Ready to install your new natural, concrete, porcelain or brick pavers? Before you dive in headfirst, you should take a few moments to regroup and make sure that you know exactly what you’re doing.
After all, you want the finished project to look beautiful and to last for many years to come. Because we’re so invested in helping our customers find success with their paver jobs, we’ve come up with a list of 10 “Dos and Don’ts” that will guide you through the process, from start to finish.
1 – DO map out your project area
Prior to anything else, it’s wise to use some sort of design software in order to create a map or drawing of your project area. A scaled design will help you in a couple ways.
First, it will assist with the process of calculating all of your required materials. Secondly, a mock-up of this sort will help you to determine how your completed project will look in relation to other landscaping and architectural features throughout your property. This will help you end up with a space that you’ll be happy.
2 – DON’T try to ‘guesstimate’
One of the biggest customer complaints that we’ve heard throughout the years is that they wish they had made their project areas larger.
This happens because people try to make guesses or to “eyeball” their project areas instead of taking the time to really map them out and see how large the space will be.
It’s important to really know how much room will be left to walk around and “live” once the outdoor fireplace, barbecue, patio furniture, etc. has been installed.
3- DO work with a reputable supplier
An otherwise fabulous project can be brought down by a sub-par materials supplier. It’s very important to make sure that you’re working with a company that has your best interests at heart, providing only the highest quality paving materials at the fairest prices.
When looking to purchase pavers from brands like Belgard, Cambridge or Techo-Bloc, the simplest way to find a reputable supplier is to visit the brand’s website and seek out the locations of their authorized dealers.
Authorized dealers are those who will have the most accurate product information, the most complete product inventory and the most reasonable product prices.
4- DON’T cut corners
Once you have settled on the dimensions of your project area and have ordered your materials, you’re ready to begin the excavation process. It’s wise to make sure that all underground utilities (i.e.: phone and gas lines) are clearly marked so that you don’t accidentally disturb these spots.
You will also need to over-excavate the total perimeter of the project area – you can’t cut corners! For example, if your patio is going to be 20’x10’, you’ll need to extend your base preparation out further than this.
A good rule to follow is that the base material should extend past any paved edges in a distance equal to the base depth. If your 20’x10’ patio is to have a 6” base, then you should excavate a total area of 21’ (20’ +6” +6”) by 11’ (10’ +6” +6”).
5 – DO compact base layers at 3” intervals
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can simply excavate the project area, dump in all of your base materials and then compact them down all at once. This simply won’t work.
Most plate compactors can only compact 3″-4″ of material at a time. This means to you’ll need to pour about 3″ of material at a time, compact it down and then move on to the next layer. This will prevent settling and problems with structural integrity over time.
6 – DON’T compact bedding sand
Speaking of compaction, you absolutely don’t want to compact your bedding sand down once it has been poured on top of the base materials. Why? You need the sand to be loose in order to keep your pavers in place.
Once you put your pavers down and complete the final compaction, any loose sand will end up being forced up into the spaces between the pavers, which will help to set and secure them. In addition to this, loose sand is helpful in creating a smooth and more even surface for your pavers.
7 – DO use precision when laying and spacing your pavers
You need to make sure to lay out your pavers with absolute precision right from the very start. It’s a good idea to use string or landscaping paint/tape in order to maintain a straight edge, but you should continue to use measuring tape to ensure that the edge is perfect every few feet or so.
Remember, making a mistake on the outside edge will only make things worse as you work inward, so be sure to be on the ball from the get-go.
8 – DON’T hammer pavers together
You may feel the temptation to take a hammer and mallet in order to hammer the different pavers together for a tight, sleek look – but we urge you to reconsider. Having your pavers placed too tightly together can actually create problems over time.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that pavers are spaced apart at 3mm, or 1/8″. You certainly don’t need to use a tape measure to measure this small gap between each and every paver, but familiarize yourself with the distance and leave room between the units.
9 – DO use an edge restraint
Over time, it’s natural for the ground to shift and move, and with it, you can expect that your pavers may shift or move out of place a little. The best way to make sure that your pavers stay in line and don’t need to be dug-up and re-installed, is to make use of a good edge restraint.
Don’t want to line the perimeter of your pavers with a stone or concrete edging material? No problem. Invisible edge restraints can be used that are spiked into the base materials. They’re very reliable and are easy and flexible to work with.
10 – DON’T activate polymeric sand without thoroughly sweeping your pavers
Polymeric sand is powerful stuff. Once the pavers have been installed, the polymeric sand should be swept between each of your pavers to level with the top of the unit.
Spraying water on the sand will activate the polymers, causing it to harden, so make sure there’s no excess sand on top of the pavers or else you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Enjoy Simple Paver Installations with Braen Supply
Following these 10 “Do” and “Don’t” tips will make your life a heck of a lot easier as you improve your landscape with pavers. Braen Supply can make your work even simpler.
As the leading supplier of concrete, porcelain and brick pavers, Braen Supply offers a massive inventory of products that will suit your every need. We’re happy to help you select the right materials for your project, and can provide you with advice for getting the job done right.
We can also connect you with local contractors who are familiar with the pavers you intend to use. Our pavers can be picked up at your convenience or can be bulk delivered to areas throughout parts of NJ, NY, NYC and PA.