How to Prep for Pavers

1. Visualize the dream

Several manufacturers offer free online tools to hSeveral manufacturers offer free online tools to help you choose the perfect backyard pavers and visualize your patio design. This allows you to experiment with different colors, textures and styles, and gives you an idea of what the patio will look upon completion.

Likewise, some manufacturers also offer the option for you to order 2D or 3D renderings for an even more realistic look at your future masterpiece. This usually involves working with a contractor within their authorized network. This will also help with estimation of materials, which can be a bit more complicated than calculating just square footage.

How to prep and lay a base

You can lay a structurally sound base in four simple steps: layout, grade, gravel, and sand. Before you jump in, you’ll need a few tools and materials to do it right. You can get many of these items at a Western Interlock facility in Oregon or Washington, a local hardware store, or landscape supplier.


  • Work gloves
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape measure
  • 24” level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Steel tamper or plate compactor
  • Pickaxe or mattock
  • Shovel
  • Garden rake
  • Concrete placer
  • 10’–12’ aluminum strike board


  • Marking paint (white)
  • Line level
  • Geo-textile
  • ¾” minus gravel
  • Washed concrete sand
  • 1” square (or round) metal pipe bars or ¾” PVC pipe
  • Plastic edge restraint


Can you lay a patio without cement?

It is possible to lay a patio without cement as an alternative, provided you choose an area of the yard that’s well drained, firm and level. Scroll down to get the lowdown. You can lay a patio by putting the pavers on to sand rather than on to a mortar mix made using sand and cement. For a patio laid this way choose a well-drained area. 

Using a spade, dig out the chosen area to about 6 inches (150mm) and level it.

Lay road base/hardcore to a compacted depth of 2 inches (50mm), then repeat to create a 4 inch (100mm) sub base. On top, lay a 2 inch (50mm) layer of sharp sand. 

The patio slabs should then be laid, leaving a small gap between them. Fill the gaps with sand using a broom to sweep it into the spaces so they’re filled. Spray the patio with water, and let the sand settle. 

As spaces appear fill them with more sand as before, and do so again after a week or so.

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3. Dig deep

You’ll need to dig about 8 to 10 inches into the dirt to prepare the section of the yard where you plan to lay your patio. If the soil is dry, give it some water the night before you dig to make the earth softer, and digging easier. Always dig out a larger area than needed, about 3 to 6 inches outside the area where the backyard pavers will be set. Clear out grass or roots.

Dial 811 and talk to your local utilities before you dig to make sure you’re clear of any cable, electrical or plumbing lines; they can come to your site and mark these areas. Also consider if you will need to run wires through your patio, perhaps for landscaping lighting or perhaps a water feature; incorporating a sleeve/pipe under the pavers will allow you to do this.

Safety Considerations

Moving large amounts of heavy materials can take a toll on your body. Use a wheelbarrow. When shoveling, lift from your legs, not your back. Keep in mind that base materials (crushed gravel) are heavier than dirt, so use only partial shovel loads.

Wear breathing protection. Frequently spray the area with water to keep the dust down.

3. Prepare the underneath of paving slabs with a sub-base

You do need to put something under paving slabs. Paving slabs should not be laid directly on to soft ground or grass. What’s crucial to patio laying success is a sub-base to provide the support paving slabs require. 

You’ll need a sub-base, which is the main load-bearing layer of your patio. The best sub-base for a patio is hardcore laid to the correct depth, along with a binding layer of sand. The pavers should then be laid on mortar made using sand and cement.

To do this, fill the bottom of your patio area with the sub-base and rake to an even depth of 50mm, then compact – you can do this by just walking over it (or you can hire a vibrating plate compactor), ensuring that you cover the entire area twice.

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Step 6 Add sand

In a procedure that’s similar to that of the last step, drive stakes through the area whose height will represent the total height of sand you will be adding. Again, level those stakes according to the reference strings and considering the fact that you want to fill the area with sand in a way that the pavers’ height will be the only thing left to add.

That means, in our project, those stakes will have to be spaced 6 inches from the strings.

Now spread the sand through the whole area and level it with the lumber making sure it is at the same height as the stakes. Next, you need to install paver restrains and the pavers themselves.

3 Types of Pavers

There are three main types of pavers that are used in construction projects, which include:

  1. 1. Natural stone pavers: Almost any natural stone can be used to pave anything from driveways, to patios, to stone walkways. Some popular examples of natural stone used in paving include travertine, granite, slate, basalt, and cobblestone.
  2. 2. Brick: Brick pavers are made from clay and have been used as paving material for thousands of years. They’re durable enough to withstand the weight of cars, so if you’re looking to pave a driveway, brick may be a great option.
  3. 3. Concrete: Concrete pavers are a cost-effective paving option. Concrete pavers are also easy to stain with different colors, allowing you to customize the look of your pavers to fit with your landscaping.

Find the perfect paver

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Get a personalized paver recommendation

Choosing a paver can sure feel overwhelming. You have to consider size, style, thickness, color, and more. That’s why we made a short and simple quiz that asks a few questions about what you’re looking for and, at the end, provides a recommendation, or two, you can start with.

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