Paver Laying

The look of a well laid driveway or paths in a brick paver is something that always deserves that second glance, Paver laying is certainly an art form as well as a skill that is worth learning.

To obtain the best job possible your preparation has to be done correctly. We cannot skimp on the materials we need to do it properly, otherwise the paver laying will be effected and the end result will not satisfy.

The strength of the surface is totally reliant on the sub-grade, so you can see the importance for this to be done right. Dips and bumps in the surface that are not there during the paver laying but appear afterwoods, are usually always caused by the sub-grade not being what it should be. So as well as the extra labour content of the job, the preparation is the reason that paving will be more expensive than other surfaces.

The natural look you can achieve with paving though cannot be attained by any other product, and I think this is the reason it is still a popular surface. whether you decide to lay clay Brick pavers or Concrete pavers, the Landscaping theme you can achieve ends up being well worth the effort.



The process in laying pavers will vary according to several factors.

  1. The type of traffic that will be using the paving, is it a pedestrian path or driveway etc. if it’s a driveway then what type of vehicle, car, 4 wheel drive, truck etc.
  2. What is the existing ground soil like, is it clay, sandy, loamy, or full of organic matter etc.
  3. Do you have any water issues across where you intend to surface with paving.

These are considerations for when you are planning to lay your pavers. They will all need slightly different preparations, needing extra material etc.

There is so much to laying pavers than just throwing down some sand and hoping that it doesn’t sink !!!

In this whole section on Paver laying we will be covering the processes involved for you to achieve a final result that you can be proud of. So consider the area that you wish to lay your pavers and if you have any particular problems with the subgrade then change your procedure to cater with that problem. For more detail on the most common problems and how to deal with them, look at the bottom of this page.

For job specific, on laying pavers, which does vary the specifications please look at :

Paving a Driveway,

But for general Procedures on Paver Laying the following applies.




The first thing you have to determine is the level of the top of the brick paver you would like to lay. All the other levels are taken from that. This is called your Datem, once that’s been established, the excavation can start.

If you are using a paver that is 50mm (2”) thick then you will need to excavate enough dirt to allow for the following.

50mm (2”)  Paver.

25 – 40mm (1-1½”) Bedding sand.

100mm (4”)  Road Base.


So whatever level you wish to have your pavers finishing at you need to excavate approx. 190mm (7-8”) of soil out.



Once the area has been dug out and the material removed either by a bobcat or some other machine, or you may have hand dug it, your Road base can be brought in and spread out to the specified area and thickness. Usually about 100 mm (4″) thick depending on your traffic.

The best way to finish the leveling is with either a very straight piece of timber or a concreting screed. this will allow you to create a good level surface. A Vibrating plate, which you can hire from any decent hire company, is then used to compact this base so it ends up a hardened surface. You will need to add water to the road base during the compaction process, I found it good to hose it down allowing the water to soak for a while before vibrating, remember you can always add more water if it’s not enough so don’t do too much to start with.



This can be achieved by several different methods but the two most common are,

Sand pads are levelled along the borders of your drive at the level you need the sand to be and then a piece of metal strip is placed on top of each, you only need them to be 25mm (1”) wide by 3mm (1/8”) thick. These are laid on top of your pad along the length and will allow you to quickly level the sand that is in the middle between these pads. I just bed them into the pads a little so they end up being the same level. If however, if you are reasonably skilled with a concrete screed then you can just use the sand pads and level the sand in between using the screed. this is just a little slower than using the strips.

And the second is to use timber boards the same thickness as what you want the sand to be, they are laid down on the base and the sand is spread and levelled between them,  when the sand has been screeded they are removed.



Once you have decided which of the paving patterns you want to lay, then to start laying you need to decide where you will benefit the most, for example the least no of cuts can help decide which direction the pavers are laid. I usually like to always lay across ways from the direction of traffic  rather than along the length, but the theme of your landscape design will determine this.

Usually starting is done either against one of your straight edges, against the house, at a point where you will want the best look, either by the garage or the entrance or against a brick edge or something like that. Sometimes you will have to lay out string lines to maintain your pattern and keep the laying square or straight, depending on the pattern and the pavers you are using.

The pattern you decide on will have different amounts of cutting to do, this won’t make a lot of difference if you have a curve in the borders of the drive but if they are straight then consider this when choosing your pattern as well as the direction of laying.

Once your sand has been spread, and only spread enough that you know you can lay on and get covered before the end of the day, it’s not a good idea to have exposed sand spread over night in case it rains.

You can now start laying, you are able to stand on the laid pavers just stay away from the very edge ones and I suggest you lay down some wide boards to help support your weight so as not to sink any of the pavers.


If you are hiring a brick saw I suggest you lay quite a few before as hiring can be expensive, so to make the most of the cost leave the cutting till the end of the job, just cover up the edges with a strip of plastic to avoid them from being wash out. However  if you have a lot of paver laying to do, then it might be worth buying one and you can always sell it after you have done all your work, they sell really well.

Cutting is a matter of placing pavers over the gap and marking them where they need to be cut, or measuring the gap and marking the pavers that way, I usually allow a good 6mm (¼”) less to make sure that the paver just falls into the gap. It gets filled with sand anyway but it will prevent you from having to cut it again because it’s too tight.


Once the pavers are laid and the edges are cut, usually inside the border pattern, then they can be compacted with the same vibrating plate you used for the road base, just place some carpet or a conveyer belt type material underneath the bottom, some hire companies will have this and it just chains onto the plate. This will prevent cracking any of your pavers while they are being compacted.

If you have laid the boarders at the same time as laying they will need to be held in place by laying a piece of timber against them during this vibrating process to stop the pavers from spreading out. Your other options are to tap these boarder pavers down with a mallet to the finished height you want then cement the outside edge. then when you lay the paver pattern inside they will be slightly raised but these then get vibrated down also to the finished height, ensuring the the vibrating plate doesn’t ride over the borders. If you have decided to set the border in a concrete footing (see Paving a driveway for these details), then again just keep the vibrating plate off the border.


The last stage when all this is done is to sweep some fine sand in the top, this is usually a rendering or plastering sand, sand that has a consistent small grain. This will fill all the cracks and the joins from the paver laying. It will have to be swept in when it is dry for it to work properly.


Here are some of the problems that you might be facing when laying pavers and how to deal with them…


When Paving a driveway and your car is heavier than normal.

As we have stressed the importance of a solid sub-grade this will be the area that will need more attention to cater for heavier vehicles. Usually the thickness is all you have to very so if I had a car or truck heavier than 2 ton but not heavier than 5 ton, driving over the paved area I would be increasing the Road base to 150 mm (6″). If your vehicle is heavier than 5 ton then I would firstly, and prefer to be looking at preparing a concrete slab sub-grade or secondly, thoroughly mixing cement dust into the road base and still making it 150 mm thick. the bedding mix can be prepared the same no matter what.


When you have a water or moisture problem right where you want to lay your pavers.

The first thing I would consider is can the water be diverted by means of a drain or underground Agg line, If you are unable to do this then look at water proofing your sub-grade by means of mixing cement into the Road base as well as the sand bedding mix for the whole area of pavers that are affected.

If the water is more like a stream that flows across your paving then I would definitely be concreting a slab as the sub-grade and mixing cement in the bedding mix for that area.


Laying your pavers near shrubs or trees that will grow fairly large.

Although there isn’t a lot you can really do about this apart for trying to avoid it, but if this isn’t an option then just be prepared to be adjusting your levels in the future if the tree roots raise your paving. at least by the time it happens the tree is established enough the the root causing the problem can be trimmed without affecting the tree too much.



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