If you thought brick walks were just for the rich and famous, it may be time to re-evaluate your status in life. A modest brick paving project is a great way to add character to your home—without breaking the bank or calling in a landscape professional. The work is not particularly complicated, and careful preparation will ensure a job that is beautiful and long lasting. In fact, brick walks have been known to last for more than a hundred years.
This project was originally published in the January 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics
. You can find more great projects at Popular Mechanics DIY Central
Step 1: Project Planning
First, make a scale drawing of your walkway to help calculate material quantities. Then, decide upon a brick pattern. The simplest choice is the running-bond pattern that we used. Other popular patterns are herringbone and basket weave (see drawings). The patterns can be aligned with the direction of your walk, or at an angle. Keep in mind, though, that a complicated pattern or angled alignment will result in more waste.
Bricks used for walks, patios and driveways are called pavers and they’re not the same as those used for wall or fireplace construction. Ordinary brick is much too porous and soft for paving applications, and would quickly crack and disintegrate if used for a walk. A standard paver measures 3 3⁄4 x 7 1⁄2 in., and is about 2 1⁄8 in. thick. Calculate the area of your walkway and allow five bricks per square foot. For a running bond, add 10 percent for cutting and defects. If your walk has a curved or angled shape, or if you choose a more involved pattern, allow extra bricks for cutting.
You may be able to find paving bricks at a home center or nursery supply house, but the selection will be better if you go to a dedicated brick supplier. And, most suppliers will deliver the material to your site.
In addition to bricks, you’ll need a gravel base at least 4 in. thick, a 1-in.-thick layer of sand and edging to keep the bricks in place.
Use 3⁄4-in. crushed stone for the gravel bed. You can buy it in bags at a home center, but for larger projects order it by the cubic yard from a quarry. A cubic yard covers 81 sq. ft. at a thickness of 4 in.
Sand is also available either in bags or by the yard. A cubic yard of sand will cover 324 sq. ft. at a depth of 1 in. Get extra sand to fill the spaces between the bricks after the walk is laid.
For edge restraint we used a product called Snap Edge, available from many brick suppliers (Snap Edge Corp., 3940 Swenson Ave., St. Charles, IL 60174; www.snapedgeusa.com). This plastic edging comes in 8-ft. lengths for about $13 per length. You’ll also need 12-in. landscaping spikes to hold the edging in place. Plan four spikes for each straight length. If there are curves or angles, additional spikes will be necessary.
As for tools, you’ll need a wheelbarrow, level, shovel, garden rake, hammer, broom, stakes and mason’s line. Some straight 2 x 4 lumber will come in handy and you’ll have to rent a plate compactor and brick saw. These machines are quite heavy, so have someone on hand to help move them. Expect to spend about $60 per day to rent each of these tools.