How to Create a Paver Base

Lead Image
  • 16-40 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 450-2,500
What You'll Need
Graph paper
Tape measure
Wooden stakes
Plate compactor

Installing a patio with a paver base is a simple process, but one that must be done right or it could mess up the entire project. Pavers are skid resistant and allow snow and water to drain through their joints. They also give a neat, professional-looking appearance on the surface. Moreover, they are durable, long-lasting, and versatile. Installation and leveling of a paver base, however, requires intense patience, lots of planning, and some elbow grease in order for the rest of the patio to function as it should. Also, if you are trying to save yourself some money, it is a good idea to do so by yourself. The article discusses steps to create a good paver base.

Step 1 - Plan

The need for a good plan cannot be ignored when working on a patio, particularly since there are a lot of aspects to think about before breaking ground. Map out the existing landscape of your yard, noting any existing trees, walkways, or other permanent fixtures before you sketch out where you want to put the patio. Also, make sure you consider the sightlines from any nearby windows and avoid placing it near any underground utilities. Use a pencil and keep an eraser handy when doing the drawing as you may have to make changes as you go. Once the initial planning is complete, ensure you have all the materials required before starting work on the project.

Step 2 – Measure and Outline

Measure the area for your patio in the location you decided on and move out about six inches on all sides before putting your wooden stakes in the ground. Use a line level to place a string between the stakes to form an outline for your excavation area.

Step 3 - Excavate the Area

With the area roped off and set, you can start digging up the grass using a shovel. Excavate the area, making it deep enough to hold the pavers, about one inch of sand, and three to four inches of aggregate. It is better to dig up a little deeper, as this depth can be filled later using the aggregate if you need to.

Also, you will need to adjust your depth based on the width of your patio. Measure from the edge closest to your home, to the opposite edge of your planned patio. The base area should slope about 1/4 inch for every foot of distance. Periodically check the depth of your base as you dig it to make sure it slopes correctly, otherwise you will have drainage issues that could compromise the structure of your paver patio.

Step 4 - Pouring the Gravel Aggregate

Pour the gravel or another aggregate into the excavation area in two increments. Spread the first layer with a rake and compact it down to a depth of two inches with either a tamper or a plate compacter. Then add the second layer and repeat the process until the entire base if at a compacted depth of four inches.

Tip: If you plan to use a plate compactor, wear work gloves, eye protection, and earplugs while operating it.

Step 5 - Add a Layer of Sand

Pour sand into the excavation and spread it out to a depth of about one inch. Use the plate compactor to compact the sand and check the depth until you have a compacted layer of one inch. You can stretch a string across the base from the stakes for your measurements; stretch a tape measure from the string down to the sand to make it even all around.

Step 6 - Finishing

Remove the stakes and strings once the base is set properly, and set the pavers of your choice.