How To Install Concrete Driveway Pavers

Paver Installation Tools:

  • Shovel
  • Tape Measure
  • Landscaping Rake
  • Tamper or Plate Compactor
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Hammer
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Circular Saw with Concrete Blade
  • Push Broom
  • Garden Hose
  • Level
  • Speed Square
  • String Line
  • Stakes
  • Eye Protection
  • Hearing Protection

Step Nine: Fill Holes

After your pavers have been laid down, you will need to fill up any holes or gaps between each individual paver with the proper joint sand or gravel. This enhances stability and ensures that the stones stay in place for a long time.

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4. Excavate dirt and debris

Excavate the dirt and debris to 7–13” below the finished grade, depending on the type of traffic the pavers will receive. If the pavers are only for pedestrian traffic, dig 7” below finished grade. If the project will be receiving vehicular traffic, excavate 9–13”.  

We recommend excavating this deep because vehicular traffic requires a super sturdy base. The deeper the base is excavated, the more gravel you can add and compact.

Pro Tip: If you remove large debris and are left with large divots do not backfill with dirt. Instead, backfill those depressions with gravel and hand tamp them before laying geotextile.

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4. Install Edging

Trench the Border Stone Area

Before replacing the border stones, trench the areas that lay against grass, dirt or asphalt. Your trench depth should reach the native soil (5 ½ inches for a patio and 7 ½ inches for a driveway) and extend the same width as your border stone.

Next, install proper bond beam footings into your trench. Rebar can be added for additional support and longevity (optional). Pour concrete, set your newly cut border stones in place and tamp them down. This can result in excess concrete on the side of the border stones. Be sure to remove the excess concrete from the outside edges of your pavers for a clean, beautiful finish.

Steps on How to Install a Permeable Paver Driveway

1. Test the Soil and Excavate

Photo by William Wright

First, call 811 for an underground utilities check. Next, do a percolation test to see how fast the soil absorbs water. (Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for details.) Remove the existing pavement, and dig to a minimum depth of 15 inches, unless the perc rate is less than 0.52 inches per hour. In that case, you may need a deeper base or drainage pipe.

2. Prepare the Stone Base Layers

Photo by William Wright

Cover the excavation with a 6-inch layer of ¾- to 2-inch washed crushed stone, which has sharp edges that knit together. (River gravel, with its rounded profile, is unacceptable.) Go over it twice with a plate compactor, across and lengthwise. Top with one 4-inch layer of ¼- to 1½-inch washed crushed stone, and compact that twice, too.

3. Screed the Bedding Layer

Photo by William Wright

Install a concrete or hard-plastic edging to keep the pavers from shifting. Then, starting from one corner, lay two 2-inch-diameter steel pipes about 6 feet apart and parallel on the compacted base. Cover them with ¼-inch stone, then pull a 2×4 screed board over the pipes to create a flat bed for setting the pavers. Lift out the pipes, fill the gaps, and repeat across the remaining area.5.

4. Place the Layers

Photo by William Wright

Starting at the lowest corner, set the pavers on the bedding layer, tight to the edging and one another. (Nibs on the sides of the pavers automatically create the drainage gaps.) Check every 6 to 10 feet to make sure the pavers are square to the first row. Place all the full-size pieces, then go back and cut pieces to fit in any gaps along the edges.

5. Fill the Joints

Photo by William Wright

Once the pavers are in, sprinkle ¼-inch stone, the same used in Step 3, on the surface, and sweep it into the gaps with a wide push broom. Push the broom diagonally across the grid so that you don’t dislodge any stones already in the joints.

6. Tamp

Photo by William Wright

Sweep the surface clean, then run a plate compactor diagonally over the entire driveway. The machine’s vibrations pack the pavers firmly into the bedding layer and lock them in place. Refill joints that have settled deeply, and compact again. Now your driveway is open for business, rain or shine.

6. Spread gravel

After you’ve set your grade, you’ll need to lay 4” of gravel base for pedestrian applications, 6–10” for vehicular. Be sure to use 3/4-0 or ODOT road base gravel so that you get a good mix of fine and coarse aggregate for the best compaction.

If you’re installing a residential driveway, you can get away with only 6” on a light, well-draining soil. In colder climates with continually wet or weak soils, add an extra 2–4” to your gravel base. For parking lots or residential streets, you’ll want to lay at least 8” if not 10” of gravel.

Many new hardscape DIYers make the mistake of using dirt as their base aggregate layer. Don’t do that! Your pavers are only as sturdy as your base. That means, if you use dirt, pavers quickly sink, rotate, and separate. 

Before moving on, your gravel base needs to be flat, without any bellies or rises of more than 1/8″. Any imperfections of more than this are noticeable in the final product. 

To accomplish this, you’ll need to compact your gravel with a steel tamper (for small projects) or a plate compactor (for large projects). Compact your gravel in 2″ lifts, which means, compact your gravel 2″ at a time until the desired thickness is achieved. For example, if you’re laying a circle patio for your backyard, you’ll need to spread a total of 4” of gravel, 2” at a time.

Drag a flat board across the compacted gravel to ensure there are no remaining dips or rises in the gravel. Compact the gravel one final time. Once your gravel is flat, your base is ready to start laying pavers.

Planning your driveway

While you’re looking at other concrete paver projects and considering the myriad colors, styles and other options, you’re also planning the driveway project. The two steps go hand in hand. You can’t really plan how many pavers you need, after all, until you know the size of your driveway and a general idea of what you want. You also can’t really plan the final appearance until you choose your pavers.

Try making a sketch first. Having your vision on paper allows for more precise planning. Next, stake out the driveway area. Measure and mark the length and width, following any curve or direction you choose. Allow for a minimum driveway width of 12 feet in the vehicle parking area to provide plenty of walkway around the cars. For length, allot at least 18 feet of length for each vehicle planned.

Decide what portion — if any — of the work you wish to do yourself. If the driveway area needs excavation, professional help will be useful. It also needs to be graded — meaning slightly sloped to allow water to run off into the appropriate area. A contractor knows how to easily grade the area while digging it out.

On top of hiring out the excavation and grading, you can also hire someone to lay the substrates (two layers) and even the pavers themselves. If you go this direction, make sure to comparison shop. Ask the contractor about other projects they’ve worked on and ask for pictures. Find out specifically what the contractor will and will not do.

If you choose to do the work yourself, make sure to line up everything you need before you start. Besides pavers, you also need the substrate materials (usually aggregate and sand) and the tools. You can rent plate compactors, diamond blade wet saws and other heavy equipment at most tool and equipment rental stores.

Driveway maintenance

Concrete paver driveways don’t require much maintenance if they are protected with a quality sealer and the joints are properly filled. To keep your driveway looking its best:

  • Sweep regularly to keep dirt, leaves and other debris from accumulating.
  • Rinse when necessary to remove heavy soiling.
  • Treat oil and grease stains with a pressure washer and the appropriate cleaning solution.
  • Reseal the driveway surface every few years.
  • Plow or shovel in winter as needed. Avoid using sharp objects to chip at the ice, which may result in shattering or cracking the pavers.

Use sand or a noncorrosive deicer like calcium magnesium acetate, never rock salt (sodium chloride) or calcium chloride. These products may cause efflorescence — a white, chalky discoloration.

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