Three Timbers Guide to Crafting the Perfect Paver Patio

a guide to creating the perfect concrete paver patio

Spotting Underground Utilities

As you embark on the construction journey, prioritize safety. Identify and mark all underground utilities, structures, and services throughout the construction and access zones. A quick call to services like “811” can make this step easier.

Ensure you’ve located and marked: 

  • Electrical lines
  • Sanitary sewer
  • Gas lines
  • Septic tanks
  • Water sources
  • Telephone lines
  • Storm sewer
  • Cable TV connections
  • Drainfields
  • Irrigation systems

Remember, each site is unique. Double-check for any additional utilities specific to your location.

Ensuring Safe Access

Before you begin with the actual construction or demolition, ensure the site is free from hazards like overhead electric lines. The aim? Protecting the natural beauty and structures already in place, from pavements and trees to gardens and other amenities.

Preparation and Layout

Mark the excavation area using spray paint, allowing an extra 12 inches around its perimeter. This ensures ample space during the construction process.

Grade stakes should be placed just beyond the marked area, ensuring the excavation is 12 inches wider than the pavement’s edge. For accuracy, mark the stakes with elevations, keeping track of excavation depth as work progresses. Our tip: use a nylon mason’s line set to your pavement’s finished elevation and make sure to double-check these elevations daily. Beware, stakes can sometimes be moved – blame those playful night spirits!

Ensure your string lines, set to your final elevation, are inclined, directing water away from nearby structures. We at Three Timbers recommend a minimum slope of 1.5 percent or a 3/16-inch drop per foot of pavement for effective drainage. Use a builder’s level to ensure precision in elevation marking.

Excavation and Subgrade Tips

Ensure your excavation extends 12 inches beyond the ICP boundaries. This provides a robust support for both the pavement’s edge and its restraints. Measure the excavation depth from the finished pavement surface elevations and remember not to disturb the subgrade more than required.

Once excavation is done, achieve a uniformly compacted subgrade using a vibratory plate compactor. In case of soft spots or excess moisture, adapt accordingly to ensure optimal compaction.

excavation prior to installing base for a patio

Visualizing the Cross Section

Here’s a quick glance at a typical depth structure:

  • Sub-base: 0-inch
  • Compacted Base: 6-inch
  • Sand Bedding (once compacted): 5/8-inch
  • Paver: 2⅜-inch
  • Total: 9-inch

Setting the Base

Use the recommended DA base material. The key to a long-lasting pavement is thorough compaction, especially for areas frequented by vehicles. Adhere to our specific guidelines for layering and compacting the base material. Ensure its moisture level is optimal and, most importantly, ensure a 12-inch extension beyond the pavement’s boundaries for durability and strength.

Key Takeaways:

  • Extend the base by 12 inches on every side of the pavement.
  • Use the right base material.
  • Avoid frozen materials.
  • Compact the base methodically in layers.

Securing with Edge Restraint

For parts of the pavement edge not already secured by existing structures, edge restraints are essential. Installation can be pre or post the bedding sand and pavers stage. Details on edge restraints are available in Appendix A and the ICPI Tech Spec 3 guide. Ensure the sand is well-contained to avoid future paver settlement.

Crafting the Sand Setting Bed

Screed the washed concrete sand to an even 1-inch thickness over your compacted base. Ensure consistency in the sand thickness, use screed rails if needed, and remember not to compact the sand setting bed pre-paver placement.

Paving Basics

Whenever we at Three Timbers embark on an Interlocking Concrete Paver (ICP) project, our artisans lay the pavers in patterns where joints intersect at right angles, no matter the shape of the paver. We then artistically carve out radii or curves post-laying but before compacting. Straight joints not only give a pristine finish but simplify the installation process. Remember, if geometrically interlocking pavers aren’t laid in straight lines, they won’t align.

Golden Tip: Maintain straight joint lines using parallel string lines or chalk lines on the sand bed. This ensures precision, a hallmark of Three Timbers. Remember to determine the correct spacing by laying pavers with a tight 1/8 in. joint and measuring the separation.

Setting the Foundation:

  1. Position a string line on the leveled sand centrally.
  2. This line should be perpendicular to the laying face.
  3. Methodically lay pavers on both sides of this line.
  4. Additional lines? Ensure they’re parallel. A quick measure at the ends can confirm this.
  5. Correct any deviations by realigning. For intricate designs around pools or manholes, maintain parallel lines.

Getting Started:

Start from a straight line, preferably in an easily accessible corner. Ensure the corner is a perfect 90-degree angle. If not, establish a true starting point. To quickly set a perpendicular line, follow our tried-and-true Three Timbers technique mentioned in the guide.

Mastering the Laying Patterns:

Beginning a pavement requires strategic paver placement. For the classic herringbone pattern using rectangular pavers, always begin at a 90-degree corner. Maintain a joint spacing between 1/16 in. to 3/16 in. for structural integrity and aesthetics. Our proprietary “click and drop” method ensures this consistency.

Precision Cutting:

At Three Timbers, we use various tools for paver cutting:

  • Mechanical splitters for cost-efficiency.
  • Masonry saws for precision.
  • Hand-held cut-off saws for convenience and quality.

Three Timbers Pro Tip: Use wet or dry diamond saw blades as needed, but always ensure that wet blades stay wet. And keep that slurry off installed pavers!

Cutting Mastery:

  • Mark cutting lines clearly.
  • Aim for larger cut pieces for durability.
  • Always finalize all edge cuts before compaction.

Compaction & Sanding Joints:

Compaction evens out paver tops and begins the vertical interlock process. After laying and before sanding, compact the pavement using a powerful vibratory plate compactor. Once compacted, fill the joints with the recommended dry sand. Check the job in 2-3 weeks; a bit of re-sanding might be needed.

Three Timbers Pro Tip: A meticulous approach to sanding ensures your pavement remains beautiful and durable for years.

Project Wrap-Up:

With the paving complete, it’s time to leave the site in immaculate condition, a signature of every Three Timbers job. We recommend leaving some spare pavers with the owner for future use. Review maintenance steps and provide them with our Three Timbers care and maintenance guide to ensure the lasting beauty of their installation.