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How to DIY a Paver installation.

June 23, 20237 min read

How to install Pavers!!

Paver Patios and Pathways

I wrote this because almost every appointment I go to for pavers people are surprised on the depth of an installation of this type. This is also a fantastic reference for any DIY peeps out there.

FYI this will be more focused on a paver patio or walk way. NOT A DRIVE WAY

A little about me, I am a landscape contractor in Norther CA. I specialize in artificial turf and pavers. This walk through is more for a CA type of installation. Things could be slightly different based on the location you are in but the roots of it will generally be the same.

Paver patio

How to choose a paver, color, and pattern?

I will walk you through how I help my customers to make this a easy process. I say that because this can be the most difficult part. 😅

First choose a manufacture... if you want a suggestion, Belgard or CalStone

When you get to the paver section they will have different selections. Just look around and if one catches your eye, click that selection.

Once you click it, it will have all the colors they offer with that selection. Pick the color your looking for.

From there as you scroll down it will have recommended patters and the sizes of those pavers. Pick a pattern you like!

BOOM done. Got the Brand, the selection, the color, and the patter.

Next is borders. Some people like borders and some do not. If you want a border but the same color then stop here and don't worry about it just yet. if you want a border but a different color ( contrast) then make a note of it for when you go to order.

How to Order Pavers

 This is far more easier then you think. Don't worry about trying to order the exact amount for each size paver and all that.. you will drive your self nuts figuring that out. Even Pros don't waste their time on this.

All you do is get the Square Footage of area ( Include a extra foot on each side) we want to intentionally over measure. To get the square footage (length x Width = Square footage)

Then you need the liner footage of the perimeter if you wanted a border.

example- if its 10'x10' then you need 40' feet of border.

Now that you are armed with this, its time to call a local landscape supply store.

When you call, tell them the brand, the selection, color, the pattern, the square footage of the area, and if you wanted a border, that liner footage as well. If you wanted a contrasted border then ask them their opinion on a common contrasted border and just go with that. They do this all day long with pros and its a solid bet the border will be nice.

Be sure you also order Polymeric sand for the joints ( that's what you brush in and it locks in the pavers) a safe bet is every 40 pounds of poly sand fills 55 square feet of pavers.

TRUST ME WHEN I SAY HAVE THEM DELIVERED. That chevy 1500 will not haul a pallet of pavers. That chevy also will not haul those pavers with a rented trailer from home depot. Pavers are way more heavier then you think. I'm a contractor with big trucks and trailers and I even have them delivered.

Removal

 How much should you remove for a patio or walkway?? To keep it simple about 7'' ( inches). When I say 7'' that means from the level you are wanting to end the install.

If its a new home construction or maybe the back yard has never been landscaped then it could be less. Maybe more around 4''. Just pay attention to 7'' from where the job ends.

Always remove about 6'' inches - 1' foot extra on each side. The reason for this is so you can over install slightly and then saw cut the path in. Remember I mentioned measuring a extra foot on each side when getting your square footage? That is why!

paver removal

Installing base

20 mm or 3/4 inch Aggregate Base, Class 2

That is what you ask for when you go to the rock store!! at 2'' (inches) for every 75 square feet you will need one yard of materials.

You will install 4'' of Class 2 Base

example- 100 square foot area will need about 2.6 yards so id just order 3 yards.

Be sure to run a plate compactor over the area and use water every 2'' (inches) you install. Two or three passes with the compactor will be just fine for every 2'' layer you install.

paver base

Setting sand

This is a 1'' ( inch) layer that the paver will set into.

You will see lots of back and forth on using Decomposed granite as a setting material or the old school way using ''Clean Sand''.

I personally like the old school way with clean sand but decomposed granite is fine as well to be honest. The trick is to just lay it out nice and easy. No need to compact or anything. The point of it is so the paver has like a pillow to set its head on.

You really need to focus on the level at this point. it is very important!!!! You can use a actual level and some long PVC pipes as a guide to drag the sand.

paver sand

Laying the pavers

Run Three String Lines!

one will be down the middle, two the end of one side, and three the other end..

If the pavers are going up to concrete then you can use that as a ''string line/ starting point''

If the pavers is a path way with no hard edge then start in the middle and work your way out. The reason is because that extra foot on each side will allow error to complete the pattern you picked and reduce as much cutting as possible. A more skilled mason might be able to start on a end and work into the path if he is really good at measurements but for the DIY guys I recommend starting in the middle.

Just drop the pavers into its spot and use a rubber mallet to slightly tap the paver. Having a level in hand to check level is KEY.

setting pavers

Cutting Pavers

You will cut a lot of pavers!!

Even highly skilled installers have a insane amount of cutting to do.

As your path or patio comes together you will start to see the stones that need to be custom cut to fit. There is no easy way to do this and it is very labor intensive. Just know this is not a one day thing and it will take some getting use to.

I recommend a tile saw because it is far more user or DIY friendly. You can rent one at home depot but make sure you get the small one. the Large one is a pain in the butt.

To get the random shapes just take a piece of paper, lay it over the area, use a pen to trace the shape and then take that shape to your paver. Once you have the line you need to cut, you can easily use the tile saw to cut it.

If you over install the job you can use a larger free hand saw and just cut the line out. If you want to curve it, use a garden hose to trace the shape.

paver sawpaver saw

How to Lock in or prevent shifting

The edge of your pavers you will need to use concrete. Just mix up a few bags and plop it down into the edges. You set that final paver on top of it. This helps secure and the installation on the ends.

paver edge

Use the Polly sand to brush into the joints of the pavers. Use some water as well to help wash it down/ activate it. It might take 2 passes to fill it up.

sand for pavers

At this point you might see how much is involved with installing pavers

Doing this your self can be very rewarding. You look out and see the patio or path you built.

I just suggest you take your time and understand it takes many days even for a skilled guy to install. Don't expect to install a paver job in a weekend. expect a day for ever 150 SqFt of pavers from a pro so a DIY... probably double that.

paver path

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