Pathways, patios, and even around the pool area; in all cases, pavers rise to the forefront of helping establish a beautiful, sophisticated look and despite the appearance, it is quite easy to achieve. In most cases, pavers can be used to vastly improve the value of a property and the usability of a backyard or designated garden area. As they come in a variety of sizes, colours and sometimes shapes it is easy to find the ideal paver to suit your specific needs.
So what is a paver?
Put simply, pavers are small concrete blocks, which operate as a better alternative to large concrete slabs. Whilst more expensive, they present the opportunity to get creative and add a decorative flair to any given section of your property. As they come in a variety of sizes also, it means that you can easily have large ones to dominate the path to your front door, or little ones which form patterns and detailing around your water features out back.
In considering what will be the best option for you in your garden, it is primarily important to identify the purpose of your project. If you’re looking for a more economical approach, then a concrete slab will definitely do the trick, and if it’s out of the way or features frequent heavy traffic, then it is far preferable. If you’re looking to on-sell your property or to combat the neighbours however then pavers will give you that flair you’re searching for.
Pavers are constructed from a number of materials, ranging from small stones and bricks, through to concrete and iridescent facets, which make it heavily durable, aesthetic and flexible. Owing to the composition of the materials, pavers also offer greater slip resistance than concrete whilst wet, and set and dry in place a lot quicker than a large concrete slab.
Paver Types: Wet Cast versus Dry Cast
When choosing your paver, it is important to know that there are two different varieties for you to choose from. A Wet Cast paver is preferable for larger areas with high traffic as they are proportionally larger and virtually impenetrable. A Dry Cast paver on the other hand, is more suitable for smaller areas and are more suited to open areas. Does this limit you from using dry cast pavers in large closed areas, or wet cast pavers from outdoor use? Not at all, as they’re still highly resilient but it does benefit you in the long run to be aware of their intended environment.
Dry cast is a lot faster to lay as it bonds well with the sand. Wet Cast however will need you to use an additional layer of mortar around the base to help cement it in place (pun intended!). There is also less maintenance if you choose to use Wet Cast pavers, as its impermeable, therefore the likelihood of moss or algae building up is virtually non existent.
Drainage is one of the most important features to consider when laying pavers. Pooling of water can apply a lot of unnecessary pressure to the tiles over and over an extended period of time, this can crack the concrete by seeping through and causing it to expand. It can also cause degradation on the surface of the tile and result in cracking or build-up of mould and algae.
In previous blogs we have referred to draining from areas such as lawns by creating a concave effect in the property to generate a run off, however as the tiles need to be flat, this won’t always suffice.
Fortunately, there are multiple options for how to proceed with this.
You’ll want to dig a trench underneath where the pavers will be and lay drainage pipe. The Drainage pipe will capture water that seeps in from the sides or underneath and flush it out to an external location. In terms of longevity, getting this done professionally is definitely the best option to go with.
Where do I start?
The easiest place to start is to identify what style of paver will go with your property. Three of the most popular options are Herringbone Paving, Stretcher Bond Paving and Basketweave Paving, all pictured beneath, from left to right.
Ensure that you consider the natural aspects of your property - i.e. don’t go with a Herringbone Paving pattern if you have a discoloured or yellowed lawn. If you want to get your garden in tip-top shape before you choose a variety, then you can review our aeration or lawn gardening guide.
Once you have selected your tile, then contact one of these top suppliers to locate your variety and purchase the amount you need.
Paving New Zealand
Jagas Paving Limited
Take note: In order to calculate how many pavers you need, you need to calculate the length and the width of the area you’d working with, in order to get the square metrage.
How to prepare my yard:
Preparation is one of the easier parts and you can have your property fit for paving in a short space of time. First things first, you’ll need to ensure that you have a series of tools, as specified beneath:
1500mm Box Level
250mm Combination Square
Whilst this list might look large and overwhelming, the majority of the products are your everyday gardening necessities, such as gloves and the wheelbarrow, but the above tools will enable you to create an elegant and flawless paved section on your property. In the steps beneath, we will highlight each of the tools as they are used, so that their use in the process is clear and visible.
It always pays to ensure that you have plans and backups for every scenario. Read through every step before you begin the process of laying, to ensure you know exactly what you’re doing. If you need any further assistance or guidance, it may pay to contact your paver supplier.
Smoothen out and level out the area you’re wanting to work with. It pays to use the rake to do this, both with its forked and flat surfaces. Identify the depth needed along the surrounding edges/walls/surfaces to ensure that your previously chosen paver will fit seamlessly.
Before laying the pavers, you will need a base course, and to calculate how much you need, take the length, width and depth of the area and calculate how much you need, or contact us and we can tell you how much you’ll need.
Note: to calculate the cubic metrage needed, simply multiply the length, by the width, by the depth. I.e if the area was 0.3 metres wide, by 5 metres long, by 0.1 metres deep, then this equates to 1.5 metres cubed, of Base Course.
Apply the Base Course to the designated area and flatten out to allow the pavers to fit in with ease. Level the Base Course out as much as possible with the rake and then hose it down to make it wet.
Compress the Base Course using the plate compactor. Go across the area twice, to ensure that the surface is completely flat and smooth.
Pro Tip: A thin layer of paving sand can help with the smoothing and help hold your pavers in place.
Time to get your pavers ready. Ensure that they are clean and dry, and ready for laying. Ensure that the pavers weren’t damaged when they were brought in and check for any cracks or splits in the surface.
Assuming all your pavers are free of splits and cracks, it is time to apply a sealer to keep them contained and to eliminate the risk of excessive mould or damage. Apply the sealant to the sides of each paver first, with a paintbrush and then allow to dry. Coat the front and back surfaces thereafter, and repeat 2-3 times as required/desired.
Lay your pavers down in a straight line by establishing and running a string line first of all.
Note: A string line is a series of pins holding string to enable you to map out an area so you can establish exactly how many tiles will fit in the parameters.
Lay the first paver by spreading about 30mm of mortar. Keep it flush with the string line and then using the rubber mallet, knock it gently into place.
Make the paver level. Using the box level, ensure that the paver is flat and then clean the surface with a sponge and remove any excess dirt or mortar acquired in the placement.
Continue laying your pavers, flush with the string line, but ensure that you leave 5mm of space between each paver. This enables the sinking and setting process to occur naturally and for a final layer of mortar to be applied or move between the pavers without overflowing.
Whenever necessary, you can cut the pavers to adjust and fit your designated area. Continue the above process over and over, until the entire area is covered as you require. Once finished, allow at least 24 hours for the area to dry before you walk on them.
Whilst cats and birds won’t cause any significant damage if they wander onto it (good luck stopping your cat!), any humans or dogs will, so it may pay to keep the area secluded in some way, shape or form until the drying process is complete.
Prefer a video explanation of the process? Try one of these videos beneath for guidance or refer to our visual PDF for a printable version:
Click Here to download the PDF version, for print, of our step-by-step guide.