A Finished Courtyard

How To Pave A Courtyard

Today I am going to take you through how to properly install a paver patio.  It's around 1200 square feet and it's pretty amazing.  Firstly let me say this is not my work,  I have based it on a video I found and have tried to keep it pretty simple. This is just to give you a working idea of how to lay pavers.

To make this courtyard, a crew of four came in and within just seven hours laid 1200 square feet of pavers and I am going to explain just how they did it.

Step number one, paver base.  They got this delivery to the house and then dumped  it here on the driveway.  A paver base is essentially reclaimed concrete that's been crushed and pulverized then mixed with a little bit of brand-new concrete.  In Australia, we often call this road base.

Delivering The Road Base

Delivering The Road Base

The Old Area

The Old Area

It's going to go down as the supporting layer.  As you can see here this back yard space has seen better days and these pavers are going to transform it into a real welcoming and useful area.

The workmen start grading the property with essentially just shovels, taking out the first layer of weeds and grass and the four of them get this finished in about 15 minutes. 

Removing The Top Layer Of Debris

Removing The Top Layer Of Debris

Clearing The Top Layer

Clearing The Top Layer

One guy delivers paver base to the ground and you can see it's about three to four inches thick and they're going to scrape it down and grade it with a landscape rake.  A quick side note here, this is not easy work. They make it look so easy, they make the process go so quickly and so effortlessly but it is not easy at all, so my hat's off to you gentlemen for working so hard.

Delivering The Paver Base

Delivering The Paver Base

Laying The Paver Base Out

Laying The Paver Base Out

Now that the paver-base is installed, it's time to do one final grading before they compress it into the ground. This is a landscape skill and honestly there is a subtle nuance to this, there's a kind of art form to grading the paver base with a one inch fall, for every 10 feet slope away from the house. You can't even tell this by eye but these guys did a great job and during the following rainstorm the owner did notice that the drainage was absolutely perfect. 

Spreading Out The Base

Spreading Out The Base

Making It Level

Making It Level

Time to compact the paver base into the ground.  This compactor is about 14-inch wide and is going to make quick work of this job.  You can do this by hand but this machine makes it so much faster.  3,000 psi all the way to the ground and we are good to go.  It is loud though so pick your time to keep neighbours on side.

Wacker Or Compactor

Wacker Or Compactor

Doing A Great Job

Doing A Great Job

As you can see here, the border pieces are put up against the house and a chalk line is snapped down. They do the same thing on the other side of the house as well and now with a four-foot level he's going to kind of scuff up the first half-inch or so of the paver base.  When they start laying these down, as compact and as compressed as this paver base is, they'll need a little bit of wiggle room for these pavers to nestle themselves in and that's why they loosen up the material.  

One Paver Off The Building

One Paver Off The Building As A Boarder

Same On The Other Side

Same On The Other Side

Starting The Laying

Starting The Laying

Is There A Pattern?

Is There A Pattern?

As these pavers are being laid down, I'm kind of watching the workmen do this pattern and I'm trying to realize what pattern they are using, is there a pattern to these bricks?  I see there's three different sizes but I can't figure out exactly how they know what goes where.  The workman explains that there is no pattern, it's basically chaotic, random, which ends up being more pleasing to the eye. I'll explain this in a minute but it's pretty mesmerizing to watch this thing go down.  The video guy then goes into the shed just for a second to explain this system of pavers.

The Pavers

The Pavers

Three Different Sizes

Three Different Sizes

There are three different sizes of paver.  They are all six and a quarter inches wide, however one nine and a quarter inches long.  There is a six and a quarter by six and a quarter square and then a four and three quarter by six and a quarter. Now all those measurements, they all come together and actually are engineered this way so a chaotic pattern is what you get.  When you're laying down pavers you can choose what you like but some people don't want a simple brick pattern or something that repeats itself.  It's much more pleasing on the eye to have a very chaotic pattern throughout, but the cool thing is about these three measurements is that they will all essentially line up and I'll show you here they'll line up together no matter how long of a track you run they all line up in a straight line giving you a nice area to border as you see here one two three as it goes down so a lot of engineering that goes into making these things. 

The Three Sizes Make Chaos Into A Pattern

The Three Sizes Make Chaos Into A Pattern

Add Another

Add Another

And They Form A Straight Line Edge

And They Form A Straight Line Edge

If you look to the bottom left of the screen you can see the six by nine pavers are oriented 90 degrees to the patio. These are used specifically for not just inside the actual paver patio but they're going to use these 90 degrees to make a border all the way around the whole entire thing.

Creating A Boarder

Creating A Boarder

Using The Same Long Paver At 90 Degrees

Using The Same Long Paver At 90 Degrees

And look at that, essentially a third of the paver patio is completed and it's only 9:30 in the morning.  It's been about an hour and a half, I kid you not, this crew is really rocking.

Moving At A Cracking Pace

Moving At A Cracking Pace

Almost Done

Almost Done

Now putting a border on these pavers up to grass is pretty easy but when you have a building involved, you have to make some cuts in the pavers.  Looking at the edge of the house they are trying to incorporate some of the plumbing pipes which is going to mean cutting with the saw again, however it's coming together real nicely and right now it's about 12:30 - 1:00 o'clock these guys have been working all day and I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed. Essentially these guys are artisans and they are doing a fantastic job.

Using A Brick Cutter To Allow Boarder

Using A Brick Cutter To Allow Boarder

Brick Cutter

Brick Cutter

Putting Boarder Up To House

Putting Boarder Up To House

Now with all the pavers completely laid in, the workmen take away some of the soil from the edge and leave a little gap underneath. Why?  Well they're going to mix up some concrete and shove that in that gap just to give the edge of the paver patio some rigidity and some strength and of course they'll come back with a trowel and make it nice and smooth and then eventually just put some topsoil up against it and lay some sod as you'll see in the end of the video it looks pretty good.

Dig Out Under Edge Of Paver

Dig Out Under Edge Of Paver

So There Is A Small Gap

So There Is A Small Gap

Fill Gap With Concrete

Fill Gap With Concrete

Smooth Out

Smooth Out

At this point it is just time to cut around the pipes and fill in the area.  In the end it look great.  Using a brick saw is the best way to cut into pavers and they are available at any rental place.

Trim Bricks For Pipes

Trim Bricks For Pipes

Trim Bricks For Pipes

Trim Bricks For Pipes

The final touches they're going to take some of this sand and glaze it over the entire surface of the paver patio.  At this point they take the compactor again and compress those pavers down into that paver base on top of the same. 

Lay Sand On Top

Lay Sand On Top

Gentle Compaction Of The Sand

Gentle Compaction Of The Sand

So this paver patio is 1,200 square feet which is fairly large in size but the owner wanted to do something in the backyard for his family to be able to hang out and the kids are going to have a wonderful area to go out and spend time in.

The last step in the process is to flood the surface with the sand on it and to glue or brush the sand into all those nooks and crannies and what you get is a paver patio that is sturdy and will last for years and years.  Quite frankly it is going to improve the living space for the better for years to come. 

Water And Sweep Sand Away

Water And Sweep Sand Away

Finished Product

Finished Product

So there we go.  All done. In this case (with four workmen) the job was finished in around six hours.  But if you were doing it yourself I would estimate maybe 18 to 24 hours. 

Finished Courtyard

Finished Courtyard

Finished Courtyard 2

Finished Courtyard 2

Is it worth it.  You tell me?  I think so.  I think it turns a grubby, primarily unusable backyard into one that has heaps of potential.  Paving is the best way to take areas that are hard to use or expensive to keep nice and make them very usable and cheap to maintain.

Cheers.

About the Author Darren Stiles

Hi, I am Darren and I have been running Manna Gum for the last 20 years. Boy does time fly by. Before running a Building and Garden supply business I ran my own Brick Laying business. I know what it means to roll up your sleeves and bend into the work and I know that getting the things you need, to be delivered on time and be of good quality, means everything. If you have any questions, give me a yell. Cheers.

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