Installing a Brick or Paver Walkway
How to Build a Brick or Paver Walkway
using Brick Pavers
By: Mark J. Donovan
The use of bricks or pavers to create a
formal walkway to the entrance of your home can add real character to it. In
addition, brick and pavers are made from natural building materials that last
forever. Admittedly, the bricks or pavers may need to be reset every decade or
so due to insect and weather related erosion to the walkway’s base, but the
bricks/pavers can be reused. Another nice benefit of installing a brick or paver
walkway is that it doesn’t necessarily require a professional. With a sketch for
a walkway plan, some upfront knowledge on installing brick/paver walkways, and a
few basic tools the average homeowner can tackle this type of project over a
weekend or two.
The important step in
installing a brick paver walkway is properly preparing the soil base before
setting the brick pavers. If the soil base is not prepared properly the bricks
will end up not being able to be set evenly, the soil base will erode in short
order, and the quickly eroding soil base will just exacerbate the unevenness of
the walkway until it looks like a small disaster.
Preparing the Walkway’s Soil Base
To prepare an area for a walkway start out by staking and stringing the exact
location for the walkway. Then remove the first one to two feet of soil from the
area inside the string lines. It is important to remove all the topsoil. Also,
if there is clay, you want to remove at least 12 inches of it to prevent the
walkway from swelling and settling due to the clay soil absorbing moisture after
every rain storm. The constant swelling and settling of the clay, and the
brick/paver walkway above it, will cause the finished walkway to become uneven
in very short order.
After digging out the area for the walkway, dump ľ inch gravel stone into the
area to within a couple of inches of the final height for the brick walkway.
Then tamp it down either with a rented tamper or with some other heavy object.
The tamping helps to lock the gravel stone into place and prevent it from
settling any further after installing the brick walkway.
approximately a 2 inch layer of sand or stone dust over the tamped down gravel.
Again, the sand or stone dust should be tamped down to create a smooth and even
surface. Also, the tamped down sand or stone dust should be at a height below
the string line equal to the thickness of the brick pavers to be installed.
Thus, when the brick pavers are set into the sand / stone dust base the top
surface of them should be equal to the string line height.
With the soil base now properly installed place 1 inch in diameter pipe, or the
equivalent size ledger board, on either side of the walkway.
The pipe or ledger
board do not need to be the length of the walkway. Instead, they should be
between 4 to 8 feet in length. These pipes / ledger boards will act as rails, if
Now, using the flat edge of a 2x4 that spans the width of the walkway soil base
slide it over the soil base and along the pipe / ledger board rails. You’ll
observe that you’ll get a very smooth and even surface on the soil base for
setting the brick pavers. Move the rails, and repeat this process over the
entire length of the walkway area. Again, when the brick pavers are set into the
sand / stone dust base the top surface of them should be equal to the string
line height. So keep this in mind when smoothing out the soil base.
Next, carefully lay on the smoothed out soil base plastic brick borders. You can
purchase these at any home improvement center. The plastic brick borders will
act as the walkway’s finished edges and will help to maintain the structural
integrity of the walkway. The plastic brick borders should be fastened into the
soil using 12 inch spikes. However, be careful not to disturb the finished
surface of the walkway soil base. A spike should be placed into the border every
12 to 16 inches.
Setting Brick Pavers
With the soil base prepared and the borders anchored down you can now start
setting the brick pavers. Hopefully you’ve already figured out a setting pattern
for the brick pavers. The key reason for using one of the common patterns for
laying bricks is to ensure that the bricks interlock with one another. This
helps to maintain the structural integrity of the walkway.
While setting the bricks / concrete pavers, you’ll inevitably have to end up
cutting some of them to fit. You can either rent a wet saw designed to cut
bricks or concrete pavers or you can use a brick splitter. I prefer the wet saw
as you can ensure nice and accurate clean cuts every time, however, they can be
a bit expensive to rent. The brick splitter is cheap, however, it takes
experience getting use to splitting the bricks. To be honest, between the cost
of the brick splitter and the wasting of many bricks, it adds up to about as
much as renting a wet saw for the day. Also, if your walkway is curved you’ll
have all but no choice than to rent a wet saw.
Photo by Mark Donovan
Once you’ve set all the bricks or concrete pavers, shore up the outside edges of
the walkway with additional sand. Then apply topsoil over the sand and pack it
down firmly into place.
Next, spread a layer of sand or stone dust over the freshly set bricks and sweep
them into the bricks or pavers with a broom. Repeat this step a couple of times
as this process helps to lock the brick pavers into place with each other and
will mitigate weed growth in-between the cracks.
Lastly, remove the stakes and strings and spread grass seed over the freshly
topsoiled areas to complete the project..
Find a Pre-Screened Landscaping Contractor in Your Area
Planning to have a Brick or Paver Walkway
by a Landscaping Contractor but not sure what questions to ask to ensure you
hire the right one? See HomeAdditionPlus.com's
Brick and Paver Walkway Bid Sheet. The
Brick and Paver Walkway Bid Sheet will help ensure that your walkway
project goes smoothly and you get the finished walkway you are looking for.
How to Finance your
New Home Project
Home Equity Loans
can help provide funds for your new home improvement project if
financing is required.
Additional Brick Paver Walkway Resources
Walkway Lighting and Key Brick Walkway Installation
Tools from Amazon.com