I am going to make an attempt to install pavers in my back yard. I
want to make a fairly large patio - (the length of my home and at
least twelve feet out) + a walkway in the side yard. I would like
some advice from someone who has taken on a project like this. I have
heard it is fairly simple, but backbreaking. Here are a few of the
things I would like to find out more about:
1) Is this REALLY a do-it-yourself project or is this the sort of
thing thats better left to a pro?
2) For such a large space, and limited amount of time (weekends),
would I (and 1 other person) be able to complete this in a few
weekends or is this the sort of project you have to finish right
3) Is it cost effective to do it myself? I plan on getting quotes
eventually, but am I going to end up saving a lot of money by doing it
myself or is it only marginally more expensive to hire a contractor to
Manual labor = sweat equity...this is a project where the labor cost is way
more than the materials.
Seriously, it is a do-it-yourself project if you are up to the manual labor
of digging out the area to get it level, deep enough to get a good compacted
base and hauling all the limestone, sand, and pavers around. ( 20 years ago
I did one myself, today I'd pay someone else to bust their butt)
You can do it in sections, but keep the finished portions under a tarp until
all the pavers are laid and sand grouted. As far as how long it'll take,
depnds on how hard / fast you can dig and push a wheelbarrow. Don't forget
to consider where you can put the dirt and sod you'll be digging out - maybe
a raised planting bed?
A couple of 3' long stakes and 50' of clear vinyl tubing filled with water
will help you level the area ( http://www.watrlevel.com /,
http://www.simplelevel.com/ ). You have to dig out the soil and grass down
far enough to allow for a couple of inches of compacted crushed limestone
then a couple of inches of compacted sand. After you've got it dug out and
the limestone wheelbarrowed in and roughly leveled, rent a flat plate
vibratory compactor ( gas engine with a lawnmower like walk behind handle).
Compact the limestone, then spead and do the same with the sand before
setting any pavers. Getting a good solid base will prevent it from all
sinking and heaving in a year or two.
I have a 13' x 60' area planned by the end of summer. All done by me.
The kids didn't even help!! Pick, shovel, wheel barrel and a pair of
Take your time. The only rush I had was to get the rental compactor
back to the store.
I think that I estimated that doing cement myself would have been
cheaper, but that was too back breaking and I had no one to help. So
the slightly extra cost of the pavers was worth it.
My procedure, less the cement work, was to dig down 7". Lay 4" of Class
II base. Compact. Screed a layer of paver sand ( high.) Set pavers.
Compact. Cover pavers with sand. Compact. Sweep off sand. Enjoy look
of new paver driveway!
Sure! There really isn't anything to mess up as long as you calculate
the right amount of materials, double check your measurements and levels
and take your time. Look around online. There are a few tutorials
(pavetech.com??, hometime) and some places will send you free info.
And mine... dig down 6" + thickness of the paver (Glen-Gery Brick
Extruded Paver). Lay 4" of type B stone. Compact. 2" of cracker
dust(compacts tighter than sand). Screed, wet, compact. Set pavers,
sweep with cracker dust. Hasn't moved in 12 years.
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