While laying down driveway pavers is not as easy or quick as pouring concrete or spreading gravel, it’s still something you can do on your own. All you need is a few tools and loads of time. If you can get a friend or two to help, even better. In this post, I discuss the best driveway paving tips including preparation, choosing the right kind of pavers, and installation.
Even if you don’t plan to install the driveway yourself, knowing these tips will make it easier to assess the work of whoever you hire.
What You'll Learn Today
- Is It Easy To Install A Paver Driveway?
- Best Driveway Paving Tips
- 1. Choose The Right Type of Pavers
- 2. Prep Work Will Make or Break Your Driveway
- 3. The Foundation is 90% Of Your Driveway – Do It Right
- 4. Take Your Time When Laying Pavers (Use The Click and Drop Method)
- 5. Don’t Forget the Edging
- 6. Tamp Down The Pavers
- 7. Use Polymeric Sand to Increase Stability
- 8. Consider Sealing The Pavers
- Can You Pave A Driveway In The Rain?
- Can You Lay Pavers Over Concrete?
Is It Easy To Install A Paver Driveway?
A paver driveway is not the easiest one to install. Concrete driveways are easier and faster since you just need to set up the base then pour the concrete on top and smoothen it.
Gravel driveways are also fairly easy to build. After getting the base ready, you just spread and grade the gravel.
The issue with pavers is how much time and effort it takes to lay them. You have to set up the base and then lay the pavers one by one. This can be especially time consuming if you are laying them in a special pattern like mosaic. It might require constantly cutting pavers.
But if you have the time, installing a paver driveway is fairly straightforward. You’ll need to prepare the ground where the driveway will be, excavate to a depth of 8-12 inches, install the foundation/base and then finally lay the pavers.
Here’s a great video that provides a step by step guide for installing pavers.
Best Driveway Paving Tips
1. Choose The Right Type of Pavers
The first step is to decide what kind of pavers you are going to use. There are three main options: concrete pavers, brick pavers and stone pavers.
Concrete pavers are the most affordable and it’s what most homeowners pick. Because they are uniform, they are easy to lay.
Brick pavers are pricier but they look great if you want a rustic look. Just note that brick pavers tend to break more easily than concrete pavers. Only use them on a driveway that will have light vehicular traffic.
Stone pavers are pricey but they have a beautiful high-end look. They also last longer than either concrete or brick pavers.
Make sure the pavers are at least 2⅜ inches thick to ensure the driveway will last long. If you plan to drive heavy vehicles or machinery on the driveway, get 3 to 4 inch thick pavers.
You also need to decide what kind of finishes and colors you want. You can do a single color for all the pavers or mix colors to create a more interesting pattern.
2. Prep Work Will Make or Break Your Driveway
It can be tempting to rush into the project so you can get it over with. But before you even pick a shovel or bring in the excavator, there’s essential prep work you need to do. This includes:
- Apply for permits where necessary.
- Figuring out where all the underground utilities such as water, gas and power lines are. In the US, you can call 811 and someone will come and mark where the utility lines are.
- Plan exactly where the driveway will run. You can mark an outline with strings and stakes or spray paint.
- Prepare the area by clearing weeds, removing rocks, uprooting bushes and so on.
- If you are replacing an old driveway, you’ll need to rip it up first. It’s usually faster and easier to hire pros to remove it.
- Even if you don’t buy all the materials you need before the project starts, at least figure out which materials you need (gravel, sand, pavers etc.), the quantity of each and where you can order them. This way, you’ll have an idea of the total budget for the project.
Tip: When planning the quantity of materials, get a little more than you need. This is especially important with pavers since a few will certainly break. It’s also important to keep a few extra pavers on hand for future repairs.
3. The Foundation is 90% Of Your Driveway – Do It Right
Where DIYers often go wrong when building a paver driveway is the base or foundation. The base is 90% of your driveway. It provides a majority of the strength, stability and longevity of the pavers.
If you don’t do the base right, you’ll start seeing pavers sinking, shifting or breaking. Your driveway won’t last long before you need to replace it.
Experts recommend digging 8 to 12 inches deep for driveway (base + pavers). This provides enough depth for a base that is at least 6 inches thick. This includes about 5 inches of gravel and an inch of sand or mortar on top. The pavers take up the rest of the space.
Remember to keep compacting when setting up the base.
Once you excavate, compact the soil before putting in the gravel. Don’t add all 5 inches of gravel at the same time.
Add 2 inches at a time, compact, then add 2 more inches. Compact the last one inch before adding a bed of sand.
Remember to keep the driveway at a slope to ensure proper drainage.
4. Take Your Time When Laying Pavers (Use The Click and Drop Method)
Laying the pavers is the easiest part of the project. But it takes time. Be patient and take your time to ensure the pavers are laid properly.
This is important for strength as well as aesthetics. Poorly laid pavers will be easily noticeable. Measure your angles right and maintain the right slope.
Remember you’ll need to cut some pavers to get perfect edges, so keep an angle grinder or hammer and chisel handy.
One helpful tip when laying the pavers is to use the click and drop method. Many people will drop a paver on the sand then push it until it’s right up against another paver. The problem with this is that you drag sand, and you could end up with uneven pavers.
Instead, hold the paver a couple of inches above the sand and click it against the paver you want to align it to. Once it clicks, drop the paver. It will settle exactly where you want it and you won’t have to push it.
5. Don’t Forget the Edging
Edging is important to keep pavers from shifting and ensure the driveway is stable. It also prevents sand from washing away and weakening the base of the driveway.
There are plenty of edging ideas you can use. The easiest is to get edge retainers. These are usually made from metal or plastic. You install them along the edges of the driveway.
You can also build your own edging using pavers, concrete, stone blocks or even wood.
6. Tamp Down The Pavers
Some people use a mallet to tamp down each paver they lay down. There’s no need for this, and it adds to the already tedious work of laying individual pavers.
Instead, lay all the pavers first then come back with a compactor. Compact all the pavers at once to ensure they settle into the sand base.
7. Use Polymeric Sand to Increase Stability
The final major step when laying pavers is closing the gaps between pavers with polymeric sand.
This is a special type of sand that holds pavers together more strongly. It also settles into the cracks between pavers and prevents weeds or grass from growing through.
Don’t just sweep the sand into the spaces between the pavers. Once you sweep it in, use a vibratory compactor to help the sand settle deeper between the pavers.
Sweep more sand onto the pavers to completely seal the cracks. Finish by lightly spraying the pavers with water to turn the sand into a bonding agent.
8. Consider Sealing The Pavers
This is not absolutely necessary, but it’s a good idea to seal the pavers to prevent stains, slow down fading and keep them looking good for years.
Can You Pave A Driveway In The Rain?
It’s not a good idea to lay down pavers when it’s raining or when the ground is too wet. If it’s only light rain, you can continue with the excavation or setting up the base.
But don’t add any polymeric sand as it’ll get washed away.
If it’s raining heavily, it’s best to abandon the entire project until the skies are clear.
Can You Lay Pavers Over Concrete?
Yes, you can install pavers over concrete. This can be a cheaper way to build a paver driveway if you have an existing concrete driveway. If the concrete is in fairly good shape, you don’t need to build a new base for the pavers.
Spread a layer of sand over the concrete then lay the pavers on top. Don’t forget to add edging to prevent the sand from washing away.
However, if the concrete driveway has wide cracks, missing patches or sunken areas, you are better off ripping it all out. But you can use the old base if you are sure it was well constructed.