Cutting Concrete Pavers – Tips and Tools

If you are installing a paver project yourself, whether it’s a driveway, walkway, patio, pool deck, or other application, it’s very likely that you’ll have to cut concrete pavers in order to fit them into the pattern. Most cuts are usually done when you include curves and fans in your design; however, even with straight patterns, especially running bond and herringone, you’ll have to cut the pavers near the borders of the project in order to fit the pavers within the specific dimensions.

If you need to know how to cut concrete pavers, this guide is for you. It will tell you all the tools you need for marking and cutting pavers successfully. It will also provide some safety and efficiency tips to make sure that your project is a success.

(Note: Much of this advice also works for other types of pavers, such as for cutting brick pavers and natural stone paving stones, though you may need a different saw and tools to do so.)

Marking the Pavers for Cutting

The first step you’ll have to do is mark out the pavers so that you now which ones to cut and where. Let’s say that you’re doing it near a border first. When you have laid the last brick you can in that course, take a full brick and line it up with the border in the same direction. Use it as a straight edge on the paver you just laid, and use a red masonry pencil to draw a straight line. Remove this marked paver and replace it with the full one you just used. Then, cut the paver on this line. Put the paver in the hole and you’re done with that course! Repeat as necessary to fill out the structure.

IF you are creating a curved section of your paver project, you will need to get a soft, flexible strip of wood that you can lay down and bend. Beginning with the origin point of your curve, bend out the strip of wood according to how much curve you want – where you want it to start and where you want it to end. Then use your pencil to mark out the line on each of the affected brick. Take each paver and make your cuts, replacing them when finished. Finally, lay down your border course along this edge, making cuts to allow for a smooth curve throughout the border – you don’t want huge gaps or jutted corners throughout the border curve, as this will look terrible and unprofessional.

Now that you’ve marked up your project as necessary, let’s talk about how to cut pavers.

Cutting Concrete Pavers

You will need some tools for this step. First, you’ll need safety goggles to protect your eyes. If necessary, get gloves to help you grip the bricks, as they may get wet and slippery if you use a wet saw.

As for the tool to use to actually do the cutting, your best bet is a diamond blade wet saw. The diamond blade is very sharp and will thus cut through the paving stone like butter. The use of water will keep dust down. If you use a regular saw, it can work, but it also creates a ton of dust. If you have to do a lot of cuts, you will find that the dust will become overwhelming. Thus, it is best if you rent or borrow a diamond blade wet saw in order to do this work.

To cut the pavers, simply place them within the guides of the wet saw and slowly bring the saw down on the paver. Only turn on the saw when the paver is properly set and ready to be cut. After cutting, move the saw to the ‘neutral’ position; then switch off the machine. Only then should you remove the paver and inspect your work.

Safety Tips and Other Helpful Hints

Go slowly. This will help you in two ways. First, you’ll make the cut more smooth and consistent. If you are ragged with your cutting motion, it will show in the quality of the separation. These saws are very dangerous – one wrong move could mean an injury. Over time, your proficiency with the saw will increase, until eventually when you will be able to make consistent cuts.

One note about cutting – do you make cuts on the line, before the line, or after the line you’ve drawn? It ultimately depends on how you draw the line in the first place. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works for you, since sometimes you’ll have to “take the line” or “keep the line” depending on how you’ve drawn it.

Other Cutting Methods

Of course, if you don’t have access to a wet saw, there are other options for you to cut the paving stones.

For instance, you can do the old fashioned method – use a lump hammer and chisel to slowly chip away at the line – eventually, it will come free. Any uneven edges can be chipped off as necessary.

You can also used hand held saws like skill saws or Stihl saws. You’ll want to be careful when using these if you don’t have experience, and make sure to use a carbide or diamond-tipped blade. If you are using a blade that normally cuts wood, it won’t work! Note as well that you’ll have to deal with the dust mentioned above, and the blade also may get dangerously hot over time. This could lead to burns and problems with the blade, even leading it to break or warp, damaing the paver, the saw, and potentially even you!

Some Flagstone Patio Installation Tips

Flagstone can be expensive, mostly because it is a natural stone material that is more costly than manufactured and artificial materials like concrete pavers. However, this expense can be lowered if you install the flagstone yourself. Flagstone patio installation can be difficult, though, even with the right tools and information. The skills and experience needed working with hardscaping materials may be above the ability of many homeowners, and they may benefit from contacting a contractor to do the work. However, if you believe you can do the work, here are some flagstone patio installation tips that may be useful for you during the project.

(Note: These flagstone patio installation instructions will depend on the specifics of your project. We can only offer you some general guidelines to keep in mind when installing your patio. There are many ways to ‘skin a cat,’ and there are many ways to install flagstone pavers. Contact a contractor or your flagstone supplier if you have specific questions about your project.)

  1. Before you do any installation, you need to be clear on the design of your flagstone patio and the pattern in which you want to lay the material. Do you want to lay it directly into the ground, or do you want to install a sub base? Do you want the pattern of flagstone to be irregular, or do you want them to be regularly cut and in a specific patter, such as herringbone? You need to be clear on all of these questions before you begin, as the answers will have consequences for your flagstone patio installation.
  2. There are many different bases you can use. The general distinction here is between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ installation. Wet installation requires the use of wet concrete and/or mortar, while dry installations do not. Dry are usually easier, but if they are not put together securely, they may not hold together as well. Some like to install it over a concrete slab. Others put it directly on top of the soil or ground. Still others simply put in a concrete/cement base underneath and mortar in between the joints. Still others use an installation akin to concrete pavers, with a base of aggregate concrete and a bed of sand for a more precise fit. The type of base you select will depend on where you’re installing the flagstone, what shape the stone is in, what patterns you want to lay, and other considerations. Each base type has advantages and disadvantages in terms of price, work required, and skill required, so weigh them out carefully before making a final selection.
  3. Always measure out the area of your patio before beginning. Use spray paint, stakes and strings, or anything that will help you.
  4. Don’t skimp on the sub-base if you’re going to use one. Whether it’s aggregate concrete, sand, or concrete, the foundation of your flagstone patio will be the crucial element that determines the strength and longevity of your installation. Make sure you dig deep enough, at least 6 inches, and use a plate compactor to compact the area after you’ve filled it in to the right depth with crushed aggregate or some other base material. You might consider having a contractor do this part for you, as it will be relatively cheap compared to the total installation process, and you’ll be sure that your base is properly installed. He or she could also give you tips and instructions on how to do the finishing touches on the installation.
  5. The difficulty of the actual laying of the flagstone patio will depend on the type of flagstone you are using. If you are using cut flagstone that arrives in regular shapes, such as rectangles or squares, the job is easier, as you can just put down a uniform base and lay the flagstone in the pattern you’ve selected. You’ll have to do some adjustments to make it level, but otherwise it’ll be pretty simple. However, if you’re using irregularly shaped flagstone, you may have to make adjustments while installing the stone in order to make sure that the final product comes out level. Simply use a rubber mallet and extra base material to even out the areas as necessary to ensure a level surface.
  6. How you hold together the actual project will depend on the installation method you’ve chosen. Some simply fill the joints with sand and wet it down. Others fill it with dirt and sprinkle grass seed in between to allow grass to grow in between the flagstone pavers. Others use a cement base, while still others mortar the joints. Others also add edging to the outside of the patio to hold it together.
  7. Use a wet saw, circular saw, or masonry saw to cut the flagstone if necessary to fit in your pattern. This may be important if your pattern is irregular, or if you are putting the pavers together in a ‘jigsaw fashion.’ Always be careful when using this equipment to avoid injury.
  8. Make sure that the area is graded, or sloped, properly, to allow the proper flow of water away from vulnerable areas and towards drains and other water sinks.
  9. You may need to use a plate compactor to secure the flagstone pavers properly, but this will depend on the type of installation you are doing.

If you have any other tips, share them in the comments!

Driveway Pavers: What You Need to Know

Installing a paver driveway is an excellent decision for most homeowners: you will see financial, aesthetic, and structural benefits from using paving stones for your next driveway project. This material is a great choice especially  if your driveway experiences heavy traffic, as concrete paving stones are a great way to preserve your driveway against the elements and your vehicles while simultaneously beautifying your home and increasing its appraised value.

Planning, designing, and constructing your new paver driveway will take a lot of work – and with lots of work comes the need for information. This page will attempt to give you everything you need to know in order for you to make an informed decision. Since you’ll be putting a ton of money and time into this, it’s best if you know as much as possible about the process. First, let’s discuss why you’d want to pick pavers over the other materials that are often used for driveways.

Why Pavers Over Other Materials? The Benefits of Concrete Paver Driveways

Original photo by Pacific Outdoor Living.

An example of well-designed and installed driveway pavers.

There are many options out there for the material used to build your driveway. Besides a paving stone driveway, your choices include stamped and poured concrete, asphalt, or stones. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. You can find more information about these pros and cons on other areas of this site. The main three winning features of pavers we will focus on in this article is cost, strength, and longevity.

In terms of cost, driveway paving stones are certainly among the most expensive in terms of initial capital outlay, especially when compared to slab options. For example, the price per square foot for a proper installation of these bricks will be higher than that of the concrete, stone, or asphalt driveway. (See below for a discussion of the price of laying these pavers.)

However, the driveway will pay for itself over time, both in lower maintenance costs (money and time) and sheer longevity, as you will probably not be forced to replace the driveway for decades. The reason why this occurs is due to the structure of paver driveways versus the other options. For concrete and asphalt driveways, the project ends up being one huge, connected slab. While strong (but not as strong as interlocking pavers, actually), this slab does not do well with freezing and thawing cycles. As water freezes underneath the slab, it forces itself into it. The slab cannot bend, so in response it cracks. As freezing and thawing continues, these cracks get worse, eventually forcing you to install a new driveway.

However, for pavers, this is not a problem. The bed of aggregate underneath the driveway is strong yet flexible. In addition, the joints between the concrete pavers give them the best of both worlds: strength and flexibility. These driveways will not crack due to any freezing or thawing. Slabs do have the advantage of not being susceptible to settling, while interlocking pavers sometimes do settle. However, this is easily fixed, as the offending pavers can be removed and reset as necessary. Overall, the maintenance and replacement costs are lower for paving stone installations than for other options over time. The fact that these driveways add property value to your home is just more icing on the financial cake.

All of this results in a durable paver installation that will withstand the rigors of driving, parking, and weathering. In many ways, it is as close to ‘set it and forget it’ as you can get in the home improvement world  – as long as it is installed correctly and with attention to detail!

Other Paver Types

Of course, if you are interested in pavers in general, there are many options to look at besides the concrete variety. You could try natural stone pavers, such as granite, travertine, bluestone, cobblestone, and flagstone pavers. These will be much more expensive, but many people prefer the look of this material. You could also try brick pavers; these are made out of clay. In addition, you can try grass driveway pavers and other permeable options if form and function are your primary concerns. There are still other options, such as using thin pavers over an existing concrete slab, or installing rubber pavers.

However, with concrete paving stones you will find the best balance between selection of sizes, shapes, and colors, beauty, value, and durability. The other options will suffer in one of those areas or another but will be better in other areas than the concrete variety.

Designing Your Paver Driveway

Original photo by David Clow. http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidclow/3764753340/

A driveway with an interesting design flair - installed circle kits are shown here.

For anyone with little experience designing a concrete paver installation, figuring out exactly how to set up the driveway can be challenging. If you hire a contractor or designer to do the work or give suggestions, the work is done. But here are some general ideas and tips to think about.

The first thing to figure out when deciding on a driveway for your home is the size of the project when it’s finished. You could just build the driveway in the same size as your old driveway, or you could choose to expand the driveway to give you more parking room. In addition, consider adding other complementary features – walkways, stoops, patios, and the like – to get the biggest bang for your design and installation buck.

Aside from the size and shape of your driveway, you also need to consider the various patterns you can lay it in. These patterns have been described elsewhere on the site, but for now realize that different patterns can have different consequences for the look of the driveway. You’ll also want to consider the color options, and how the color blend you select will interact with the pattern, shape, and size of your driveway, as well as the other features of your home, landscape, and general environment and decor.

Also consider the various types of edging for your driveway, as some will be more expensive than others but provide more benefits. Consider this carefully, especially if you have a lawn, garden, or flowerbed nearby that you will want to preserve or cordon off. Other options for boundaries between your driveway and your yard and home include all kinds of walls and retaining walls.

There are also special designs you can incorporate within the driveway. One example is the use of the circle kit to add circles to the driveway – shown in the photo above. Another design option to think about for your driveway is an “apron,” or the part of the driveway closest to the entrance. Some customers decide to put a fancy design there, like fans, though of course the options are limitless and it’s ultimately up to you to decide.

No matter what your design choices, a paving stone driveway will look great. Since your driveway is one of the first things visitors see in front of your house, you will be sure to make a good impression with this installation.

Installing a Paving Stones Driveway & Hiring a Contractor

When designing and implementing your ideas, make sure you take into account the environment (is it hot or cold, generally? Rainy or dry?) as well as the soil or material naturally occurring in your front yard. Make sure you communicate this information to your paver contractor, as it could seriously affect your project.If you plan on hiring a contractor to install your driveway, make sure they have experience in this area. These are usually big projects and require working on a scale that some may not be comfortable with. If you are installing the driveway yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. Because there will be vehicular traffic, you will need to make sure your aggregate base is deeper than usual – anywhere from 10-14″ of compacted, aggregate base will be necessary to give you driveway pavers the necessary foundation. Furthermore, keep in mind the “pitch” or the slope of your driveway. Make sure water will flow off it, preferably into your yard or the street, and not simply stand in place. The worst outcome of all is that water flows back into your house, potentially flooding the basement. Note, however, that the paver surface will be somewhat porous due to the joints, so some water will drain through the structure. Make sure you design your driveway with the proper amount of pitch to prevent any damage to your or surrounding homes. This may require some extra excavation or the addition of fill to properly grade out the area.

When designing and implementing your ideas, make sure you take into account the environment (is it hot or cold, generally? Rainy or dry?) as well as the soil or material naturally occurring in your front yard. Make sure you communicate this information to your contractor, as it could seriously affect your project.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of your driveway will depend on a number of factors, some of which are described elsewhere on the site. To get the pavers installed by a contractor, you’re looking within a range of $10 to $20 per square foot. Of course, the pavers cost will be lower if you get the pavers for sale or if you do it yourself, among other factors.

Maintaining Your Pavers Driveway

As mentioned above, maintenance of your paving stone project will be minimal compared to other materials. However, periodic cleaning and sealing of the surface will help preserve its beauty, color, and strength. You can obtain driveway sealer and apply it yourself, making for a cheap and quick DIY paving project.

Patio Pavers: What You Need to Know

An example of a paver patio. Used under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. Original photo by Sarah S. Tate.

An example of a paver patio.

Paver patios are a great addition to any home. If you want  a space in your backyard to hold a party, have a barbecue, or just enjoy your yard, a patio is the way to go. And as we’ll see, pavers are one of the best materials you can use to create these projects.

Patio pavers go well in nearly any backyard with any decor. The design options are near limitless, and they require little maintenance. Best of all,  the patio paver usually requires a simple installation, especially if there are no curves or cutting of the paving stones required (such as if the patio will be a perfect rectangle without any restrictive borders like your home, a walkway, a pool, etc.). Thus, it is well within the range of the typical DIY homeowner.

Overall, the look, feel, and comfort of any backyard can be improved with the addition of patio pavers. As we can see in this picture, adding a table and chairs to your patio can make it a great place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

Types of Paver Patios

There are three general types of paver that can be used for a backyard patio: concrete, stone, or clay pavers. While this page will focus on the concrete variety, stone and clay (or brick) pavers are also a viable option. The major differences between these pavers and the concrete type are primarily in their looks and price. Stone pavers, for instance, look more ‘natural’ than concrete paving stones. However, this beauty costs. Otherwise, brick, stone, and concrete are largely the same in the following parameters.

There are many reasons to select concrete paving stones as the material that will make up your patio. The major reason is strength – they are both durable and flexible. The compact base underneath, as long as it is installed correctly, gives the concrete pavers patio stability while preventing major settling due to the bending and buckling when water freezes and thaws. This flexibility and durability is also increased by the joints between the pavers. For these reasons, pavers resist cracking and splitting which may befall other materials options. While the installation of a patio paver is usually more expensive than other options, like poured or stamped concrete or asphalt, the results are much more pleasing to the eye and easier to maintain in the long run.

Other Benefits of Patio Pavers

Using concrete pavers for patio construction is an especially good option if the patio is near a pool or if you live in an rainy environment, as the surface of the pavers are simultaneously smooth, ensuring a great look, while also being slip-resistant. Even if someone’s feet are wet and the pavers are wet, they will not slip as the surface gives enough friction to prevent this. Furthermore, as discussed above, unlike asphalt and concrete the patio  will not develop any cracks which someone could fall over. Thus patio patio paving stones are a great option if you like to entertain or if you have active children.

Maintenance and repair of these brick is also relatively simple. If you need to replace a paver that has been chipped or stained, simply pop it out and replace it with a new one. Maintenance is limited to periodic cleanings of the surface, refilling the joints with sand or joint material, and sealing the surface to protect it from water, fading, and stains.

What about other materials choices? Sure, you could throw down some easy and quick concrete. However, this material won’t look nearly as good as pavers,  even if you get the stamped or colored variety, and it won’t last as long – it will crack eventually. Even if budget is a consideration, you may still be able to find a paver project that’s right for you and your home.

Original photo by field outdoor spaces. http://www.flickr.com/photos/7282451@N02/417067726/ Used under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en.

Another example of a patio made with pavers. Note the waterfall in the background and the 'square' shape of the project.

Patio Paver Design

One of the other benefits of paving stones is the sheer number of options you have for design. As seen in the two photos on this site, you can create many different projects depending on the shape, dimensions, pattern, and color selections you make.

Here are some general design tips for a concrete paver patio. When it comes to design, the first major choice you need to made is on the brick level – what kind of paver to use. There are different styles, textures, surfaces, shapes, sizes, and colors of pavers. The paver you select will have a profound impact on the design options available to you.

Take, for instance, the shape of the pavers. You can buy paving stones in a variety of shapes, from the standard rectangles and squares to the more daring circles, octagons, zigzags, hexagons, and even irregular shapes. Obviously, the shape you pick will both determine and limit the patterns you can lay the brick in.

When choosing patio paver colors, make sure to see what would look the best given the color scheme of your house and backyard and any other distinguishing features of it. When deciding upon paver patterns for the patio (like herringbone or running bond) consider what might look the best given whatever structures are surrounding your project. Certain patterns will look different and give a different appearance, so be sure you know what a pattern will look like, and how it will interact with other features of your landscape and hardscape. You may consider working with a professional designer to maximize the beauty of your project, or you could try it yourself, especially if the project is simple.

For other pattern and design ideas, check out other parts of this site.

Installation and Laying of Patios

Depending on the size of your proposed patio, completion of the project could take anywhere from two days to a week or more. Budget in some extra time just in case the installation hits any snags or takes longer than expected. For more installation tips, see the “Installation” section of this site.

A very important consideration when planning out your paver designs is to consider the grade, or the slope, around your proposed area. You or your contractor will need to ensure that any water that may fall on the patio, like during heavy rains, will not simply lay there or, worse, flow back to your house, flooding your basement or doing other structural damage.  Also, if you are planning on installing your patio in a new area, make sure there are no important utility lines or cesspools that may disrupt the patio. Think of the behavior of your backyard – certain areas may be more weak than others, which could cause settling. Though concrete paving stones are strong individually and as an interlocking unit, without a firm foundation they can settle (though it is not in principle difficult to fix if they do).

One thing to keep in mind when planning a paver patio: whoever is installing your project, either you or a contractor, will need to get materials into the backyard. If you have a fence that blocks entry, you may have to take it down temporarily to admit machines and materials, if necessary. It is possible to dump the materials in your front yard and wheelbarrow them back by hand. This option however could add expense and time in order to properly complete the project. Work with your contractor to figure out what can be done to expedite the process.

The Cost of a Patio Made with Pavers

The cost of patio pavers will depend on a number of factors. In general, the average paver patio cost for an entire fresh installation (excavation, new sub base, pavers installed) can run anywhere from $8 to $15 a square foot. The actual price will depend on a number of factors, including some of the following:

  • Paver patio cost will depend on how much preparation needs to be done in the area. If there is an already existing installation, or if a lot of excavation and removal of material is required, prices will be higher than if the area is already prepped, or if the pavers will be installed over an existing concrete slab.
  • Geographical location. Your pavers will be more expensive if you live in an area with a higher standard of living.
  • Labor costs. The price of a paver patio will be lower if you do more of the installation and hard labor yourself. The more you give to contractors, the more you’ll have to pay.
  • The specific designs. A complex design will require more time and effort (especially in the form of cuts to the bricks) than a simple design, potentially adding to the expense.
  • The brand of pavers you select. Some are better quality than others and thus require a bit more money to purchase. However, you may want to invest in the higher quality paver so you won’t have to replace the installation as quickly as if you went with a cheaper, but less durable and beautiful, option.

Though the paver patio cost estimate seems rather high, it’s actually a great balance between strength, beauty, and value. You know you’ll have the patio for a long time, and it will also add to the value of your home, representing a strong investment in your home’s beauty and in your own financial life.

How to Install Concrete Pavers Yourself

Perhaps you’ve decided that hiring a professional might cost too much or be too expensive or risky; perhaps you trust in your own abilities to install concrete pavers, or you have a friend or family member in the trade, willing to help you. How do you go about installing paving stones for your driveway, patio, or walkway? Keep reading for some great hints, tips, and secrets for concrete pavers installation, straight from the source: someone who’s done it before! Installing pavers yourself is a great way to get a discount on your own project, as the labor costs are one of the major reasons for the relatively high prices of these installations.

Before beginning your installation, make sure you have all the paver tools and materials you’ll need to complete the project. This process also assumes that you’ve already selected the paver sizes, shape, style and colorof your brick.

Note that many of these instructions also apply to other paver materials – natural stone like flagstone pavers and cobblestone, brick pavers and clay pavers, rubber pavers, and even grass pavers. However, find instructions for these particular materials, as details may and will vary.

If you are ever unsure, it’s best to consult with a professional pavers contractor who can give you advice about your specific project. You may also get contractors to do particular parts of the installation; for instance, you can hire someone to do the excavation while you act as the installer.

For visual hints and tips on how to lay concrete pavers, see the videos at the bottom of this article.

  1. Determine the area in which the pavers will be installed, whether front yard, backyard, or the side of your house. Pavers can be used in many projects, including driveway driveway pavers, patio pavers, walkway pavers, garden pavers, and more. Come up with paver designs (yourself or professionally) for how the project will look. How long and wide will it be? Will it have pedestrian or vehicular traffic? Obtain or make a sketch or plan for your paving stone installation; you can draw it out on graph paper or regular paper, just make sure you have all the dimensions and important features of the terrain marked out. Also make sure that there are no utility lines where you will do the excavation.  TOOLS & MATERIALS: Paper, tape measure, pencil, camera.
  2. You’ll want to figure out the total square footage of the installation, as this will determine how much material (sand, aggregate, pavers, edging, etc.) you’ll need for the project. Don’t look to skimp on the cost of the project by not getting enough material – this will compromise the strength and beauty of the  project.
  3. Once you’re ready to begin the project, sketch out your project dimensions in the area in your yard. You can use spray paint, for instance, to mark out the grass and soil for excavation. Add a buffer of about 8 inches along the sides of the project, as you’ll want to leave extra room around the entire project to complete the job. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Spray paint.
  4. Excavate the area to the appropriate depth (6-8″ pedestrian,9-12″ vehicular). Use shovels and wheelbarrows to remove the grass, sod, soil, and fill as necessary. You may also use a Bobcat or other machine to help this process. Make sure to remove it from everywhere you’ve marked, even the extra 8 inches that you’ve added to all the sides of the project as a buffer. Be careful to note any utility or electrical lines in the area – you don’t want to dig up a nasty surprise! Call utility companies as necessary to prevent any further problems. Note: Make sure you complete your project during the warm months, because if the ground is frozen this step may be impossible or very difficult. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Shovels, wheelbarrow, pick, Bobcat (optional), container/truck (to remove dirt/grass).
  5. Establish grade (slope) to let water flow/drain. Make sure the driveway (or walkway or patio) doesn’t pitch towards the house, as then you may have flooding. Also make sure there are no holes or dips where water can congregate. Interlocking pavers do drain naturally, and advantage it has over poured concrete or asphalt, but you still need to be mindful of where the water is going to go once you’ve installed your concrete pavers. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Level (a laser level is best).
  6. Lay lines and corners with string and stakes to mark out your intended paver installation. Don’t forget to include some breathing room (about 6-8 inches) around the entire design, but make sure to mark out exactly where the pavers are going. Make sure they are straight and parallel/perpendicular to the house, pool, or whatever reference point you are using for your design. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Level, stakes, string, tape measure.
  7. Determine the amount of materials you will require – aggregate, sand, and concrete pavers (and joint dust, if necessary). Make allowances in your order for waste and for cuts – leave some room so you order enough! It is possible to order less than full pallets. You’ll want to add 5% to your square footage for pavers to account for cuts and waste; make it 10% if your project will have lots of cutting. When you order material, simply tell the supplier the square footage of the pavers you need. Note that some pavers and color blends don’t work well with particular sized installations, particularly if they are small.
  8. Compact sub base. You will need to obtain either a hand tamper or a compactor for this. A compactor can be bought, rented, or borrowed. This step will provide you with a solid, compacted base. After compacting, ensure that the grade is correct, as well as the depth. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Hand tamper/compactor, tape measure, shovel.
  9. Spread aggregate base (3-5″ pedestrian, 6-10″ vehicular) and compact. This serves as the main layer of the paver base. You might want to add some moisture to the project before compacting to help it compact together more tightly. You might have to add more aggregate base if the ground is soft, such as if it made of clay, to ensure a more stable installation. Make sure that the grade/depth is correct. You can obtain this aggregate base (recycled concrete) at your local mason or supply yard. You can also use gravel, limestone, or any other large stone material. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Recycled concrete/aggregate base, shovels, Bobcat (optional), wheelbarrow, compactor/hand tamper, tape measure.
  10. Note that this process uses no mortar or poured concrete. This material will just crack and decay over time, damaging the integrity of your paving stone project.
  11. You may want to add the aggregate base in multiple layers instead of one single layer – some compactors can only handle 3 inches of material at a time, so make sure you keep the layer thicknesses manageable. The more time and care you put into the base, the better. Once the broad grading is done, you’ll want to go in and confirm that all the levels and grades are correct. You can use pipes and screeds to make sure the aggregate base is at the perfect level. Compact one last time. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Aggregate base, metal pipes, metal screeds.
  12. Spread 1 to 1-1/2” of sand over base and screed. You can either use fine sand or polymeric sand that you purchase from your mason supply yard or paver manufacturer. To screed, lay down 1″ PVC pipes parallel to each other, and use a wooden plank or metal plank to level out the sand. Fill in the pipe holes with sand and level out by hand. This sand base should not be disturbed. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Sand, shovels, 1″ PVC pipes, screed.
  13. Place your concrete pavers in the paver patterns according to your designs, making sure to keep them tight to each other. Carefully think out your laying concrete pavers strategy – will you start the paver installation near the edge of the house? Near another landmark? Somewhere else? Which direction will you go? This is all important to prevent future delays and problems. If you have a border, like a soldier course, you may want to start there first. Make sure you inspect the pallets to ensure you have the right shape and color of concrete pavers that you ordered. When removing bricks from the pallets, don’t just take from one pallet, working from the top down. To ensure color variety, you need to take each column of pavers (from top to bottom) from multiple pallets in order to get the right color blend. Periodically check for depth, alignment, and straightness (using tape measure, carpenter’s square, etc.). Use a rubber mallet to keep the pavers tight together, if necessary, or to level out any individual paver. Make sure you put down a wooden board where you are kneeling, or where you may be walking back and forth, in order to prevent the pavers from being smashed into the ground and thus becoming unlevel and creating holes or dips. Also keep away from the edges of the project totally, as these are the most vulnerable to weight and shifting. While you’re laying pavers, make sure to continually check on the pattern – have you made any mistakes? Catch them and correct them before you lay too many more. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Concrete pavers, mallet, level, tape measure, wooden boards, knee pads.
  14. Cut borders/other stones as necessary. Use a pencil/crayon to mark the pavers as necessary in order to make the cuts. This will be especially important if you will be installing patio pavers near an immovable structure (such as a house or pool or yard) and if you need to have any circular patterns or curves. To make smooth curves, consider using a thin piece of wood and bend it along your edge, marking each brick as a piece of this curve. Use a wet saw with a diamond blade if you will have to do a lot of cuts; if only a few are required, a dry saw will do. If cutting the bricks when they are dry, be extra careful of particles that could damage your eyes, nose, etc. Wear proper safety equipment – gloves, safety glasses, and respiratory protection. Make sure you know cutting concrete pavers tips and methods before attempting it, as you could ruin the brick or hurt yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. TOOLS & MATERIALS: Wet/dry saw, pencil/crayon, straight edge.
  15. Put in edge restraints. There are many different kinds of paver edging, from plastic to aluminum to concrete. The best, in general, is aluminum edging. Make sure they are tight and backfilled with fill/topsoil if necessary. Pound in the spikes with your mini sledge hammer.
  16. If you are installing pool pavers, you may have to add coping or other material to surround the pool and pool deck aside from edging.
  17. You may want to give the paver project a first compacting without any more sand added to the joints. This first compacting will begin the process by which the pavers interlock.
  18. Sweep the surface clean, and then sweep in more sand (or other joint material) into the spaces between the bricks. You’ll want to make sure the sand is somewhat coarse and irregular to encourage proper compacting. There are special kinds of paver sand out there for you to use for this step if you want to. Then compact with a compactor; this will “lock in” your project due to the interlocking action of concrete pavers. You may have to compact more than once.
  19. Clear off the pavers with a gentle flow of water – make sure everything drains correctly through and across the paving stone project.

Congratulations! You’re done installing pavers, and you’ve finished your concrete pavers driveway, patio, walkway, or pool deck! Eventually, you’ll want to seal your pavers according to the instructions given to you by your manufacturer, but you won’t have to do this until the pavers have settled for a bit.

If you need more help, check out these installation videos.

First, a video on how to install the base for your paving stones:

Next, here’s how to install your pavers once the base has been laid: