How to Attach Pavers Over Concrete Thinset

Paving stones, or pavers, tend not to be completely flat like other types of tiles.

Uneven paving tiles require extra-thick layers of thinset.Uneven paving tiles require extra-thick layers of thinset.
You need to use a thicker layer of thinset than usual when laying pavers. Thinset is the concrete and sand adhesive that will attach your pavers to the subfloor. Some pavers are flat and you could use those for a first tiling project. But laying uneven pavers, such as terra-cotta tiles, requires a little experience.

Snap chalk lines on the bare floor to create straight guidelines for placing the pavers. Create a chalk line grid on the floor with squares big enough for a three by three grid of tiles. Trace over the chalk lines with a pen or marker since the chalk may get brushed away while you work. You will lay the pavers one square at a time.

Pour the thinset mix and water into 5-gallon bucket and mix with a mixing paddle in a 1/2-inch shank drill. Refer to the instructions on the package of thinset for the amount of water to add.

Wipe the floor inside one square of your grid with a damp sponge. Pick up a large amount of thinset with a trowel and place it on the floor. Spread the thinset on the floor with your trowel, creating a layer more than half an inch thick. Comb the thinset with the notched tedge of a trowel to make grooves.

Place a paver on the thinset. Press it down while twisting it back and forth slightly to fully embed it in the thinset. If the paving tile does not feel well seated in the thinset, pry it up with a margin trowel and inspect the back. Spread additional thinset on the areas on the back of the tile that don't have thinset on them; comb the thinset with the notched trowel as you did with the floor. Replace the paver, pressing and twisting until it is well seated.

Continue placing pavers one next to the other until the grid is filled. Reposition the pavers slightly to make sure the spaces between them are even. Wipe the surface of the pavers with a damp sponge to remove any dripped thinset before it dries. Move on to the next grid on the floor until the floor is covered in tiles. Allow the thinset to dry before grouting. Consult the instructions on the thinset package for drying time.

Spread grout over the pavers with a float, pushing the grout between every paving tile. Wipe away any excess grout with the float edge. When the grout starts to dry, wipe the surface of the pavers with a wet sponge to clean away extra grout. Joint the grout in the grooves between the pavers by running the corner of a damp sponge along all the grout lines.

Things You Will Need

  • Chalk line
  • Pen
  • Damp sponge
  • Thinset mix
  • Water
  • 1/2-inch-shank drill with mixing paddle
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Notched trowel
  • Paving stones, or pavers
  • Margin trowel
  • Grout
  • Float

About the Author

Jen Anderson has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has appeared in the "New York Times," "Time Out Chicago" and "The Villager." She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Brooklyn College.