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Project Guide

How to Install Patio Pavers

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Prepare the Patio Area
A person uses a measuring tape to measure placement for patio pavers.

Laying pavers is a DIY project that takes about one weekend to complete. When you're building a patio, you'll make layers using these materials:

  • A 6-inch layer of gravel for the paver base
  • A 1-inch layer of sand
  • DIY patio pavers
  • Paver sand 

Use a tape measure to find the square footage of the area where you'll lay the patio. That will help you figure out how many stone patio pavers and how much paver base and paver sand you'll need. For example, for an area that measures 60 square feet, you’ll need about 60 12-inch x 12-inch paver stones. 

You'll be using 4 inches of gravel, which is 1/3 of a yard, for a paver base. To figure out how many cubic feet of gravel you will need, multiply your square footage by 1/3. In this example, you'd need about 20 cubic feet of gravel, or 3/4 cubic yards. You may want more in case you spill some. You will also need a 1-inch thick layer of paver leveling sand. As a rule of thumb, you'll need about 1/3 as much sand as gravel, measured in cubic volume.

Clear Out Grass and Soil
A person clears area with a shovel for a patio.

To get started, mark the perimeter of the patio area with marking paint. Drive garden stakes into the ground just outside the perimeter markings and attach a mason's line. 

When figuring out how high to make the patio, work from the house outward. The pavers should slope away from your house with a drop-off of about 1 inch every 8 feet, so water can drain away. Mark the height on the stakes and adjust the mason's line. 

Use a spade and shovel to clear grass and dirt from the work area. Check your depth and slope against the mason's line and the measuring tape to make sure you maintain both the proper depth and slope.

Tip: Before you dig, remember that you will be adding 4 inches of gravel base and about 1 inch of paver sand before you add the DIY patio pavers. 

Add Paver Base
Gravel is compressed into the ground with a machine.

Use a landscape rake to help spread the paver base material to a depth of 4 inches throughout the work area. Compact the area until you have a firm base. 

Use a garden hose to lightly wet the paver base to make it more solid. Save time when you're working with a large area by using a plate compactor, a machine that compresses gravel and different kinds of soils.

Add and Level the Paver Sand
A sand base is smoothed down for a paver patio.

Place a length of electrical conduit on top of the base. The conduit will form “tracks” to help guide you when you level the paver sand

Pour the sand across and between the conduits, then drag a 2- x 4-foot board across the conduit to smooth and level the sand layer. Check it with a level.

Take out the conduit and fill the spaces with more paver sand. Level these areas before moving on. Continue this process until the entire patio area is covered with level paver sand. 

Stay aware of your work area when you're leveling. If you step into an already level area, you'll have to rework that spot. Make sure you don't work yourself into a corner. 

Place the Paver Stones
Brick pavers for a patio are installed atop tamped down sand.

The next step is how to lay pavers. Starting at a patio corner, lay out the paver stones one by one. Work as if you're starting at the tip of a triangle and working out. 

When setting the stones, place them straight down into the sand and fit them together snugly. Make sure you're not dragging the pavers across the sand and never stomp a paver into place. Continue until all the pavers are in place.

Cut Pavers
Paver stones are cut to fit in place.

If you need to cut pavers to fit your design, place the paver over the space in your pattern and use a straight edge and marker to trace the cutting line onto the paver. A masonry saw is the quickest way to get a clean cut. Be safe and wear gloves and protective eyewear when using the saw. 

Add Edging Stones or Paver Edging
Plastic edgers are placed in the ground next to patio pavers.

Place edging stones along all the exposed patio edges and secure them with concrete or mortar. Another option is to add paver edging, which is a hard plastic edging that is the same height as your pavers. Stake it in the ground to secure.

Finish the Patio
A porch is finished with patio pavers.

Spread a light layer of paver sand over the entire area. Use a push broom to sweep the sand into the gaps between the pavers and run the plate compactor across the patio surface. 

Add another thin layer of sand and use the push broom to spread it across the patio. Run the plate compactor over the area one last time.

Now that you know how to lay pavers, you'll be able to complete similar projects in no time. Simply begin building a patio by measuring your outdoor space. Calculate how many pavers you'll need and dig up the soil. Compact your gravel, level your paver base and lay the pavers. Finish the job by using paver sand to fill any cracks. 

If you need tools, the Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them. Or take advantage of our tool rental program. We have all the tools you need to complete the job.