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Paving - step by step guide

A paved area is possibly the most rewarding construction added to any garden. It expands the liveable space of ones home and provides a zone for enhanced interaction with the surroundings.

Before delving into a paving job, first decide if you have the patience, skills and tools to carry out the job. If not, call a professional as there is nothing more frustrated than a badly laid paved area, except perhaps a bodgie retainer wall. Details for professionals are at the end.

Step 1 – prior preparation
Go to a landscape supply yard and select your pavers based on size, colour, price, availability, and paving pattern.
Also cost items such as road base, bedding sand, joint filling sand and concrete blend.

Calculate the area for paving taking considerable care with angles, curves and overall shape. If you need to pave anything beside squares and rectangles you may need to look at cutting pavers and also the appropriate tools.

Step 2 - clearing
Prepare site by clearing the foundation to a depth of 150mm. Remove all grass, dirt, rocks and roots. Compaction is essential therefore a plate compacter is recommended.

Step 3 - foundation
Add road base to a depth of 75mm. Compact this surface again with the plate compacter.

Step 4 - sand
Spread bedding sand to a depth of 30mm using a rake.

Step 5 - screeding
Screeding is a task that involves levelling the sand with the aid of rails that are set at the correct angle and depth to ensure the sand slopes away from the house to allow for water runoff.
Set string lines to desired depth and set screed rails accordingly. Use a long straight float or board to screed the sand.

Step 6 - laying
Lay pavers according to guiding string lines. Aim to leave a small gap (a few millimetres) between each paver as this is important for filling in with sand.
Avoid standing on pavers you have just laid. It is best to lay down a plank of timber to step and lean on.

Step 7 - cutting
Cutting pavers may be needed to tackle corners, angles and to fill in ‘holes’. Use a brick bolster, paver splitter or masonry saw. These can be hired.

Step 8 - edging
Edging or haunching is necessary to lock pavers into position. This implies adding concrete to the edges of the paved area.

Step 9 - filling
Spread joint filling sand or gap sand over the pavers with a broom to work it into the crevices.
For large areas use the plate compacter again over the area to work the sand in between the pavers.
For small areas, use a rubber mallet.

Step 10 - finishing
Finish off the job with a final sweep over the area with filling sand. Sweep off excess sand.


For more guidelines with illustrations, make your way to a local landscape supply yards or hardware store and ask for any DIY sheets and pricing on paving materials.

For large complexe jobs it is recommended that you hire the services of a licensed contractor. Refer to your state's licensing board.
In Qld, contact the Building Services Authority on Ph 3225 2800;   www.bsa.qld.gov.au
Always ask for a BSA license. Look for these licenses:
* structural landscaping
* brick and segmental paving
* builders license.

Step by Step guide compiled by Paul Plant, Horticulturist and freelance writer

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