Whether you are building a paver project for the first time or the tenth, hardscape installations can be messy work. There will be mud, but it will be gorgeous in the end. Unless your project involves overlaying existing concrete, the first step is to excavate the top layer of soil. The amount of soil excavated will depend on the type of project. Typically, the next step is to install a layer of compacted aggregate, then a layer of bedding sand, then the hardscapes, then jointing material.
Pavers are installed on a compacted granular aggregate which should be between 4 and 6 inches deep. The depth of the base layer is influenced by the soil type and application. The base layer should be leveled and compacted firmly, and will safeguard against the pavers shifting or settling.
Once the base is in place, a layer of sand is added and leveled or screeded. Bedding sand plays a critical role in ensuring proper interlock between the pavers and allowing for a smooth surface. Bedding sand should be at least 1-inch deep and spread evenly across the base material.
Pavers are laid on top of the leveled sand. Polymeric sand is then swept into the joints between the pavers, and a compactor should be used to ensure the sand is evenly distributed into the joints. By compacting, you obtain joints that are nearly 20% stronger. Polymeric sand helps to further lock the pavers in place and plays a critical role in keeping debris and weeds out of the joints. Polymeric sand is specially formulated for the filling of narrow or wide joints when installing pavers, slabs or natural stones. Unlike conventional sand, it stays in place and remains stable. It softens when wet and firms up when dry to better resist soil movements.