How to Lay Block Paving
Laying block paving is not an easy thing to do. Many people choose to hire contractors to do the work for them but some enterprising and handy souls find it in themselves to do the work on their own. If you decide to travel down this path it is absolutely imperative that you follow the correct steps in the correct order. This is to make sure that your block paving looks aesthetically pleasing. You also want to make sure that whatever you lay will stand up to the elements and time. Most of all you want it to be a safe surface. Luckily we have a handy guide to help you lay the most beautiful and functional block paving possible.
The first thing you are going to need to do is gather up materials and supplies for laying block paving. There are a few things you will need. The most essential materials are going to be your paving blocks. Now these blocks are almost always exclusively made of stone. People use sandstone and granite quite often but there is a whole range of different stone and stone hybrid materials that you can use. Basically choose something that fits your purposes.
If you are looking to create the best look possible you may want to go with something softer and more malleable that you can eventually replace when it goes out of style. If you are going for function you will want something harder that will last and not take a lot of damage from constant use or weight. Before you purchase your stone it is a good idea to measure the dimensions you need beforehand and then purchase the stone from your local masonry supply. Always get a few extra plates in case you make a mistake or one breaks in transit. If there are broken paving stones delivered you can always return them.
You will also need a light plate compactor. Most people do not own this piece of equipment but you can easily rent or purchase one online or at your local hardware supply store like Lowe’s or Home Depot. You also have the option of using a simple claw hammer and various sizes of wood to lay block paving in a small area but it is not recommended simply for the fact that it will lead to much more unstable blocks.
Once you have your materials you need to start work in your area. Make sure all debris and other materials are cleared and then begin to set your sub base. Your sub base will ideally be made of very fine gravel or preferably sand. You are going to want to set a sub base of roughly 70 mm deep so that your paving stones appear to be level with the ground but are also protected from the dirt underneath the sub base. This will also help with any drainage issues you may have with your block paving path.
After this you need to start to clear a canal around the perimeter of the sub base you have just set. This canal needs to then be filled with quick dry concrete and leveled off. Once the concrete has dried you grab whatever edging blocks you decided to purchase and put them around the edge of the perimeter. Take a straight piece of lumber and a carpenters level to make sure each edge stone is level and straight. After this you need to wait for no less than 72 hours for everything to become level and set. Avoid the urge to mess with the pathway or it will not set properly.
After you wait for the 72 hour period you need to start fully laying the path. You take your blocks and put them over the sub base in the pattern that you want. After you have set every stone exactly how you want it you use the light plate compactor or your piece of wood to push the stones into the sub base and concrete. Make sure that there are no spaces or gaps in between each stone or you will have serious problems with contracting and expanding joints in the long term. The only place you are going to leave a space is if the stones are jointed. In that case leave just enough room for them to set.
Once you have set all the stones, available online at Midland Stone, you need to fill any gaps with concrete and wait another 72 hours to let everything settle down. Once everything is set you are going to remove any excess materials from the area and power wash your gorgeous new block pavement. After the mandatory 72 hour period feel free to walk on your block paving, move materials like chairs or tables onto it and just generally enjoy it- you earned it.
Leslie writes for Midland Stone who supply paving stone to all of Ireland.
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