Paver patios are a beautiful alternative to a concrete patio or a deck. They are popular, attractive, affordable, durable, and require low maintenance. A paver patio is easy to install and can usually be done in a weekend. Pavers can be used for a patio, driveway, walkway, or porch. Prepare for your patio installation using our installation guide below. The average cost to have a paver patio installed is $8 – $20 per square foot. You can save some money by doing the expensive work yourself.
Materials Needed to Install a Paver Patio
Be sure to prepare and get the right material to install your patio.
You’ll need the following materials:
- Gravel base
- Edging and spikes
- 3 2×4 boards (to screed the sand)
- Marking paint
- Polymeric sand
Tools Needed to Install a Paver Patio
There are several tools required to install a patio.
You’ll need the following tools:
- Tape measure
- Mason line, stakes, and a level
- Push broom
- Plate compactor
- Masonry saw
- Hearing and eye protection
Patio Layout and Planning
The first step to any patio installation is to call to have buried utilities, such as electrical, gas, and cable, phone, and water lines marked out. This is often a free service and usually requires a single call.
After buried utilities are marked you can layout where the patio will go and mark out the boundaries. Use marking paint to layout the perimeter, then add stakes and mason string so the line will be permanent. Patios need to be pitched by about an inch from one end to the other to allow water to runoff and drain. Determine the pitch and align the mason string to that pitch. For example, if your mason line is 6″ above the ground level on one edge, make it 5″ above ground on the other so you can install the pavers at a pitch for water runoff.
Once the size of the patio has been determined you can order materials. You will need to calculate how many pavers you need to fill the space by finding the square footage of the patio and the square footage of the paver, then divide to find how many pavers you need. Use our paver calculator to easily find how much you need. You also need to estimate the amount of gravel and sand you will need for the base of the patio. You’ll need 4″ of gravel and 1″ of sand for the base. Use our cubic yardage calculator to estimate 4″ of gravel and estimate 1″ of sand.
Excavate the Patio Area
You will need to determine the final height of the patio. Start by finding the thickness of the selected paver, then add 1″ for a layer of sand and 4″ for a layer of gravel to the thickness of the paver. You will likely want the patio to be elevated slightly above the ground so that water can run off. Use the mason string from the layout to determine the depth of soil to remove. Dig the area using a shovel then tamp to compact the soil. When you are done your patio area should be about 6-7″ deep, depending on the thickness of your pavers.
Add the Patio Base
Crushed Gravel Base
After the excavation is complete add 4″ of crushed gravel and level the surface. The distance from the mason string to the top of the gravel base should be the same around the perimeter of the patio so the surface to be flat.
Compact the gravel patio base using a tamper or a plate compactor. You may need to rent the compactor, but for even a moderate sized patio it will be more effective than a hand tamper and save hours of back-breaking labor. This step is crucial to prevent the patio from settling and to allow the proper drainage. Verify that the surface is level and an equal depth below the mason string, adding additional gravel to low spots.
Next, add a 1″ layer of sand, then compact. This layer should be a precise depth below the mason line and will be the final layer that the pavers are set onto. It is important that this layer is perfectly flat. Many people recommend screeding the sand by embedding a few 2x4s or pipes in the sand and pulling a board along those to level the surface. Whatever your approach, the surface needs to be perfect or you will see imperfections in the patio.
It’s time to set the pavers in the sand. Place them evenly in the sand making sure the surface is flat. Set them tightly, but not so tightly that each paver is displacing sand as this can cause the surrounding pavers to rise. This step will go fast. When you need to cut the pavers, consider using a masonry blade attached to a circular saw, which can be purchased at your local home center. You may want to add a plastic edging to lock the edge of the patio from moving, depending on your installation.
Add Sand to the Joints
At this point your pavers should be set and the patio should look beautiful. It is important to add a layer of polymeric paver sand in the joints. This locks the pavers together so they don’t move and prevents weed growth. Sweep the sand into the joints and remove any excess. After the sand is applied use a hose and garden nozzle to wash the surface. This cleans the pavers and starts a chemical reaction in the polymeric sand causing it to fuse together.
Seal the Patio
After the sand has been applied to the joints you can seal the patio. This enhances the beauty of the patio and prevents staining of the pavers. Sealer is usually applied using a paint roller.
Installing a paver patio is a affordable way to add beauty to your yard! The right planning and preparation will make the installation go smoother and the end result longer lasting.
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