If you haven’t read part 1 of the paver patio project, take a few minutes to see where we started.
If you’ve already been there, read that, let’s remind ourselves where we left off. The ground was measured, marked, dug up, compacted and landscaping fabric was put down. This helps prevent weeds from growing up between the pavers in the future.
Step 6 – Lay Paver Sand Base + Level
After landscape fabric comes the paver sand base. Aside from compacting the soil, this is the most important part of the project – leveling the base. There are a lot of YouTube videos on how to level sand for a paver patio, many of which I watched before actually attempting this. Basically, you lay down pieces of PVC pipe and fill around it with sand. Then, you take a straight piece of wood to screed the sand so it touches the top of the PVC pipes and levels out. This should give you an area of sand that is even and smooth. Be sure to double check your work with an actual level if you’re unsure.
Work in sections, moving the PVC along with you as you go. Once you have a large enough space, it gets difficult to maneuver around, so I started on to the next step in a few sections – Brock Paver Base. This is my favorite part so far!
Step 7 – Brock Paver Base Panels
Traditionally, you would build a patio with compacted soil, landscape fabric, compacted gravel, leveling sand and pavers. However, with this amazing paver panel product, it switches up the order a bit and saves SOO much work and time in digging and laying an extra 6 inches of heavy gravel. Panels are more expensive, but in my opinion, so worth it. 1 panel = 5 bags of gravel. And that’s all I have to say about that.
You can find it the big box stores or order it online. The Brock Paver Base website also has lots of useful tips on how to use this product and cool calculators for how much material you’ll need.
These panels lock into each other with grooves on the edges. It’s recommended you stagger the joints so they are more sturdy. These can be easily cut with a utility knife so laying them down was a breeze.
Another great thing about this is you can walk over the panels after they are placed. In working over such a large space, it’s hard to walk around sand without disturbing it. I couldn’t recommend this product enough!
The curved edges were super easy to cut. We laid them down and traced the edging with a utility knife and that’s it!
Step 8 – Lay Pavers!!!!!
This is where I started getting excited again. I believe we were on day 5 by this point and I had to get some pavers down. So, I started laying the border in this solider style right on top of the panels. At one point, you could see all the layers -fabric to sand to panels to pavers – because I just couldn’t NOT start this herringbone pattern.
I used a rubber mallet to tap these into place, making sure the gaps were consistent. We chose a curvy layout for the patio which requires some tricky cuts. If you’re good at math, you can work out a square patio that doesn’t require any cuts if you switch up the pattern and size to fit the materials you choose. But I wanted something really interesting and so curvy border it was!
We did try a diamond blade for the wet tile saw because I read that a wet saw helps cut down on dust. But the thickness of the paver mixed with the blade that’s made for tile took forever to cut through. It worked, just took forever. So we decided to head back to the store and found a diamond blade made specifically for pavers to use on the miter saw.
This went much faster, but man it creates a lot of dust! Be sure to use eye protection and wear a mask!
Some professionals cut pavers in place, meaning they lay the pavers beyond the border then draw the cut lines on them while they are set. Then they use a circular saw to cut the border while it’s on the ground. We weren’t that confident so we cut each, one at a time.
To help set the border, we used a paver edging, similar to this. This helps create a solid border line and also helps lock the pavers into place.
Laying pavers went sooo quick! These went down in no time. The majority of the time was spent on the cuts, trying to make sure they all fit nicely.
Step 9 – Pour Polymeric Sand
Once all the cuts are finished, it’s time to grout! And by grout, I mean add polymeric sand. You sweep this over the pavers into the cracks and tamper it down with either a hand tamper or compactor, like the one we used on the soil base in part 1. Once polymeric sand sets, it becomes very firm and locks between the paver joints while still retaining flexibility and providing a long lasting, durable jointing material. So basically, grout for pavers!
It was going on day 7 of this project and I was ready to get it done! I put the sand down at night, so not a lot of pictures of this step. I did use the sand that was available at the local store, however if I were to do it again, I would probably order a gray color sand online vs using the tan color from the store.
Once it’s tampered down, be sure to sweep or blow away any excess sand on top. When this hardens, it’s nearly impossible to get it off. To set the sand, you need to spray a nice layer of water over the entire patio. Be sure to set the sand with water on a day you know it won’t rain for a few days. Too much water can wash the sand away before it has time to properly cure.
Step 10 – Enjoy
Check out our deer friends! (and the pile of dirt GONE). Let’s not look at the grass. 🙂
There’s still a lot to do back here but WOW. We have a beautiful space in our backyard to hang out, grill, enjoy the dogs, watch the deer and just escape.
Would I do this again, probably not (at least not the digging part). Am I glad we DIYed it instead of paying a contractor? Yup! We learned so much and take a lot of pride in this when people come over! The neighbors were watching the process the whole time and a few even came by to ask more questions and take a closer look. This is by far the biggest project we’ve taken on and we absolutely love it!! Thanks for follow along. Share your questions or ideas for what we can add to spruce this bad boy up in the comments below!