Your pavers are likely to sink and shift over time if they lack a solid foundation of base and sand. When this tragic accident happens, it creates uneven surfaces and tripping hazards and steals the visual appeal of your patio and driveway.
It is important to do everything right the first time to avoid pavers from cracking and shifting. This article discusses a step-by-step guide on how to level sand for a patio base.
- Measure the Area
Use a measuring tape to determine the area you will be installing your pavers. Add about 6 to 8 inches of space for safety around the perimeter of your spot. The length and width of your patio determine the number of pavers you need to work with. You can outline the designated area with paint or string. If you are using a string, run it outside the work area and secure it to the ground using small stakes at the corners. If you are using paint, create an outline by spraying it around the perimeter.
- Dig up the Marked Spot
Use a shovel or mattock to dig out the area so that it can be equal to the size of the patio. You need to remove about 6 inches of topsoil and vegetation and smooth the walls around the edges using the flat side of your tool. Use a measuring tape to determine the depth of the excavated pit and ensure it is even. Remove the strings temporarily if they are getting in your way and remember to mark their positions so that you can easily put them back afterward. Before you start digging, you need to know where to put the dug-up soil from the pit.
- Add Gravel and Edge Restraints
The gravel layer allows water to drain through the patio stones. Use a mechanical plate compactor or a hand tamper after every 2 inches to compress the gravel into a fine, solid base. Continue adding gravel until about 3 inches from the slope line. Edge restraints prevent your pavers from moving once you have placed them down. Position your restraints around the perimeter and secure them using yard spikes or nails.
- Add a Layer of Landscape Fabric
Add a layer of landscape fabric to create a distinction between gravel and sand. Layering with fabric prevents weeds from growing through because water and light cannot reach the bottom layer of the soil. Although you can install a layer of landscape fabric before adding gravel, laying it down afterward prevents the sand from falling between the gravel. This means that you will use more sand to ensure it sifts properly into the cracks of the bed.
- Pour a Layer of Sharp Sand
A long-lasting paver installation uses sharp sand because it has the right level of coarseness to attach to the paver joints. The coarse and jagged nature of bedding sand makes joints stable, promotes proper drainage, allows for easier compaction, and makes it easier to create an even surface. Sharp sand holds the pavers as firm as cement while allowing water to escape through. You need to pack down and level off the layer of sand by sloping it away from the house. This helps drain surface water away from the foundation. After pouring sand, ensure the distance between the slope line and the top of the sand is level with the height of one paver.
- Lay Patio Pavers on Sand
Whether you are using concrete, sandstone, or marble, you need to lower your first slab into position by placing it firmly about 15mm into the sand. Create a gap of about 10 to 15mm and between each stone when adding the slabs. It is important to kneel on the sand when laying the slabs to avoid sinking them too deep as it can make your patio uneven. Fill the gaps with more sand and sweep with a broom so that it can fill up those spaces. More gaps will appear overtime after the sand dries and settles between the stones. It is imperative to repeat the above process by adding more sand until it is densely packed between the gaps.
Not everyone notices the amount of work it takes to create a beautiful smooth surface after a paving project. However, using inconsistent materials or rushing through the project can create uneven surfaces. This not only takes away the aesthetic appeal of your patio and driveway but can also cause tripping hazards. Work systematically and be patient with every stage to get the job well done.