Garages Garden and Landscaping Home Improvement out doors

Outdoor Pavers 101: Planning, Installation, And Maintenance

Take a moment and think. Why would you ever want to go for boring, old concrete when you can have something that looks amazing and lasts for years? That’s outdoor pavers for you.

These solutions stand out thanks to the fact that they look good and stay long in the game. But before you get seriously into picking out fancy colors and patterns, there’s a little more to the story.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about planning, installing, and maintaining your pavers – basically, all the things that’ll make your patio the envy of the block.

The Planning Phase

Here are the tips to keep in mind during the planning phase:

  • Determine The Size And Shape Of The Area You Want To Pave

Size and shape do matter when it comes to outdoor pavers. So, when planning, make sure to take accurate measures of the place you want to have the pavers on.

Once you’ve gotten that out of the way, turn your focus to the shape you desire and how it would fit in the grand scheme of things. You’re not short of options at this stage. You can go for rectangular or curved, or you can settle for both. It’s up to you. 

Making the size and shape decision early enough will help you visualize the final layout and calculate the materials required. For example, if your math shows that your rectangular patio measures 15 feet by 20 feet, you’ll know the number of pavers needed. 

Also, you may establish whether it’s more prudent to go with the rectangular flow or follow the contours of your garden with a curved walkway. All these you establish in this initial planning stage. 

  • Choose The Type Of Paver Material

You’re not short of paver materials when it comes to your great outdoors. You can consider popular options such as outdoor porcelain pavers, concrete pavers, or clay bricks. There’s also natural stone (e.g., bluestone, limestone) and composite pavers, if they suit your fancy.

When choosing the best one for your compound, these are the factors to keep in mind:

  • Cost

If money is a factor in your paver choice, you’d do well to go for concrete pavers. However, if you’re feeling pretty generous, you can’t go wrong with natural stone. Yes, they look great, but you’ll spend a pretty penny on them.

  • Style

On style, brick pavers give you that classic, timeless look. On the other hand, the concrete pavers come in varying colors and textures. These ones are good at complementing modern or traditional styles.

  • Durability

If you want your pavers to last a while, go for natural stones like bluestone. Experts estimate that these pavers can last up to half a century if well maintained. Others like composite pavers are also well respected due to their resistance to fading, staining, and cracking. 

  • Calculate The Number Of Pavers Needed

Measure the total square footage of the area you plan to pave and divide it by the square footage of each individual paver. Make sure to factor in joint spacing while at it.

Once you get the correct number, place your order. While you’re at it, order 5-10% extra pavers. Say, you established that you need 400 square feet of coverage when using 12″ x 12″ pavers, each one square foot. In that case, you’d need around 400 pavers plus extras. These extras will account for cuts, breakage, and future repairs. 

  • Plan The Layout Pattern

Popular layout options include running bond (also known as staggered rows), herringbone, basket weave, and circular patterns. However, the one you settle for isn’t about looks only. You’ve got to factor in material sizes and layout complexity too. 

For perspective, a running bond pattern with rectangular pavers is simple, but it’s a classic. On the other hand, a herringbone layout with brick pavers comes with extra visual interest. That makes it pretty complicated to render.

  • Evaluate Drainage Needs And Slope Requirements

Water pooling doesn’t do any good to your outdoor pavers. Unfortunately, it’s a common side effect when you treat drainage as an afterthought. 

To prevent damage to your pavers on this account, plan a gentle slope (1-2%) away from buildings or toward a drainage area. This can solve the problem for you.

But if you live in one of those low-lying areas where flooding is an issue every now and again, you may need to create a base with gravel and perforated drains. 

Installing Your Outdoor Pavers

Here’s generally what you’ll do at this stage:

  • Excavation and Base Preparation

The foundation is the most crucial part of the installation. 

At this stage, you’ll need to excavate the area to the proper depth. The ideal is 6-8 inches for a patio and 3-4 inches for a walkway. You should make sure the digging is even across the entire area you plan to install the pavers

Once you’ve dug the foundation, compact the base material in 2-3 inch layers. This solid base of compacted gravel, rock dust, or crush-and-run prevents shifting and sinking over time.

  • Edge Restraints

Edge restraints have one job: to ensure the pavers don’t shift over time, especially during freeze-thaw cycles or heavy traffic. That’s why you need to put them around the perimeter before laying pavers.

This process can be pretty straightforward when you’re dealing with straight walkways since you align the pavers linearly. However, with a curved walkway edging, you may need to cut the rigid restraints to shape using a hacksaw.

  • Bedding Layer

With the edges contained, you’ll install a 1-2 inch bedding layer of coarse sand or small gravel chips. This layer provides a solid, level base for the pavers. Also, it allows water to drain through the joint spaces.

  • Paver Placement

After this long process, you can finally start placing the individual paver stones or bricks in line with your planned pattern. Use plastic paver spacers if needed to maintain equal spacing between each unit.

For a 90-degree herringbone pattern on a patio, you’d start by staggering the pavers in a brick-laid pattern in one direction. You’ll then flip the orientation 90-degrees for the next row.

  • Cutting And Edging

Be prepared to cut some pavers to fit curved borders or complete the outer rows. For example, if installing a circular patio kit, you’ll use a splitter to cut all the outer ring pavers into pie-shape pieces to fit the radius.

  • Compacting And Joints

Once you’ve put all the pavers in place, go over the entire area using a plate compactor. This will vibrate and lock the stones into the gravel base. When you’re done, sweep dry joint sand over the entire surface to fill the spaces between each paver unit. 

Maintaining Your Outdoor Pavers

You’ve got your pavers in place. That’s nice. But this isn’t the time to fold your tools and dump them into the cold corner of your garage. There’s just as much work to do to keep them sparkling and in order. 

Here’s a few of those occasional duties:

  • Remove Any Weeds Or Vegetation Growth Between Pavers.

You’ll find that weed and grass sprout in the paver joints. These growths can not only ruin the look of your hardscape areas, but also eventually start cracking or shifting pavers. 

You need to stay on top of it by routinely spraying a paver weed killer solution or carefully removing them by hand or with a paver weeding tool. Left unchecked, their roots can eventually start cracking and shifting pavers.

  • Top Up Joint Sand Yearly To Prevent Pavers From Shifting

It’s inevitable that over time, rain and wind will erode and wash away the joint sand between your pavers. Make it an annual routine to pour new polymeric sand across the whole paved area and sweeping it into all those joint spaces using a push broom. This firmly resands and interlocks all the paver units to prevent any loosening or lippage.

  • Consider Applying A Sealer For Enhanced Protection And Easier Cleaning

A paver sealer is one of those things that are nice to have, but not compulsory. It protects against weathering, inhibits weed growth, and makes cleaning so much easier by preventing dirt, moss, and stains from penetrating the surface. Reapply the sealer every 2-3 years for best results.

  • Use A Paver Cleaning Solution And A Stiff Brush To Scrub Away Dirt, Moss, Or Stains

Use a dedicated paver cleaner solution and a stiff bristle brush to periodically scrub away any built-up dirt, moss, leaf stains, etc. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pressure washing, no matter how tempting, as they could damage or etch the paver surfaces.

  • Replace Cracked, Chipped, Or Unstable Pavers As Needed

Despite your best efforts, some pavers may eventually crack, chip, or become loose and wobbly underfoot due to freeze/thaw cycles or heavy weights. When this happens, carefully remove and replace those damaged units with a fresh paver. 

In Closing

With a little planning, the right materials, and some TLC, your pavers will be the star of your outdoor space for years to come. Remember, the key is doing your research upfront and getting high-quality materials from a reputable supplier.

Once you have them in place, regular cleaning, resanding, and any minor repairs will keep them looking their best.

AI Score

You may also like...