Introduction: How to Lay Pavers
Almost a month ago I started laying the pavers in my back yard. The existing surface was a mixture of concrete slabs, pavers and some dirt. Any rubble that I had left over from other work I crushed and used as extra gravel.
Step 1: Add a Base Layer of Gravel (Road Base)
The first step was to get around 2 and a half tonnes of recycled road base to create a layer at least 50mm thick. I did this in 4 trailer loads, spreading each pile out as I went. At the same time I was also creating the necessary level, sloping the new surface away from the house and my neighbours house. This was done by running a long piece of steel across a level timber frame, checking it with a spirit level.
The correct amount of slope is around 20mm of drop per meter length.
This process took quite a while but it was imperative that this was done right because this was the level that everything would reference off and once it was compacted it would be pretty tricky to change.
Step 2: Compact the Base Layer
Once I was happy with the levels I could start compacting. This was my first time using a compactor and they are surprising easy to manage. The first step is to lightly spray down the road base with water to trap the dust and bind it with the stones, Then go over the whole area with the compactor. I repeated this step 5 times, watering between each.
By the end of it, once the water dries, you’re left with an incredibly hard and solid surface.
Step 3: Add Bedding Sand
Then it was onto the bedding sand. To get a consistent 20mm of sand under the pavers you could use electrical conduit, but I have a project in mind for this timber so it was less waste. The job of bedding sand is to give the pavers a solid flat surface to sit on, and it allows for minor adjustments. The first section was done using 2 lengths of timber then dragging a short length of timber across. This first line was only wide enough for 1 and half pavers.
Step 4: Start Adding the Paving Stones
Once I had done the first 2 lines I changed the screeding tool to a longer piece of steel with a timber hook. The hook had to drop the steel the height of a paver.This meant that I only had to lay down one 20mm length of timber and the other end of the steel would run along the last line of pavers.
The first few lines were a bit shaky. It takes time to work out the best way to drop a heavy paver into place without angling it on the way down. It needs to land on the sand completely flat. This became especially tricky when I didn’t have any way of gripping opposite sides of the paver. A couple times I had to pull the paver up and try again, which slowed the process down quite a bit.
As I needed I would bring more sand in and screed it.
Because these are 60mm, 20kg pavers, once they are on the ground they don’t move very much. This meant I could walk on them with very little care while laying the next row.
Step 5: Continue Laying the Full Paving Stones
Eventually I got in the groove and after 3 days I was half way there. Save all the cuts for the end when you have set all the full pavers in place.
Step 6: Cut Small Pieces to Fit Edges
Now that the simple part was over it was time to cut all the smaller pieces to fit into the gaps. The straight cuts were very "straight” forward, but the curved cuts weren't as much.
I started with the paver that would fit around the downpipe from the gutter. This required a 90mm round notch. I measured where the centre of the pipe would land and then used a piece of 90mm coupling to mark the cut.
The trick to cutting a curve with a circular disc is to angle the disc around the curve. The problem with this method is you can’t get the blade very deep into the cut, but as long as you score the top layer then the sand will cover any imperfections below that.
Once the curve was cut I made lots of straight cuts inside that line, from above and below, and used a hammer and chisel to chip the pieces out. This was a very slow process but worth the extra time.
After that I had to make a curved cut around the old drain. To cut the required shape I traced a line onto a piece of cardboard. I then cut that shape out and transferred it onto a paver. It took some time lining up the template because it spanned 3 pavers but all my initial cuts were a bit shy so I could creep up to the line after test fitting it
Step 7: Sweep Dry Sand Into Gaps
After all the cuts were done I was on the home stretch. I started by sweeping some dry sand into all the joints. I planned on using pave set later, a sand/gel compound that hardens when wet, but to fill the majority of the gaps I used the much cheaper option. The sand is there to keep gaps between the pavers but also to slide into any gaps underneath the pavers. So the first 20kg bag disappeared pretty quick.
Step 8: Finish Sweeping in Sand and Vibrate
Before doing the next bag I hired a compactor for a few hours. This was a tiny unit that I could fit into my little car. I attached a small carpet underneath the compactor to protect the pavers from the metal base. This also did a good job of cleaning the pavers!
I staked some timbers and that heavy piece steel against the exposed edges to stop the last pavers getting pushed outwards as the inner pavers move.
Then I spread out the bag of pave set. This would get swept into the gaps but also helps the compactor slide more easily. As soon as the compactor set off, that first bag of sand disappeared.
I ran it over the whole surface 4 times and at that stage the sand stopped disappearing. So I grabbed the hose and lightly sprayed the surface.
Step 9: Haunch the Edges Using Concrete and Rebar
A couple days later and the pave set and had gone really hard so I removed the timber and go to work on the haunching.
I cut some very thin rebar to the length of each edge. This is fairly cheap rebar but makes a big difference as it binds the concrete in one long stretch and reduces the chance of it cracking.
I spread a layer of concrete then added the rebar to it. This ensures that the steel is encased in concrete so it won’t rust. If rebar rusts while in concrete it’ll crack it.
then I spread another layer over the rebar and sloped it down, away from the pavers. This helps any water to run off into the yard. I left around 20 millimetres of paver exposed so once the mulch is spread it will cover the concrete.
Step 10: You're Done!
And that was it, all done. This is the first time I’ve attempted a paving job like this and while I have it to say it was a lot of work, both mentally and physically, I can definitely say it was worth it. If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them below.
So that is how you lay pavers. If I can, you can. Thanks so much for reading, if you enjoyed this Instructable please click that heart up and if you haven’t already I would love for you to Follow.
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