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bigboyjoel 07-21-2008 02:17 PM

Paver install-hand tamper vs plate compactor
I'm preparing to put in a 30 foot long, 2.5 foot wide, light duty paver walking path. I ripped out the old path that I placed a year ago and there is still about 1 inch of sand (general contractor sand, similar to sand found in playboxes) that remains in the path. I have bought enough paver base bags (large granule sand with pea gravel mixed in to complete the project.
Here are my questions:
1. Due to the path being light duty, do I really need to rent a plate compactor for this job or can I use a hand compactor?
2. Do I need to remove the sand before I put down the paver base or can I just compact the already exiting sand and lay my paver base (I'm thinking that I probably need to remove the remaining sand and use it on top of the base).
3. What is the best kind of sand to use as the locking sand between the joints of the bricks?
4. Again, due to the path being light duty, do I need to use paver retaining strips along the sides of the path? They are about 8 bucks a piece. If they are unnecessary, I don't want to spend the money if I don't need to.


concretemasonry 07-21-2008 03:18 PM

What king of pavers are you putting in? - Intrelocking Concrete Pavers (most common and maximum dimesion less than 10"), clay brick pavers or the larger concrete stepping stones.

Ideally, a good paver installtion consists of a solid compacted base with a top following the desired grade. On top of that is a clean concrete sand setting bed (uncompacted, but screeded to a 1" thickness), followed by the pavers that are set with tight joints. Concrete or masons sand is lightly spread over the pavers and vibrated to smooth out the path and increase the tightness of the surface. A edge restaraint is used before theto prevent the pavers from separating (joints widening) and then rotating, causing a loss of stability. Once the interlock between the pavers is lost, the pavers can "swim" and separate.

That is right way to do it. The only difference between a patio, driveway or airport taxiway is the thickness and compaction of the base.

For a walkway, you can remove the ideal items/procedures depending on what you are willing to accept a few years later. Apparently, the walkway installed one year ago was not done well enough.

The cost to rent a plate vibrator is not that much and will save a lot of time, not to mention doing a better job and give you a better surface. The Romans built thousands of miles of roads standing today without a power plate compactor.

If you are willing to accept a casual, rustic appearance, the edge restrain can be eliminated if you have a very soild base and can tolerate joints that will open.

For a good site on interlocking pavers go to the Interlocking concrete Paving Institute site (, I think). They have great notes on installation.

If you are using the larger stepping stones, hand tamper could crack them, but they should also bet set on a sand setting bed.

Clay paver would be installed slightly differently.

Al pavers require a well compacted base if you want something to last. - Sand does not compact! - it only gets smooth on top.


bigboyjoel 07-21-2008 04:47 PM

Paver follow-up
The bricks appear to be clay but I cannot tell. How do you tell? The bricks are approx 8x4x3 inches thick. They came from an older patio that was replaced and were given to me free. The path that was removed was one that I put in. I used a concrete form to make stepping stones. The path came out great, but did not hold the color and made it look like faded poop! This will be the first time that I have put in a paver path and want to do it right the first time as with everything. Soooo, the machine is more like a vibrator more than a pressure type tool like a hand tamper. I desire the casual path and I think that's that my wife wants as well.
Second set of questions then:
1. What's the difference as far as installation goes between concrete pavers and clay pavers?
2. Since it is a casual path that I desire that no cars will be driving on, Can I just lay the pavers in the bed of already exiting sand (approx 1 inch thick)? It's going to be a huge pain to remove the sand but I will do it.
3. The rest of the install should then have 1 inch of paver base (large granule sand and pea gravel) then 1 inch of sand, then paver, then sweeping masons sand between the joints and consider it good?

KUIPORNG 07-22-2008 03:10 PM

I think in your case, you better spend the $40 bucks to rent the compactor... as if the sub-base is well compacted... it is easier for you to lay pavers anyway....

I think clay is kind of harder to cut than concrete pavers... but doesn't mean brick is better... I personally perfer concrete pavers due to its more options in terms of look and easier to cut ....

for edging... whether using edgers or not really depends on your situation... the key is the pavers must be in a position not moving a bit.... so if your pavers is against a wall or hard driveway asalt... then you don't need edgers... but if it is against pure grasses/soils... you kind of need some sort of edger... may even go for those more rigid type depends on your soil condition... I saw so many projects by walking down the streets... some is nice ... some got losen up and is so ugly and is a totally waste of money....

bigboyjoel 07-22-2008 04:45 PM

Path follow-up
Thank you for the reply, they help considerably. I will rent a compactor for sure. Here is my plan:
1. keep the remaining sand in the path, moisten with water and compact (or should I remove it)? It's only about an inch of sand and I'm thinking that it's really not worth it to remove since I will be throwing another inch of paver base on top, I could just mix it all together. I hand tamped it before I put in the original path exactly one year ago.
2. lay the subbase for the pavers (pea gravel and sand mix)
3. moisten then compact
4. lay the bricks
5. moisten then compact
6. sweep in masons sand
7. compact

Tscarborough 07-22-2008 07:07 PM

Are you landing jets on this or walking on it? No freeze thaw? Level and smooth the sand. Lay the pavers, no matter what they are, then restrain the edge with a 2x2 coving of concrete, dry sand the pavers, and go on your merry way.

concretemasonry 07-22-2008 08:52 PM

Paver install-hand tamper vs plate compactor
Do not lay the pavers on the sand base. The sand base appears to be designed of base and not a sand setting bed. The pavers must be laid on a 1" thick leveled sand base. The setting base in not compacted!!

Without edge restarint you are looking at a shorter life. - Maybe that is why the previous path lasted one yesr.

bigboyjoel 07-23-2008 09:23 AM

Okay so let me get this straight:
1. Remove the sand base sand that's there now
2. Put down paver base and DO NOT compact
3. Screed
4. Put down 1" of sand
5. Screed
6. Compact
7. Put down restraint edging
8. Lay brick
9. Compact
10. Sweep manson sand into joints
11. Compact


I live in Nebraska, Zone 4-6. The prior path failed because the colored concrete stepping stones did not hold their color and looked like crap. Actualy strength and look of stones turned out wonderful. No sinking occured.

KUIPORNG 07-23-2008 10:09 AM

I think it should be
1. Remove the sand base sand that's there now (compact also)
2. Put down paver base (compactible gravels) and DO compact for every 2" of subbase
3. Put down restraint edging (some people move this step to 6.5)
4. Put down 3/4" of sand
5. Screed
6. Lay brick
7. Sweep manson sand into joints
8. Compact

if you have HPB subbase, above steps can be simplified to (HPB is a trade name, it means small washed limestones in 1/4" to 3/8", no dusts.)...

1. Remove the sand base sand that's there now (compact also)
2. Put down HPB
3. Put down restraint edging
4. Screed
5. Lay brick
6. Sweep manson sand into joints
7. Compact

bigboyjoel 07-23-2008 02:48 PM

Thank you!
Excellent, that's what I will do unless there are any objections.

Thank you for the guidance!


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