How to Install a Paver Walkway

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A paver walkway adds a lasting, stylish touch to a yard. Paver walkways lead visitors to and from houses, around yards, through gardens and to larger, more striking paver installations such as patios and pool surrounds. Pavers come in a variety of colors, shapes, textures and sizes, testing the limits of homeowners' imaginations and design capabilities. With an abundance of paver-related information available and knowledgeable home-center specialists waiting to help, getting started installing a paver walkway is as easy as collecting the tools, ordering the supplies and rolling up your sleeves.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Flat spade
  • Metal rake
  • Plate vibrator
  • Gravel
  • Pavers
  • 1-inch diameter pipes
  • 36-inch piece of 2-by-4
  • Mason's chisel
  • Small sledgehammer
  • Plastic edge restraints
  • 9-inch galvanized nails
  • Stakes
  • String
  • Lay the walkway on the ground, using a hose or rope (keep in mind that curves require cutting more pavers than straight runs). Make sure that the walkway is at least 36 inches wide. Measure the walkway's length. Calculate the amount of stone and stone dust (in cubic feet), and pavers (in square feet) needed to complete the job. Add 5 percent to totals to calculate for breakage and unforeseen problems. Design the walkway, choosing paver colors, layout and pattern. Calculate the total depth of excavation required by adding together the 3 inches required for the base, a 1-inch stone dust bedding, and the thickness of the pavers you selected. Plan to work when the ground has been dry for several days.

  • Dig out the walkway to the required depth. Square the sides with a flat spade. Compact the soil with a plate vibrator. Drive in stakes along the sides. Run string between the stakes. Set the string's height at 3 inches.

  • Add a 3-inch layer of crushed gravel as a base, raking out 1 inch at a time. Compact each inch layer with a plate vibrator, starting at the edges and working inward. Lay and compact subsequent layers until the base height reaches the string. Remove the stakes and string.

  • Lay 1-inch-diameter pieces of pipe along the edges of the pathway. Add a 1 1/2-inch layer of stone dust. Run a 36-inch-long piece of 2-by-4 between the pipes, leveling (screeding) the layer. Using the pipes as screed guides, add stone dust and screed until the layer is 1 inch deep. Remove the pipes. Fill in the spaces with stone dust. Smooth and compact the stone dust with a trowel.

  • Install plastic retainer strips (edge restraints) along the length of the walkway. Secure the retainers with 9-inch galvanized spikes every 3 feet.

  • Lay out the pavers in the desired pattern on the compacted gravel dust. Do not press or hammer them in. Trim the pavers when necessary with a mason's chisel and a small sledgehammer.

  • Spread a layer of gravel dust on top of the pavers. Spread the dust with a broom, sweeping it into the cracks between the pavers. Run the vibratory plate over the pavers. Sweep again, making sure the sand fills all cracks. Run the vibratory plate over the pavers again. Repeat this procedure until all joints are tightly filled.

  • Sweep up the excess sand.

Tips & Warnings

  • Preparing the base correctly is vital. A sturdy base increases walkway longevity. Ask a professional about figuring slope and grade into your design. Proper water runoff prevents flooding. Installing plastic sheeting or landscape fabric between layers can impede drainage. Ask a professional about its benefits and drawbacks before installing.
  • Before digging, call your local utility companies to locate and mark out any underground lines. Know how to operate the plate vibrator before using it. Always wear protective eyewear when working with tools.

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