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August 28, 2016
Walkways and driveways require a strong, durable material to hold up to heavy traffic without the need for frequent replacement. Natural granite pavers, available in colors ranging from grey and black to yellow and pink, provide a sturdy foundation that can last a lifetime when installed properly. Granite pavers for walkways and patios, which endure frequent foot traffic, require a minimum 10mm – 20mm thickness, while driveways need pavers at least 20mm thick to hold up to heavy vehicle traffic. Although granite pavers are much more expensive than alternative paving materials, their durability makes them well worth the initial investment.
Determine the desired finish height for the granite paver surface, then measure the paver thickness to factor into the excavation depth.
Mark the area for the pavers with landscaping spray paint; it helps to outline the area with a flexible garden hose before committing to the design with paint.
Calculate the excavation depth required for the project, adding the paver thickness, 25mm for a sand base, and 100mm – 150mm for a gravel base for walkways and patios or 150mm – 250mm inches for the gravel base for a driveway. A thicker base provides a more stable foundation and better drainage for the pavers; clay soils require a thicker base than sandy soil.
Excavate the area to the necessary depth as determined in your calculations. For example, a driveway with 30mm thick granite pavers on extremely clay, poorly-drained soil must be excavated to a depth of 400mm, allowing 100mm for paver thickness, 25mm for the sand base and 300mm for the gravel base to improve drainage. A walkway or patio with50mm thick pavers on clay soil requires only 175mm depth, allowing 50mm for paver thickness, 25 for the sand base and the minimum 100mm for the gravel base.
Grade the soil with a 1/2-to-1 percent slope to encourage water to run away from the paved area.
Pack the soil subsurface with a plate compactor until the area is smooth.
Fill the excavated area with the required amount of gravel or crushed rock, adding one-third of the gravel at a time. Choose base material with pieces 3/4-inch or smaller and that contains sharp edges and ground rock material for better compaction. Spread the base material evenly and check for level.
Pack the leveled base material with a plate compactor. Add the rest of the base material one-third at a time and pack it down between layers. Although you can add all the gravel or crushed rock at one time, the base material packs tighter when added in layers.
Add edging restraints to the edges of the area, using edging materials, such as lumber or polyvinyl paver restraints, to keep the pavers from shifting after installation. Secure the edging with 10-inch steel stakes spaced 2 feet apart for walkways and patios or 1 foot apart for granite paver driveways. Drive the spikes through the holes in polyvinyl paver restraints or along the outside of lumber restraints.
Add a 1-inch layer of coarse masonry sand over the compacted base layer and drag a two-by-four screed over the sand until level. Use the edge restraints as a guide to keep the sand in the boundaries.
Lay the granite pavers directly on the sand bedding in the desired pattern, spacing the pavers closely to prevent shifting in the future. If you must cut pavers to fit the outside edges, install the whole pieces in the inside area first.
Cut pavers as needed to fit within the paving area using a saw, such as a cutoff saw, with a diamond blade. Granite density and strength makes it difficult to cut, so a diamond blade is essential. You may find success with other types of saws outfitted with diamond blades, but a cutoff saw works especially well for pavers.
Pour fine sand, such as play sand or paver sand, over the granite paver surface and sweep the sand into the cracks between pavers. Spray the area with water to settle the sand, then add additional sand to fill in the cracks.
Run a plate compactor over the granite pavers to settle the pavers firmly in the sand bed and prevent shifting. Compact the pavers in a north-to-south direction, then go over the pavers again in an east-to-west direction.
Sweep any remaining sand or debris from the paver surface, then add sand binding sealant to the cracks between pavers, if desired, to reduce sand erosion further and prevent stains. As an alternative to sealants, fill the cracks with polymeric sand, which hardens similar to cement after getting wet.
Things You Will Need
- Measuring tape
- Garden hose
- Landscaping spray paint
- Digging tools
- Plate compactor
- 3/4-inch gravel or crushed rock
- Edging restraints
- 10-inch steel stakes
- Masonry sand
- 2-by-4 lumber
- Cutoff saw
- Fine sand
- Sand binding sealant
- Milled granite often has a smooth side that becomes slippery when wet. To prevent slipping hazards, install the pavers with the smooth side down or heat the pavers with a torch to remove the smooth layer.
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