How to Install a Base for Pavers

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Pavers are used to create patios, driveways, walkways and other outdoor elements. They are made from concrete or stone, and can be installed by most DIY homeowners. Before installing pavers in your yard, it is important that you prepare a solid base first. This will help keep the pavers from cracking or shifting over time, and may also improve drainage. Once your base has been completed, you will have a much better chance of installing pavers successfully.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • String
  • Wooden stakes
  • Shovel
  • Plate compactor (can be rented)
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Gravel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Garden hose
  • Edge restraints
  • Sand
  • 2-by-4 or scrap lumber
  • Determine where you will install your pavers. Use wooden stakes and string to mark the area of installation, as well as an additional 12 inches around the perimeter. This added area is needed to ensure the stability of your base area.

  • Use a shovel to remove all dirt or sod from this marked-off area. Dig down 7 inches if the pavers will be used for foot traffic only, or 9 inches if the pavers will be used for vehicle traffic.

  • Compact the soil within the hole when you've finished digging. Use a plate compactor for larger jobs, or a hand tamper for smaller projects. When the soil is properly compacted, it should be very firm, and will not show indentations from footprints.

  • Cover the bottom of the hole with a layer of landscaping fabric. This material will prevent plants from growing up through your pavers.

  • Fill the hole with a base layer of medium-sized gravel. Use 4 inches of gravel for foot traffic, or 6 inches for pavers that will accommodate vehicle traffic. Spread the gravel out across the surface, creating a very slight downward slope away from the house. The slope should be no greater than 3/16 inch. This will improve drainage without making the pavers look uneven.

  • Use your plate compactor to compact the gravel. Add water as you work to help with compaction. When the gravel is fully compacted, you will be able to walk on it without leaving footprints or indentations.

  • Cover the gravel with a 1-inch layer of sand. Use a 2-by-4 to spread the sand across the gravel and maintain your slight slope. Wet the sand when you are done. The base is now ready for paver installation.

Tips & Warnings

  • In some areas, you may be required to call your local utility company before digging. This gives the company time to mark any existing lines or pipes running through your yard. This service is often free, and is a good idea even when it is not required by law.

References

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