Interlocking concrete pavers provide a durable and beautiful alternative to concrete or asphalt for patios, walkways, driveways, fountains… even streets. Over 200 million square feet of pavers have been installed in North America, and the popularity of these materials is rising steadily. Numerous options exist for size, shape, color and texture.

When installed correctly, the paver surface is flexible, withstanding loads from traffic, wear and weather. The joints between each paver are filled with sand; this enables loads to be transferred to adjacent units in a pattern similar to asphalt. The joints eliminate the cracking common to concrete surfaces.

Pavers, Concrete, Interlock P1

If problems underground require excavation, the pavers are simply removed and later replaced; no materials are wasted. Most paver installations allow air and moisture to penetrate, allowing for the health of plant roots. Pavers stand up well to snow removal processes and resist deicing salts better than conventional asphalt or concrete pavement.

Installation Basics

Of utmost importance in paver installation (and also in many other hardscape installations) is proper treatment of the underlying soil and

Pavers, Concrete, Interlock P2
Permission from the Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute

imported base. Basically, four to twelve inches of soil is first

removed from the area; the subsoil is compacted (using a vibrating plate compactor) and then several inches of aggregate (crushed rock) is added and compacted thoroughly. Additional aggregate is added and compacted until the required level is met. As noted, the thickness of the base will vary depending on native soil type and climate.

After installation of the aggregate, a bed of sand is installed and screeded level; pavers are installed in the chosen pattern and sand is swept into the joints. Now the plate compactor is used over the surface and additional sand is brushed in; this process is repeated until the joints are completely filled (see photo below). After cleaning, a sealer can be applied to the surface. An alternative to the concrete curb shown here is one of several edging products made of high strength PVC; these can be formed to curves as well as straight runs.

Pavers, Concrete, Interlock P3
Above shows edge restraint, compacted base, sand and pavers. Lawn or planting bed can be installed right up to the edge of pavers. Photo used by permission from Pavetech.
Pavers, Concrete, Interlock P4
Photo used by permission from Pavetech.

The above is a brief overview only; the do it yourself installer should study thoroughly all pertinent installation instructions and specifications and if needed, consult with an engineer or other professional. For excellent, low cost installation manuals, contact the Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute (see photo credits).