How to install a paver patio

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ May 10, 2012

Paver patios add a great accent to your landscaping. Whether you install it yourself or call in a contractor, you have a vast assortment of bricks, tiles, colors and patterns to choose from. You can design a paver patio to complement your exteriors, garden walls, and existing landscaping. Not only will a new patio add outdoor functional space, it is a durable improvement that can distinguish your home.

You can surf the web or visit your local home improvement store to round up backyard patio design ideas. Mixing different sizes and colors of pavers can create a dazzling effect. Since you will have to cut brick or tile and use a compactor to set your patio, be sure you're up for the job before beginning the project.

You already have most of the tools for the job, but you'll probably need to rent a compact brick cutter. If you do the work yourself, you should be able to bring the patio in for under $500.

First steps for the paver patio

Your patio must be laid on clear, uniform and level ground. Landscapers recommend you slope the patio one inch for every eight feet running from the house. You don't want to cause rot, runoff leaks or basement damage.

Mark out the patio with stakes and string. Dig down about six inches from the surface and rake the dirt smooth. You'll appreciate it later if you cover the surface with porous landscape fabric. The fabric lets the water drain, but prevents weeds from growing up into the patio.

Two to four-inches of crushed gravel will make a firm base atop your landscape fabric. Be sure to tamp the gravel down until the surface is firm. Dust the surface with builder's sand and smooth the entire foundation with a long board. Re-pack the surface as many times as necessary.

You can rent a plate compactor to tamp the foundation until it's rock-solid.

Laying out the pavers

Put in edging. It keeps unwanted vegetation out and keeps your pavers snug together. Use bricks, metal or lumber. Begin laying your pavers at the edge or the end closest to your house. You can use a wet saw or commercial brick cutter to make half-bricks or fill pieces. Keep your pavers as close as 1/8th inches apart and tamp them down with a rubber mallet. Use a level to ensure that the pavers are at the same height.

Last, fill gaps between pavers with fine grain sand using a push broom, and tamp again. Optional: Use a plate compactor (one or two passes) to set the pavers and level the surface.

Now, you're ready enjoy the benefits of a patio this summer.

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