We know there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to how to lay block paving. We have over 100 different options to choose from just to get you started! But here at Corker, you won’t just find the materials you need, but great advice too! That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide on how to lay block paving.
Whether you’re designing a driveway or putting together a perfect path, we want you to be able to achieve amazing results. We’ll take you through the entire process, step by step, covering everything you need and all the tips and tricks for getting it right first time.
Before you get your hands dirty, it’s a good idea to do a little planning. Sketch out a rough idea of what you have in mind so you can get an idea of how things will look. It will need to be detailed enough for you to be able to work out dimensions and where you’ll be laying your pavers. It will also give you an idea of how much material you’ll need for each aspect of the design.
What You’ll Need
First, as always, you’re going to need the right tools for the job. We recommend the following:
- Screed rails
- Spirit level
- String line and pegs
- Tape measure
If you’re a keen DIY enthusiast or gardener, chances are, you’ll already have most of these items in your garden shed or garage. But you can also find a small selection of our tools here, and all the above on our website, or at our yard in Paddock Wood. Why not give us a call to talk to us about your project, and we’ll get you up and running in no time.
As for the materials you’ll need, it comes down to just three things:
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “measure twice, cut once”. In the same spirit, we would recommend planning ahead and buying everything in advance. Don’t start on the work until you have everything you need ready to go.
How to Lay Block Paving
Once you have all your equipment and tools, you can get started. Your first task is to mark out the area you’ll be paving your string and pegs. Use a tape measure to double-check your measurements, then it’s time to dig in.
And when we say get dig in, we mean it! You’ll need to dig out the area to a depth at least 150mm (approximately 6 inches) below the damp proof course of your home, or whatever the paving is being laid next to. You’ll also need to take in consideration the natural rise and fall of the land to keep this consistent. If you’re working an especially large area, you may want to give up the spadework and consider hiring a mini excavator to make things a little easier for yourself.
Another thing to consider if the area you’re working on is completely flat, is drainage. By building in a gradual slope (we recommend a 1cm drop per 60cm distance), you’ll enable any surface water to drain away naturally.
Give Yourself an Edge
Or to be more specific, give yourself some edge restraints. We’re flagging this one early in the process, as they’re important to get right. They’re the key and crux to creating your amazing new drive or path. And it’s important to have them in place before you lay your block paving, as they will provide the framework and define your borders. They give your design integrity and show where you’ll be focusing your work.
We’d recommend making up a concrete mix that’s one part cement and six parts ballast for your foundation layer, which should be 100mm (just shy of four inches) deep. This is where you’ll be using your string line, by setting it at the height you intend your paving to be. Keep the string tight to gauge the level your edging stones need to be too.
Mix the concrete 25mm (one inch) below the line and begin to lay the edge restraints on top. Using the mallet, gently hammer them into place one by one. Take care to keep things level and even as you go by using a spirit level. Once in place, you’ll need to “haunch” in your edging, by applying concrete to the outside of the edging stones. Ideally, this should reach about halfway up each block.
Setting the Sub-Base
The sub-base is your main supporting layer of stone. This is another layer that needs to be at least 100mm deep. Remember, it’s going to have to support both the paving and whatever’s on top of it, from people to vehicles.
One way to go about this is applying two separate layers of 75mm (three inches). Finish each layer by hammering it with a compacting plate. As for the actual stone to use for your sub-base, we recommend a hardcore aggregate made up of granite, limestone, or basalt, crushed into stones measuring no more than 40mm. Go over the layers several times to ensure you have fully packed down the sub-base and have an even finish.
If you have concerns about soft soil and mud, there’s no issue in using a membrane to prevent the hardcore going into the sub-soil. Once in place, your hardcore will not only give your drive or pathway much improved stability, but also help prevent sinkage and improve its longevity greatly.
Sand it Down
Once you’ve spent all that time and effort getting your sub-base just right, it’s time to cover it up! For this, you’ll be using sand. This will fill the gap between the sub-base and the final paving line. It’s also a further factor in enabling drainage.
Your sand needs to be damp enough to mould. To test this, take a small amount and create a ball in your hand. If it doesn’t fall apart, then it’s ready for use. You’ll be looking to apply a 50mm layer. As you go, remember to mould the sand layer in a way that incorporates any natural slopes or angles of your design and area to be paved.
Once the sand is down, you’ll need to compact it and screed it. This is another situation where hiring a piece of equipment – such as a vibrating plate compactor, will help you get the best results.
The final step of the sand stage is to add screeding lats to be at the level where the paving blocks will be laid. In many cases, you’ll see timber being used as screeding lats. We recommend using piping or rail bars for better rigidity, as timber always has some flexibility which may compromise your perfect line. Once you’ve found the right level, you can remove the lats and backfill the void with sand before screeding it in again.
Again, you can use string to also gauge how things are measuring up here, but remember to leave it 3-5mm proud, as the blocks themselves will be compacted down.
Laying Your Pavers
Start laying your pavers from the bottom of the slope if there is one, or from a straight edge or border if there isn’t. Lay them onto the sand, one by one, against the face you’re working from. Try holding the paver up at an angle, making a connection, and then running it down into place. This should help avoid gaps being left in the finished drive or pathway, which can sometimes happen when dropping blocks straight into the sand.
At this stage, the blocks should be sitting between 10-15mm above your planned line, ready to be compacted down once the course has been completed.
You’ve down all the hard work, now it’s time for just a few finishing touches. With the broom, disperse the kiln-dried sand across the pavers evenly, ensuring you are especially generous with it in the joints. Compact the paving and add more sand, and keep on repeating until all the joints are filled and you have a smooth and even surface.
FAQs on How to Lay Block Paving
We’ve collated the questions we, and the professional landscapers we partner with, get most often by customers taking on a block paving project.
How many block pavers will I need?
This will depend greatly on which product you choose. Begin by accurately measuring out the area you plan to pave, and then make note of the size and dimensions of your chosen pavers. From there, you’ll be able to work out how many pavers you’ll need per square metre.
Which kind of sand should I use?
We recommend using kiln-dried sand for block paving joints. Not only is it extremely fine, but it’s also had all moisture removed. This makes it especially good at preventing water ingress, but it also helps keeps pavers in place whilst loose, yet still allows for good drainage.
Will I need planning permission?
Regulations on this changed back in 2008. If the area you’re paving is more than five metres square, or if you’re using paving that won’t let water drain through (or at least flow to an area where it can drain naturally, like a lawn), then the answer is probably yes. But if you use materials that allow drainage, including permeable block paving stone, or can direct water flow, you may not have to. As always in these kinds of cases, it’s best to consult an expert – such as the planning portal.
In this guide to how to lay block paving, we’ve shown there’s a lot to consider when taking on such a project – but it’s made possible with a little bit of planning and know how. We’ve tried to make the guide as comprehensive as possible, but if there’s anything you’re unsure about, why not drop us a line or give us a call. From the right tools and techniques to which materials are best, we’d be happy to help with any tips or expertise we can offer.
We also know that this might be a job you’d prefer to leave to the professionals. We have a huge selection of local trade partners, including professional landscapers and garden designers. Get in touch to discuss your requirements, and we’ll connect you with the best people for the job. Or why not head down to our show gardens to get some inspiration and see what they’re capable of in person.
We hope you’ve found this guide on how to lay block paving useful. We look forward to bringing you further “how to” guides soon.Tags: Aggregates, Corker Outdoor, Courtyards, Driveways, How to lay Paving, Landscaping, Landscaping Industry, Laying Paving, Patios, Paving Services, Paving Slabs, Sub-base, Sub-grade