diy projects exterior & outdoor living

How to Install A Custom Paver Patio

Paver Patio DIY To kick off the second day of Backyard Week, I’m bringing you everything you need to know about installing a paver patio… the good, the bad- and the ugly. Trust me when I say you can save a TON of money by doing this yourself. It’s an easy project once you’re prepped and ready. Click through for a detailed tutorial…

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I’ll preface this post by saying this project is a lot of work, but it’s not difficult work. I’d also recommend tackling this in cooler temperatures or of an evening. We basically worked through 100+ degree weather and it was a bit miserable at times. So why would anyone want to attempt a DIY paver patio? You could save an upwards of $10,000 – $30,000 depending on the size. I’m not even joking. I tried to hire certain things out and it just wasn’t in the cards for our timeline or budget.

Paver patios look amazing and are super functional for seating, entertaining, and hanging out in the yard. Here’s everything you’ll need to get started. Hover over the images for the specific product links…

Step 1 // Plan and dig. Before diving in you’ll need to do a little math. Figure out how large you’d like your paver patio to be, choose your material, and decide on a pattern. We opted for standard rectangular cement pavers and we laid the pavers in a basketweave pattern (against popular demand). I polled the audience on Insta stories and 99% of you voted for herringbone. My reasoning for laying the pavers in a basketweave pattern is because 1.) it’s easier / less cutting, and 2.) I feel like it’s a timeless pattern. Don’t get me wrong- I love herringbone, but it’s anywhere and everywhere these days… it’s sort of becoming the chevron of the early 2000’s. I preferred the road less traveled this time.

Next, mark the size and begin to dig out the area. We marked the area using 2 x 4 boards, but you can also use chalk or paint. Depending on the height of your pavers, you’ll want to dig 3-5″ inches deep. Basically the end goal is for the pavers to sit flush with the grass / ground.

Paver Patio Installation Step 2 // Tamp the dirt. Once the dirt has been removed, rake the area eyeballing as close to level as possible. Take the tamper tool and compact the dirt making sure there isn’t any loose soil. Tamping throughout this process prevents the patio from becoming uneven due to ground leveling post install.

Tamping Dirt Step 3 // Add the paver base. Your surface should look like compacted dirt at this point. Next, add multiple bags of paver base until the area is completely covered. This mixture is made up of sand, dirt, and rock. It’s the base layer for your patio.

Installing a Paver Patio Step 4 // Tamp the paver base. Just like you did previously with the dirt, using the tamper tool, compact the paver base. This step is super important if you want an even and level patio that will withstand the test of time. Ground settling ruins so many paver patios, and this step prevents that from occurring.

Paver Patio Installation Guide Step 5 // Add the paver sand and level. Next, add multiple bags of paver sand, raking it out as you go. You’ll want to add as many bags as it takes for the surface to be level.

Paver Patio DIY We used a method of skimming a 2 x 4 over the top to achieve a perfectly level surface. This process is called screeding. Here’s someone else doing this in a video… in case you’re having trouble visualizing how it works. There’s no need to tamp the sand, because it will be perfectly level and packed at this point.

DIY Paver Patio Step 6 // Begin laying the pavers. Now for the fun part! Begin laying the pavers in your desired pattern, using a level to ensure accuracy as you go.

How to Build a Paver Patio Repeat the pattern until you’ve filled the entire area. You can cut pavers if needed with an angle grinder. However, it’s much easier to plan in advance to avoid making cuts.

Paver Patio Instructions Step 7 // Compact the pavers. This step will actually require a tool rental, unless you have a plate compactor machine sitting around. Ha! We rented one from a local company and it was really easy to find and less than $70. Run the compactor over the pavers, vibrating the material flat and level. We used the compactor on low speed to prevent the pavers from cracking under the pressure and vibration. If a couple pavers do crack… don’t panic- this can be normal. We ended up replacing a few (that’s what overage is for)! To lessen the chance of cracking, adding consistent space between each paver during installation helps. I preferred a tighter look with minimal grout / sand lines, so our pavers were touching. Therefore, their risk for cracking was a lot higher.

Your Guide to Installing a Paver Patio Step 8 // Add the polymeric sand. This last step is so important! This product is also called paver set and it ensures your paver patio stays put. This sand is very similar to grout, once it gets wet- it hardens, solidifying to keep everything in place and creates a barrier to keep weeds from growing in between the stones. Dump the sand directly onto the pavers, brush into the cracks with a broom, remove ALL excess sand (make sure you get it all because it stains), then wet the entire surface to set the pavers. There are detailed instructions on the packaging, but basically just hose it down with a spray setting, then you’re done! We allowed the patio to harden overnight before using it.

Paver Patio DIY Guide See… it’s not as difficult as you expected, right? The hardest part is digging and moving heavy pavers, but even still- it’s an easy process. Well worth it in my opinion! It’s nice to have a clean and level designated area for furniture and entertaining.

Paver Patio Tutorial What do you guys think? Are you going to give this a try or would you hire it out? If you already have a paver patio, do you love using it? I’m happy to answer any questions below in the comments!

If anyone has a fashion question about Emmett’s uber cool tie dye shirt, I made it for him about 10 years ago. Ha!

Paver Patio *This post is brought to you in collaboration with Lowes. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we truly use and enjoy! 

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  • Reply
    Marie
    August 1, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. It seems much easier than I was thinking it would be! It looks beautiful.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      It really isn’t a difficult project! It just takes some elbow grease. Thank you, Marie! xo

  • Reply
    Marti | Project Palermo
    August 1, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I paid to have a paver patio installed last year*, and I have to say your blog post 1) made me super impressed you tackled it yourselves, and 2) made me super happy I hired out! Your entire project looks great. I really appreciate your “realistic and honest” styling – it looks beautiful AND practical.

    * https://projectpalermo.com/2016/12/29/backyard-patio-painting-and-landscaping/

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 1, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      Thanks so much, Marti!! Yours turned out beautiful. It was definitely a lot of physical labor, but in the end- it was the best option for our project, budget, and deadline. Appreciate your kind words!! xo

  • Reply
    Robyn
    August 2, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    This looks beautiful, Sarah! I’m totally using this as a guide for when we tackle this at my house. Thank you so much for sharing your tutorial. The pictures and your instructions are very helpful!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 2, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      So glad you’re going to give it a try, Robyn! Let me know how it turns out :) xo

  • Reply
    Grissel Guerra
    August 21, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    do you have a post on the sectional? I noticed its not an actual sofa but instead built in.

  • Reply
    Pedro Costa
    November 16, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Sarah! Thank you for sharing your project with all the details.

    I’m planning to build a patio on my little backyard.
    I thought about doing exactly like you did or combining pavers with pea gravel.

    I have one question though: What kind of work did you guys do in regards to rain and drainage? Should we worry too much about it or the paver base + sand levels will take care of it without causing erosion?

    Thank you,

    Pedro Costa

    • Reply
      Sarah
      November 16, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Pedro! In regards to drainage, we leveled the dirt in our yard at a tiny slight slope. That way the water isn’t retained in the patio. Erosion shouldn’t be an issue if you dig out the ground where the material will be laid. Our goal was to have the patio slightly above the grass, rather than sunken in. I hope this helps! Good luck!

      • Reply
        Pedro Costa
        November 17, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        Got it!
        Thank you so much for your tips!

        • Reply
          Sarah
          November 18, 2017 at 11:23 am

          Happy to help!

  • Reply
    Oscar O'Malley
    December 5, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I like that you mention using a level while laying the pavers down to ensure accuracy. My dad and I are going to lay some down in his yard this weekend, and I want to make sure we do it right the first time since I don’t live close by. Thanks for the tips-I’ll be sure to keep them in mind when we get started on the project.

  • Reply
    Jessica
    December 28, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Hi Sarah! Do you mind sharing the information on the pavers and where you purchased them? What are the dimensions of each paver? I couldn’t agree more on your reasoning for pattern choice! Love the basketweave!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      December 29, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Thanks, Jessica! The pavers came from Lowes, find them here. They measure roughly 8″ x 16″.

      • Reply
        Jessica
        December 29, 2017 at 8:14 am

        You’re the best! Love the 8”x16” size! Thank you very much!!

  • Reply
    Liz
    December 29, 2017 at 9:49 am

    This has been on my dream to-do list forever, and I’m hoping to tackle it this spring! Your post definitely helps me feel more confident in doing it myself.

    Here’s an INCREDIBLY basic question: what did you do with all the dirt you excavated? And, it looks like you removed the 2×4 frame once you were done? I’ve seen some other tutorials that use a metal edge to hold pavers in place, so I’m curious if you noticed any shifting over the summer?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      December 29, 2017 at 10:30 am

      It’s easier than it looks! There has been zero shifting, which is really great news. We used the excavated dirt to fill other places in the yard. We really tried to focus on getting the entire lawn (in addition to the paver patio) really flat and level. Hope this helps!

    • Reply
      Lorian Bartle
      April 18, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Liz,

      We pile our spare dirt in the front of our house, take a picture of it, and post it on Craigslist. In a week or two it’s completely gone. The best part is that no additional shoveling is required on our end; strangers just show up with a pickup truck and do all the work themselves.

      Lorian Bartle

      • Reply
        Sarah
        April 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

        We did that with our existing paver patio! We listed it for free… had people come dig it out, and the demo was done for us. So nice!!

      • Reply
        Liz
        April 18, 2018 at 2:33 pm

        Funny enough, one of my neighbors had a big dirt pile on the curb strip – and now I know why! Thank you both!

  • Reply
    Lupe soto
    February 24, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    I love the look! You did a great job. We want to put pavers on our backyard but have a problem with gophers. What do you suggest? Should we lay down some chicken wire before the sand?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      February 25, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks Lupe! Honestly, we haven’t had any issues with rodents or animals like that, so I’m not much help in that area. You could definitely add a wire barrier though! I’d just be extra careful to make sure it’s level and tamped out. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Diana
    March 7, 2018 at 5:42 am

    What a beautiful patio! Did you use any edging? We are planning to put in a patio this spring (this is very helpful) and are debating whether some type of edging is necessary.

    Thank you!
    Diana

    • Reply
      Sarah
      March 7, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Thank you, Diana! We did use a plastic edging. It goes directly in between the pavers and the sod. It pretty much goes unnoticed because the sod grows right up against it. Hope this helps! xo

  • Reply
    Brian
    April 9, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Looks great! How thick did you lay the paver base and paver sand?

  • Reply
    Corrie
    April 26, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    How much did it cost? Not including the furniture, just the actual foundation patio?

  • Reply
    James
    May 11, 2018 at 7:01 am

    Hi Sarah,

    After reading about your beautiful patio my family decided to build our own instead of forking over $3500. My wife loves what you did pattern wise but the pavers you used are no longer for sale and I can’t seem to find 8″x16″ anywhere. Any suggestions? We are doing an 8’x16′ patio so it would work great if the size wasn’t so hard to find. May have to go to 4’x8′ :/

  • Reply
    Jordan
    May 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    Would you be willing to share the dimensions on some of your backyard projects? Judging by the pictures posted, I think my yard is similar in size and I’m specifically interested in the total square footage covered by the pavers (ie: 10’x12′) and the cinder block seating area. Also, is your pergola free-standing? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      May 15, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Jordan, our paver patio is about 16 x 20′ … and the pergola is “freestanding” but all four legs are anchored into the ground with concrete. Hope this helps to answer your questions! xo

  • Reply
    Rosanna
    July 18, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    All those levels and tamping will make sure that there’s no heaving and shifting from freezing and thawing?I’m asking this because my husband says that’s why a paver patio is not a good idea for our area,(northern Indiana)…please help!!??I really would love a patio!!😃

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 18, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Rosanna, Emmett and I are both Hoosiers!! We’re actually from southern Indiana, but our family now lives in the Indianapolis area. They have a paver patio and it looks PERFECT- using the same method I learned from my step-dad. If you’re worried, check out this article that also includes an added step (fabric barrier): http://www.brockpaverbase.com/2017/07/install-paverbase-freezethaw-climates/ Hope this helps! xo

  • Reply
    Brittany
    July 24, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Hi Sarah,

    After getting some quotes for paver patio installation in our backyard we are leaning towards doing it ourselves to save some money. I really love the pavers and design you used and am going to try to do something similar. Did you dig 5″ deep for these pavers? I know you mentioned digging between 3″ and 5″ depending on the pavers and these say they are 2″ high so I am thinking 1.5″ of base and 1.5″ sand and then the pavers?

    Also, can you tell me which plastic edging you used? Did you put it down first, and then frame the wood around it while installing the patio?

    Thanks so much! Love your blog!

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