The Expert’s Guide To Laying Pavers

Posted on 27 Aug 2019

It’s no secret that here at Midland Brick, we love pavers. We’ve been selling them for over 40 years and have seen firsthand how versatile, durable and cost-effective they can be in a wide range of settings.

Whether you’re using them for a stylish driveway or to add the finishing touch to your alfresco entertaining area - or anything in between - our huge range of pavers means that we have the materials you need to achieve the look you’re going for.

Making the right choice of pavers is very important, but if you don’t lay them properly then you’re never going to get the stunning aesthetic appeal that you’re aiming for.

Even if they do look good at first, improperly laid pavers are highly likely to move, shift and even break over time (especially if they’ve been in an area that gets a lot of use). This means that you’ll eventually have to invest more time, effort and money into re-laying, repairing and replacing them.

When it comes to laying pavers, the old saying “do it once and do it well” definitely applies. That’s why we’ve put together this expert guide to help you out.

If you’re going to be doing it yourself, the materials you need (such as compactor and brick saw) can be easily hired. Make sure to take safety precautions, like wearing steel capped shoes, eye protection and hearing protection where necessary.

Even if you’re not laying your own pavers, it pays to know what’s involved so you can make sure that whoever’s doing it does a quality job. You don’t want to get stung with those extra re-laying and repair costs we mentioned earlier.

What You’ll Need:

  • A shovel
  • A rake
  • A large broom
  • A spirit level
  • A screeding board
  • Guide boards
  • A brick saw
  • A plate compactor
  • Edge restraints
  • Stakes and string
  • Base layer material (road base or well-graded crushed limestone)
  • Bedding sand
  • Some stylish & durable Midland Brick pavers
  • Jointing sand (such as Pave-Lok)
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE). At the minimum, we recommend gloves, eye protection, ear protection (where applicable) and steel capped boots

Step 1: Preparing The Site

This is the foundation of your whole paving job, so it pays to take as much time as you need to get this step right.

Before you determine your finished paving level and start excavating, remember to take into account the following:

  • The finished paving must be below the damp proof course level of any building. The damp proof course is a barrier built into the walls of a building to prevent damp rising through the walls. If your paving touches the walls above it, it could lead to rising damp that can cause significant structural damage.
  • Paving must slope away from buildings to facilitate water runoff.
  • When calculating your finished paving level, you need to allow for the depth of the base layer (a minimum of 100mm), the bedding later (approximately 30mm) and the height of your pavers.

Once you’ve made the appropriate calculations, excavate the area and ensure the ground is level with your spirit level.

Step 2: Laying The Base Layer 

For areas that are going to be used by vehicles (such as driveways), we highly recommend adding a base layer - such as road base or well-graded crushed limestone - to provide extra support and stability.

Spread your base layer out evenly to a minimum depth of 100mm and rake to an even thickness before compacting. We’d advise using a plate compactor for this. Don't forget your PPE!

Step 3: The Bedding Layer

Spread your bedding sand and screed it flat. Set up your guide boards to the height you want your bedding layer to finish at and then spread another layer of bedding sand over the top.

Pull the screeding board over the guides to achieve a uniform depth of 30mm. When the whole job is levelled, remove the guides, fill in the tracks with more bedding sand and level everything off with your screeding board.

Step 4: Laying The Pavers

Once your site is properly prepared, it’s time to get on with the job of actually laying your Midland Brick pavers. Before you do, here are a few tips to help make sure that you get everything 100% right:

  • Setting Out: to ensure the integrity of your pattern, use your stakes and string to put in grid lines that are spaced at exact intervals around the perimeter of the job.
  • Cutting: make sure that any pavers you cut are fully wetted (soaked with water) to reduce the chance of cutting slurry staining them. Once cut, wash any slurry from the pavers before laying. Also, be careful that slurry doesn’t fall onto pavers that you have already laid.
  • Edge Restraints: putting these in place will prevent your pavers from moving horizontally. It will also help to contain the bedding sand and base layer.

To prevent chipping your pavers during laying, place them gently on the sand bed leaving a 2-3mm gap between them (most Midland Brick pavers now have spacer nibs to make this process a lot easier and quicker).

With most pavers, there is naturally a slight variation in size and colour. To achieve an evenly blended, consistent look across your whole paved surface, select your pavers down the side and randomly from different pallets. This will help to ensure that these variations aren’t noticeable.

Step 5: Control Joints

A control joint is a 10-15mm gap between sections of the paved area that is filled with a compressible material such as Abel Flex. They help to account for the paving expansion and contraction that occurs with a change in temperature.

Where unrestrained edging is used and pavers are laid with the correct gaps between them, control joints are generally not required. However, in large areas restrained by walls, kerbing or long driveways, it might be necessary to include them.

The spacing of your control joints will vary depending on your pattern design and should be positioned at points of stress like re-entrant corners (and at points not exceeding 6 metres apart). 

It’s also important to remember that dark colours tend to move more and that your paving will always give way at the weakest point - usually the edge restraint - so take this into consideration when laying your pavers and spacing your control joints.

Step 6: Joint Filling

Next, you need to fill the gaps between your pavers so they stay in place. Sweep some dry, fine white washed sand (such as Pave-Lok jointing sand) over all of your paving until all of the joints are completely full.

Step 7: Compacting

First thing's first - get your PPE! At the minimum, we recommend gloves, steel capped boots, and protection for your eyes and ears.

Use a mechanical plate compactor with a piece of clean carpet underneath to compact your pavers. This will prevent scratching and damage while helping to make sure that everything stays in place over the long term.

After your first compacting run, sweep in more jointing sand and compact again. Once that’s done, sweep off the excess sand.

Step 8: Sealing

Not all pavers need sealing. However, we highly recommend sealing our masonry pavers as soon as they’re laid (and completely dry). This will help to slow down the absorption of any spills that could potentially stain and ruin their appearance (but you should definitely still clean up any spills as soon as possible to make sure this doesn’t happen).

As for the application of the particular sealer that you’ve chosen, we recommend consulting the instructions on the packaging or talking to the manufacturer or a contractor for more advice on the correct method.

Step 9: Stand Back & Admire Your Work 

Once you’ve done all of the hard work of laying your pavers properly, it’s important to take the time to really appreciate what you’ve been able to achieve. If you’ve followed our instructions and done the job well, they should continue to look fantastic for years and years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about our range of pavers, you can browse them here online or download our paving brochure. If you need some advice on the right pavers for you, feel free to get in touch or visit one of our display centres today.

Share this news article

Back To Blog Entries