How to Install a Paver Patio -- Detailed Do-it-Yourself Instructions

A paver patio is relatively easy for a do-it-yourself homeowner to plan and build in one or two weekends.

A small patio provides a quiet place to relax.A small patio provides a quiet place to relax.
By butting the pavers tightly together, the patio provides a solid surface for a table, chairs and the BBQ. Adding a small canopy or umbrella, flowers in pots, twinkle lights and a tabletop fountain gives the family a place to gather on a warm summer evening.

Measure the 8-foot by 8-foot patio space, using the tape measure. Allow 2 inches extra on each side for the 2-inch by 6-inch boards, so the space is 8 feet 4 inches square.

Mark the corners with stakes. Tie a string to the stakes, wrapping it around the perimeter. Use the carpenter's square to ensure the patio is square.

Remove the grass and dirt to a depth of 6 inches with the shovel. Rake the patio area smooth.

Place the 2-by-6 boards on end around the edges of the patio. Butt the ends of the 8-foot boards against the 8-foot 4-inch boards to make a space slightly larger than 8-by-8-foot square. Screw the ends of the boards together using deck screws.

Add 4 inches of gravel, spreading over the entire patio space with a rake. Tamp with the plate compacter. Check the level of the patio, making sure it slopes away from the house. Sprinkle with water and tamp again.

Pour 3 inches of sand over the gravel. Rake smooth. Sprinkle lightly with water and tamp firmly.

Arrange the pavers in the space, starting in a corner. Add or remove sand under each paver to ensure it sits firmly on the sand base. Tap the pavers into place with the rubber mallet. Check the level often, making sure that the pavers make a smooth surface.

Sweep sand across the patio, filling all cracks and crevices. Sprinkle with water and add more sand if necessary.

Fill in any spaces around the outside perimeter of the patio with clumps of grass or ground cover plants if desired.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter's square
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Level
  • Stakes
  • String
  • 2 pressure-treated 2-inch by 6-inch boards, 8 feet long
  • 2 pressure-treated 2-inch by 6-inch boards, 8 feet 4 inches long
  • Deck screws, 2 1/2-inch
  • Drill with screwdriver bit
  • Gravel, 1 1/2 cubic yards
  • Sand, 1 cubic yard
  • Plate compacter
  • 64 cement pavers, 12-inch by 12-inch square
  • Rubber mallet

Tips

  • Have the vendor deliver the pavers, gravel and sand to your driveway. Most homeowners' trucks are not build to carry tons of paving materials.
  • Use a wheelbarrow to move dirt, gravel and sand.
  • Use a hand truck or dolly to move pavers.
  • Allow for 1/2-inch to 1-inch spaces between the pavers if you wish to add moss or creeping thyme to the patio.
  • Adjust the size of your patio to fit the space in your yard.
  • Consult with the vendor if purchasing a different size paver; pavers are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors.

Warnings

  • Wear gloves and safety glasses.
  • This project requires shoveling, lifting, stooping and kneeling; follow safe lifting techniques to protect your back and knees.
  • Not all square pavers are 12-by-12-inches. Measure and adjust your plan as needed to accommodate a slightly larger or smaller paver.
  • Recruit a helper to lift and move the paving materials.
  • The patio must slope slightly away from the house to ensure proper drainage. Water against the foundation encourages pests and dry rot.

About the Author

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui also worked in the Napa Valley as a high-end catering assistant. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement, pet rescue and social issues.