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noquacks 11-23-2012 10:02 AM

How thick the base for a brick walkway?
Making a brick walkway around the house. 12 yrs ago, I just levelled the sand and it was OK for a few yrs, but after a while, moles, and hills, etc destroyed the integrity of the walkway. Now, have to pull up all the red beicks, and stat over.

I understand a good base is what they call crushed "fines". How thick should I make this? 3"? 4"?


Daniel Holzman 11-23-2012 12:03 PM

Typically you remove all organic soil (topsoil), and excavate down to approximately 12 inches below original grade. Then backfill with structural fill (sand, gravel, crushed stone) in compacted lifts of approximately 6 inches. The last few inches (approximately 3 inches) you use masons sand, which then forms the base for the bricks. Some people use polymeric sand between the bricks, I just use masons sand, works fine. The bricks should be tamped in place. We used this technique for a brick walk in front of our house 20 years ago, it has held up very nicely, and we live in the Northeast, subject to many freeze/thaw cycles each year, which can cause damage if the brick is improperly installed.

noquacks 11-23-2012 01:11 PM

Thaks, Daniel. Thats serious digging. I never knew. But, you think those last 3 " of the sand you say for the bricks wont be dug up by ants/moles? Thats my problem.

Also, for a walkway about 24" wide surface, how wide should I make the base? Add 3" to each side? 6"?

Tscarborough 11-25-2012 08:27 PM

I am not sure where "se" is, but normally your base will have to extend below frost line. 12" should be fine for most South Eastern states.

NiNe O 11-25-2012 08:32 PM

the frost line in michigan is 42". Should I compact a 42" base for my brick walk?:laughing:

Daniel Holzman 11-25-2012 09:13 PM

This is a brick walk, not the foundation for a building. If your naturally occurring soil is sandy or gravelly, there is no reason to go to 42 inches, since sandy/gravelly soil is not subject to frost heave. Neither is clay soil. Soil which is subject to frost heave is either predominantly silt or fine sand, so if you don't have that, no worries about frost heave. Even if your soil is prone to heave, it may not be worth it to excavate down to frost line and backfill with sand or gravel. Might be easier to live with the heave, your call.

As for the moles/ants, we have had no problem with them in 20 years on our brick walk in front of the house. We have plenty of moles, they dig tunnels all over the backyard, but have not bothered the front walk, not really sure why. Ants get into the sand and make little mounds, so once a year we sweep the sand back into the gaps, no problems.

Personally I can't see excavating 42 inches for a walkway, regardless of what type of soil you have, but it certainly will give you a good workout, and will completely eliminate heave to go that deep.

NiNe O 11-25-2012 09:16 PM

funny how civil engineers can't calculate sarcasm.

Tscarborough 11-25-2012 11:05 PM

Frost heave is frost heave.

NiNe O 11-26-2012 05:00 AM

The beauty of bricks, a little heave, remove problem area, smooth and flatten base, replace.

Guywithskills 01-04-2013 11:02 PM

3-4" base, mixed fines with some silt, call it good, compact. Brick will flex. You dont want it to move at all, lay it over a poured concrete slab which is done in an industrial area or commercial setting... it is expensive to do this.
A little movement wont hurt.

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