By Contributing Author
Patios can be a nice gathering area for family and friends. One way some homeowners make their patio look nicer is through pavers. They can be economical, and you can create a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. There are a few steps you can follow to successfully install a patio made of pavers. Here’s what you need to know about installing patio pavers.
- Measure the area your patio will be located.
When you measure where you want to put your patio, it will help you decide on the number of pavers you’ll need and other supplies that will be required. Take a measurement of the length and width that you want to cover. Once you have those two numbers, multiply them together to get the square footage of your future patio. If the patio won’t be square, but you plan to use square pavers, you’ll have to estimate the square footage. An alternative option you can consider is using pavers that are made to be placed in round shapes. If you use those types of pavers, you’ll have to take different types of measurements to know how many of them you’ll need. If you plan to build stairs for your patio, you might have to subtract the square footage of the bottom stair and buy some retaining blocks.
- Decide on what pavers you’ll be using.
As noted in the introduction, pavers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Additionally, they also come at different costs. Some pavers are sold as individual blocks, while others are sold by the square foot. Individually, small pavers may be cheaper, but they may cost you more to cover the square footage of your patio space. They can also be more labor-intensive. The square feet of the pavers should be listed on the product descriptions. You should multiply that number with the square footage of your future patio to determine how many you’ll need. As an example, if you plan on your patio being 100 square feet, the pavers you’re considering are 4 square feet per piece, multiply 100 by 4, and the total numbers of pavers you’ll need will be 400.
Doing these calculations will help you know what each specific type of paver will cost you overall, and you can choose the one that works within your budget. Pavers can be arranged in a variety of patterns. If you’re unsure what pattern to go with, a sales associate at the home improvement store should be able to offer you suggestions. Be sure to also discuss delivery options. A large number of pavers can be heavy, which may require having them delivered to your home. When you buy your pavers, it’s a good idea to get 10 percent more than what you think you’ll need to use, since paver blocks can break. If you plan to cut some of them to fit around obstacles, you can rent a gas-powered plate compactor, and a paver wet saw with a diamond blade and stand to get the pavers trimmed.
- Purchase other supplies.
Beyond pavers, you’ll need other supplies such as a layer of sand, a layer of gravel, and a barrier to keep the pavers in place. The gravel and sand will be placed underneath the pavers. The gravel will have to be at least 4 inches deep, and the sand should be 1 inch thick. Multiply these numbers with the square footage of your patio to get the cubic feet you’ll need. If you’re unsure of your calculations, you can ask the associate at the home improvement store to help you figure out the amount of gravel and sand you’ll need. Ask about their options for buying sand or gravel in bulk to cut down on your costs.
It’s helpful to get polymeric sand to fill in the spaces between the pavers. Using washed sand won’t bind together well, causing your pavers to become loose. Think about whether you’ll use a fabric weed barrier to place between the gravel and the pavers. Gravel and sand are usually enough to keep any weeds from growing between your pavers. Nonetheless, the added layer can provide additional blockage.
- Check for underground utilities.
You’ll want to have a utility company mark where underground lines are before you start digging up your backyard. You can search online for the local utility company in your area to contact. It’s very important not to assume there are no underground lines in the location you’re digging, as this can be dangerous. Once you’ve gotten confirmation from the utility company, you can start planning to dig up the area.
- Mark off the area.
Measure the patio dimensions, and then mark them. Place stakes at each corner of the plot and wrap a thin rope or string around the stakes to outline your patio’s perimeters. Marking out the area will give you an idea of how the patio fits into your yard, and it will ensure that you’re only prepping the ground where you plan for the patio to be.
- Remove the soil.
After you’ve marked the area, dig up the ground, and remove all the soil in your marked area. How much you dig down into the ground will vary depending on the thickness of your pavers and the amount of gravel you’ll be putting down. The excavation should give you room to install paver edging on the perimeter of the patio. You’ll also want to slope the area toward the direction you want the water to run off the patio pavers. You can lay a board across the area, and then place a level on top of the board to get the desired slope.
- Add a gravel base.
Next, you should get your gravel and pour a 4 to 6-inch layer into the patio trench. You can compact the gravel using a plate compactor. If you don’t own one, you can possibly rent one at your local home improvement store. It’s helpful to spray water over the gravel so the stones can compact better. If you planned to use a weed barrier, you should lay it down now. The fabric should be biodegradable and porous, so there are no toxins added to the soil or any interference with drainage.
- Add the sand.
The sand will be the last layer you add before laying down the paver blocks. Make sure the sand layer you add is about an inch thick. Once you lay it down, compact it, and lay down two pieces of round level piping about 5 feet apart, and push them down into the sand. To ensure your surface is level, take a 2 x 4 and pull it across the two pieces of pipe, leveling out the sand underneath. After the area is level, you can remove the pipes from the sand. Two indentations will be left from where the pipes were, but the rest of the area will be ready for pavers. Keep in mind that you may have to move the leveling pipes to a few different locations, depending on how large your patio will be.
- Lay down the pavers.
When laying down the pavers, start at a corner and keep your blocks as close together as possible. With each paver you lay down, tap it with a rubber mallet to make sure it’s nicely seated in the sand. Check your level as you go along. The patio should maintain the same level with each block you lie down. If a paver looks to be off, you can tap it with your rubber mallet to get it in place. Additionally, if a paver appears to be too low, pull it up, put some more sand underneath, and place it back.
- Cut the paver blocks to fit around the obstacles.
If you need to fit your patio around a tree or fencing, you can cut your paver blocks using a saw that has a diamond paver blade. You can see if you can rent one from a home improvement store. If the obstacle you’re trying to work around is small, you can consider using a ground cover plant or pea gravel to fill the space.
- Install edging.
You can use different materials such as metal, plastic, or wood to create your patio edging. When your pavers are installed completely, you should secure the edging tightly against the outer edge using spikes that are placed 2 feet apart. This will prevent the pavers from getting out of alignment.
- Use sand to fill the cracks.
You should use polymeric sand to cover your paved patio. Grab a broom and sweep the sand back and forth until all the spaces between the pavers are filled. You can add more sand if you notice there are still gaps in-between.
- Finishing touches
Attach a piece of cardboard or thick towel to the base of your compactor and go over your patio with it. When you’ve done that, fill areas along the patio edging with grass, soil, gravel, or ground cover. You can seal your pavers every few years to prevent deterioration. Make sure to use a sealer recommended by your paver manufacturer.
Using pavers to put together your patio can provide a nice look to your outdoor space. Keep all of these steps in mind when installing your pavers. Roll down shades can also be a good way to keep your patio cool.