How to Install Pavers Over a Concrete Patio Without Mortar

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4. Lay geo filter fabric over your concrete

The main purpose of this geo filter is to retain any joint sand that might try to settle through the paving stones. It also helps retain any bedding sand used to split the difference of humps and bumps in the concrete

You’ll want to cut it to size, trying to keep it in one piece as much as possible. If you need to cut smaller pieces for corners or to go around posts, just leave some overlap so you don’t have any exposed concrete.

You’ll also need to make sure you run the geo fabric up the sides of your border, including next to your house, if applicable, to keep any sand from migrating below the fabric in the next step.

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Additional Tips

Plate compactor

When Mark needs a firm, void-free base for a patio, walkway, or stone wall, he puts a single-direction compactor to work. It applies 3,375 foot-pounds of centrifugal force at 5,880 vibrations per minute, which is just right for small jobs.

How to read pitch on a spirit level

Some levels, like the I-beam, have vials with extra lines on both sides that show pitches of 1 and 2 percent. When the bubble in the vial touches the 2 percent line, for instance, the level has a pitch of ¼ inch per foot.

Mortar or Concrete Mix

Cement is the ingredient that forms the “glue” in both mortar and concrete mix. Both products can be used with pavers, but they have differing properties and installation techniques. A 4- to 6-inch-thick concrete slab is suitable as a base for pavers, which can be laid directly onto the wet concrete so they are held in place when it dries. Mortar can be used as a 1/2-inch to 1-inch-thick base under pavers as long as a 4- to 6-inch-deep layer of crushed rock is underneath the mortar to form a foundation. Mortar also can be used in the joints between pavers, just like grout is used between tiles.

2. Place the Foundation

Prepare Road Base

Now that your land has been properly prepped, it’s time to lay the foundation for your pavers. Pour your Class II road base in increments of two inches, compacting twice with your plate compactor before pouring the next two inches. Compacting all 4, 6 or 8 inches at the same time is not recommended, as it will leave air gaps and can lead to needed repairs down the road.

The total required depth of road base depends on the amount of weight the area will need to support.

  • For pedestrian foot traffic, four inches of road base will suffice.
  • Six inches is needed for large lawn mowers and vehicles.
  • RV areas require 8 inches of road base to support vehicle weight.

After laying the road base, hose it down and compact it until it reaches a compaction level of 95%. If you were to drive over the road base with a tractor at this point, no tire marks would appear due to the road base being as hard as a rock from compaction.

Pour and Screed the Sand

Place your screeding guides (1” pvc pipes) on top of the road base and pour sharp angled bedding sand over the entire base. This is different than the round sand you would find at your local beach. It is sharp and angular, making it perfect for locking into paver joints.

Next, use your rake to roughly level the sand. Follow this up by screeding the sand with a 2×4 to ensure an even 1-inch depth. Ensure that your screeded sand is level before moving on.

Step 3: Edge Restraint

A stable edge restraint is necessary to eliminate any lateral movement of your pavers and sand bedding. Edge restraints can be either and existing hard edge (such as the side of a house), vinyl molded restraint, or a concrete restraint.

Installing the Edge Restraint:

If an existing hard edge restraint (such as the side of a house) does not exist, you will need to either install a pre-manufactured polyethylene restraint such as “Edge-Pro: or install a concrete restraint.

Edge-Pro: Use Edge-Pro Paver Restraint on the edges and curves. Secure the edging to the base material using long landscape spikes. These edges can be put in place prior to the laying of the field pavers.

Concrete Restraint: To achieve correct height, concrete restraints should be installed after paver field is laid, but just before you reach the position of where the edge restraint will be. Pavers are “wet set” into concrete to create a concrete border. Use 2 parts Class II Road Base to 1 part cement; add water and mix until workable. Trowel into place (pre-blended concrete mixes are also available.) Concrete restraints should be a minimum of 8″ wide x 7″ deep.

6. Clean and Seal

You’re almost finished! Using a broom or leaf blower, clean up excess sand before watering down the entire paved area.

For polymeric sand applications, proper watering is essential for the sand to harden. The best way to water polymeric sand is to adjust your hose nozzle to a soft shower and gently water the pavers until no more water will soak in. It’s important to ensure all polymeric sand is washed off from paver tops to avoid an unsightly haze.

To help your pavers withstand the test of time, we always recommend sealing them with a quality product. After the area dries, apply your paver sealer using a spray applicator and your push broom. Be sure to turn off any automatic sprinklers and avoid moisture for the next 48 hours after sealing your pavers.

6. Lay patio paving stones or slabs over the bedding layer

At this point, it’s time to lay your field with pavers. You’ll want to start in a corner and work your way around the border toward the middle. 

Be sure to use the Click and Drop method so you don’t bulldoze your thin layer of sand. This will result in an uneven surface.

You’ll likely need to make a few cuts along any structures or posts. Refer to our tutorial 6 Ways to Cut Paving Stones to ensure you follow safe methods.

Step 1: Preparing the Base

It is important to provide a well compacted, stable base on which to begin the paver installation. In some cases, this will require extensive excavation of unsuitable sub-grade material.

Excavate the Site:

Excavate all unsuitable, unstable, or unconsolidated sub-grade material. When estimating the depth of excavation, consider the final grade of the project. Add the height of the paver unit, the depth of bedding sand, and the thickness of the compacted base material to get an estimate of needed depth.

Fill and Compact the Base:

Thickness of Compacted Base:

  • Pedestrian Traffic: 3″–4″
  • Vehicular Traffic: 4″–5″
  • Large Vehicular Traffic (e.g. motor homes): 6″–8″

Fill the excavated site with the appropriate amount of paver base material (Class II Road Base is recommended), and compact using a vibrating plate compactor. The base must be well compacted and level to provide a smooth, even surface on which to lay the bedding sand.

NOTE: When preparing the grade of the base, be sure to provide a 1/8″–1/4″ of drop per foot for proper drainage.

What to Consider Before You Lay Pavers Over Concrete?

Water Drainage

One of the biggest problems is when you lay pavers over concrete is the inability for the water to drain through the pavers. 

It’s important to keep this drainage slope in mind when adding your pavers. For that, before the installation, make sure your concrete surface is properly sloped so the water doesn’t puddle. To help any puddling water seep into the ground, you can drill small drainage holes through the concrete.

Edging

To keep the sand and pavers from settling and squishing around, a concrete slab paver patio needs to be firmly edged. However, your edging needs to allow for water to properly drain. Otherwise, if it’s watertight, your patio could turn into a puddle.

Height

Your new patio or walkway needs to be up to 3 inches higher than the original concrete. You need to be sure to plan for transitions to other areas, especially if the patio adjoins your house. 

Concrete Condition

If the concrete is in the right conditions, it’s possible to lay pavers over concrete to simplify the project and reduce costs. Otherwise, if the concrete surface is broken, very uneven, or in terrible conditions, the best option is ripping it off and start over with pavers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) FAQ

How Do You Level Ground For Pavers On A Slope?

When installing pavers on a slope, wind string and tie the stakes at ground level. Remove the garden hose or chain. Slide the carpenter’s level all the way around the rectangle along the string. The ground should be level for pavers to drain, but with a slope of one inch to every four feet in length.

How Much Does A 20×20 Paver Patio Cost?

The cost of laying paver slabs depends on a few factors. A 20-foot by 20-foot paver patio costs between $1,900 to $7,000. The price includes labor and materials like clay, brick, natural stone, or concrete pavers. 

What Tools Do You Need To Cut A Paver Patio?

When cutting pavers for a patio, a hammer and chisel work best. For stone pavers, you can use a circular saw, but make sure you use the correct blade. 

Does A Paver Patio Increase Property Taxes?

When you add a patio to your property, it increases the value of your home but it doesn’t increase your property taxes. The reason why is because a patio doesn’t increase your property’s square footage. Property taxes are based on the square footage of your land rather than what’s on it.

What’s The Best Way To Clean A Paver Patio?

The best way to clean a patio with paver stones is with warm water, a cup of baking soda, and a small amount of detergent. Mix everything in a bucket and pour it onto the pavers. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Afterward, brush and rinse off the pavers. 

How To Kill Moss On A Paver Patio?

The cheapest and best way to kill moss on paver stones is with white vinegar. When using this DIY method, you may need to repeat it several times to remove moss depending on how much there is.

Warnings

  • The gravel base must be compacted correctly, or you could risk your pavers shifting out of position due to future settling or movement within the base itself. This is one of the more challenging aspects of laying pavers and why many people choose to work with a professional.

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When to Call a Professional

While laying patio pavers is a fairly simple, straightforward outdoor project, handling the base materials and the pavers is strenuous work. If you have a large project or if you want to use large-format pavers (24-inch by 24-inch or greater), you may want to have a contractor or landscaping company do the job for you.

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