My name is Mark Rhodus, I’m the president of Two Brothers Brick Paving. I’ve been installing pavers for over 15 years. I was taught by a pioneer in the industry, the guy who installed the very first concrete paver in the United States. So tons of experience, tips and tricks that go back many, many years.
For many years, I’ve been asked by landscape architects and interviewed by industry magazines (like the Turf Design Build Magazine and Total Landscape Care Magazine) on how to properly install pavers. Throughout the years, I’ve taken what I’ve been taught and added to it as we learn more effective and efficient ways of installing pavers. I have a lot of potential clients call me ask if I can coach them through installing their paver patio. So, I’ve put together this guide, How to easily install a paver patio that doesn’t look like a DIY paver installation.
There is a lot of information on the internet on how to install pavers. I’ve always been amazed at how different each approach is. For the most part, these guides will get you from start to finish and you’ll have a paver patio if you follow the guide. However, what I think is missing from almost all of these paver installation guides is the years of tricks and techniques a paver installation professional puts into every installation to ensure that the paver patio will last and look like it was installed by a professional. It’s all in the details…but which details?
There are some common problems with most do it yourself projects involving paver patio installations as well as some misconceptions regarding pavers due to these improper paver installation techniques.
Prevent weeds from growing in your paver joints – this is huge.
I think the most common misconception that my clients have about pavers has to do with weeds growing in the joints of the pavers. Most people think these weeds grow up from the earth/dirt underneath of the pavers. That is incorrect. Weeds grow in pavers by seeds being blown onto the patio and depositing themselves into the sand in the paver joint. In my installation guide, I share two of the most important installation steps to prevent weed growth in pavers. None of our installed paver patios experience major weed growth in the joints for two main reasons:
- We control surface water. If rain water sits on your pavers and has no where to go, it will aid in the germination of weeds. A dry patio is key to preventing weed growth. In my guide, I’ll give you very detailed instructions on how to keep your patio dry and well drained. Also, a well draining paver patio helps naturally wash and remove seeds from the surface and joints of the patio before they have the opportunity to germinate.
- The sand that paver joints get filled with can be a breading ground for weed germination. So, over the years, we’ve discovered a couple different techniques and treatments that make the sand in your joints inhabitable for weeds. One of these treatments turn the joint sand hard like mortar making it impossible for weeds to grow. The second is an alternative type of sand that is readily available that will achieve similar results. In my guide, I’ll explain exactly how to decide which treatment is best for your paver patio and exactly how to do each process the easiest way possible.
Proper paver base installation is the key to a long lasting paver patio. Make sure you’re installing it correctly and using the correct paver base material.
There is a specific type of gravel that works best for paver base. When installed correctly, this type of gravel turns into hard surface similar to concrete. Most DIY installations don’t use this type of gravel. I’m guessing because they just don’t know about it. In my guide, I’ll share with you the exact gravel that we use for all of our paver installations. Gravel is named by numbers at the quarry. However, these numbers are different from one quarry to the next. I’ll share with you exactly what to ask for to make sure you’re getting the right stuff.
Once you have the right gravel, you’ll have to know how to install it. However, before you install and compact the gravel base, you’ll have to compact the soil that you’re going to put your gravel base on to. Without doing this step, you’re patio could quickly settle more than 1/2″ in 90 days or less. Most DIY guides do not mention how to compact the soil. I’ll share with you a trick to compact the soil using a little bit of your gravel base and a plate compactor.
Now that your soil, aka subgrade, is solid and compacted, you’ll need to begin installing your paver base. You’ll need to rent a vibratory plate compactor to properly install the paver base. Without it, your pavers could easily settle more than 1/2″ in 30 days or less. Every tool rental store across america rents these for about $50 per day. In my guide, I’ll show you how to properly use the plate compactor to achieve the best results. We recommend that a typical paver patio base be 6″ thick or deep. However, most plate compactors can’t compact 6″ at a time. I’ll share with you exactly how often you need to compact and also a trick to make sure that every inch of your patio has received proper compaction.
I’m sure if you’ve been doing some research on how to install pavers, you probably already were aware that you had to compact the gravel base. However, 9 out of 10 DIY paver patio installations don’t do this crucial step during the installation of the paver base. In order to achieve near complete compaction (if not your pavers will settle), you paver base must have the correct moisture content. This means that you must add water to the base during compaction. Water lubricates the particles in your gravel base making it easier for the gravel to consolidate and become compact. Adding to much water and you may have to remove all your gravel and start over. I’ll share with you an easy trick to know when your paver base has the proper amount of water in it to achieve optimum compaction.
Cheap insurance that add’s many years to the life of your paver patio.
There is a single step that you can do when installing your paver base that will add many years to the life of your paver patio and also compensate for any DIY mistakes made during base installation. Its cheap and easy to add, yet most DIY and even many professional installations leave it out. I’ll share with you exactly what it is and how to install it.
3 Easy ways to make sure your paver patio doesn’t look like an amateur installation.
When I consider doing any DIY home improvement project, what typically prevents me from going through with the project is my fear that my lack of experience doing this type of project will show in my work and decrease the value of my home instead of increasing it. So as I’ve put together this guide, I’ve thought about common flaws DIY paver patios have and how to show an amateur how to easily prevent them. I’m thrilled with the results. I think there are 3 common flaws on DIY projects that could be easily avoided and drastically improve the quality of the project making it look like it was professionally installed. Here they are:
- Wavy Pavers, a paver patio that is not flat is a dead giveaway that it was installed by an amateur. If you look across a paver patio and it appears to roll up and down instead of staying flat and sloping at a consistent slope across the entire patio, chance are that patio was installed by an amateur. In my guide, I’ll show you how to easily prevent this from happening during the installation process. These couple extra steps we do will make a huge difference in the finished look of your project. I’ll also share with you a really neat trick with a plate compactor that will smooth your pavers out like glass after installation.
- Curvy joint lines ruin a paver installation. The line that is made from the joints in the pavers must be straight. If it’s not, it will not look like a professional installed it. There are two steps to ensuring straight bond lines. I’ll show them both to you as well as how to straighten the bond lines once the pavers are installed (of course before you cut in the perimeter).
- Bad cuts. I can always tell a DIY paver installation by the cuts. If the cuts aren’t perfect, it makes the rest of the project look cheap. But making perfect cuts takes years of experience. We’ve developed a way to make perfect cuts every time by simply adding a paver border around the perimeter of your patio. I’ll show you exactly how in my guide.
Get my “How to easily install a paver patio that doesn’t look like a DIY paver installation” for $35.
In addition to showing you how to prevent weeds from growing in your pavers, making sure you get the right paver base, the importance of water in paver base installation, cheap insurance and 3 ways to make sure your paver patio looks professionally installed, I’m also going to:
1. How to calculate exactly how much paver base and sand you’ll need
2. What tools you’ll need
3. The products (edging, gravel, sand sealer, polymeric sand, etc) we use after years of trial and error
Here are some of our paver patio installation pictures