How to Install a Paver Walkway

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated May 18, 2022
Paver sidewalk to front porch surrounded by beautiful flowers
Photo: Joanne Dale / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Challenging

Big project; big rewards.

Time to complete

72 hours

Follow these basic steps for laying a paver walkway

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Dolly
  • Shovel
  • Hand tamper
  • Spade
  • Steel rake
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Stakes
  • String
  • Plastic Paver edging
  • Plate compactor

SUPPLIES

  • Gravel road base material
  • Polymeric jointing sand ($15 to $20 per cubic yard)

This process involves some hard work and heavy lifting, so you'll want to grab a friend or two to help you out. We'll walk you through the process below.

Prepping to Design Your Paver Walkway

Before you get started, map out your paver design on paper to help you plan. Here are some project details to think about:

  • Your budget

  • How many pavers you'll need to buy

  • Which style of pavers (herringbone, natural stone, etc.)

  • Which shape of pavers (hexagon, brick, interlocking, axe, etc.)

Paver projects are usually calculated by square footage, so the size of your walkway will largely determine your budget. The average paver patio cost, for example, is around $3,400.

9 Steps to Install a Paver Walkway

Now that you have a game plan, it’s time to get started.

  1. Plan Out How to Lay Your Pavers for the Walkway

    Before you get to the heavy lifting, use wooden stakes and string to plan out where your walkway will be. Aim for a width of at least 36 inches, or around 48 inches, to allow space for two people to walk side-by-side.

  2. Dig Out a Trench

    Dig a trench about 7 to 8 inches deep, using a spade to remove rocks and sod. Always call the dig line to ensure you won’t hit any underground utilities. If possible, remove all trees and roots to prevent them from uprooting your pavers later on.

    Note: This step requires quite a bit of physical labor, even if you’re used to rugged DIY projects. If possible, grab a friend or two to help you out.

  3. Compact the Soil

    Once you’re finished digging the trench, compact the soil with your plate compactor. Use the hand tamper to hit any small areas.

  4. Add a Layer of Gravel

    Add a layer of gravel road base at least 3 inches deep or around 6 inches deep for maximum stability. Use a steel rake to spread an even layer.

  5. Compact Your Base Materials

    Wet your gravel down with a hose and use your plate compactor and hand tamper to tightly compact it down. Repeat as necessary until you have a solid layer that is slightly below ground level.

  6. Add a Layer of Sand and Compact

    Cover your compacted gravel for a layer of sand that is about 3 inches deep. Then, go over this once again with your plate compactor and hand tamper.

  7. Lay Your Pavers

    Use your hose’s mist setting to slightly wet the sand, then lay your pavers down in the desired pattern. Use a level to ensure that your stones maintain a slight slope away from your home. Add extra sand to make any necessary adjustments.

    Note: Pavers call for heavy lifting—remember to bend your knees and enlist the help of a friend.

  8. Install Plastic Paver Edging

    Plastic paver edges on paver sidewalk installation
    Photo: ronstik / Adobe Stock

    Install plastic paver edging around your walkway’s perimeter to ensure everything stays in place. Most kits will contain spikes to secure the edging.

  9. Fill in the Joints With Sand

    Add a final half-inch layer of sand over the pavers and compact it down to fill in the joint.

  10. Clean Your Pavers

    Once you’ve found the best pavers for your outdoor space and are happy with how everything looks, sweep away any leftover sand. Now take a step back and admire all your hard work!

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

There's a big reward to be had for homeowners who DIY install their own paver walkway, not to mention lots of cost savings. (You might save thousands by doing it yourself.)

If heavy manual labor, especially trench digging, is beyond your capabilities as a homeowner, hiring a local hardscaper might make a lot of sense. 

The number one mistake homeowners make when installing pavers is taking shortcuts when laying a solid, compacted base for your pavers. If this isn't done properly, your pavers can shift over time and look crooked or separate from one another. A professional will ensure the job is done correctly.

Maintaining the Beauty of Your Pavers

You can keep your pavers looking new and elegant with the proper aftercare. Clean your pavers regularly with a gentle cleaning mixture and a power washer (or a hose with a strong spray setting). Consider sealing them every one to two years, especially if they see a lot of foot (and paw) traffic. Sealing your paver walkway, as well as not putting rock salt on them, are two ways you can protect your pavers during winter.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.