Paving bricks are a popular choice for outdoor surfaces, such as walkways, patios and driveways, for a number of reasons: they are generally inexpensive; they are easy to work with; they can last for decades; and they can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.
About Brick Pavers
Brick pavers differ quite a bit from traditional bricks, so it is important to purchase paving bricks for your outdoor patio, driveway or walkway applications. Traditional bricks have holes, and are more likely to wear and chip from heavy pedestrian or vehicle traffic.
You can install your paving brick project using either mortar or sand. Mortar-based pavers can begin to crack as the ground shifts, while sand-based pavers are able to shift naturally in the sand. Sand-based brick pavers are also easier and less expensive to install.
Brick pavers are usually available in different dimensions to suit a variety of outdoor applications. Paving bricks with a 1 ½-inch thickness are ideal for light pedestrian traffic, while pavers with a 2 ¼-inch thickness better accommodate heavier pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Installing Brick Pavers
Installing a paving brick patio or walkway can be a great do-it-yourself project if you feel motivated. A larger area, such as a driveway, may be more than you bargained for, however, so you may want to consider the services of a licensed contractor to provide this service for you.
Lay out the area for your future patio or walkway by properly measuring the area and marking it with landscaper’s paint.
Excavate the site at least 7 to 8 inches, depending on the thickness of your brick pavers. You’ll want to take into consideration the depth of the gravel, the sand and the brick pavers. Compact the soil once you have excavated the site.
Use edging boards or bricks to create the edging of the walkway, patio or driveway. Edging boards are simply driven into the ground with stakes, while bricks must be set into a four-inch, concrete foundation.
Next, lay four inches of gravel into the excavated area. Cover the gravel with two to three inches of sand. Use a large board and a carpenter’s level to ensure that the area has a slight grade away from the house for proper drainage.
You can now begin laying the bricks in the desired pattern. If this is your first project, you may want to consider a simple pattern. Experienced brick paver layers can get creative and design a rather intricate pattern, if desired.
You may want to look through how-to books at your home improvement center, or take a drive around your neighborhood to get ideas and inspiration for your brick paver patio, walkway or driveway design.
After your bricks are laid, use a plate vibrator to tamp the bricks into place. You can find a plate vibrator at your local rental store.
Lastly, use a large push broom to sweep sand in between the bricks, and then go over the entire area again with the plate vibrator.
Try to lay out your pattern so that you won’t need to deal with making cuts. However, if you have to make large cuts, it is best to use a broad blade chisel and hammer. Smaller, more precise cuts should be made with a brick splitter or a power saw with a masonry diamond blade, both of which are available at your local rental store.