Question about installing pavers

ivysmomMarch 8, 2011

As soon as the sand dries out from getting rained on, we're going to be installing pavers to replace a concrete front walkway.

What I'm wondering though, is about the base layer under the pavers. Going with 3/4" gravel, 4 inches deep, and then a 1-inch layer of sand. That's pretty standard. The walkway is 12' long, and I've read to do an inch of slope for each 3' of length, so figure the excavated hole should be 4" deeper at the farthest end of the walkway.

OK, so do I put 4" of gravel all the way along the length of the walkway (so that the surface of the compacted gravel is parallel to the grade -- sloping down itself) or does the gravel gradually get deeper (ie: the surface of the compacted gravel is parallel to the turf)?

I can't really find this definitively answered. I suspect that the gravel will remain 4" deep, and thus the gravel, sand and finished paver surfaces will all slope down away from the property. But, I'm not sure. I want to make sure we do this right!

Thanks :)

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It would all depend on the surrounding grade, but the main thing is to keep water from puddling so you do want your walk to have slope. It does you no good to have the ground sloped under the walk unless it has a place to drain, in which case it would eventually carry your sand away. Personally I think an inch every 3' is excessive, but I'm not an expert. I only used about half that on the walkways I did.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 8:03PM
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Keep your materials uniform. And definitely use a tamper. 4" at the top and 4" at the bottom. And if you get any movement, you might need to have less slope. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 8:31PM
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Thanks all! I appreciate the clarification. Now if anyone has sway over the weather around Houston, please arrange for it to not rain for awhile :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 10:51AM
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UH-oh. I think my husband decided to install the gravel and sand without educating himself about how to do this. I know for sure that he did not use the PVC pipes I bought to screed the sand, and that he did not install the paver restraints between the gravel and sand layers. Chances are that he did not compact or tamp down the gravel.

Will I be able to determine if the gravel was compacted by looking at the "installed" walkway (assuming it's got sand over top of it)?

How much of a PITA is this going to be to fix, if that's the case? I am not looking forward to what I see when I get home. Yikes!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 6:31PM
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Whoa, it's about as bad as I expected, with a couple twists. First off, it looks like what was delivered is pea gravel rather than something like crushed limestone or something that can be made stable. So of course, it wouldn't matter how much my husband tamped, it wasn't going to compact and solidify at all. Second, it looks like he poured sand on top (definitely did NOT screed) and then tamped that down. The resultant mess is a "mixture" of the pea gravel and sand. UGH.

Anyone know of a way to stabilize pea gravel? I really hope we don't have to just remove the pea gravel and re-order what I should have ordered in the first place, but I fear that's probably going to be the case. Obviously this is good for drainage, but not for installing pavers! Ugh.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:07PM
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Just an update in case anyone else finds themselves dealing with "pea gravel" as a base/substrate. We mixed portland cement in and tamped it down... let it dry and that seems to have stabilized it sufficiently. Got the rest of the walk installed and so far (through a few rains) it hasn't puddled up or shifted, so... while it's not an ideal base, apparently it may be retrofitted to work OK anyhow.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 12:38PM
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Thanks for the post....I'm trying to learn a bit about this...although I don't have a BIG project (yet,) I just want to put a small area outside my side garage door...just a landing, with either pavers or those larger squares (most likely the larger squares...patio blocks). Since we walk out that door often enough, it just turns into dirt I want it to look nice. It's a job I'll be doing myself......hubby's not into that! I'm hoping I can make it flush to the ground so I can just go right over it with the riding mower.

I'm thinking, since we have a brick house, of going with the brickface patio blocks. I'd still do the same with preparing the site as you did for the pavers, right?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 9:18PM
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