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PROJECTS ONLINE:
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PROJECTS ONLINE: INSTALLING INTERLOCKING CONCRETE PAVERS

Project Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Project Time: Varies with size of project

 
 
Tools and Materials:

Interlocking concrete pavers
Work gloves
Safety goggles
Wooden stakes
Sledgehammer
Shovel
Rake
2x4
Gravel or crushed stone
Power tamper (can be rented)
Filter fabric
Sand
Plastic trim edging and oversized stakes
Pipe (to use as screed boards in Step 5)
4' spirit level
Straightedge
Cold chisel and hammer or circular saw and masonry blade
Rubber mallet

Broom

 
       

Interlocking concrete pavers come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but most of them measure 2-3/8 to 2-1/2 inches thick, about the same size as a standard brick. They are much stronger and denser than ordinary concrete blocks, so moisture absorption and damage from repeated freeze/thaw cycles aren't a problem. They are commonly used for driveways, patios, and sidewalks. Interlocking pavers are modular, meaning that they fit together in a variety of geometric patterns. Depending on the design--hexagonal, diamond, and cobblestone, to name a few--they can look casual or formal. Grass pavers have an open-grid shape for planting grass or other ground cover. Pavers help to make a durable and natural-looking walk, and the turf itself (or structural edging) holds them in place. Depending on the shape of the pavers, you may end up with voids or chinks along the edges of the walk. You can buy special edging pieces to create a straight edge, if your local dealer sells them. Otherwise, you'll have to cut the pavers to fit the spaces (see Step 7 below). When buying the interlocking pavers, take your measurements with you and the dealer will help you estimate the amount of pavers, gravel (or crushed stone), and sand you will need. Buy some extra pavers to allow for incorrect cuts, breakage, and future repairs.

Interlocking concrete pavers must be laid on a firm, well-drained base or else they may buckle, crack, or sink. A base consisting of 4 inches of compacted gravel or crushed stone topped by 2 inches of builder's sand should suffice. Soils that drain poorly or those subject to frost heave, settling, or erosion, may require a thicker base of 6 to 8 inches of gravel or crushed stone. It's important to compact the gravel base thoroughly; this is best done by using a power tamper. These machines, which can be rented, work better and faster, and require less effort than tamping by hand.

 

 
 
1 . Prepare the Area

Mark the outline of the area by hammering stakes into the ground. Then dig out the sod and dirt so that the depth of the area is equal to the thickness of the pavers, plus 4 to 8 inches for a gravel or crushed stone base (see above), plus 2 inches for a sand bed. Rake away all of the stones and twigs. Slide a 2x4 along the surface to create a roughly level plain for the pavers. (Fig. 1)

2 . Compress the Gravel or Stone Base

Lay down the gravel or crushed stone base, spreading it evenly. To minimize shifting and settling of the gravel or stone, rent a power tamper to vibrate and compress the bed over the dirt. (Fig. 2)

3 . Lay Down the Filter Fabric

To prevent erosion from drainage through the pavers, cover the compacted base with a layer of filter fabric. (Fig. 3)

4 . Secure the Trim

There are many ways to contain the edge blocks. One of the most efficient is plastic trim secured with oversized stakes. Position the trim and hold it in place by using a sledgehammer to drive the stakes in place. (Fig. 4)

5 . Add a Sand Bed

Shovel a bed of sand over the prepared base. Use pipes set in the sand as screed boards to level the sand bed. (Fig. 5)

6 . Start Laying the Pavers

Pull the screed pipes, and fill in the narrow troughs with sand. Start laying the pavers, using a 4-foot spirit level to check the surface. (Fig. 6)

7 . Cut Pavers to Fit

You can try to break pavers using a cold chisel and hammer, or make precise edge cuts using a circular saw and masonry blade. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes and work gloves to shield your hands. (Fig. 7)

8 . Check the Surface

As you complete a section and again when the entire area is laid, use a level or straightedge to check the surface level. Tap raised blocks down into the sand using a rubber mallet. (Fig. 8)

9 . Fill Joints with Sand

To help the interlocked blocks stay in position, dump some sand on the surface, and then sweep it thoroughly into the joints. (Fig. 9)

 
 
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