The Narrow Lane

5 Steps to Choosing the Right Paver Base Material

As a homeowner, you can understand that there is such a wide variety of home improvement projects that are always at the top of your list, but never get checked off. Well, now is the perfect time to start (and complete) a project that enhances the functionality of your property as well as the curb appeal: installing pavers! Whether you are looking to install pavers to beautify your driveway, customize your patio, or create a walkway to your garden, there are a few things to take into consideration to ensure longevity. It all starts with the foundation, so if the installation process is not done properly you will face bouts of unevenness, cracks, and unplanned overgrowth. You need to find the best paver-base material for you and the project to prevent this kind of damage.

That’s where The Narrow Lane team comes into the picture! With decades of experience, we know the ins and outs of properly installing pavers and the paver-base materials. You deserve to have this information before you plunge head-first, so let’s discuss!

Paver Installation Process

In order to create the perfect paver pathway, driveway, patio, or anything else, it is essential that you start from the ground up, literally. You need to understand your project, your ideas, and the complete process because these initial details have a huge effect on the final result.

1. Establish Your Layout and Style

You know your property and lifestyle better than anyone else, so before you bring in a professional, it is crucial that you establish your wants and needs. For example, if you are looking to refurbish your outdoor kitchen, then it may be time to also install a paver-base walkway that will guide your guests to the custom-made dining area. If you are looking to stand out from your neighbors, then installing a custom paver driveway may be the best way to show your neighbors and passersby a touch of your personality. Before hiring a professional, it may be beneficial to do a little bit of research into the style and materials you like, streamlining the process once the experts are onboard. You could even compile data like the measurements of the paver project or sketch out a rough draft to visualize your mental image. Your vision and preferences are the first priority at Prevail Construction, so let us know today how we can help you establish your layout and style!

2. Excavating the Area

While this may seem like one of the easiest steps, a lot of thoughtful planning goes into excavation. You may want to start digging, but you need to take a couple factors into consideration. First and foremost, what are the pavers for? Are you building a small garden pathway or an aesthetically pleasing driveway? If you are looking to add pavers to an area that will not have withstand vehicles and heavy furniture, then we recommend excavating to about six inches below the final grade. But, if you are looking to have a beautiful paver driveway, you will want to excavate further down than the aforementioned six inches to allow for enough supporting gravel compaction. We recommend digging down anywhere between eight and twelve inches to provide enough support for a vehicle. If you are unsure how far down you should dig, contact a professional. By ensuring that this part is done correctly, you will save yourself from quite a few structural problems.

Another portion of your project that you need to take into account is the type of soil you’re working with. For example, if your project area is mostly made up of clay, you should dig down a little deeper as the clay material does not provide very adequate support. The lower the excavation hole goes down, the more gravel can be added as a foundational layer, adding more support for you and your project. Once excavation is complete you will want to begin the gravel base and its compaction.

Choose the Right Paver Base for Your Home Project

3. Gravel Base and Compaction

While it may not be the most glamorous, a gravel base and its compaction is one of the most crucial elements to installing a paver path or driveway. Depending on your wants and accessibility, there are a few different options for the foundation underneath pavers. While the most common are specialized gravel and crushed stone, recycled concrete has become increasingly popular with homeowners focused on sustainability. Once you have chosen your material and laid a layer of it in the excavation area, compaction can begin! We recommend using a vibrating plate compactor as it has shown our team the best results. Because the plate vibrates, the loose gravel or rock will be shaken and moved down to create an impermeable base. The more compact the base is, the more sturdy and long-lasting the path will be. As mentioned, we recommend laying and compacting your base down in layers – once you have compacted a layer of gravel, the compactor will push the material down about 3.5 inches, leaving you more room to create a base. If you are looking to meet industry standards, focus on creating a 2% pitch in the compaction area.

4. Bedding Sand

While you may think that the next logical step may be to lay your pavers, applying bedding sand is the penultimate step to reaching your dream walkway. It may seem like sand is an odd choice, but this sand offers a variety of crucial benefits, including leveling, load distribution, stability, drainage, and cushioning. This material is also known as base sand and screeding sand, emphasizing its structural importance.

To properly install the base sand layer, we recommend focusing on the proper alignment of the paver path. It can be helpful to establish line guides using PVC pipe, wood, metal rails, or any other material that is around one inch in height. Once the lines have been established, lay one inch of washed concrete sand into the excavated area. This is when a screed comes into play. A screed is a straight, flat board that extends the length of your established path and acts as a tool to distribute materials across a wider distance. Using a 2×4 board, screed the entire length of the path to create a very even sand surface that your pavers could reliably rest on. Keep in mind that spaces should only be laid with screeding sand if the pavers can be laid in the same day as unforeseen foot traffic, accidents, paws, and the elements can undo all your work.

5. Lay your Pavers

Now that every other layer has been firmly and carefully laid, it is finally time to lay your pavers! As always, double check that you are satisfied with the path you’ve chosen, the layout, and the previous layers. Just as the sand layer, creating a guideline will aid in maintaining a square and level pattern. Once you are confident to initiate the process, utilize the click-and-drop method to carefully align your pavers and create your pathway. Continue this process until the project is complete! Keep in mind that there are a plethora of paver patterns available, but if you need direction, do not hesitate to give us a call!

Paver Base Materials

Now that we have discussed the paver installation process in detail, it is crucial that you choose materials that will improve the result of the project. When choosing the materials, consider the climate you live in and the amount of upkeep you’re willing to commit to.

When it comes to perfecting your paver project, it is imperative that you look into a few options like gravel, washed concrete, stone dust, compacted soil and concrete sand. Every one of these materials offers different benefits and disadvantages from one another, so it is crucial that you take the following three things into account: climate, maintenance capabilities, and durability requirements.

Climate is one of the biggest wildcards to installing pavers just about anywhere. Soil drainage is an underrated element to a long-lasting paver pathway as improper drainage can cause structural problems and sinkage. If you live in an area where temperatures frequently fluctuate between above and below freezing, then a material that can ebb and flow with these changes would be the best option. It is crucial that you take your environment into consideration when picking a paver base material, as it could change the course of your project.

Durable Paver Base Material is Ideal for Patio Paver Installation

Materials like stone dust are not the most suitable option for a paver base, and much of that comes down to the maintenance requirements. While this material has some minor benefits, its drawbacks are nothing to scoff at. Stone dust does not effectively drain water, which will necessitate constant repairs and upkeep. Even when professionally installed, stone dust can actually become too compacted, leading to sinkage and uneven pavers. Not to mention, weeds absolutely love stone dust! The stone traps moisture and organic materials underneath the surface, which is the perfect environment for those pesky weeds. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so you need to consider how much upkeep you want to do to keep the pavers looking beautiful. If you are more than willing to maintain the stone dust, then this material is a great option.

The last major consideration you need to make before choosing a paver base material is how durable you want your pavers to be. If you are looking for a quick project that you will probably change in a few years, then you can be a little more lenient with the material you choose. In fact, you may want to opt for a paver base that is easily removable. However, if you are on the other side of the spectrum and are looking for a permanent fixture, then you will need a substance that can withstand heavy foot traffic and machinery.

The more time you spend considering and deciding your paver base material, the more successful your project will be. Regardless of your undertaking, there is a substance that will perfectly complement your wants and your needs.

Before Your Next Project…

When starting any new project, it is essential that you have a team of trustworthy professionals that can guide your project to perfection. Enter The Narrow Lane – a seasoned and dedicated landscape design company with decades of expertise. We are well-versed in the intricate art of paver installation and the nuances of paver-base materials, making us the perfect team for all of your needs. Your journey deserves to begin armed with essential knowledge that we will happily offer you, our client. Should queries or concerns arise, do not hesitate to reach out because we are committed to your satisfaction and success. Connect with us at (781)527-5214 or through our contact form, and together, let’s embark on this transformative journey today!

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