How to lay block paving

Richard Partington

Published on: 02 April 2018

Modern house with grey block paving

Versatility is block paving’s pièce de résistance. Beloved for its durable and diverse colour range, varied styles and timeless appeal, it is a popular and long-lasting choice for both driveways and patios.

But believe it or not, redeeming these benefits isn’t as simple as shovelling earth and setting your block pavers – nor is it a case of copying the laying process for paving slabs or porcelain paving. Block paving is a different ball-park altogether.

Keen to hear more? Read below for our guide on how to lay block paving for your driveway or patio without any fuss.

Preparing your paving foundation

The groundwork is always the most essential part of any paving project. Rocky paving stones that break, sink and fall out of line are all the result of a poorly crafted paving foundation – and could cost you a lot of money to repair. 

To ensure you don’t run into these issues, focus on building a solid foundation.

What you need:

  • Spirit-level
  • Wooden pegs
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Garden rake
  • Plate compactor

How to do it:

  1. Check your foundation is level – be thorough. The ideal ground to work on is firm and level with good drainage - three crucial points to consider when preparing your block paving foundation.
  2. Then, mark out your paving area with wooden pegs; the top of the pegs will act as a marker for the finished surface’s height. Mark approximately 300mm over at the free edge (the edge facing away from the paved area) for haunching of edges and allow for a fall of 1:80 away from any buildings and walls for surface drainage.
  3. Remove all vegetation and topsoil to an approximate depth of 200mm-250mm across the paving area.
  4. Rake the area level to ensure an even depth and compact the ground with a plate compactor.

Building a block paving border

Where other paving projects play out by laying a sub-base, mortar and then pavers from a corner outwards, block paving takes a slightly different approach. When laying block pavers, it is all about building a border first.

What you need to build a block paving border

How to build a block paving border:

  1. The first step is to lay edge restraints (usually block kerbs or concrete edging) around your block paving driveway or patio. To do this, pour 100mm of concrete on your foundation where you plan on laying your bricks, pouring just enough for one edge restraint at a time.
  2. Bed your edge restraint into the concrete and leave a 45-degree haunch along the sides to prevent the blocks from moving.
  3. Repeat with the other edge restraints until you have built a neat border.

TOP TIP: Install any underground drainage, gratings or recessed manhole covers that you require at this stage.

  1. Backfill the central paving area with 150mm of MoT/crusher run, compacted to 100mm.
  2. Onto this compacted paving area, apply a layer of slightly damp sharp sand to a depth of 50mm, and compact with a plate compactor.

TOP TIP: Sharp sand is better than building sand for paved areas as it drains more freely and is less likely to wash away.

  1. Next, apply a second layer of sharp sand to a depth of 20mm.
  2. Level this second layer of sharp sand with string lines, screeding rails and a straight edge, ensuring it remains at a fall of 1:80. Your laying course is now ready for block paving stones.

How to lay block paving

Laying grey block paving on laying course

With all your prep work covered, it’s time to finally put those beautiful block pavers to use. Follow our helpful step-by-step to make sure you

What you need to lay block paving:

How to lay block paving:

  1. Upon checking the planning permission guidelines for driveways, you can begin laying your blocks on top of your laying course at the lowest point of your paved area. (Remember to place them so they are around 4-5mm above the desired finish level as they are going to be compacted down.)
  2. Depending on the size of your paving area, your chosen block pavers and the block paving pattern you have opted for, you may need to cut extra blocks with a mechanical block splitter for infill pieces or at the retaining edges as needed.

TOP TIP: Avoid cutting down block pavers smaller than one-third of a full block. They will be unstable when fitted and could compromise your entire paved area.

  1. Once completed, sweep the area and compact with two or three passes of the plate compactor.
  2. With your block pavers all successfully placed, now is the time for jointing. To do this, apply kiln dried sand to the area and brush into joints with a soft brush. For best results, joint the block paving area during dry weather.
  3. Use the plate compactor on the paved area again, pushing the sand into the joints.
  4. Check for any gaps in the jointing and fill where necessary, compacting again afterwards. And that’s it – you’re all done!

*Please note the above guidance is applicable to domestic driveways for car traffic only.

Simply Paving recommends

Our most popular and best-selling ranges of block paving include the Woburn Rumbled, Monksbridge and StoneMaster lines. All three of these ranges provide a quality finish to your outdoor space, whilst they also bring their own unique characteristics to the table.

Woburn Rumbled

The Woburn Rumbled range provides a more rustic, cobbled finish, with smoothed edges and a mottled effect all combining to form a block paver that’s packed with character. Take a look at our most popular shades of Graphite and Autumn.

Monksbridge

Like Woburn Rumbled, our Monksbridge range provides and rustic and traditional yet timeless finish, and looks equally at home on your driveway or as part of a courtyard-style patio area. Our shades of Croft and Royale are particularly popular.

StoneMaster

StoneMaster block paving is one of Bradstone flagship pavers. Each block comes pre-treated with Bradstone Surface Protection to keep your driveway or patio from becoming stained, and is available in three contemporary shades of grey that, when laid together, create a striking appearance that is sure to have your friends or neighbours cooing with envy.

We know you want your landscaping project to look outstanding – and we do too. For advice, assistance, or inspiration on any paving project, give us a call on 0800 032 6306 between 8pm and 6pm, 7 days a week, or start a live chat. We would love to hear from you.