete and are 2 to 4 times stronger than poured concrete surfaces like driveways, patios, and walkways.  Some other common names of concrete pavers:

  • Stone Pavers 

  • Paver Stones

  • Brick Pavers

  • Block Pavers

       The technical name is Interlocking Concrete Pavers or Segmental Concrete Pavers and there is actually a governing body that sets standards for paver and other hardscaping services like block retaining walls, seat walls, etc. 

 

      The Interlocking Pavement Institute is a trade association that represents the paver and hardscaping sector of professions in the U.S. and Canada.  They set the standards for installation and maintenance practices in the industry. 

paver pic.jpg

Below we'll cover:

  • Installation

  • Maintenance

  • Repair

  • Design

  • Why you should become friends with your supply representatives

You can also find more info in our blog and reach out directly through the blog or email.

How to install Pavers

        Depending on your location, everyone is going to have differences in their installation methods.  For instance, climates with freeze & thaw cycles are going to have more intensive projects.  The natural moving of the earth requires more excavation than climates that have more consistent temperatures.  For more climate-specific installation methods visit our blog for more info.  For this guide, we will assume mild freeze and thaw cycles.

Tools & Equipment needed

  • Shovels- point & square

  • Spade

  • pick ax

  • sledge hammer- standard and mini

  • hard rake

  • dead blow hammer

  • levels- torpedo, 3' , and 6' to 8'

  • tape measure

  • Marking utensil- pencil, soap stone, paver marker

  • concrete saw- wet saw, quick saw, angle grinder with masonry blade

  • plate compactor or hand tamper

  • skid steeroptional but recommended 

  • excavatoroptional but recommended

  • rotary laser-  optional but recommended

There are more tools available to increase efficiency on jobsites, but these will get the job done.  More info can be found in our blog 

Knowing your local supply representatives is a great tool to have in your back pocket.  They are knowledgeable about the products your buying and the areas you are working in.  If you are ever in a jam give them a call, chances are they probably have helped someone with a similar problem or know someone that can help.
 
Base Preparation
Base Preparation.jpg

     The most important part of any project is the base or foundation.  Without a solid one, your project is sure to fail.  Characteristics of a good base are:

  • 6 inches or more of gravel

  • undisturbed/compacted native soil

  • geotextile fabric -  keeps gravel from mixing with soil- Optional but HIGHLY recommended - cheap insurance

  • 1 inch of leveling sand

How much do I excavate?

       To figure out how much you need to excavate for the base, take the minimum amount of gravel needed for a good base: 6 inches plus 1 inch of leveling sand plus the thickness of concrete paver you selected.  Average paver thickness ranges from 2.5 inches to 3.25 inches.  Also as a rule of thumb, you should excavate at least 6 inches beyond the intended footprint of your paver outline.

 

so..... 6 + 1 +  3 = 10 inches minimum.  In some instances, if you have poor soil conditions you'll have to excavate further.  once you've finished excavation, compact the native soil with a compactor.  When getting close to the final excavation depth it's best to try not to disturb soil deeper than needed.  Loose pockets in the soil can lead to settling issues later

Gravel types
 

The most common types of gravel used for base material is crushed limestone (411's, 304's) and washed angular stone like 57's.  Your local landscape supply store should carry these or a similar product.  Your local paver representative can help you with gravel selection as well.

        57's are self-compacting meaning quicker installation.  Crushed limestone needs to be compacted and depending on the size of your compactor, the gravel may need to be compacted every 2 to 3 inches of gravel added.  In our opinion, if you go with crushed material you don't need the geotextile (even though it is relatively cheap insurance).

       If you choose 57's it is highly recommended to use geotextile57's are also believed to be better suited for the freeze and thaw cycles as it does not absorb water like crushed material.  Meaning it doesn't swell and shrink when it freezes and thaws which mean fewer issues with settling

Sand
 

Sand should be coarse and no thicker than 1.25 inches and no less than 3/4 inch once installed.  This means your gravel has to be within a half inch of grade and matching the pitch or grade of the paver surface

Screed Paver Sand.jpg
How to screed sand

Once you have your gravel level and just before you install your sand.  You'll be using a couple of 3/4 inch black iron gas pipes acting as depth guides as well as rails to pull across your screed board leveling the sand to 1 inch thick.  The outside diameter of the 3/4 inch gas pipe is 1inch.  Screed out as much sand you plan on using that day.  Sand screeded and left overnight should be re-worked the next day for the best results.  

  • Never step on a screeded sand base

  • don't contaminate sand with anything but more sand- objects will create problems down the road

  • don't get sand wet while laying pavers

  • leveling sand should never be thicker than 1.25 inches or less than 3/4 of an inch, 1 inch is ideal

  • Use coarse sand not masonry sand

How to lay pavers
 

Starting from a solid surface like a house foundation, driveway, or other permanent structure is typically a good idea.  You should always

  • check for squareness when laying against a structure

  • use a string line or paver square

  • click and set method

  • check for straightness periodically

  • ensure the pattern is correct, check the big picture

Click and Set refers to laying the paver down by butting up to the previously laid paver and letting slide straight down into position, taking care not to dig into the sand at an angle.

Check for squareness and pattern- occasionally one should check their work to make sure bond lines are straight and the pattern is consistent.

How to cut pavers
 

To cut pavers you'll need one or more of the following :

  • angle grinder- cutting and grinding blades

  • table wet saw

  • wet cut off saw

  • hammer and chisel

  • soapstone or marking utensil

Check out the video for directions on marking and cutting pavers

How to install polymeric sand
 

Polymeric sand (poly sand) is a common product used in the finishing process of paver patios.  It releases a polymer (plastic-like substance) when it gets wet locking the pavers together.  This is why it is crucial that your paver surface is completely dry before you apply polymeric sand.  If wet spots are present the poly sand will activate prematurely and stick to the paver surface creating a mess to deal with.

Follow instructions the product bag will have instructions on it for installation.

  • Spread the sand evenly over the paver surface

  • sweep with stiff bristle broom across the paver joints not with

  • use compactor or hand tamp to work in sand

  • apply more sand or sweep around left over to fill joints that have settled after compaction

  • using a leaf blower, gently blow off the excess sand and dust

  • using  the shower function on a hose lightly water the paver surface

  • be careful to not over water

  • less is more- water for 20 - 30 seconds moving around in a small area- shut water off and see if water is puddling in joints- if yes you are done watering- if no then water for another 10 to 15 seconds

  • seeing bubbles like soap is another sign it has been watered enough