How To Prepare and Lay a Base for Pavers

Pavers are the most durable material you can use for creating a driveway, a path, or installing an outdoor kitchen. Unbelievably, properly constructed pavers have a stronger structural foundation than concrete and are considerably more resistant to weight and wear than blacktop.

Pavers, especially permeable pavers, instantly drain water into the ground, preventing muck in wet weather and dust in dry weather, respectively. Additionally, pavers won’t crack in the same manner that concrete does because of their flexibility.

However, the lack of a solid base is the main cause of paver failure. Therefore, skipping or scrimping on the base is one of the most frequent blunders you may make when installing pavers.

In this essay, we’ll explain why and how to lay a base properly and show you why it’s the most important aspect of your hardscape. You see, laying a solid foundation makes putting pavers simple.

What is the base?

The foundation is often referred to as the base. The aggregate layers right beneath your paving stones in a hardscape serve as the base, providing stability, strength, and permeability power.

Above the dirt, there should be 4-6″ of compacted gravel for the base of a paver patio. You must double the thickness of your gravel layer if you’re constructing a driveway or road meant for automobile traffic.

Let’s lay what is beneath your pavers in more detail and how to create a solid base.

How to prep and lay a base

Layout, grade, gravel, and sand are the only four easy processes needed to lay a base that is structurally strong. You’ll need a few supplies and tools before you dive in if you want to do it correctly. The majority of these supplies are available at Western Interlock locations in Oregon or Washington, your neighborhood hardware store, or a landscape supplier.


Hand sanitizer Wheelbarrow
24″ level tape measure Rubber mallet
Plate compactor or steel tamper
Shovel, mattock, pickaxe, and garden rake
Materials Concrete placer 10′ to 12′ aluminum strike board

Marking fluid (white)
Geotextile 34″ minus line level gravel
1″ square (or circular) metal pipe bars made of washed concrete sand, or 34″ PVC pipe
Plastic edge protection

Create a layout

You must decide on your layout whether you’re laying a 10′ x 10′ patio or a 100′ driveaway. First, use white marking paint to outline your space. Use white marking paint to ensure that your markings do not conflict with any geolocates.

Get a locate to make sure there aren’t any utilities under the project area.

After making the first marks, you should increase the painted area by 6″ on all sides to allow for space for the pavers and an edge restraint.

Put a stake in the middle of your project area if you are laying a circular patio. Attach a string to the stake that is six inches longer than the patio’s radius. Spray a circle border using that string as a reference.

Trim the corners

Next, use string, stakes, and the 3-4-5 method to make a square corner from which to work. If you have a structure, place the string lines as close to it as you can and make them parallel to the walls of the structure.

Set the grade

The next step is to decide on your grade. Possibly you’re wondering what that means. The process of controlling or manipulating a slope to ensure that surface drainage flows in a specific direction is known as setting grade (or grading).

Nothing is worse than finishing a project only to discover that water runoff actually flows toward your structure rather than away from it. You grade before you go for that reason.

Select the final project’s height, then grade your string lines to that height. Our top height was determined to be the base of the building. In order to ensure proper drainage away from any construction, alter the strings as a general rule such that they are sloped away from the building.

Excavate dirt and debris

Depending on the kind of activity the pavers will get, remove the dirt and debris to a depth of 7 to 13 inches below the completed grade. Dig 7″ below finishing grade if only pedestrian traffic will be using the pavers. Excavate 9–13 if there will be vehicular traffic on the project.

Because of the need for a very strong base due to vehicular traffic, we advise excavating this deeply. You can add and compact more gravel if the base is dug out farther.

Pro tip: Avoid filling up large divots left after clearing away large debris with dirt. Instead, before laying geotextile, backfill those depressions with gravel and hand tamp them.

Lay geotextile

Now spread geotextile over the ground. This substance will act as a barrier between the earth and the gravel, preventing the two materials from blending.

Additionally, geotextile promotes correct settling and compaction. It’s one of those things you may just as easily forget to include. But the distinction between a decent base and a fantastic base is in the details.

Spread gravel

Lay 4″ of gravel base for pedestrian uses and 6-10″ for vehicular applications after your grade has been established. To acquire a suitable balance of fine and coarse aggregate for the best compaction, use 3/4-0 or ODOT road base gravel.

On a light, well-draining soil, you can get away with building a residential driveway with merely 6″. If your soil is weak or perpetually damp in cooler climates, you should increase the gravel base by 2-4 inches. You should lay at least 8 inches, if not 10 inches, of gravel on parking lots and residential streets.

Dirt is frequently used as the base aggregate layer by novice hardscape DIYers. Avoid doing it! Only as strong as your base are your pavers. This means that if you utilize dirt, pavers will spin, sink, and separate quickly.

Your gravel base must be level and devoid of any rises or bellies greater than 1/8 inch before continuing. Any flaws greater than this can be seen in the finished output.

To do this, compact your gravel using a plate compactor or a steel tamper (for minor projects) (for large projects). Gravel should be compacted in 2′′ lifts, or 2′′ at a time, until the desired thickness is reached. For instance, if you’re creating a circle patio in your backyard, you’ll need to scatter the gravel 2 inches at a period over a total area of 4 inches.

Check the compacted gravel for any lingering dips or rises by dragging a flat board across it. Gravel should be compacted one last time. Gravel that has been flattened out makes a base that is ready to receive pavers.

Lay your paving stones

You may lay your pavers now that you have a solid base. To properly position your pavers, use the click-and-drop technique. There are also numerous paver pattern alternatives available. You may learn how to lay eight distinct designs in our tutorial on How to Lay a Paver Pattern, which you should watch or read.

If you haven’t already guessed, our goal is to make hardscaping less difficult. If you found this article useful, check out torontopavings step-by-step guides for more advice on hardscaping.

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