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SULIS - Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series.
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Paver and Brick Installation

Description/Purpose:

Paving stones or bricks are often used to create long-lasting paths, walks, patios or driveways.

Example of a brick sidewalk Example of a brick patio

Amount, Specifications & Supplies:

  • Pavers to cover the desired square footage. The number of pavers needed will vary depending on the paver size. Usually 4-5 pavers are needed for each square foot to be covered. Be sure to use strong, high quality pavers which will not crack under the intended use.

  • Crushed rock or class 5 fill for use as a base. The rock should create a layer 4-12" thick over the area to be paved. Paths may require only 4" and driveways 12".

  • Construction fabric to help stabilize organic or recently disturbed soils.

  • Coarse sand to create a layer ½-1" thick over the entire base area and to fill the space between individual pavers once the project is completed.

  • Edging - if pavers are not installed against an immovable surface, some type of edging should be used for support. Common edging materials include 2 x 6" lumber, 6 x 6" timbers or a commercial poly paver edge.

    Commercial poly paver edge

Tools and Equipment:

  • Shovel for excavating the area to a depth of 4-12". For larger jobs, a skid loader or backhoe can be used.

  • Tamping machine to compact base and pavers.

  • Chisel and hammer to split pavers or, for larger jobs, a brick saw can be used.

  • Wheelbarrow or skid loader to haul sand, gravel, and pavers.

  • Rubber mallet for positioning pavers.

  • Level

  • Stakes and strings for marking perimeter of area to be paved and to provide a guide for leveling pavers.

  • Screed board to level base and sand before setting pavers.

  • Broom to sweep sand into spaces between pavers.

Site Considerations:

The area chosen for paving should be level with a ½ - 1% slope to provide for drainage. Avoid areas where tree roots might cause damage to the paved area. Recently disturbed soils or soils high in organic matter should be removed and replaced with compacted base material.

Step-By-Step Process:

1. Excavate the area to be paved using a shovel or skid loader. The depth needed will depend on the intended use for the paved area. If the area will be used for foot traffic only, you will need a 4" base of crushed rock. For heavy traffic or a lawn tractor, 6" is necessary. For driveways, 12" of crushed rock will be necessary. Construction fabric can be used to stabilize the existing soil before the base material is added. Add to that ½-1" for sand and the depth of the pavers themselves to determine the depth to be excavated.

Crushed Rock

2. Fill the excavated area with crushed rock or class 5 fill. Begin by spreading an even layer of rock 3-4" deep. Use the tamping machine to compact the rock. Add another 3-4" layer and compact again. Continue this layering process until the desired amount of base is in place and fully compacted. Be sure each layer is level before adding the next layer.

Tamping Machine

3. Install the desired edging around the perimeter of the area to be paved.

Installing Edging

Be sure measurements are accurate so pavers will fit properly. When determining the finished size of the paved area, choose a size that will require as little cutting or splitting of pavers as possible.

4. Add a ½-1" layer of coarse sand over the crushed rock base. The sand covers the small rocks found in the base material making leveling easier. Stabilize it by tamping or moistening with water to avoid future settling. Using a screed board, smooth the surface of the sand so that the entire area is level with the edging. The sand surface should be at a height so that when pavers are placed on top, they will initially sit approximately ¼" above the finished elevation.

Diagram of Edging


Diagram of Paver


Image of Walkway


Diagram

5. Set the pavers on the sand in the desired pattern. For larger areas, position string to crisscross the area to assist in aligning bricks correctly. Pavers should be set tightly against one another; bricks can be set with 1/8" joints between them. If the final row of pavers must be cut to fit, use a brick saw to cut to the desired size or split them using a hammer and chisel.

Laying the Pavers Laying the Pavers

6. When all bricks or pavers have been set, spread sand over the entire area and using a broom, sweep sand around until all the crevices between the pavers or bricks are filled.

7. Run the tamping machine over the surface of the pavers until the crevices are full of sand.

Running the tamping machine

8. Spread more sand over the surface and sweep it into crevices between pavers. This step may need to be repeated over the next couple of weeks.

This implementation report is based on landscape projects completed by University of Minnesota students enrolled in landscape design and implementation courses, Department of Horticultural Sciences.

 
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