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How to Easily Install an Attractive Interlocking Paver Walkway in Your Backyard

Author: Lowe's Home ImprovementTime: 2024-01-28 11:20:00

Table of Contents

Introduction to Installing an Interlocking Paver Walkway

An interlocking paver walkway is a attractive addition that can enhance any outdoor space. Paver walkways provide a durable, low-maintenance surface that comes in a variety of styles and colors to match your landscape design. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know to install your own paver walkway, from planning and layout to finishing touches.

We'll be focusing on a method using interlocking paver panels that makes the installation process faster and easier compared to a traditional paver walkway. The lightweight panels sit right on a thin layer of sand, eliminating the need to haul in and compact a deep gravel base. With the right planning and preparation, you can have a stylish new walkway in just a weekend.

Benefits of a Paver Walkway

There are many advantages to using pavers for your walkway instead of materials like concrete, asphalt, gravel, or mulch:

  • Aesthetics - Pavers come in a wide array of colors, shapes, textures and patterns to match your home. They have a classic, upscale look.
  • Durability - Interlocking pavers stand up well to heavy foot traffic without cracking or buckling.
  • Low Maintenance - Properly installed pavers require little ongoing care compared to other surfaces.
  • Customization - The modular blocks make it easy to create custom curves, borders and decorative flair.
  • Permeability - Joints between the pavers allow rainfall to drain through to the soil below, reducing runoff.

Paver Walkway Patterns and Styles

There are endless options when it comes to arranging your paver blocks. The most basic patterns are:

  • Stacked or grid: Simple rows of blocks stacked tightly together
  • Running bond: Each row is offset by half a block
  • Herringbone: Blocks form a V pattern requiring more cutting
  • Pinwheel or basketweave: A decorative pattern with blocks set diagonally For a very easy installation, you can also choose stamped concrete pavers that simply lay in place like tiles. These faux pavers recreate the look of materials like brick, stone, slate or cobblestone.

Walkway Width Considerations

Some standard widths to consider for your walkway:

  • 36 inches - Allows single-file traffic but can feel cramped
  • 42 inches - Comfortable for most residential settings
  • 48 inches - Accommodates two people walking side-by-side
  • 60 inches or wider - Extra space for passing or sitting areas Try to maintain a consistent width throughout your walkway. You'll also want to match up with any connecting pavement like a patio or sidewalk.

Layers of a Traditional Paver Walkway

A traditional interlocking paver installation consists of 4 layers:

  1. Gravel base - 4 to 6 inches of packed gravel provides a solid foundation.

  2. Bedding sand - A 1-inch layer of sand evens out any imperfections.

  3. Pavers - The modular blocks interlock to form the surface.

  4. Joint sand - Sand brushed between the pavers locks them together once set.

The main downside to this method is the labor required to add and compact the thick gravel sub-base. The material can also be costly to purchase and have delivered.

Using Interlocking Paver Panels for Easy Installation

Paver panels streamline installation by combining the gravel base and paver blocks into one unit. These lightweight panels have foam cores with real paver blocks on top that simply interlock with each other.

After proper site prep, the panels sit directly on a thin layer of sand. With no heavy gravel to haul, you can install a new walkway in half the time using paver panels.

Marking and Preparing the Walkway Area

Start by using stakes and mason's string to outline the route of your walkway. Make sure it's square by ensuring the string diagonals are equal when pulled corner to corner. For any curves, you can mark the shape with a garden hose. Use a board to maintain a consistent width. Remove grass or other vegetation from the layout area. Dig down at least 6 inches, or deeper if needed to match surrounding surfaces. Tamp the soil with a plate compactor. For proper drainage, maintain a 1/4" slope per foot away from the house. Check this with a long level on the bare soil.

Digging and Leveling the Base

The total depth you'll need to dig out depends on the paver panel thickness plus at least 1/2" for the bedding sand underneath. Make the trench slightly wider than the finished walkway width. This gives you room to adjust. Use your slopes and levels to shape the soil into a smooth, consistent base. Compact it again before adding the sand. A layer of weed barrier fabric can be laid on top of the packed soil before the sand.

Installing the Paver Panels

To make leveling the thin sand base easier, lay pieces of 1/2" PVC pipe in the trench, then cover with a layer of sand. Use a long straight board to screed and level the sand evenly across the whole area. Set the first paver panel against a fixed edge like a patio or side of a house if possible. Interlock the next panel, offsetting the seams in a staggered brick pattern. Continue setting the paver panels until the walkway area is fully covered. Then mark and trim any overhanging edges.

Laying the Paver Blocks

With the paver panels set as your base, the next step is installing the surface layer of individual paver blocks. Leaving proper spacing between the blocks is crucial for durability.

We recommend a minimum 1/4" gap. This allows room for joint sand that interlocks the pavers and prevents shifting.

Starting the Outer Border

Begin laying pavers along one long edge of the walkway. Use a straightedge like a driveway or side of a house if possible. Work outward row by row, always keeping the blocks aligned and spaced evenly. Install plastic edging along the sides as you go. To maintain the width, lay a straight board on the panels and use it as a guide for the paver rows.

Filling in the Interior

Once the borders are in place, start filling the interior area row by row. For curved walkways, use a hose to lay out the shape. Mark and cut the pavers directly on the panels using a circular saw with a concrete blade. Tap down any high edges for a smooth surface.

Cutting Curves and Edges

For gradual curves, angling and cutting the square edges of pavers is often sufficient. Use a chisel splitting hammer to shape unique cuts. A specialized paver saw like a gas-powered cut-off saw makes quick work of any detailed cuts needed.

Finishing Touches for a Professional Look

The final step is filling and sealing the paver joints. This finishes the walkway for a clean, flawless appearance that will stand the test of time.

Filling Gaps and Sealing Pavers

Sweep polymeric jointing sand into all of the paver joints until completely filled. Compact the sand using a hand tamper. Top off low spots with more sand, sweeping and tamping until level. Remove excess sand with a blower. Mist lightly with water, then allow to dry fully. The sand will harden like concrete.

Landscaping and Lighting

Consider adding landscape plants, flowers and mulch areas along the edges of your walkway. Low-voltage lighting highlights the pavers at night and provides safety and visibility.

Conclusion and Next Steps for Your Paver Walkway

We've covered the essential steps for a successful DIY paver walkway installation. With the right materials and careful layout, you can create a beautiful, long-lasting pathway to enhance your landscape.

Be sure to choose quality paver panels and blocks designed for walking surfaces. Allow time for excavating the base and laying the pavers properly. Follow the tips provided here for optimal results.

For more great how-to's and backyard inspiration, check out our paver walkway guides at [Your Website Here]. Enjoy your new paver walkway for years to come!


Q: What size gravel is needed under pavers?
A: A 6-inch layer of gravel paver base is traditionally used under pavers.

Q: How thick should sand be under pavers?
A: Use a 1-inch layer of sand under traditional pavers. For paver panels, only a 1/2 inch of sand is needed.

Q: What is the best sand for between pavers?
A: Polymeric jointing sand provides the best bond between pavers when swept into the joints.

Q: How far apart should paver joints be?
A: Leave a 1/4 inch joint or gap between paver blocks.

Q: How do you cut curves in a paver walkway?
A: Use a garden hose to mark the curve, then cut each paver individually with a circular saw.

Q: Do you need edging for a paver walkway?
A: Yes, install metal or plastic edging around the perimeter to keep the pavers contained.

Q: What is the best base for pavers?
A: A gravel base of compacted paver base provides the most stable foundation.

Q: How do you keep pavers from shifting?
A: Use polymeric sand in the joints and tamp pavers into the bedding sand to keep them secure.

Q: Should pavers slope away from house?
A: Yes, the walkway should slope 1/4 inch per foot away from the house.

Q: How wide should a paver walkway be?
A: A comfortable width for two people is 48 inches, but 36 inches is standard.