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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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