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There is nothing quite like brick or clay pavers for creating an ideal environment for your home and garden. The natural beauty of bricks and clay pavers blends with any landscape – they don’t date and generally last a lifetime.

First Things First

Advanced planning before you start any work can result in a more economical use of material and less effort on your part.

  • How big? – Plan the area size of your paving so you can calculate the bricks you will need and save waste.
  • Where? – If water always lies on the intended site, relocate the site. If this is not possible, plan to use fill or underground drainage pipes. On the level – If the paving will butt against the house, allow a gentle fall away from the house to carry rainwater away.
  • Traffic – Normal foot traffic will require 50mm thick pavers while vehicle driveways will need a minimum of 100mm. Pick your brick – Brick manufacturers have a large range of colours and shapes from which to choose. Manufacturers will also be able to help you in selecting a laying pattern that will add interest and style to your home.

Preparation

Mark out the four corners with stakes. Run a string line between the stakes at the level you want the paving to be. Level the string using a string line level or spirit level. Then adjust the string to allow a small slope for water run-off; remember to slope away from the house. Provide a sloped 12mm for every 3m. Now you’re ready to start to remove the topsoil to a depth that will accommodate a bed of sand plus the thickness of the pavers you’ve chosen.

Make sure the ground is firm and level. Any soft spots should be dug out and filled with gravel and then well compacted. Consider hiring a compactor to ensure it’s compacted properly particularly for driveways. Next, fit timber formwork around the perimeter, driving in stakes behind the boards. The tops of the boards should be level to act as a guide for levelling the surface.

Screeding

Sand : 1 cu.m per 40 sq.m at 25mm thickness or 1 cu.m per 20 sq.m at 50mm thickness.  Spread an even surface of sand 25mm thick for foot traffic, or 50mm for heavy traffic and cars. Be sure you order the correct type of sand. It should be medium river sand or sharp sand suitable for concrete and laid damp – neither too wet or too dry. Now smooth the sand level by screeding, running a screed board over the sand along the form work edges.

To make a screed board, simply notch out each end of a board so that the centre fits within the formwork and projects downward 10mm less than the thickness of your paver to allow for compacting the sand. To save labour, screed up to 3 metres only

at a time. If you screed the whole area in advance you will probably end up walking on it before the pavers are laid and having to re-do it.

Lay Pavers

Begin your pattern from a corner, working from outside the sanded area. If it’s on a slope, start from the bottom and work up. Place your pavers on the sand bed flush with each other allowing a 2-4mm gap between each. These gaps will later be filled with sand. Use a trowel to move pavers into position.

Continue laying in this manner until you’ve completed a square metre or so. Then tamp the pavers level with each other by using a rubber mallet and a piece of timber long enough to cover a number of pavers. It is best to work through a full 360 degrees, checking constantly with a spirit level that the desired surface level is being maintained in all directions.

For large areas over 25 square metres, it is best to hire a wacker plate to settle the pavers. Attach carpet to the face of the plate so the impact is softened and the pavers don’t crack. If it becomes necessary to walk on the newly-laid paving, fi rst place planks or a large sheet of plywood to spread your weight.

For cutting pavers, use a mash hammer and bolster to fi rst form a groove on both sides of the paver and then complete the cut with a sharp blow. If there’s a lot of cutting needed, you may benefit from hiring a brick saw.

Finally, when all the pavers are laid and tamped, spread a mixture of 4 parts clean dry sand and 1 part dry cement over the whole area and sweep into the cracks. Repeat this until all the gaps are filled and retamp the  surface again.

Brush off any excess and play a fine spray of water over the surface – but not too much water or the mixture will overfl ow and get washed away.

The Finishing Touch

Some form of fixed border is needed to stop your pavers moving and spreading out. There are several ways you can do this : You can leave the wooden formwork where it is if you used treated pine or hardwood.

Another way is to lay extra pavers on end to form a decorative edge. Or you can run a hidden concrete edge along the outside row of pavers just below the surface.

Tips To Make The Job Easier

  • Make sure the pavers and sand are delivered as near as possible to the paving site.
  • To make the laying easier, place small stacks of pavers along the laying side before you begin.
  • A hammer may be used to tamp pavers into the sand bed if you haven’t got a rubber mallet – but place a piece of wood over the paver first to avoid splitting.
  • When it becomes necessary to walk on newly-laid pavers, first place planks or a sheet of plywood over them to spread your weight.
  • Set a spirit level on top of a piece of wood long enough to span a number of bricks to constantly check that your surfaces are level in all directions.
  • On sloping ground, a spoon drain can be laid along the high side to catch surface water.

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