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DIY Paver Patio: Everything You Need To Know To Build One Yourself

Jan 31, 2024Jan 31, 2024

By Abid Haque

A paver patio can transform your backyard into an elevated outdoor oasis, so whether you want to create a cozy outdoor living area for your family or a spacious entertainment spot for hosting guests, building an outdoor space can be a great DIY project that will add value and charm to your home. Like most home improvement projects, the only limit to paver patios is your own creativity, as pavers come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and materials to choose from.

Before you jump into a paver project, there are a number of important things to consider. In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of building a paver patio, from selecting the materials, preparing the site, finishing touches, and even maintenance tips and tricks to create a space that lasts for years to come. So whether you’re picking cobblestones or flagstone, keep reading for the patio of your dreams.

A paver patio designed by Belgard

As with any DIY project, it's important to have a clear understanding of the time and materials associated with laying your own paver patio. Common outdoor patio materials are listed below, but in general the project can take around a week and goes much more smoothly with at least one other person. Even though pavers are known as the low-maintenance option when it comes to patios, the installation process can be anything but and requires a keen eye for detail and patience.

According to Joe Raboine, the VP of Design at Belgard, for building a basic paver patio, here's a set of tools that will be required:

Paver patios are a time-consuming and physically demanding project. Below you’ll find a rough timeline for the project, but each person's experience will depend heavily on things like the structural complexity of the site, complexity of the patio design, and of course the presence of any additional lighting, plumbing, or landscaping.

Who says patio pavers have to be square? Take inspiration from this shapely pattern seen here in a patio designed by The Layered House.

Sample project timeline

Total: 6–14 days

Typically, pavers tend to be more expensive than concrete when it comes to patio installation. Pavers have a higher upfront cost compared to pouring a concrete slab, but concrete patio installation requires more labor and specialized equipment, which can increase the total cost of the project. An important factor to keep in mind is long-term maintenance. Pavers can be easily (and cheaply) replaced without specialized equipment or skills, but concrete repairs are more involved (expensive). If this wasn't enough to convince you to opt for pavers, they are more durable, last longer, and are easy to switch around for a design refresh.

There are a few factors to consider when trying to budget for a paver patio. Aside from the cost of tools and materials, the type of paver can influence your total cost significantly. Clay and concrete pavers are cheaper (around $3–$8 per square foot), while natural stone pavers start close to $8 a square foot and can go all the way up to $20 per square foot. So if you decide to hire out the job, you can expect to spend around $1,500–$4,000 for a 12x12 patio and closer to $8,000 for a 20x20 patio. These numbers will fluctuate based on the complexity of your design, choice of material, and any add-ons that need to be accommodated, like an outdoor kitchen or fire pit.

There are few instances where paver patios don't make sense. They can withstand the most extreme climates and don't have many downsides, but according to Raboine paver patios are best left to experts if your yard is structurally complex. Raboine says, "For example, if a yard is extremely sloped, that can typically be solved by a retaining wall. However, it is best to leave those situations to the professionals; experts such as engineers are sometimes required to solve grading issues. The combination of a difficult outdoor space and a lower budget would be one of the only times we would recommend skipping pavers for a patio."

One of the biggest selling points of paver patios is their unparalleled durability. Most pavers last for decades and come with a lifetime warranty. This coupled with the fact that they require minimal maintenance makes them an attractive choice for many homeowners. According to Bailey Moran, the COO of Austin TX Realty, some paver patios can even increase the value of a home up to 20%. And even if most won't get you such a large return on your investment, they will increase your home's appeal.

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katie Schultz

By Katherine McLaughlin

Tip: Remember to dig out at least an extra six inches around the perimeter of your space to create space for paver edging to hold your pavers in place.

Make sure you level out your base.

1. Pick your base: You can choose what kind of base material makes the most sense for your yard, but a safe option is gravel. If you opt for it, lay down a couple of inches of gravel, wet it, and then run the plate compactor over it. Keep doing this until you have six inches of gravel nicely compacted and ready for paver sand.

2. Add and level sand: Use the metal conduit pipes to put down the correct depth of sand and then use a straight edge object (like 2x4 boards) to level out the sand. Remove the pipes and add additional sand to fill in the space and make sure it's level.

Once you’ve selected your design and set your foundation, you can begin to place your pavers.

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katie Schultz

By Katherine McLaughlin

1. Choose your paver design: Picking your DIY paver layout is an important step to knowing how to most efficiently lay down your pavers. Common patterns include stacked (simple), herringbone, basketweave, and more. The options are endless, but the more complex the design, the more work (and possible cutting) will be required.

2. Create the edge: Place pavers along the edge of your patio and use strings to make sure your pavers are straight.

3. Level and straighten: Use a level to make sure your pavers are flat while accounting for the slope of one inch every four feet. Feel free to use a rubber mallet to tamp them down, if needed.

4. Install the edging: Place paver restraints or plastic edging to hold the paving stones in place. If you’ve built a paver walkway to your patio, this will need edging as well. Depending on the edging type, it may be best to remove the one inch of sand bed where your edging is going to go. This will allow for a tighter bond between the spikes and gravel base. Always follow manufacturer specifications.

Hand sweep the sand into place.

1. Add sand: Once you’re happy with the placement of your pavers (and they are completely dry with no rain in the forecast to allow for application), add polymeric sand or jointing sand in between the pavers. This can be a time-consuming process because you will need to sweep the sand into the spaces, use your hand tamper to make the sand settle, and then add more. Once you’re done, blow away the excess with a leaf blower.

2. Add water: After you’ve blown away the excess sand, use water to lightly wet the patio. The water activates the sand and makes it cure into the space over the course of 24 hours.

Tip: Take caution to make sure you’ve gotten rid of the excess layer of sand because if watered while on the pavers, it can create a permanent white haze. A variable speed blower is best for this application.

Designed by Annie Downing Interiors

1. Furnish with intention: Regardless of the square footage of your outdoor living space, an easy way to upgrade your final paver patio is by furnishing it in a way that accentuates your house's design and seamlessly incorporates the existing landscape design of your yard. According to Shaila Rizvi, the principal of her namesake design firm, picking eco-friendly materials that are durable and complement the exterior of your home is the way to go. She says, "After you pick a general layout for your furniture, think about shape and color to strike a balanced contrast that suits your space and satisfies your personal aesthetic." Other options to add a layer of sophistication include adding a pergola or using extra hardscape materials to create an outdoor fireplace.

What should I know before I build my own paver patio? Sample project timeline Total: 6–14 days Is it cheaper to lay concrete or patio pavers? What is the average cost for a 12x12 paver patio versus 20x20? What is the downside of a paver patio? How long do paver patios last and do they really increase the value of your home? Prepare your space for pavers Lay down the foundation Place the pavers Strengthen the joints Style and decorate