Setting a Paver-in-Sand Walk

Learn the steps for building a sand-set walk and the differences between building a walk and building a patio.

Intro

Brick or precast concrete paver walks (whether laid on a sand bed or mortared to a slab) employ many of the same techniques used to build a similar patio. They offer the same potential for a varied, handsome surface, only on a smaller scale.

You will notice one difference, however, between a mortared path and a mortared patio. When building a paver path, you don't have to start in the center and work outward. All pavered walks start their paving in a corner.

Be sure to lay the base materials in layers and compact one layer before the next one. This is especially important if your walk will be subject to hard use, such as the movement of garden equipment. Base materials that shift under a sand-set path create ripples. In addition, improperly tamped slab bases can crack.

Checklist

Time
20 to 40 hours to lay out and set a 4x25-foot walk, depending on your skill level

Tools
Layout and excavation tools, concrete tools for a mortared structure, wheelbarrow, tape measure, mason's line, cordless drill, circular saw, concrete mixer, mason's hoe, screed, broom, wet saw

Skills
Designing layout, form building, mixing, working with mortar

Prep
Prepare and excavate the site

Materials
Gravel, sand, 2-1/4-inch screws, 2x lumber, brick or precast pavers, rubber mallet, 1x6, mason's line, stakes

Step 1

Lay out the site, then remove the sod with a sod cutter or square shovel, pushing the shovel under the roots to lift it. If setting border materials in a trench, excavate the trench deeper than the rest of the site.

Step 2

Install the edging. To set pavers in a side trench, stake lines at the height of the edging, dig out the sand from the trench, insert the edging, and backfill both sides of the paver to keep it straight. As an alternative, set a 2x4 on the outside of the trench.

Step 3

Tie mason's line to two pavers and set them outside the edging and parallel to the short side of the path. Use the line to help guide the edge of the pavers, spacing the units at about 1/8 inch. Continue setting the pavers, covering about a 4x4-foot section.

Step 4

After completing a section, bed the pavers in the sand. Lay a 1x6 on the surface and tap it with a rubber mallet. Also check the slope of the section with a level or slope gauge. Lift out any low pavers, add sand, and reset. Tap down any high pavers. If this doesn't seat them properly, remove them, take out some sand, and reset them.

Step 5

Before you level the concrete, consolidate it by working a 2x4 up and down in the mix. Work a shovel along the edges to release any air bubbles, and tap the corners and edges of the forms with a hammer to help release trapped air. Then cut a straight 2x4 about a foot or so longer than the width of the walk and pull it in a seesaw motion down the walk. Work out bumps in the concrete, fill in low spots, and screed again.

Setting a Running Bond: Step 1

Lay out and prepare the site to dimensions that equal a line of whole brick. Install edge restraints and the first row of pavers. Start and finish the next row and every other remaining row with a half paver.

Setting a Running Bond: Step 2

Periodically check the joints to make sure they run straight and perpendicular to the edge restraints or border. Make any corrections before going to the next section.


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