How to Cover a Concrete Patio With Pavers (DIY)

Prepare the Foundation

  1. 1

    Measure out the plot for your pavers, remembering that the length and width must be in multiples of 16 inches. Mark the corners. Check to ensure the area is square, measuring diagonally and adjusting if needed. Hammer wooden stakes into the ground at the corners and run twine from stake to stake, creating your plot.

  2. 2

    Measure the thickness of your pavers, add 1 inch for sand and add 4 to 6 inches for gravel. Excavate the area with a shovel to the total depth calculated.

  3. 3

    Lay landscape fabric into the plot. Overlap the edges with 6 inches of material.

  4. 4

    Pour a 4-inch layer of gravel on the fabric and smooth with a garden rake. Place a carpenter’s level over the gravel in various areas to ensure the gravel base settles into an even, level layer.

  5. 5

    Water the gravel base lightly with a garden hose and sprayer. Tamp the base with a hand tamper.

  6. 6

    Cut several 1-inch PVC pipes the length of your plot and place them on the gravel, parallel with each other approximately 3 feet apart.

  7. 7

    Dump sand onto the gravel up to, but not completely covering the PVC pipes. Place a long 2-by-4 board over the pipes and drag it down to screed over the pipes, smoothing the sand to create a level, 1-inch base. Remove the pipes and fill the cavities with sand. Lightly tamp the sand, taking care not to disturb the smooth, level surface. Mist the sand lightly with water.

Video

How to prep and lay a base

You can lay a structurally sound base in four simple steps: layout, grade, gravel, and sand. Before you jump in, you’ll need a few tools and materials to do it right. You can get many of these items at a Western Interlock facility in Oregon or Washington, a local hardware store, or landscape supplier.

Tools

  • Work gloves
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape measure
  • 24” level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Steel tamper or plate compactor
  • Pickaxe or mattock
  • Shovel
  • Garden rake
  • Concrete placer
  • 10’–12’ aluminum strike board

Materials

  • Marking paint (white)
  • Line level
  • Geo-textile
  • ¾” minus gravel
  • Washed concrete sand
  • 1” square (or round) metal pipe bars or ¾” PVC pipe
  • Plastic edge restraint

Safety Considerations

Moving large amounts of heavy materials can take a toll on your body. Use a wheelbarrow. When shoveling, lift from your legs, not your back. Keep in mind that base materials (crushed gravel) are heavier than dirt, so use only partial shovel loads.

Wear breathing protection. Frequently spray the area with water to keep the dust down.

Featured Video

Additional Tips

Plate compactor

When Mark needs a firm, void-free base for a patio, walkway, or stone wall, he puts a single-direction compactor to work. It applies 3,375 foot-pounds of centrifugal force at 5,880 vibrations per minute, which is just right for small jobs.

How to read pitch on a spirit level

Some levels, like the I-beam, have vials with extra lines on both sides that show pitches of 1 and 2 percent. When the bubble in the vial touches the 2 percent line, for instance, the level has a pitch of ¼ inch per foot.

6. Spread gravel

After you’ve set your grade, you’ll need to lay 4” of gravel base for pedestrian applications, 6–10” for vehicular. Be sure to use 3/4-0 or ODOT road base gravel so that you get a good mix of fine and coarse aggregate for the best compaction.

If you’re installing a residential driveway, you can get away with only 6” on a light, well-draining soil. In colder climates with continually wet or weak soils, add an extra 2–4” to your gravel base. For parking lots or residential streets, you’ll want to lay at least 8” if not 10” of gravel.

Many new hardscape DIYers make the mistake of using dirt as their base aggregate layer. Don’t do that! Your pavers are only as sturdy as your base. That means, if you use dirt, pavers quickly sink, rotate, and separate. 

Before moving on, your gravel base needs to be flat, without any bellies or rises of more than 1/8″. Any imperfections of more than this are noticeable in the final product. 

To accomplish this, you’ll need to compact your gravel with a steel tamper (for small projects) or a plate compactor (for large projects). Compact your gravel in 2″ lifts, which means, compact your gravel 2″ at a time until the desired thickness is achieved. For example, if you’re laying a circle patio for your backyard, you’ll need to spread a total of 4” of gravel, 2” at a time.

Drag a flat board across the compacted gravel to ensure there are no remaining dips or rises in the gravel. Compact the gravel one final time. Once your gravel is flat, your base is ready to start laying pavers.

Step 5: Vibrate the Pavers

Once the entire paver field and borders have been placed, you will need to run a vibrating plate compactor over the paver project to being the interlocking process.

Initial Setting and Lock-up:

Rent a vibrating plate compactor from your local equipment rental company. Once the pavers and border have been placed, spread a light layer of sand over the pavers and make a single pass using this plate compactor.

This single pass will help set the pavers into the bedding sand, and cause some sand to move up between the joints of the pavers. This is the initial stage of the “interlock”.

Paver Patio Costs The Breakdown

When I sat down and added up the math for this particular concrete paver project, it just didn’t make sense economically to make my own. 

Especially when you add in the extra labor of making them. I needed 40 paving stones, that’s a lot of pavers to make.

Now let’s break down the costs of how much it would have been to make these pavers, vs the cost of buying them.

To make 40 pieces, I would have needed to purchase 29 bags of mix. It would have been much more productive to use a rapid setting product, which would have cost $400-500 in mix. 

If you had all the time in the world, you could go with a less expensive, non-rapid setting mix, but you’d still be looking at almost $200. And then you still need to add in the cost of the materials for the forms.

I paid $200 for all of my concrete pavers. The rest of the materials needed for this project would have been the same, regardless if I made my pavers, or bought them. 

So you can see, to go through the labor and time involved in making –in this scenario, I say just buy, rather than DIY.

When researching costs for purchasing patio paver stones and having them installed, estimates ran between $10-$22 per square foot.

Had I chosen that option, I likely would have been looking at over $1,000. My space isn’t a small space, so laying my own pavers was clearly the best way to go.

Step 1: Preparing the Base

It is important to provide a well compacted, stable base on which to begin the paver installation. In some cases, this will require extensive excavation of unsuitable sub-grade material.

Excavate the Site:

Excavate all unsuitable, unstable, or unconsolidated sub-grade material. When estimating the depth of excavation, consider the final grade of the project. Add the height of the paver unit, the depth of bedding sand, and the thickness of the compacted base material to get an estimate of needed depth.

Fill and Compact the Base:

Thickness of Compacted Base:

  • Pedestrian Traffic: 3″–4″
  • Vehicular Traffic: 4″–5″
  • Large Vehicular Traffic (e.g. motor homes): 6″–8″

Fill the excavated site with the appropriate amount of paver base material (Class II Road Base is recommended), and compact using a vibrating plate compactor. The base must be well compacted and level to provide a smooth, even surface on which to lay the bedding sand.

NOTE: When preparing the grade of the base, be sure to provide a 1/8″–1/4″ of drop per foot for proper drainage.

Spread a flat bed of sand

Spread fabric, then sand

Lay down landscape fabric to keep the sand from wa

Lay down landscape fabric to keep the sand from washing down into cracks. Then position the screed pipe and spread the sand.

These are the Best Herbs to Grow on a Patio

Get a FREE quote on your paver installation!

If you live in Sarasota or Manatee Counties, call us, and we will drive by your place in no time! Call Us

Pavers Over Concrete: Assemble the materials

The materials for this 12 x 14-ft. patio cost about $850, or $5 per sq. ft. Using less expensive pavers, you could cut the cost by almost half. Most landscape suppliers and home centers stock all the materials, but you may have to do a little hunting for the right combination of pavers. The pavers used for the border must be at least 3/4 in. thicker than the “field” pavers, which cover the area between the borders. That thickness difference will allow for a bed of sand under the field. A difference of more than 3/4 in. is fine; you’ll just need a little more sand. If you can’t find thick pavers you like, consider retaining wall cap blocks for the border. We used cement pavers (concrete patio blocks) for the border and clay pavers for the field.

To estimate how much sand you’ll need, grab your calculator. First determine the square footage of the sand bed. Then divide that number by 12 for a 1-in. bed or 18 for a 3/4-in. bed. That will tell you how many cubic feet of sand to get. You can have a load of sand delivered or save the delivery fee by picking up a load yourself with a truck or trailer. Most home centers also sell bagged sand. A 50-lb. bag (1/2 cu. ft.) costs about $3.

Figure A: Pavers Over Concrete Slab

This technique requires two types of pavers. Glue

This technique requires two types of pavers. Glue thicker pavers to the concrete on the perimeter and lay thinner pavers on a sand bed. The resulting look is one of our favorite patio block ideas.

20 Patio Furniture Pieces We’re Buying On Amazon This Month

Considerations For Building Your Own Concrete Paver Patio

**And at the bottom of this post is the link to the newly renovated adjoining patio space. We made it almost a year after finishing this patio. We turned into a beautiful weed-free, patio garden.

What Size Joints Should You Make?

You will need to leave at least a small gap between your concrete pavers to allow for expansion and contraction, but you have the option to go wider.

Like I mentioned, I was locked into a specific width of just over 2”, but with your patio space, you likely will have a choice. 

Some people prefer tight spacing because of the look, or to avoid dealing with sand or pebbles in between since they can spill out and get kicked around.

If you want wider gaps, the width can be unlimited if you use grass in between. Otherwise I recommend keeping the spacing under 2 ½”. 

It’s possible to go wider, but you’ll then want to go with a larger stone which can be more difficult to find and more expensive.

Pocket Guide to Concrete & Cement Mixes For Crafts Grab the free pocket guide. It has a handy chart for choosing the right mix for your project. Grab The Guide!

Material Type For Paver Joints

When you’re gathering your supplies, you’ll want to consider the type of material that will fill in the gaps between the concrete pavers.

Here are some of the gap fillers you might want to consider for your project:

  • Moss: This can be transplanted from your yard or purchased like sod from a nursery. Here’s how to transplant moss.
  • Grass: Let grass grow naturally. The drawback here is you may be end up fighting with weeds
  • Decorative Pebbles: Fill the paver joints with your choice of pebbles. These can be a natural stone color, or brightly colored.
  • Glass stones: For a really glamorous look, use sanded glass pebbles.
  • Sand: Sand is simple and budget-friendly. I recommend using polymeric jointing sand. Polymeric sand will seal and harden the sand so you won’t track it.

Some of the links on this page have been provided as a convenience for finding materials. These links may also be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.

I only recommend products I’ve used and loved, unless otherwise stated. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

DIY Difficulty Level | Moderate

Tags