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

Are you looking for a way to spruce up your outdoor space with a professional-looking paver patio?

Installing one may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be!

With our guide and step-by-step instructions, you can easily create a beautiful paver patio.

We’ll show you how to prepare the ground, selecting a base, how many inches of sand you need, and more.

Don’t miss out on creating the perfect outdoor space: follow our guide to install a paver patio that will last for years!

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.

Certainly it’s a valid to have many questions like:

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, but we will answer each question.

How Much Does a Paver Patio Cost?

While there are multiple factors that 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

Additonally, 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!

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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?

Skid loader is used to remove old cement patio.

When you are preparing the ground for a paver patio, 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 8″ deep, 6″ for the base material, 1″ for the sand and 2″ for the depth of the pavers.

The first step to preparing our ground for the paver patio is to remove the existing concrete landing.

Remove Old Cement Patio

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.

With the aid of rental equipment, excess dirt was taken up the hill.

This excess dirt was then used to create a future fire pit and seating area.

Skid loader tipped over on its side in wooded backyard.

Everything went smoothly for an hour or so… then there was a mishap and the skidloader 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

Many family volunteers are used to dig out he remaining dirt to prepare the space for a paver patio.

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 and the younger kids would return the buckets to the lower level.

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

Does A Paver Patio Need a Slope?

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 dirt 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 only installed 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

Man with a rented compactor, compacts the road base material before installing a paver patio.

Compacting the base causes smaller particles in the soil to settle in the voids of the material underneath, forming a sturdy base.

Clearly this step is key to creating a paver patio that will hold up throughout the years.

In addition, you can buy or rent a hand tamper tool to compact the base.

However, we rented a powered compactor for this project to speed up the process.

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Adding Sand To Paver Patio Base

Sand is spread over the paver patio base.

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 Sand Easily

Screed the sand easily by laying a 1" pvc pipes in the sand, then pull a long 2x4 across the pipe, leveling out the sand to 1" thickness.

PRO TIP: Use a 2×4 and 1″ PVC pipes to easily screed the sand to the proper depth.

Place 3 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.

Then pull out the pvc pile from the sand.

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

Fill in the gap from removing the pvc pipe with sand.

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

A trowel is used to gently tap and compact the sand over the area where the pvc pipe was.

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

Begin Laying Paver Patio

With a string tied between 2 stakes, pavers are aligned and placed in the screeded sand in a pattern.

Use a string to create a guide that will ensure the patio pavers will be installed straight.

Begin placing the pavers in the desired pattern, aligning the the string.

Start in the corner of the patio and gradually work your way across.

Work in small sections, so you won’t need to step on the screeded sand.

Follow the pattern, pavers on placed on the sand, man kneeling o pavers, careful not to step on sand.

Create your pattern on paper, so you can refer to it often.

Pavers are placed as each new section of the sand is prepared to complete the paver Patio.

Then continue laying pavers to create the patio design.

We found it easier to prepare small sections and place the pavers, than to try to do one long row.

Full patio pavers are all placed into position first, before any cuts are made

In addition we found it easier to lay all the full pavers over the majority of the patio area.

Full patio pavers are all placed into position first, before any cuts are made

Then spaces were left for areas where the pavers would need to be cut.

Paver Cuts & Edging

Cut pavers are then install in the patio and the edges are secured with paver edging strip.

Once all of the full pavers are install, we measured and made the necessary cuts we needed for our paver patio with tile wet saw.

That’s a messy job! I would suggest you wear long sleeves and pants and eye protection for sure!

Finally each cut paver is placed into position.

black plastic edging is placed around the paver patio and secured with stakes.

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

Black plastic Edging is installed around the perimeter of the paver patio.

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

Black plastic Edging is installed around the perimeter of the paver patio.

Add Polymeric Sand To Paver Patio

Paver patio covered with small acorns.

This patio certainly didn’t get installed in a single day.

After a few weeks, debris from our trees settled in the crevices between each paver.

Woman with shop vacuum removing acorns from 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.

Polymeric sand is swept across the patio to fill in between each paver on the patio, This will lock the pavers into place.

The final step is to add polymeric sand.

It is recommended over a common sand mix.

As it turns out common sand attracts ants, plus 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

Completed Paver Patio with dining table and chairs.

Now, after all that work it’s time to sit back, relax and feel proud of a job well done.

Completed Paver Patio with dining table and chairs.

Not to mention feeling elated by saving yourself thousands of dollars in labor!

Completed Paver Patio with dining table and chairs.

Creating a beautiful outdoor area with a paver patio doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.

By following these steps, you can easily install a paver patio that will last for years.

Completed Paver Patio with dining table and chairs.

And create the perfect outdoor space for your friends and family to enjoy.

So don’t wait any longer – get started today, and start enjoying an amazing backyard patio!

Paver Patio Supplies

For your convenience we’ve linked the supplies and tools we used to install our paver patio.

This post may contain Amazon or other affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase something through any link, we may receive a small commission, at no extra charge to you. Where possible, the exact product has been linked. If that product isn’t available to link, We’ve linked something similar. See our full disclosure here.

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