How to Install Patio Pavers (2024)

Laying patio pavers is one of the quickest and easiest ways to install outdoor flooring and create an outdoor patio. Poured concrete slabs, brick, and natural stone have advantages, but patio pavers are cost-effective and simple to work with, so you can do the entire job yourself. Laying pavers on dirt involves digging, compacting, and planning your layout, with a 1-inch depth of sand spread across the patio area.

These instructions outline the easiest way to lay pavers, whether it's for a walkway, a patio, or around your pool. In just a few days, you'll have a gorgeous spot for outdoor entertaining or enjoying your backyard comfortably.

Cost Considerations

Designing and installing a paver patio is well within the capabilities of a dedicated do-it-yourselfer, and the costs of doing it yourself will be much less than hiring a professional. However, the effort and sweat equity must be factored into your estimates.

On average, it takes about 50 hours of work. You will also need to rent equipment, which costs about $350. Plus, you can expect to pay about $5 per square foot for materials. So, a small, 60-square-foot paver patio might cost about $750 once you figure in taxes and incidentals.

You can expect a patio expert to charge you more, but they have the expertise, saving you time and effort. For something small, like a 60-square-foot patio, the savings to do it yourself might be negligible. A larger project is where you might see much larger savings margins. On average, experts charge $8 to $25 per square foot for materials and installation. The price range is dependent on the type of paver material chosen.

Before You Begin

  • More about pavers: Concrete pavers come in many colors and textures, some even simulating natural stone or brick. Pavers 18 inches by 18 inches or smaller are easier to handle.
  • Delivery of pavers: You can buy pavers by the pallet and deliver them to your home close to the patio area.
  • Cutting pavers: If you need to cut pavers, you will need a masonry saw, protective gloves, and eye covering to prevent injury.
  • Tool rental: You will need a tamper or plate compactor besides the masonry saw. Other helpful tools include a wheelbarrow, shovel, a good quality water hose, and a landscape rake.
  • Base material: The base material should be gravel or crushed rock, such as 3/4-inch minus construction gravel. The gravel's sharp edges and points help the material compact well.
  • Sand: You should always lay pavers on sand and purchase coarse sand in bulk. You can purchase a bag of fine sand for sweeping between the joints since so little is needed.

Safety Considerations

Moving large amounts of heavy materials can take a toll on your body. Use a wheelbarrow. When shoveling, lift from your legs, not your back. Remember that base materials (crushed gravel) are heavier than dirt, so use only partial shovel loads.

Wear breathing protection. Frequently spray the area with water to keep the dust down.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Two-by-four
  • Tamper
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Rake
  • Broom
  • Carpenter's square


  • Pavers
  • Crushed rock base material
  • 1 bag fine sand (10 pounds)
  • Coarse bedding sand
  • Garden hose
  • Twine or thin rope
  • Marking paint
  • Wood stakes
  • 2 Metal pipes (3/4-inch I.D. diameter)
  • Edging stones with concrete or mortar (optional)


How To Lay Patio Pavers

  1. Create Layout

    The area where you intend to lay pavers should have a slight slope so water can run off it. Pooling will eventually create pits in the base material, creating more pooling.

    First, lay out the general area with a garden hose to get a basic sense of space. Refine this layout by hammering in wood stakes and creating a design with a thin rope or twine. Ensure your lines are even, and use a carpenter's square to get your corners just right. Then, paint an outline 8 inches beyond the staked area.


    Because masonry pavers are difficult to cut, it's often helpful to slightly adjust the patio's size to accommodate full-size pavers all the way across.

  2. Calculate Materials to Buy

    Use the outline to help you determine the quantity of pavers, base material, and sand to purchase. Measure the length by the width to arrive at the total square footage. Next, add 10% to account for expected wastage. If you will be laying pavers on curves or diagonals, increase the excess to 15 or 20%.


    It's usually easier and less expensive to buy materials in bulk and have them delivered to your home. Packaged sand and base materials are heavy and costly to purchase and transport.

  3. Dig Area

    Dig out the area. If there is turf, remove the turf until you reach the soil below. Place the bubble level on the two-by-four to check for slope. Ensure the patio slopes down about 1 inch (vertically) per 48 inches (horizontally). You may need to transfer the soil or add sand to create a slope.

    For the pavers to be flush with ground level, dig about 6 inches down to allow for 4 inches of base material, plus 1 inch of sand bedding, plus the 1-inch thickness of the pavers.

  4. Smooth and Tamp Area

    Use the shovel and the two-by-four to smooth out the area. Then, use the tamping tool to tamp down the soil.

  5. Lay Base Material

    Transfer the base material to the patio area with the wheelbarrow and shovel. After every two or three loads, spread out the material with the shovel and rake, keeping it even across the area.

    Smooth out the base material with the two-by-four. Finish by tamping it firmly down.


    Have the garden hose and sprayer nearby. Every so often, lightly spray the area. This helps the base material compact better and reduces dust.

  6. Add Edging

    Add the edge restraint of your choice to the base material. Some types of edging may need to be staked into the ground.

  7. Lay Down Coarse Sand

    Lay about 1 inch of the coarse (not fine) bedding sand. Be sure to keep the height even across the area, as this is the last layer; its height will determine the final height of the patio.

    One way to keep the height consistent is to lay down two 3/4-inch pipes and pour the sand over the pipes. When you screed (or pull) the two-by-four over the pipes, the pipes act as guards that stop the screed from digging any farther down.

    After the sand has been laid, carefully remove the pipes. Fill the voids left by the pipes with coarse sand and carefully smooth them out with your hand.

  8. Lay Pavers

    Lay the pavers on the coarse sand base. Avoid walking on the sand. Gently walk on freshly laid pavers to reach subsequent rows. Keep the pavers tight to each other, as wide joints lead to weeds between the pavers.

    As you lay the pavers, occasionally tamp them down by gently tapping them with a hammer. Use a small scrap piece of two-by-four to soften the impact and as a leveling gauge so that adjacent pavers are flush with each other.

  9. Add Edging Stones (Optional)

    If you've added paver edging, a hard plastic bracket staked into the ground at the edge of the paver border, you can skip the step of adding edging stones. Otherwise, you will need edging stones to secure the patio's borders with concrete or mortar.

  10. Add Sand to Joints

    With the surface of the patio pavers dry, toss a few handfuls of the fine sand on top. Sweep the sand across the surface so that the sand sifts into the joints between the pavers. When the pavers no longer move underfoot when you walk, the joints have enough sand. Sweep up and discard any excess sand.

When to Call a Professional

While laying patio pavers is a reasonably simple, straightforward outdoor project, handling the base materials and the pavers is strenuous.

A small, 60-square-foot patio can cost a professional about $480 to $1,500, while it could cost you about $700 to do it yourself, factoring in tool rental.

For larger projects, it might make more sense to do it yourself for more savings; however, it's back-breaking work and more of it. The average size patio project is about 280 square feet, and the national average for professional installation and materials is $3,800, with prices ranging from $2,400 to $7,000.

When considering larger projects or wanting to use large-format pavers (24 inches by 24 inches or greater), a contractor or landscaping company might be your best bet to ensure it gets done right, on budget, and on time.


  • Can I lay pavers directly on soil?

    Do not lay your pavers directly on the soil. To achieve a stable surface, the soil base must first be compacted, and then a layer of road base aggregate and sand must be laid.

  • What happens if you don't put sand under pavers?

    Without sand underneath your pavers, the layout will shift and warp over time and with the weather. Sand assures proper drainage and serves as a stabilizing medium for your pavers.

  • Do I need concrete under my pavers?

    Pavers are best installed on top of a flexible medium to move with the ground's temperatures. Pavers installed on a concrete surface will not be as malleable and may crack over time.

Basic Steps for Building a Deck

How to Install Patio Pavers (2024)


How to install pavers for beginners? ›

How to Lay Pavers
  1. Build your paver base. ...
  2. Create a sand bed on top of your base. ...
  3. Lay your pavers, and cut pavers when necessary. ...
  4. Add your edge restraints. ...
  5. Tamp down your pavers. ...
  6. Fill the area between your pavers with polymeric sand. ...
  7. Seal your pavers.
Jun 7, 2021

What do I need to know before installing pavers? ›

  • 5 Things You Should Know Before Installing Pavers in Your Patio. Dylan Smith. ...
  • Decide the Type of Paver You Want to Use. To build a paver patio, you will need to pick a material first. ...
  • Dig Deep for Proper Installation. ...
  • Protect the New Soil Base. ...
  • Seal the Cracks. ...
  • Always Buy Extra Pavers.
Nov 20, 2020

How do you calculate the number of pavers needed for a patio? ›

Calculate Paver Quantity: Divide the total area with waste by the area covered by a single paver to determine how many pavers you need. Round Up: Round up the calculated number of pavers to the nearest whole number or the next highest square foot increment.

What is the best base for pavers? ›

Concrete Sand: A Common Choice

Concrete sand (also known as sharp sand) is common for paver bases. Its finely crushed particles create reliable drainage, easy compacting, and a stable surface.

Can I just lay pavers on dirt? ›

Lots of questions come up regarding how to lay pavers on dirt, however, it is not recommended to lay pavers directly on dirt or any unprepared ground. In order for pavers to look and perform their best in a permanent situation, the ground needs to be levelled, excavated and hard compacted.

Do you put sand or dirt under pavers? ›

The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute recommends washed concrete sand as the best base sand for pavers. Concrete sand, also known as bedding sand, is coarse and doesn't trap excess moisture beneath the paver surface.

Do you put sand or stone under pavers? ›

One of the best choices you can make for your pavers' material is sand – it is compact, durable, and porous. Stone dust, on the other hand, is not as popular among builders, but is sometimes used as a substitute for sand.

How thick should sand be under pavers? ›

Paver sand holds the pavers in place and allows you to adjust them. The final paver sand depth needs to be 1 inch and you need to account for sand filtering into the paver base and into the joints between the pavers.

Do you put anything between pavers? ›

Filling the Gaps and Compacting

Knowing what to use to fill in between pavers will make you realize that coarse sand between pavers holds everything better by creating more friction than the usual type of fine and smooth sand. Wet polymeric sand is the best answer to what is the best to put in between pavers.

Do you need gaps between pavers? ›

Some pavers should be laid with a 2-3mm gap between each paver. Always work from the top of pavers that have just been laid so as to avoid disturbing the screeded bedding sand. Leave cutting and placing of edge pavers until the last step.

How many pavers for a 10x10 patio? ›

Calculating the Number of Pavers

The area coverage for each paver is 4 inches by 8 inches, or 0.222 square feet. For a 100 square foot area: Number of pavers needed: 100 sq ft / 0.222 sq ft ≈ 450 pavers. Considering a 5-10% extra for waste and cuts, you might need around 475 to 500 pavers in total.

How many pavers do I need for a 10x10 patio? ›

For a patio area of 100 square feet: Basic Calculation: Divide 100 sq ft by 0.222 sq ft to get approximately 450 pavers. Adding a Buffer: It's wise to purchase an additional 5-10% to account for cuts and breakage, raising your total to about 475 to 500 pavers.

How much does it cost to paver 500 square feet? ›

Paver patio cost estimator by size
Patio sizeAverage cost
300 square feet$2,400 – $7,200
400 square feet$3,200 – $9,600
500 square feet$4,000 – $12,000
600 square feet$4,800 – $14,400
5 more rows
Nov 29, 2023

What do you put under pavers when making a patio? ›

Materials to put under pavers might include mortar, sand, bituminous material or pedestals. Should I Lay Pavers on Sand or Mortar? Again, it will depend on several factors. The mortar set method is most popular and is typically used in pedestrian or vehicular areas where a rigid system is required.

Can you lay pavers over dirt? ›

Lots of questions come up regarding how to lay pavers on dirt, however, it is not recommended to lay pavers directly on dirt or any unprepared ground. In order for pavers to look and perform their best in a permanent situation, the ground needs to be levelled, excavated and hard compacted.

How to prepare ground for a patio? ›

You need to dig deep enough to allow for a 100mm sub base, 50mm of mortar and the thickness of your paving slabs. If you're building your patio next to your property, you also need to make sure the top of the paving slabs are 150mm below the damp proof course line.

Can you lay pavers without a base? ›

Laying your pavers directly on soil is not usually recommended unless it's only a temporary measure. The main reasons why you shouldn't lay pavers directly on soil is because it doesn't provide sufficient drainage. Water can run off the pavers and onto everything around it and cause flooding.

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