Installation Guide – Patios – Pathways – Walks
The Do It Your Guide to Installing a Patio, Sidewalk or Path
Using concrete pavers for patios, sidewalks, and driveways is becoming more and more popular in Pennsylvania
Before you start a paver project, call your utility company and have all the underground pipes and wires marked.
Your options for an outside area are many, but if you want the best value with the lowest maintenance, patio pavers is the way to go. While it may cost more up front, the savings over having to stain and seal it year after year will pay for itself in the long run.
One of the great things about pavers is that they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. This gives you many different options for your design.
When it comes to the paver, color consistency, paver bricks can be treated the same as paint, carpeting and wallpaper: different lots or runs can show similar, but slight color shading variations are almost inevitable. Blend separate piles together and you will get a more natural look, without a patchy look.
Excavating Your New Patio
First you need to stake out the area for your project. You can do this with stakes and strings.
You’ll probably have grass that needs to be removed. Then you need to dig where you want your base to start.
No matter what the use your pavers will get, you want to ensure a stable foundation. You want to be sure the pavers don’t shift over time.
Dig down approximately seven inches. That was to allow for a four inch base, a layer of sand, and the pavers.
You do not want to disturb the dirt at the bottom, but just skim the top. If you have loose dirt at the bottom, it’ll settle and you might end up with a dip in your patio.
Flat surfaces on the outside of your house have the same run off as your roof; it’s going to wash toward the lowest point. If your patio is attached or close to your house, you want to guide runoff away from the home. The best guideline to use is that for every 2 feet of linear distance, a quarter-inch drop will keep your home dry.
This work can be done by hand, but if you have a large area you might want to consider having a subcontractor do the work with a small dozer.
Preparing the Patio for the Base Material
Once your excavation is all flat and at the slope you want, you’re ready for the base material.
Mark next to the house the height for the base material. Make sure this line extends beyond the house so you can still see it when it gets covered up with base material.
Before spreading out the base material, it’s always a good idea to put down what’s called “geotextile fabric.” This will help hold up the base and pavers if there’s any movement in the soil under the fabric.
Or, weeds have a way of springing up through the cracks of the pavers, where they’re least wanted, and this goes for your new patio as well. Lay down a shielding barrier to help stifle their growth and if they are a huge problem in your area, you may want to consider a soil additive.
The fabric should go up the side of the excavation and run a little bit up the side of the house, this will help protect the siding.
Compacting the Patio Base Material
Paver patios are only as good as the foundation they’re sitting on. Packing the soil underneath helps makes for a smooth top surface and less chance of the pavers loosening or cracking. You have to repack the base after every new tier (sand, gravel, etc) to ensure the flat surface you are looking for.
The base material we used was a crushed limestone called “class two.” In some areas it’s called “three-quarter minus”, AB3, Granular type 2, or 21A.
The base material needs to be moist. One way you can tell is to pick up a handful and squeeze it. If it holds together in a solid clump, it’s just right.
After compacting each layer, check for flatness and for the proper grade. You’ll probably have to do some scraping, filling, and more compacting to fine tune everything. A large level is best for this.
You can get a soil compactor at a rental store. To do this project correctly you need a 4 or 5-horsepower compactor. Anything less won’t do the job.
Make sure to put down only half of the base material at a time, and compact it after each layer.
Make sure you keep the compactor running at full throttle. If you slow it down even a little, you reduce the effect a considerably. The machine will pull itself forward; you shouldn’t have to push it to make it move.
First thing to do is run the compactor around the edges of the area twice. Then start on the low side and work across the grade, moving uphill. Then change directions 90 degrees and start going up and down. Next, do a diagonal pass. Then repeat the whole process again.
When there are areas you can’t reach with the big compactor, you’ll have to compact them by hand. One way is to use the end of a sledge hammer.
While the finished product should be a tight, level, evenly spaced patio, movement will separate your bricks and damage your hard work. Keep this from happening by edging your work. You can use extra bricks, a cement lip, or a vinyl or metal edging. After these are put in, backfill to the edge with loose dirt to give the patio a professional look.
Unless you’ve made your patio a complete rectangle, you are going to have to make some cuts. Rent a wet saw from your local home improvement store to easily cut your pavers to fit your design.
After your patio bricks, pavers or blocks have been set, there’s one step left to finish your project. Spread sand along the surface, and sweep it into the joints all around. This allows drainage but keeps each brick, paver or block securely wrapped with sand, making it harder to move them out of place.
We recommended that you use interlocking pavers for the patio. These key-shaped stones fit easily together like puzzle pieces. They are attractive, easy to install and would allow you to expand the patio if he ever needed to in the future.