You are currently viewing How to Install a Paver Patio that will Last

Earlier this week we talked about creating an outdoor living space on a budget. Certainly this post offers you great tips on how to style a patio to create an inviting and relaxing atmosphere, perfect for evening dinners or large parties. While today we’d like to share how to install a paver patio that will last. Furthermore, using our step by step guide will result in professional results.

Where do you start when laying a paver patio?

Installing a paver patio can seem like a daunting task, there’s no doubt about that. For this reason it’s a valid question to wonder “where to start when laying a paver patio?”

How much does it cost?

How do you prepare ground for pavers?

Does it need a slope?

Can you lay pavers on just sand?

How many inches of sand do I need for pavers?

What is the best base for pavers?

Is paver base necessary?

Surely the list goes on. Each question will be answered below.

How much does a paver patio cost?

While there are multiple factors play into the cost of a paver patio, including type of pavers used, size of patio and labor.

Of course, the largest variable in the total budget is labor. Although it will vary from location to location, depending on a contractors overhead, ability and experience. Generally speaking, you will find that labor costs are more expensive in areas with a higher cost of living.

While costs undoubtedly will vary, figures used in this post are based on the 500 square foot patio we installed. For instance, the average cost of installation would be roughly between $4,000-$13,000.

Additionally, with a quick internet search you can explore the average installation costs in your area. 

I believe learning how to install a paver patio yourself can save thousands of dollars! Clearly it’s labor intensive, but well worth it in our opinion!

Actual Costs For This Paver Patio

Actual costs for this 500 square foot paver patio are as follows:

$1224 – Pavers

$200 – Road Base

$125 – Sand

$75 – Polymeric Sand

With a total of $1,624 for supplies.

Rental equipment is not configured in the above costs.

How Do You Prepare Ground For Pavers?

Outdoor Living Space

When you are  planning the ground preparation, key elements to consider are: slope, thickness of pavers, base and sand. You’ll find each discussed in more detail below.

For example, our paver patio was excavated 6″ for the base material, 1″ for the sand and 2″ for the depth of the pavers.

The first step to preparing the ground for our paver patio was to remove the existing concrete landing. To do this we used a circular saw with a concrete blade to cut the cement. Then we focused on breaking up the cement and removing it from the area.

Clearing the old concrete slab

Outdoor Living Space

With the aid of rental equipment, excess dirt was taken up the hill. This help us create a flat surface for a future fire pit and seating area.

Outdoor Living Space

Everything went smoothly for a couple of hours. However, we then had a mishap and the tractor rolled during the last descent, luckily no one was injured!

In short, after that incident all remaining excavating was completed by hand.

Many hands make light work

Outdoor Living Space

With the help of our amazing family, we turned our excavation into a party!

This was our method . . . Multiple 5 gallon buckets were filled with dirt down below. Then each was hoisted up with a pulley system between two trees. Buckets were then emptied up the hill.

What seamed like an insurmountable job, was completed in only 4 hours.

Does A Paver Patio Need To Be Sloped?

When designing a paver patio be sure to account for proper drainage across the entire surface. Building the patio with a 1-2″ slope away from the home will ensure all water drains away from the foundation.

Installing a patio flat is not the same as making it level. To prevent any areas where water may pool, the surface shouldn’t have any dips or bumps.

The area should drop 1/2″ for every 4′. To easily check the slope, lay a 4-foot level on the ground and raise one end up 1/2″. Mark the bubble location of the level and use it as a guide on the patio surface. From there fill in or remove gravel from areas to adjust the slope.

Can You Lay Pavers On Just Sand?

Compacted sand can provide a sufficient base for a paver patio solely intended for foot traffic. However the base of the patio should be compacted as much as possible.

For long term use with professional results we recommend that you add base level.

Is Paver Base Necessary?

In short, it’s best to assess the condition of the base and make it as solid as possible before laying pavers.

For instance, on a previous paver patio we installed only a sand base. After time, some settling occurred which created a tripping hazard. Eventually, it needed repair. The pavers were removed, additional sand added and the pavers reinstalled. 

Conversely, for this patio, road base was used prior to the sand base. Depending on the location and building supplies, it may be called Class 5, crusher rock, road bed gravel or 3/4 minus gravel.

Road base compacts better than a general gravel base. This will prevent any settling in the pavers and keep the paver patio free from pooling water.

It should be noted that a base depth of 4 to 6 inches is recommended to provide a sturdy and stable foundation for many types of paver installation.

Compacting Base For Paver Patio

Paver Patio

Compacting the base causes smaller particles in the soil to settle in the voids of the material underneath, forming a sturdy base. Surely this step is key to creating a paver patio that will hold up through the years.

In addition you can buy or rent a hand tamper tool to compact the base. Of course, we rented a powered compactor for this project to speed up the process.

Adding Sand To Paver Patio Base

Paver Patio

After the paver base has been compacted add 1″ of sand.

Begin with a small workable area and avoid walking on the sand prior to screeding and paver placement.

How to screed the sand easily

Paver Patio
Paver Patio

PRO TIP: Use a 2×4 and 1″ PVC pipes to easily screed the sand to the proper depth. Place 2 pieces of PVC pipe approximately 4′ apart. Then fill the area in with sand. Next, pull the 2 x 4 across the 1″ PVC pipes.

This method will allow you to get a large workable area level at one time, as it pushes excess sand behind the board.

Paver Patio
Paver Patio

After the sand has been leveled to a workable area, 2 feet or so, gently pull one PVC pipe out at a time.

Paver Patio
Paver Patio

Then take a handful of sand and fill in the void area where the PVC pipe was.

Paver Patio

Now gently tap the sand into place with a hand trowel.

Begin Laying Paver Patio

Paver Patio

Begin placing the pavers in the desired pattern. Start in the corner and gradually work your way out. Use a string to create a guide that will ensure the pattern will be installed straight.

Paver Patio
Paver Patio

Then continue laying pavers to create the patio design.

Paver Patio
Paver Patio

We found it easier to lay full pavers over the majority of the patio area. Then spaces were left for areas where the pavers would need to be cut.

Paver patio | Cutting Border Tiles

Paver Patio

Then install the remaining border pavers, measure and cut paver pieces to size with a wet tile saw.

Lastly line the pavers with edging and secure into place with stakes.

Paver Patio

As you can see the edging will easily conform to any curves in the design.

Add Polymeric Sand To Paver Patio

Paver Patio

This patio certainly didn’t take place all in a days work. After several days, debris settled in the crevices between each paver.

Paver Patio

Any debris will need to be removed before applying the polymeric sand. We found that a Shop-Vac will easily clean everything up.

Paver Patio

The final step will be to add the polymeric sand. It is recommended over a common sand mix. As it turns out common sand attracts ants, whereas a polymeric sand has fillers that act as a cement to help lock the pavers into place.

Distribute the polymeric sand into the crevices with a push broom and remove any excess sand.Then use a hose to lightly mist the paver patio. This will set the pavers into place.

Completed Paver Patio

Paver Patio

Now, after all that work it’s time to sit back, relax and feel proud of a job well done. Not to mention feeling elated by saving yourself thousands of dollars in labor!

Paver Patio
Paver Patio

Adding a beautiful paver patio definitely adds living space to your home! Can you imagine your family utilizing this extra space?

Paver Patio

Thanks for spending some time with us today. Do you feel more confident installing your own paver patio? Will this project get checked off your list this summer? We love hearing from you, comment below.

If you’re new here WELCOME! We’re always excited to have more friends! You can learn more about us here.

Please PIN and share with your friends!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design



To see how we styled this patio you can take a tour here.

If your summer plans have been changed this year due to the pandemic, we’ve got you covered! Click here or the image above for 20+ ideas of fun things you can do at home this summer!

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for even more home decor and DIY ideas.

To see what we are working on before it’s on our blog, follow us on Instagram.

You can also find our video tutorials on our YouTube channel.

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for even more home decor and DIY ideas.

You can also find our video tutorials on our YouTube channel. 

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Heather M

    What kind of stone and where did you purchase please?

  2. Cindy

    How did you frame the project? What keeps the stones together? Did you dig down? If so how much?

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Yes Cindy, we did dig down 6″ for the base and 1″ sand, plus 2″ for the thickness of the pavers for a total of 9″ . Then once all of the pavers were installed we did install a paver edging that holds the pavers in place. There are photos of this step towards the end of the post. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Leave a Reply