Lay block paving

Learn how to lay block pavingLearn how to lay block paving on driveways and patios.

Here is a helpful guide to help you lay block paving including the preparation of the ground before you begin the installation.

We have included tips on installing block paving although this is only a brief description. Further reading can be found with each section below.

If you have any questions you would like answered with regards to laying block paving on a driveway or patio then please ask them below in the comment section and I will do my best to answer them for you. Or you could contact us with you question for any advice you may need.

Order the block paving and building materials

You have to consider when buying any paving, sand or aggregates in bulk that it usually takes a day or two to arrive from the point of ordering to having your building materials delivered. You will also need to know the quantities and the type of paving you need to order. Once decided you can plan your project in detail. We have a large selection of block paving so why not check out our prices to buy block paving for your driveway or patio before you begin.

Remember you will need a safe place to store paving and aggregates (Sand, cement, stone) safe from the highway pavement, road and pedestrians. Remember “where there’s blame there’s a claim”.

Preparation of the area before you lay block paving

You will first need to mark out the area that is going to be paved.

This can be done with string and pegs, a spray can for marking out areas or even an old hose pipe laid on the ground. You should use a tape measure to make sure areas are square to the house (if you like straight lines) or to the size you require if you are to lay block paving on a garden extension area and would like space for a number of cars or even to allow room for sheds etc.

Measure the width/length of your car, remembering to allow extra space for getting in and out of the vehicle. This will then give you an indication of how much soil area will need to be dug out for the new paving to be laid.

Removal of sub base

Before you lay block paving your old driveway surface such as old tarmac, old concrete, vegetation and the soil sub-base that is to form the new driveway, path or patio should be removed to a depth of around 200 mm (8 inch). The depth is dependent on the ground that you are excavating. *If the ground is soft then you may have to dig deeper, if the ground is very hard then maybe not as much.

You should dispose and remove any dug out soil, concrete or waste responsibly using a skip hire firm or a tipping truck to a waste disposal site. Try and save a small amount of good quality soil for filling any areas that were over dugout or for back filling over any concrete used for edge restraints.

Remember that the finished paving needs to be at east 150 mm (6 inch) below any damp proof course that you should have on your house or garage. This is usually around 2 modern bricks.

Dig out the area to a minimum depth of 200mm (8 inch) below the required finished height of the paving. A fall of at least 1:60 needs to be established to allow water to run away to a drainage point.

Before digging out the area that you are going to lay block paving on it helps if you know the depth of the block paving you are going to be laying. This guide is assuming measurements are based on the standard block paver that has a depth of 50mm. There are though, 60 and 80 mm pavers available for areas that will receive heavier vehicles. The 80 mm sized bricks are normally used for commercial paving projects. You should adjust your excavation depths to allow for different sizes when you lay block paving.

Apply a quality weed control fabric

A good quality weed control fabric should then be used to cover the whole ground area that is to be paved. (other names are Geo-textiles, ground stabilization sheet.)

Weed control Fabric comes in different sizes and gauges so its worth checking with the supplier you buy from that you get the correct size and strength for its use on your paving project. Follow manufactures instruction for the installation.

Weed control fabric is necessary for ground stabilization and we would always recommend it be used to lay block paving, paving slabs and loose aggregates. It acts like a kind of bridge under the paving structure. If any soil should settle, then it’s supported all around by the sheet carrying its weight. It also stops the spread of the aggregates into the muddy sub-base which leads to the paving sinking. Stops weeds growing up from underneath the paving and gives the paving much greater strength.

Fit any edge stone restraints and drain covers

Before you lay block paving you need to consider the edge restraints of the whole perimeter. The edge restraint could be the side of a house or an external pavement, but where there is no solid edge to work to, a kerb restraint needs to laid. Any edging kerb that is laid needs to be bedded on a concrete bed to a depth of approximate 100 mm (4 inch). The edging stones need to hunched up behind (outside of the paving area) with concrete at an angle of 45 degrees to stop the kerb from moving outwards once pressure is applied from the newly laid paving.

Any inspection chambers (manhole covers) also need to be set in place. Advise should always be sought especially if the manhole cover is to take the weight of a vehicle. Always set the cover to the correct height and line. Set in place with cement or concrete. A string line between 2 finished levels should help with leveling the cover.

Mot Type 1 Stone base

Apply the stone (hardcore stone) to the whole area. When ordering your stone it is important that you get the correct stone for the job, always quote the purpose of the stone to your supplier so they can ensure that you get the correct type of stone. (most cases use Mot type 1 stone)

The stone needs to be at a sufficient depth that when the stone is compacted there is still enough height left for the block paving and the screed sand to finish at your desired height.

Example. If you are using 50mm block pavers and 50 mm of sand the finished height of the stone needs to be 100mm below the finished level of the paving.

Compact the whole area with a heavy plate compactor or whacker plate at least 10 or 11 times or until you feel the area is rock solid.

Grit sand

 Always use grit sand and not building sand when laying block paving on sand. The grit sand supports your paving better than normal building sand.
This allows for a better drainage should you get a penetration of water into your paving. Grit sand arrives in non-returnable bulk bags keeping it neat and tidy alongside your home. Grit sand wherever possible should be kept out of heavy rain. This stops one area of sand being water saturated and makes laying the sand easier and lighter.

Sand screed

 Screeding sand (making it level) can be done with a number of different methods from the easiest method of using a few old timber latts (latts is the name given to roofing battens, the wood used for fixing tiles to a roof) to using a purpose-built sand screed.Professional sand screed

 The runners or timber lattes that act as rails for the sand screed to run on (bit like a railway track) They need to be firmly set in place so not to move when running the screening timber or rake over the rails. This can be done with compacted sand underneath the rails to stop them from sinking.

Always check to see that the rails don’t dip in any areas because if the do, when you lay your paving you will have hollows and puddles where your sand was uneven.

 Take the depth of the paving (example 50mm, most common block paving type) then take off 5mm (1/4 inch) for compacting down of the paving and set the latt or rail to that depth below the finished height required for the completed paving. So in this case we would set the timber or screed rail at 45 mm below our required finished level. This would then leave our paving when laid, 5 mm above our finished level. After compaction, the paving would then lower down 5mm and be at our chosen level. A string line pulled tight and a good spirit level between two points of the finished height will help you achieve any falls for drainage and a good even level.

Once your screeding rails have been set up you then need to level the sand with a good straight-edged timber (usually a depth of 100mm and a few centimeters short of the width of the driveway or patio) drawn along the screed rails. This is normally a 2 person operation if the width of the drive or patio is bigger than two meters wide.

We always recommend that once the first screed of sand has taken place, that you compact the sand using a plate vibrator making sure you don’t touch the screed rails. This allows any small davits or uneven areas of sand to be compacted and strengthened.

 Then you need to do a second sand screed to the whole area.
You are now ready to lay block paving.

 Laying the block paving

Try to choose a dry day to lay your paving. (very hard, I know.) If you are laying block paving to a large area then you may find a block paving cart for the carrying of block paving will be very helpful, save a lot of time and backache. They can be purchased or hired from any good hire shop.

Always try to work from several packs of block paving at a time to ensure an even distribution of colours and shades of the paving blocks is achieved. Always try to work uphill when laying the block paving as each block pavior then rests on the other and stops the blocks from spreading. Start from the longest straight run that you have, this is to help with keeping the block paving pattern and design of the driveway or patio uniformed. Again a string line can be used to make sure your paving pattern is running straight. Lay the blocks hand tight in the pattern that you have chosen.

Make sure when laying the block paving that you don’t squash any sand up from the base between the paving as this will cause a gap in the laying pattern.

Cutting the paving

After all the block pavers have been laid , you need to cut paving blocks for the infill areas so that the paving is up tight to the finished edge all around the perimeter of the paving. Pieces of block paving that are less than a quarter of the size of the paver are best avoided.

There are several ways you could cut the paving. For a DIY block paving project we would recommend a block splitter. These are quite cheap to hire and need no electricity or petrol to use. The other option is to cut the paving blocks with a paving saw that uses petrol or electricity.

A certain degree of confidence and knowledge is needed when using these kinds of saws to cut concrete or clay pavers. Advise should always be sought when contemplating using a high-powered cutter.

A good quality diamond blade is always helpful to rather than the normal carbon blades when you want to lay block paving.

Compacting the block paving

Before any compaction of the paving takes place you first need to sweep clean the paved area. This stops any debris being vibrated down between the joints, thus distorting the laying pattern. Compaction should again be done with a whacker plate. This should be done to the whole paving area 2 or 3 times. Particular attention should be made when compacting the edges. The paving edges need to be level to stop any trip points. Care should also be taken around sensitive areas such as walls , drains or inspection covers. If unsure try using a rubber mallet or the wooden end of a lump hammer, to any difficult areas.

Kiln dried sanding of the block paving

Always allow the paving to be completely dry before you apply the finishing kiln dried sand. Dry sand needs to be used for the sanding the joints of the paving as it then runs freely into the gaps without clogging up and sticking to the side of the pavers. Kiln dried sand is always best as it is of a fine grade and dried in a kiln before being bagged so should be dry. Usually 1 bag of kiln dried sand is sufficient for about 10-15 square meters of paving. Once the whole area has been sanded, sweep off any excess sand and save in case more is needed later. Apply the plate compactor again over the pavement for a couple of times . Again use a mallet for sensitive areas. The dry sand will seem to disappear down the joints of the paving.

 The compacting of the sand into the joints causes friction between the paviors thus strengthening the paving by forcing the blocks against one another. This is rather like placing your arms against the inside of a door casing and lifting your feet of the ground. (if you think of this as how the block pavers work against one another)
I once heard that if done correctly and in a slight arc , that you should be able to dig out a few square meters of sand and stone from under your paving and then still be able to use .
I wouldn’t recommend trying though.

Once the compaction of the blocks after sanding has taken place the whole area then needs to be re-sanded again.

 Ensure the sand is filled to the top of the joints of the paving and sweep off any excess. Always keep a small amount of kiln dried sand for any later infills of sand that get lost due to wind and rain.

 Well done you’ve finished. You can now lay block paving.

 All that’s left to do is clean the area and enjoy you new block paving driveway or patio.

 Why not apply a block paving sealer to your paving.

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