Before you decide whether to undertake an interlocking paving stone installation yourself, or to hire a contractor to build your project, it is important to understand the step by step process that goes into getting the job done right the first time.
Interlock paving stones are similar to a jigsaw puzzle in the way they fit together. This type of project differs from, installing something like tile which requires a nonflexible surface and mortar, because of the bonding component (sand), interconnecting process (friction) and fitment of the stone in addition to the construction required prior to the installation of the stones. There is much more work involved in the correct process than putting some paver stones on the dirt and walking away. All worthwhile though, when complete, pavers will provide a flexible and durable surface that will last a lifetime.
Let’s face it, interlock paving could be the best way to enhance the curb appeal of your home, and unless you have infinite time and money to devote to the project, you are going to want your installation done right the first time. If you’re still up for it let us take a look at what is required to get the interlocking concrete paving stone project you desire.
The first step you need to take on is to remove or demolish your current walkway, driveway, or patio of whatever is their now, and prep the area for your pavers. Whether it is grass, a rotted wood deck, a drab slab of grey concrete or cracked and fractured stamped colored concrete, it needs to be removed and the soil excavated and leveled to a proper depth for your outdoor home improvement project. Areas with increased weight requirements such as a car, truck or RV will require deeper excavation of the dirt and additional base installation. While excavating the area of your project be sure to dig to an even level. Often times this provides problems for those without equipment like a bobcat and can be EXTREMELY time consuming and labor intensive if all you have at your disposal is a couple of shovels and a wheelbarrow. Don’t forget about the excavated soil, where are you going to put all of that dirt? A dump truck is usually required to haul off the dirt and debris to the landfill.
Upon removal of the surface material and the soil, dug to the required depth, a woven geotextile fabric must be installed over the excavated area and under the aggregate rock foundation. A geotextile is a permeable landscape fabric made out of plastic that is designed to allow the flow of water yet restrict the migration of the foundation base rock into the native clay soil. For example, the typical gravel road will develop ruts and undulations when the soil beneath becomes wet. The soil will act as a sponge and absorb the gravel affecting the surface and creating uneven depressions. Geotextile fabric will prevent this from occurring and protect your installation. Make sure to use a woven geotextile because they are engineered for heavy high traffic areas.
After the geotextile fabric is installed you are ready to build the layered foundation that consists of base rock and bedding sand. Class II Aggregate Base Rock is required, and this material will consist of ¾ inch rock to fine rock particles. It is most important to use the correct material for the foundation, if incorrect or substandard base material is used your installation may not perform as you would expect. For the bedding sand sharp angled sand is necessary for proper interlock of the paving stones. These installations are designed to last a lifetime and if built properly will require little or no maintenance for years to come.
Now that the foundations for the brick walkways or interlocking driveways are put into place, the “easy” part is next. At this point, the term “easy” is relative. During this process there is one major advantage to having a professional contractor rather than doing it yourself, it is the fitment or cutting in the paving stones. If the walkway is a single squared segment, that is designed to fit the exact dimensions of the pavers, then the installation should be easy. However a creative advantage of interlocking paver motif is to create a design with curves, turns and imbedded patterns. These aspects of your project can become very tricky and most will require the craftsmanship of a professional.
When cutting in the fitment of your stones you will need a high power cutoff saw or brick saw with a diamond blade to cut shapes and curves into the pavers to fit the installation. If you’re doing this part yourself, it’s critically important to stay consistent with the cuts in your design. Because of the interlocking factor of the bricks, inconsistent trimming could cause a lopsided fit or flaw in the overall design. If you’ve gotten this far, it is imperative that you take your time to make it look right.
Every interlocking paving project is going to be somewhat different. There will be differences in stone selection and in the excavation and base depth required for each installation depending on its required use, foot traffic or vehicular traffic. The consistent factor of each project is that there must be an edge restraint to keep the interlocking concrete paver stone in place. Some use concrete curbs, retaining walls, plastic edge or even border stones set into a submerged concrete curb, known as a bond beam or foundation beam to hold it all in place. In Northern California interlocking pavement built with the most superior edge restraint has the submerged curb foundation beam, this is built at the parameter if the installation and secures the foundation base rock and the bedding sand, the paving stone is secured to the top of this part of the build.
After the cutting, hand placement of the paving stones, the edge restraint built and border secured, you are on your way to the last step, installing the jointing sand. The pavers are bonded together by sweeping sand into the surface joints and compacting the sand with a vibratory plate compactor until all the voids are filled with the clean washed sand. This allows the interlocking pavers to have a tight seal while still maintaining their flexibility and durability.
There are so many excellent qualities about using interlocking brick or concrete paving including the ability to create any color and pattern imaginable, increased living space, increase in curb appeal, beauty in form and function, and the ability to walk on it immediately after it’s completely installed there is no waiting for the surface to cure. The benefits are only limited by your abilities to imagine, design and install your paver project.