Paver Installation Instructions

The following are standard installation guidelines for a typical sand-set paver application. Please refer to the individual tech sheets for more specific information and installation instructions*.

IMPORTANT: Vehicular applications, such as a driveway or parking lot, require separate guidelines and one should consult a Mutual Materials representative, contractor, or engineer before installing pavers for these purposes. For help locating a contractor, please contact Mutual Materials.

Step 1: Excavation

Mark area to be paved with stakes and string lines at the desired finished elevation. Locate stakes outside the project area by a minimum of 12″. This will allow room for the edge restraint system.

Excavate a minimum of 7″ below final paver elevation. Allow 1⁄8″ to 1⁄4″ per foot slope for correct water runoff. Slope can be in more than one direction depending on jobsite circumstances. Water will not penetrate joints unless it is allowed to puddle or remain in an area. Remove any loose soils after excavation is complete.

Step 2: Base Preparation

Add a dusting of 3⁄4″ minus rock to the excavated area. This will allow the plate compactor to glide across area without sticking to sub grade. Compact the entire subgrade soils with a plate compactor.
After compacting subgrade soils, add 1″– 2″ of 3⁄4″ minus rock, rake smooth and compact. Base rock should have a certain amount of moisture content. Repeat steps until final base elevation is achieved.

For a standard 2 3⁄8″ concrete paver, the final base elevation should be 3″ below final paver elevation. Remember, the final product will mirror the base elevation. Any deviation in base should be corrected at this time with base rock (not sand).

Step 3: Edge Restraint

Any edge not retained by a solid, rigid structure (i.e. concrete, asphalt, etc) should be contained with a plastic edge restraint system. These are easier to install after the pavers are laid.

With spray nozzle, carefully moisten sand bed around perimeter of paver area. Remove excess sand around the perimeter with a trowel without disturbing the base. Place edge restraint system against paver/bedding sand and on top of compacted base rock.

Install 10″ spikes every 8″–12″. Make sure that all edges are contained before compaction of pavers.

Step 4: Bedding Sand

Bedding sand should be screeded at a depth of 1″.

Place 1″ rigid pipes below elevation lines and measure down 2″ to top of pipe. Place pipes parallel to each other and almost as wide as the strike board (2 x 4). Place sand in between pipes and pull strike board across both pipes. This will allow approximately 1″ of sand screeded between the two pipes.

Pull pipes out of sand; fill pipe voids with sand and trowel smooth. Do not compact
sand bed.

Step 5: Install Pavers **

Depending on the type of paver and pattern, starting points and direction of installation will vary. More times then not, opt for the easiest access with the longest run where no cutting will be made. Also consider more visual areas (i.e. in line with windows, doors,
water features, etc).

Pavers should be placed gently onto the sand bed and not pushed into it. Do not hammer-set pavers. Setting a string line 3″ above setting bed will allow the installer to maintain straight pattern lines.

After installing a larger area, place plywood on top of pavers to walk around on. This will distribute weight so individual pavers will not get embedded into sand before adjustments and final compaction is done. Slight adjusting can be accomplished
by moving pavers to desired spot by inserting a flat head screwdriver in between pavers and pushing them.

Cut pavers can be used to fill any voids in the pattern along the edges. Be sure to mix pavers from multiple pallets as you lay your design to achieve a consistent color blend.
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Step 6: Compaction

Compact first to achieve proper interlock and then sweep joint sand over entire area to fill paver joints and lock up pattern lines. Sweep excess joint sand off of paver surface.

Place plate compactor on pavers and run compactor around perimeter. Then make back and forth runs, slightly overlapping the previous run. Sweep joint sand into joints again. Compact pavers in perpendicular runs to first compaction.

When finished, sweep joint sand into paver joints until they are completely full. Plate compactors can be rented at most hardware stores.

*Special design is required with permeable paving systems. Please contact a Mutual Materials branch or salesperson.

**To achieve a consistent color blend, it is important that you mix pavers from multiple pallets together as you lay your design.

Still Need To Make Some Calculations?

Do you still need to figure out the square footage for your project? Estimate the amount of pavers you’ll need for your project with our project estimator tool.

Video Transcripts

Installing your own Paver Patio  – Video 1 – 5 Transcript


Video 1 – Tools

Kendall: Hi, I’m Kendall. I asked Mutual Materials to come out here today to help me with the whole backyard project. I’m interested in converting my current backyard living space into more of a patio-friendly outdoor living space, with some pavers, just a space that I can do a little more entertaining on

Marty: Well, the options you have is; pour concrete right, which is not very good-looking, it cracks.. So, we’re going to do pavers today and, you know, in a weekend, anybody, with the basic tools, can do a beautiful paver job, great destination.

Kendall: Wonderful and I assume I can kind of lay the patio out so you know I can keep some of the green space I’d really like to keep preserve this right?

Marty: Right, absolutely. That’s what’s great about pavers – very flexible. So we can cut the pavers in and around the plant and around the other landscaping you have and make it a beautiful destination for your family your friends for years to come.

Kendall: What do we need to get this project going?

Marty: Well, a few basic tools I think everybody has and then some that we may you may have to pick up and you’ve got them here you know – A curved,  a round-point shovel, a flat-blade shovel or rake, this is good for digging what we have to excavate and then moving the aggregates and the sand works great – the rake to level out, compactor here, we’ve also got a plate compactor coming- but you won’t need to go to your gym this weekend we’re going to put you to work here and then we’re going to stake out so when we start the project we’re going to stake it out your – your paver project.. and we’re going to use the line, we’ve got the sledge here, the trowel is going to come in handy when we start screening sand and which takes us to the screen rails, we’ve got some three quarter inch electrical conduit that we’re gonna use to give us a nice three quarter inch bedding sand for the pavers to sit on.. and then a screen rail to drag on that sand and we’ll see how that looks when we when we get to it. There’s a few other things a saw, a line level that will show later, but this is the basic assortment that we need.

Kendall: So, we’ve laid out our area, now.  What are our next steps, here?

Marty: Well, this is the fun part..

(Kendall laughs)

The part that nobody likes, Kendall, is that now we gotta dig. And So, you know, pavers, 2 and 3/8’s, we gotta put an inch of bedding sand, we gotta put 4 inches of base rock down and compact that.  So..

Kendall:  Ok..

Marty: So we have to take this down about 8 inches.

(both digging)

Video 2 – Foundation

Kendall: So we’ve dug it all out now..turns out it was a little more challenging then we had anticipated

Marty: That’s right..  the hard part’s done, we are done, we are down about 8 inches down, we’re gonna re-string the project we’re gonna go around the outside and then go cross a couple places in the middle to make sure that we are nice and level, and then we’ll have a gauge when we drop the crushed rock in and we’ll be able to measure off that as we compact it and make sure it’s level; so that the top of our paver project is perfect.

Kendall: So the string line is going to be a is going to be on the top of the pavers?

Marty: Right.

Video 3 – Base Rock

Marty: All right the next step is putting down our base rock it’s 5/8 – or 5/8 crushed and it comes two different ways-  you can have it delivered from a gravel yard, a local gravel yard, or, you know, we have it. (We being Mutual Materials) in half a cubic foot bags and, again, 5/8 crushed, or, the largest pieces in here or 5/8 of an inch and that goes down into fine particles of sand.. and what that allows us to do is to compact this nice and tight and you can see that this is wet, and that’s what we want, we want some moisture so, ultra compact, and that will give us a nice very firm base for pavers

(lots of work being done to even out the area of crushed rock and sand bed)

Kendall: All right, so we finished up our base rock here.

Marty: Yeah, we’ve got our four inches of crushed rock down, we’ve got a compacted, we put a level down, we’re sloped away from the foundation of the house– We’re now ready to lay pavers.

Kendall:  So, essentially, any homeowner, could do this size of a project over a weekend, right?

Marty:  Right, this is a good point, kind of depends on how many friends you have (helping), but you’ve got a lot of friends, so we’ve got this done and we’re ready to lay pavers so, we’ve accomplished a lot of it today .

Kendall:  Very good.  So what are we going to start with first thing in the morning?

Marty: What we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna, We’ve got three quarter inch electrical conduit – we’re gonna put it down, we’re gonna start in the corner, we’re gonna lay our bedding sand, we’re gonna start screening that out to get our one inch layer of sand and work out this way and start laying pavers. So, that’s when the fun begins.

Kendall: Absolutely, I’m looking forward to it.

Marty: We’ll see you tomorrow, in the morning.

Video 4 – How to Set Patio Pavers

Kendall:  All right so morning of the second day yeah?

Marty:  Right, we’re back and so we’re gonna start laying pavers.  This is the exciting part of the project where we’re gonna start seeing something getting done.  We’re gonna be moving forward. So anyway you’ve chosen a tumbled cobblestone and this is you know where you have different design choices and color choices and pavers so, tumbled cobblestone, well I mean, customer’s always right, right? So 7×9 tumble cobblestone very popular, three or four different colors and then we’re gonna put a border of 4X8 Hollander brick size paver around in a different color, contrasting colors generates more interest so it’s a great choice.

Okay, next we’ve got our screen rails down over here we’re going to start off over in a corner and that’s kind of a great a great point is- Where do you start? Okay and we’ve got our patio here.  What we want to do is take maybe a right angle, someplace where the material is going to be coming from, we’ve chose this corner we put our screed rails down and now we’re going to start screeding sand we want to do is get the board down and find those screed rails, okay?  We may want to pull a little bit of sand back this way so the screed rails are covered.

Okay, and so now move the board back and forth- you want to slide it back and forth as well, there you go, until you find those screed rails and then pull them towards you.  Now with a big pile of sand like this you can start at the top, you know without finding those screed rails and just bring a lot, yeah just bring it yeah there you go

Kendall: What are these again?

Marty:  It’s 3/4 electrical conduit.  We actually took from the neighbor’s garage, no, I’m kidding but you know, you get it at the hardware store, you know, the difference between the metal conduit which is what we’re using is, it’s harder it doesn’t flex like a plastic or a wood would.  So, the next step is again we need to keep screeds and we want to keep the same level. Pick this rail up and use it again we’re going to put this here we’re going to pile again a little bit less sand and then we’re gonna put it back this way.

Kendall: We got a hole here, too?

Marty: Right, so that’s the next job, what we need to do is we’re gonna take your trusty cement trowel and you’re going to take a little bit of sand there on the side of it and then just dump it in and then, once you dump it in, you smooth it out.

Kendall: Now we got the sand all ready, ready for the pavers now?

Marty:  Yep,  all right all ready, yeah absolutely. Now it’s time and, you know, we decided again to because of where the pavers are at, we’re gonna be bringing material in we’ve got a nice right angle here with a with the walkway and the foundation of the house we’re going to start in this corner, but we’ve got a rain gutter here to work around don’t we ??

Kendall:  We do, and so I mean..

Marty:  Well you want to leave access for that, okay? so we don’t want to block it.. so we want to work around it and there’s a couple options we can cut pavers, you know, kind of small and piece them in where we can use decorative rock or crushed rock around that again so if it gets clogged or somebody needs to work on that, again, you know, you can get to it.

Kendall: Yeah, you can just pull them out at any time, right?

Marty:  Absolutely, that’s the great thing about pavers, is they’re flexible, you can pull them out, get to it and then put them back down and it looks like it they never were disturbed.

Kendall: Very good, so, I guess we should start getting them down. Huh?

Marty: Yes,  let’s do it. So you want to put it down there on the sand level and hold it from the top like that, yeah, you did perfect.

Kendall: Start lining them up?

Marty:  Yeah, and we just start lining them up and it’s kind of like a ‘click and a drop’ where you’re gonna hold it from the top, click-it up against the next paver and then set it down on the sand, there you go, perfect! And you can see how fast this goes, I mean this is the fun part, we’re not digging anymore.

Video 5 – How to Keep Pavers In Place

Kendall: All right so up until now but I’ll just kind of use the side of the house right

Marty: And now it’s time to put some edging down. So, there’s a couple different products. We have a snap edge here, which is a plastic edging and it works great. You’re going to spike it down with the one foot spikes here, so again, with steel – they’re going to rust and they’re going to hold that thing into place.  We’ve already got our base rock exposed you’re going to slide it up there against the pavers. You’ve got your spikes and your hammer there. We can see how hard the ground is here.

Kendall: And do I want to put a spike in every hole?

Marty:  No, you don’t –  every fourth hole is fine every third hole depending upon how firm the ground is underneath.

Kendall: So maybe this one?

Marty: Sure that works great, and then maybe one at the end.

Kendall:  Okay


Could You Lay Patio Pavers? Watch this 6 Minute Video.

Wondering if you could you install your own pavers in your yard to build a patio or walkway?  We think you can, and invite you to watch this quick video demo then judge for yourself.

Here, in this raw non-edited video you can watch our team member Jesse Poplawski doing a paver installation demo from our booth at Seattle’s Northwest Flower & Garden show. From area excavation and base preparation to paver placement and finishing, this entire demo takes only six minutes.

Interesting in taking on a paved patio project?  Click here to see our in-depth instructions and more videos showing actual onsite work in a backyard.