5 rules for paving with brick and pavers

Paving with bricks and pavers can be a challenge. But if you follow these rules, you can get the look you want with much less effort.

5 rules for paving with brick and pavers

1. Find the right ground

  • Thorough preparation is crucial.
  • A firm, flat site minimizes settling with any type of paving.
  • If continually wet, pavers will grow moss and get slimy, the soil underneath will stay saturated and the paving may settle.

2. Lay them in a bed of sand

  • Both bricks and pavers can be laid on a bed of sand. This method relies on a smooth base and the friction of individual pieces rubbing against each other to stay together.
  • The edges of such paving should be held by some kind of frame, otherwise the outermost pavers will gradually fall away.
  • Edging material can be made with lengths of treated pine or upturned bricks and pavers.

3. Rules for building on a slope

  • Paving downhill is more difficult because you have only a limited time to do the laying. Divide up the area into small sections and work in one section at a time.
  • On steeper slopes, where there's a tendency for pavers to move downhill, add about 10 percent cement to the sand bed.
  • Be careful not to smear cement onto the face of the pavers because cement stains.
  • When firmly bedded, sand (without cement) is once again swept across the area, to fill up the crevices between the bricks.

4. Drainage is key

  • Plan for drainage of the paved area. Make sure the water either sheds to the sides by a slight doming or by sloping the paving to a surface drain.
  • The area to be paved should be cambered to ensure good drainage. This can be done either with a layer of gravel or with the paving sand.
  • Where rainwater tends to run across the ground, use preformed spoon drains or 'U' drains to remove surface water. These can also double as edge restraints.
  • It may be worth providing a silt trap so that storm­ water pipes don't become blocked.
  • Subsurface drains set in coarse aggregate should also be in­stalled.
  • If there's a chance of the drains silting up, add a fabric filter sock to the pipe.

5. Excavate carefully

  • When excavating the area to be paved, make sure that all vegetation is removed. Compact the ground thoroughly.
  • Any soft spots should be excavated and backfilled with gravel.
  • If the earth is clayey or otherwise soft, excavate about 10 centimetres (four inches) deeper and fill the area with 10 centimetres (four inches) of well-compacted gravel.
  • A layer of crushed stone or gravel may be laid after compacting the sand. This helps the drainage and stabilizes the soil.

Paving with brick or pavers is one of the easiest ways to pave, but still has challenges. The key is preparation: get the ground looking its best, think about drainage and lay a solid foundation. If you do, the results could be better than you expected.

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