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How to Lay Pavers With This 5-Step Guide

When it comes to hardscaping projects, you can’t go wrong with pavers. They come in many different colours, shapes and sizes, allowing you to create a wide variety of mosaic patterns that best suit your tastes. Pavers work great on pathways, planters, walkways, and even driveways. They resemble an old-world European feel that looks perfect for almost any hardscaping project you can think of.

Not only do pavers look aesthetically pleasing, but they’re also easy to maintain. Just pull out one or two pavers and replace them with new ones in order to preserve its classic appeal. One of the main benefits to pavers is its water-absorbing features. Even in heavy downpour, pavers absorb water slowly to prevent standing water from forming. It’s no surprise that many homeowners use pavers because of its rustic appeal and its low-maintenance characteristics.

While pavers bring forth plenty of advantages, you have to know how to lay them properly. If you don’t, the pavers can shift out of place and cause a number of different problems. If you’re interested in using pavers for your next hardscaping project, then you came to the right place. This 5-step guide will help you lay down pavers correctly so you can enjoy a sturdy, beautiful outdoor flooring and you can also check Soil Yourself for more tips.

Step 1: Prepare the foundation
The first step in laying pavers is to prepare the foundation. Check to make sure you’re using a rubble and root-free sand sub-base with a minimum thickness of 50mm. Level the sub-base thoroughly and damp it down before using a hand compactor to pack it in. For most domestic applications, hand compaction is usually enough when laying pavers, but if you’re laying it on high-traffic vehicular areas, then mechanical compaction will be necessary.

Step 2: Spreading the sand

This step is where you establish your final level by spreading the sand. Simply lay two runner boards (either metal or timber) on leveled sand and spread the sand loosely over the areas between the runner boards. From there, screed the sand with a notched screen board to remove high spots and fill up low spots.

Step 3: Laying the pavers

Start by laying the pavers at a straight, fixed edge. Work your way slowly by laying the pavers according to your desired pattern. Gently place each paver on top of the sand and use a rubber mallet to tap it lightly into place. You can also hand tamper the pavers if you wish. Make sure that the pavers have at least a 2mm gap in between for sand filling later on. Since you won’t be able to walk on screeded sand, work in small sections and use the laid pavers as a walking platform.

Step 4: Compacting and joint filling

After laying the pavers successfully, you can now proceed to compaction and joint filling. Before compacting, apply a thin layer of joint filling sand and spread it evenly throughout the paver joints. This will help minimise surface damage and aid with the movement of the compactor.

Use a high frequency, low aptitude compactor to compact the pavers. Usually, three passes is enough to set the pavers in place. The surface area of the compactor should be wide enough to cover 12 pavers at once and the metal base should be covered to prevent it from damaging the surface of the pavers.

For a cushioning effect, consider adding a 12mm plywood sheet onto the base of the compactor. After the compacting is finished, brush the surface with clean, washed white dry sand. Make sure all the joints are completely filled before sweeping off any excess. Once the paving has been laid, apply a final layer of sand and sweep it onto the joints to achieve maximum lock-up and ensure each joints are completely filled.

5. Edge restraints

The last step in laying pavers is to install edge restraints on edges that don’t rest on a solid kerb or wall. This helps prevent the pavers from spreading under loads and resist lateral shifting altogether. Both the subgrade and sub-base need to be compacted underneath the edge restraint while extending at least 100mm beyond its outer edge.

A pre-mixed concrete (20:14) i.e. 20mpa, 14mm aggregate size can be used to install the edge restraint barrier. Ideally, the barrier should extend at around 100mm beneath the brick and extend at 100mm beyond the header course. The depth should be around 100mm as well.

The completed barrier must extend 20mm from the bottom of the header course. This is what creates the lip that forms a restraint to stop the paving from shifting and moving.

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