How To Correctly Lay Block Paving
Everyone loves the look of a neat block paving driveway. Not only do they enhance the appearance of your home bringing it a unique personal touch, they also add a great deal of value to the property. Some people like to take a crack at laying block paving themselves, but do they always know what they’re doing? At Premier Surfacing we realise we shouldn’t be giving away our secrets, but hey, it’s nearly Christmas, so we thought we’d be generous and share with you a handy step by step guide to laying your very own block paving.

Prepare Your Site

Once you’ve decided where your paving is going to start and finish, mark out your site using string and pegs. You must then remove all vegetation and soil to a depth of approximately 200-250mm, although this can vary depending on the existing surfaces in place. If you are taking up a large area you may find it easier to use a mini excavator rather than a shovel, and any soft spots discovered along the way need to be fully extracted and filled with a solid sub-base.

Restrain Yourself

Edge restraints now need to be installed around the area you intend to pave. If you already have existing walls in place these can be used instead, but for those areas which don’t you can use block kerbs or concrete edging. Prepare a mix of one part cement to six parts ballast, and use it to build a 100mm foundation in which to lay your edging. Make sure that once fully mortared in your edging lies at your required finishing level, and give them a 45 degree haunch up the side of half the block or kerb height to prevent the edging from moving.

Join The Sub Club

Before applying a sub-base you will need to back fill your paving area with MOT or crusher run, which is then compacted to fit your desired level. You will usually need around 150mm of this, and it is best to install it in 50mm layers which you can compact separately on each run using a vibrating plate compactor. On top of this goes your sub-base, which should ideally comprise one 50mm layer of slightly damp, coarse sharp sand. Compact this to approximately 35mm, and then apply around 20mm of sharp sand to this. Using your string lines, screeding rails and a straight edge level this secondary layer of sand to the correct fall.

Lay Your Paving

Now it’s time to lay your paving units. Remember to observe correct lifting and carrying techniques unless you want to be laid up in bed for six months staring out the window at a half-finished patio. Ideally you need to start from a right angle or straight edge, and if you are building on a slope always begin at the bottom. Build your desired pattern however you like, but make sure you pick blocks from several different packs to avoid colour patching. Lay each unit to a height of 5mm above desired finishing level, and continue until you come to a point where your regular size blocks won’t fit anymore.

A Chip Off The Old Block

Infill pieces or retaining edges will require you to split some of your blocks into a certain size, although try not to split them into anything lower than thirds. Splitting is best done using block splitters or diamond disc cutters, but please be careful. Always follow the machine’s operating guidelines, don’t forget to wear protection, and if possible hire one which comes with water suppression cutting equipment. Once you’ve filled in the gaps you can sweep the area clean of debris, and take a few passes over your paving with the plate compactor.

Pass The Jointing

Now your paving units are in place you’ll need to make sure they stay put. Wait for a nice dry day and apply kiln dried sand to your paved area. Brush everything in nice and evenly with a broom, and use the vibrating plate compactor to neaten things up. At this point you’ll want to check your finishing height and observe any gaps in your jointing. Add more sand to any missed spots, and re-compact the area until everything is hunky dory. Aside from the occasional topping up of sand over the next few months your job is now done. It’s time to sit back, pour yourself a drink, and admire your handywork. If you’re thinking of installing your own block paving then we hope this guide proves useful. Of course no home improvement task is ever without its problems, but lucky for you the experts at Premier Surfacing are on hand if something goes wrong. So whether you’ve made a dog’s dinner of your own paving project, or you simply want the professionals to come in and do the job for you, why not give us a call on 01952 840 838 to enquire about our block paving services. Alternatively, fill out our online form, we'll be happy to help.
Published: April 2017

We’re very happy our new imprinted concrete driveway, the quality of workmanship is second to none and we would not hesitate in recommending Premier Surfacing to all.

Anita Hancock