If you are thinking of trying your hand at a DIY concrete pavers project, there’s a lot you should know before you begin. Whether you’re building a driveway, walkway, patio, or some other project, the more informed you are, and the more effort you put into the project, the better the final results.
While we can’t give you every piece of information you’ll need – though much of it can be found in other articles on this website – we can give you the top 10 most important pieces of information that you can use for your DIY pavers project. Some of them have to do with cutting costs, others with making sure the project is built correctly, and still others about paver designs and project ideas. All together, these tips represent the most important things you should know (and think about) before attempting your own paving project:
Ten DIY Concrete Pavers Tips
(1) Plan ahead – don’t wing it and expect that the project will turn out brilliantly. Think about the project you want to make, its dimensions, its patterns and designs. For instance, if you’re laying a DIY paver patio, sketch out its dimensions on paper and then use spray paint, stakes, and string to lay out the dimensions of the project in your yard. The more you plan, the better you’ll be able to anticipate potential problems. Plus, it will tell you how much material you’ll need.
(2) The key to any paver project is its base. The more effort you put into the sub-base – made of crushed aggregate and sand – the better the project will turn out and the longer it will last. Don’t take shortcuts here – it may be tempting to lay the pavers over concrete, but this will be a suboptimal solution. You might consider contracting this part of the process if you don’t feel comfortable in your abilities.
(3) Though DIY paving projects are a great way to save money, don’t go too cheap, both in the amount of time and money you spend. You don’t want substandard materials, especially the brick, as these will fade and break over time. You want to use quality material and quality tools in addition to quality processes to ensure that the final product will turn out to be of professional grade.
(4) Speaking of grades, pay special attention to making sure the slope of your project will permit water to drain in the right places. The project should slope away from the home, flowerbeds, or any other sensitive area; if possible, have it slope towards a drain of some kind so that the majority of the water will leave your property (this is most appopriate for driveways that are close to the street). Having a flooded basement or landscaping can ruin what was otherwise a successful project!
(5) When digging, be careful not to dig up any utility lines. This can be both expensive and dangerous if you cut or damage these lines. If you don’t know where they are, hire a utility expert (or ask the town) to find out where the lines are.
(6) If you are thinking about installing more than one project (such as a paver walkway and patio), consider doing them at the same time. “Chunking” them in this way will be the most efficient, both in terms of time and money, as you’ll be able to order materials and pavers in bulk and use your own time and labor more efficiently than if you separate the installations of the projects in time.
(7) To that end, do think about adding other additions to your projects. If you started out thinking only of doing a DIY patio pavers project, for instance, you may want to consider adding a walkway, driveway, pool deck, garden project, or other application to the schedule. If you already have the materials and the time, it may not be that much more expense to expand the project and have more of your yard look integrated within the overall design.
(8) Though we advocate concrete pavers here, do realize that there are other hardscape options at your disposal, such as brick and natural stone pavers. While these materials are more expensive than concrete, you will at least be able to install them yourself, removing labor costs from the equation.
(9) Use the right tools for the job. This will save you both time and aggravation. You don’t have to buy these paver tools, either – you can rent a plate compactor and diamond blade wet saw, for example.
(10) If you are unsure, ask for help. Your paver manufacturer is the first source to go with specific questions about your project, as they will be able to offer you free advice that may help. For more specific, urgent problems, lean on the advice of paver contractors, even if this means you have to pay one for the help. Paying a little up front for good information may save you a lot of money and hassle down the line.