Installing concrete paving stones is a straightforward but multi-step process. The first phase is project planning and layout, followed by excavation and site preparation. After that, a base layer of gravel and a setting bed of sand are installed. Finally, the concrete paving stones themselves are added, and finishing touches are applied.
The planning and layout phase involves carefully measuring and marking the site for paving stone installation. Before doing anything else, call local utility companies to mark any buried pipes or cables. If the concrete paving stones are going to be located next to a house or other large fixed structure, then that structure should be used as a base and measurements taken off of it.
Use a level and line to measure and mark the border of the installation area. Make the installation area 2-3 inches (about 5.1-7.6 cm) larger than the size of the finished project. A laser level can be helpful at this stage.
Begin excavating after the site has been marked. Dig out roughly 8 inches (20.3 cm) of earth, more in areas with harder frost or poor drainage. Larger concrete paving stones will need a deeper hole as well.
Use a line to make sure that the bottom of the hole is flat. Slope the hole away from adjacent structures to provide drainage. Compact the earth with a plate compactor.
When the hole is ready, add a layer of 3-4 inches (about 7.6-10.2 cm) of fill gravel. This provides the base for the concrete paving stones and keeps them stable while also allowing drainage. Compact the gravel with a plate compactor.
If adding more than 3-4 inches (about 7.6-10.2 cm) of gravel, then add the gravel in layers about 3 inches (7.6 cm) deep, and compact each layer until it is firm. Install paver restraints at the edges of the project area. There should be some gravel outside the restraints in order to keep them firmly anchored.
After the gravel is in place, add a layer of sand to hold the concrete paving stones. Use a board or inflexible pipe to keep the surface of the sand perfectly flat. For larger projects, use boards or pipes mounted temporarily in the sand to slide a level across to keep the sand flat. Compact the sand with a plate compactor.
Next, begin setting the concrete paving stones in place. Carefully follow the pattern. Use lines or straight edges to make sure that the edges of paving stones form straight lines. Use a block splitter to cut blocks as needed for the edges of your patio or garden path.
After all of the pavers are in place, add a layer of sand, and use the plate compactor to work it into the joints between paving stones. Sweep off any excess sand. Periodically add more sand as needed, such as if rain washes some away.