How To

How To Resources

Before and After Paver Installation Pictures

 Please click on the pictures below to view a larger image.

How To Install Interlocking Pavers

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. You can do this pretty easily with a sod cutter. Then you need to dig down to a point where you want your base to start.

For this patio project, we dug down 8 inches. That was to allow for a 4″ base, a 2″ layer of stone dust, and the pavers.
The digging process you use is called skimming. This is where you try not to disturb the dirt at the bottom, but just skim the to 8″. If you have loosen the dirt past that it’ll settle and you might end up with a dip in the patio.

For our patio we also slopped the base away from the house approx. 1 inch for every 6 feet. This will help water flow away from the house.

You can do this work by hand, but if you have a large area you might want to consider having the work done with a Bobcat.

Preparing for the Base Material

Once your excavation is all flat and at the slope you want, you’re ready for the base material.

Mark along side 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.

Compacting the Base Material

The base material we used is called “R-Blend.” 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.

You can get a compactor at a rental store, you need a 4 or 5-horsepower compactor. Anything less won’t do the job.
Keep the compactor running at full throttle. If you slow it down even a little, you reduce the effect a lot. Let the machine pull itself forward, you shouldn’t have to push it to make it move.

First run the compactor around the edges of the area. 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.
If 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 slab hammer.
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.

Installing Edge Restraint

Before installing your edge restraint you need to figure out your end line for the patio and a center reference line.

To draw the end line, we measure out from the house the length of the patio on both sides. Then we snap a chalk line between the two marks to give us the bottom of the patio.
Now we need to draw a line perpendicular to this end line. Here’s one way to do this

1. Find the center point of the end line.
2. Mark off an equal length in both directions.
3. Using two tape measures, start at the two outside points and cross the two tape measures.
4. Pivot the tape measures until they cross at the same measurement.
5. Snap a chalk line from the center mark to the point where the tapes crossed.
6. Mark the ends of this perpendicular line on the edge restraint and the house so you can re-snap them when they get covered up with sand.

For our paver project, we used a concrete edge that we mixed in a wheelbarrow, you could also use a PVC edge restraint for your project.

Stone Dust

We used about 5 tons of stone dust to make a two inch bedding layer under the whole patio.

We lined up pipes to give us our 2-inch layer. We filled stone dust in between the pipes, then screened it off level with the tops of the pipes.
In places where you can’t use a screed, it’s okay to use a trowel to smooth it out.

Setting the Pavers

Re-snap your center perpendicular line before starting the pavers..

We set our pavers in two sections: the big patio area first, and then the sidewalk area. We started at the far end and worked our way up toward the house.
We’ve got a row of red pavers in what’s called a “soldier course” along the outside edge of the patio. So those were the first ones we set in.
We started the first two on either side of the line and worked out from there.

You just set the pavers gently into the stone dust. Don’t slide them in from the side, don’t twist them, don’t push them down.

Our general pattern is to set the pavers in sort of a pyramid, centered on our reference chalk line. Adjust the pavers every few to keep them straight.
There are several different tools you can use to cut pavers. The most common is a mechanical splitter. However, a splitter leaves a slightly uneven cut.
To get a cleaner cut, you need to use a heavy duty power Wet saw for cutting also for keeping the dust down.
The main part of our patio was a herringbone pattern.
After the pavers were set, we put the boarder in and concreted the sides all in.

Tamping the Pavers
After the sand is down over the whole patio, run the compactor over the pavers. This starts the process of locking everything in place. The compactor is pressing the pavers down, evening out the tops of the pavers, and forcing some of the sand up into joints from underneath.
The process is to spread Sand with a broom, run the compactor over the pavers, spread some more Sand and leave a coating on top of the pavers. Let the rain wash the rest of the sand into the joints. This process will make for a very solid paver surface.