DIY Patios and Paths

Preparing a Location

To prepare a new site, it’s best to remove enough soil to allow 4 inches of packed crusher-run gravel (8″ for a driveway) plus 1″ of concrete sand (not masonry sand) and the thickness of the paver. (Gravel may not be required for small or low traffic areas but it helps to keep your paved area level for years. When in doubt, consult a landscape professional.) Figure on sloping the finished surface about 1/4″ per foot for proper drainage. This is accomplished by sloping the sub soil. Allow the excavated area to stand through several rains to compact the soil or compact it with a vibrating plate compactor (available through equipment rental shops). Add the gravel next and compact it in the same manner as the sub soil. Note: the gravel should extend 6″ beyond the area to be paved.

Edging and Screening

This is necessary to hold mortarless brick in place. The edging can be a brick stood on edge, a pre-made plastic or metal edging, or troweled concrete with backfill. It can be added before or after laying the bricks. It may be easier to do it after laying the bricks if you have chosen a pattern or area shape that requires a lot of cutting. The bedding sand or screenings should be screeded level to a uniform height of approx. 1″ using a board and several long pipes. Pipes are placed on the ground at intervals smaller than the board length and then, the sand is placed all around. The board, resting on the pipes, is dragged across the surface to provide a uniform thickness. The pipes are removed and the voids are filled with sand.

Laying the Brick

After choosing the pattern, start laying the brick from any convenient corner. If your paved area is adjacent to a solid structure or house, start from the structure. Use perpendicular string lines to keep the pattern on line. Just snugly butt the brick to each other leaving a small gap between the pavers of 1/16″ to 1/8″.

Cutting Brick

It’s best to choose a pattern and dimensions where cutting can be avoided as much as possible. Brick can be rough cut using a broad blade chisel and a hammer. For finer cuts, a brick splitter or a power saw with a masonry blade can be rented from a local equipment rental store.

Sweeping Sand

Scatter dry concrete sand over the entire area and sweep it into the small cracks between the bricks. The sand holds the bricks tightly into place creating “interlock.” This may take several applications and a good bit of sweeping since the sand will slowly settle into the joints, but your project is ready to use after the first thorough sweeping. With relieved edge pavers, a vibrating plate can be used to speed up the process and get a tighter fit.

Video Examples: A Small Investment For Years of Outdoor Enjoyment

Installing a brick patio or walkway takes only a small amount of time and a small investment in materials. Yet the value added to your home, plus the enjoyment you derive from your new outdoor living area will be with you for many years. Re-discover your outdoors. Stop by soon to see the complete line of Pine Hall Pavers.

Rehab a concrete patio or sidewalk with clay pavers.

If you already have a concrete patio or sidewalk, you can update the space simply by laying brick pavers over the old surface.

There are a number of advantages to doing it this way. The biggest is that the base is already there and you instantly improve the appearance of your property, without having to dig up your old concrete and haul it away. And pavers don’t need to be power-washed each spring. See instructions below and download this handy PDF.

brick on concrete slab

Step 1
With concrete that’s smooth and even, start by choosing a clay paver and the pattern that you will use. Keep in mind that there are “thinner” pavers (1 3/8”) for these applications and that some patterns like herringbone will require more cuts than others.

Step 2
Next lay a “soldier course” of bricks, perpendicular to the edge of the concrete to form the outside “frame” of your project. The secret here is to use four dots of masonry adhesive on each brick, each about the size of a penny, which allows rainwater to pass underneath.

Step 3
On the inside of the soldier course, cut pieces of roofing felt to put a single layer inside the “frame” covering the concrete, don’t overlap the felt edges, and then lay a second layer of felt, perpendicular over the top of the first layer.

Step 4
Then, starting at one corner, begin laying the brick in place, leaving a 1/8” gap between the pavers for sand. Finish by sweeping concrete sand in between the joints until they are full

Paving Products

Paving brick differs from the brick used on house walls in that they are solid, without holes. They come in two basic types: 4″ x 8″ pavers for sand based applications and modular pavers (3 5/8″ x 7 5/8″) for mortared applications. Due to lower costs, sand based installations are more popular. However, mortared installations provide a special look all their own. Both types of installations are extremely durable and will last for decades. Pavers come in two thicknesses: 2 1/4″ & 1 3/8″. Thickness required depends on height limitations (if any) and traffic/load flow.

Advances in clay brick technology have produced new pavers, specifically designed for sand installations, that are as elegant as mortared pavers. Beveled edge or relieved edge pavers highlight the pattern while eliminating edge chippage. Pine Hall makes three series of pavers called English Edge®, Rumbled® and Old Series.