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Details

Lay concrete pavers or patio slabs

To build a pleasant outdoor living space such as a patio, summer kitchen or simply a walkway, pavers are the ideal solution. Stylish and durable, they look great and will withstand the rigours of the Canadian climate. While they are simple to lay, the ground must be properly prepared so they do not shift or become dislodged.

Pavers and paving slabs

  • Buy more slabs or pavers than you actually need. Store these replacement units where they will be exposed to similar atmospheric conditions as the installed pavers.
  • The colour can vary from one box to another; mix pavers from different boxes before installing them.
  • Polymeric sand is specially formulated for the joints between pavers and paving slabs. It is applied dry and then hardens after watering. One of its many advantages is that it forms a barrier to weeds and ants.
1

Mark the perimeter and excavate

  • 1.1 - Using string and stakes, or landscaper's spray praint, mark out the perimeter of the area to be paved.
  • 1.2 - Add an extra 12" width on all sides for an even sturdier foundation.
  • 1.3 - Before digging, make sure you will not damage any power, telephone or gas lines running beneath the soil. If in doubt, contact the utility company concerned.
  • 1.4 - Determine the excavation depth and minimum foundation thickness, according to the project and type of soil.
  • 1.5 - Excavate the area to a maximum depth of 16", as indicated in the table.
  • 1.6 - You will need to provide a slope of ¼" per linear foot for drainage. A drainage slope of 2½" for every 9-10' length is sufficient.
  • 1.7 - Level out the excavated base with a rake. If the soil is sandy or granular, tamp it down with a plate compactor or vibratory roller.
Type of work
Parking area
Parking area
Patio, terrace or walkway
Patio, terrace or walkway
Soil type
Clayey
Sandy
Clayey
Sandy
Excavation depth
16"
12"
14"
10"
Foundation gravel thickness
12"
8"
10"
6"
Setting bed thickness (before compacting)
5/8" to 1"
5/8" to 1"
5/8" to 1"
5/8" to 1"
Paver thickness
2 3/8"
2 3/8"
2 3/8"
2 3/8"
Type of work
Parking area
Parking area
Patio, terrace or walkway
Patio, terrace or walkway
Soil type
Clayey
Sandy
Clayey
Sandy
Excavation depth
16"
12"
14"
10"
Foundation gravel thickness
12"
8"
10"
6"
Setting bed thickness (before compacting)
5/8" to 1"
5/8" to 1"
5/8" to 1"
5/8" to 1"
Paver thickness
2 3/8"
2 3/8"
2 3/8"
2 3/8"
2

Prepare the foundation

  • 2.1 - Lay geotextile fabric over the ground.
  • 2.2 - Spread the 0 - ¾" gravel over the fabric in successive 4" layers.
  • 2.3 - Water lightly and tamp down between each layer. The surface must be perfectly even.
  • 2.4 - Decide how high to build the foundation based on the thickness of your pavers and bearing in mind that the gravel will pack down further by about 3/8". For 16" of excavating you will need about 12" of gravel.
  • 2.5 - On the gravel bed, place a guide of approximately 1" thick (thickness of setting bed to be added later) and then a paver. Check that the foundation is level.
3

Install the edging

  • 3.1 - Place a temporary row of pavers around the edge of the area to mark the perimeter.
  • 3.2 - Check for level and height. These pavers will serve as a guide for installing the edging.
  • 3.3 - Install the paver edging along the outside edge of the guide pavers on 3 sides of the area. It is simpler to install the last row of edging after laying the paving stones so as to minimize cuts.
  • 3.4 - Push the edging down firmly into the gravel bed.
  • 3.5 - Remove the temporary pavers from the foundation.
4

Prepare the setting bed

  • 4.1 - Stretch a string over the surface to determine the final height of the paving. For a large area, include a slight slope to aid water drainage.
  • 4.2 - Spread the crushed gravel or stone dust to a thickness of 5/8" to 1". This thickness will be reduced by about 40% after tamping the pavers.
  • 4.3 - Level out the setting bed. This can be done using two rigid 1" diameter pipes and a straight plank.
  • 4.4 - Move the pipes along as needed to level the entire surface.
  • 4.5 - Fill the marks left by the pipes.
5

Lay the pavers

  • 5.1 - Start in a right-angled corner where there is an edging paver.
  • 5.2 - Delicately lay the pavers on the setting bed in the desired pattern.
  • 5.3 - Walk on the pavers and not on the setting bed.
  • 5.4 - Leave a small gap of about 1/8" between each paver.
  • 5.5 - Lay four to five rows, then check that the pavers are well aligned. Adjust the alignment with a screwdriver or similar implement if necessary.
  • 5.6 - Determine the position of the last row of edging so as to avoid having to cut the pavers.
  • 5.7 - Lay the last row of pavers and then the edging.
  • 5.8 - If necessary, cut the pavers with a masonry saw, well away from the paved area to avoid dust.
6

Fill the joints

  • 6.1 - Brush a fine layer of polymeric sand over the pavers or slabs, sweeping it in all directions to work it into the joints.
  • 6.2 - Tamp down with the vibrating plate compactor two or three times in all directions to press the stones down into the bed and further work in the sand.
  • 6.3 - Spread more sand and tamp down until the joints are filled properly.
  • 6.4 - Sweep away the excess sand.
  • 6.5 - Spread a layer of topsoil around the border of the paved surface.
  • 6.6 - Replace the strips of turf.

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