DIY Paver Walkway Installation – A DIY Guide
This year I didn’t travel for the Holidays which left me with some free time to tackle a serious project on the house, the front walkway. The previous owners installed (or had installed) a walkway out of bricks back in the 1980’s (I think), and it had completely fallen apart. The bricks had sunk 2+ inches in some spots, there were loose rolling bricks all over, and some missing entirely. It was a serious hazard for any guests we had over to the house and made me feel pretty embarrassed. All the reason I needed to knock it off the to-do list!
Step #1: Materials
Fortunately I completely lucked out here. A friend of a friend does masonry and paver work for a living and had several pallets of pavers leftover from a previous job that he was willing to part with for nothing more than a bottle of his favorite libation. If it weren’t for his generosity, I wouldn’t have had it in my budget to tackle the walkway. The only problem was that the pavers were at his house and needed to be picked up which was an hour + away and I only have a Ford Explorer SUV. Again I was fortunate that our mutual friend Jordan was willing to lend me a hand and go get them in his truck. It always pays to have good friends when you’re doing things yourself! The walkway is about 3′ x 72′ in total so we had to make 2 trips to get enough pavers for the job, fully loading down the bed of his truck both times. He has an additional air bag suspension in his truck that we were able to pump up to add some additional weight and not worry about breaking the springs.
Step #2: Demo
With the new pavers ready to go, it was time to demo the existing brick walkway. The bricks came up really easily but there were a TON OF THEM! Moving them really sucked. I ended up putting them in the wheelbarrow and stacking them on an old pallet in the backyard for now. I may reuse them down the road on a future project but for now at least they’re stacked up and out of the way…but it wasn’t fun.
Once I pulled up the old bricks it was pretty apparent why the old walkway failed. They put way too much sand beneath the bricks. Typically you would lay 1 or 2 inches of sand beneath a paver or brick walkway but they had 5 or 6 inches laid down. In addition to that they also had about 1/2″-1″ spacing between bricks. That type of spacing and that much sand just allowed for way too much movement of the bricks and never really locked them in. So if you’re ever laying brick for a walkway, DON’T DO THAT!
The worst part about their blunder was that it became mine to fix, which meant shoveling out all the sand to get down to the base and starting over.
This took me almost a whole day by itself and my back was pretty sore for a few days afterward.
I also removed the landscape timbers on the side farthest from the house because I widened the walkway about 2 inches to minimize cuts of the pavers. Laying out a test pattern and measuring it out gave me the exact width I needed for the new paver walkway. Here’s the pattern.
Doing it this way means I have to make very few cuts which will save me a lot of time on the back end.
Step #3: Prep
With all the sand out and timbers moved it was time to get everything back together and prepped for laying the pavers. This required bringing the walkway up to grade to fill the void left by all the sand I removed. There was no way I was going to shovel in all that dirt in wheelbarrow trips so I borrowed my friends tractor to move some dirt I had piled in the backyard.
Then it was a matter of spreading out the dirt and compacting it. I spoke with the guy I got the pavers from and he told me that a road base or gravel base wasn’t necessary in my case so I trusted his word as someone who does this professionally.
Compacting the base became a nightmare because of continued rain. I ended up having to rent a tiller to till up the dirt a few times in an attempt to help it dry out faster. I couldn’t do any work on the walkway for about 2 days but fortunately it lined up with Christmas so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Step #4: Installation
With the base compacted I was able to get some landscape fabric installed before adding about 1″ of sand over top and screeding it for level. I ended up reusing a lot of the old sand I removed because it was still in good shape and saved me from having to buy a load of sand. Kept that budget down!
The installation of the pavers themselves went pretty quickly once everything was ready to go and all in I only had to make 20 cuts total on the entire walkway. Most of them were right at the ends where the walkway met the driveway, and where it met the existing porch on the front of the house.
Lastly I laid some paver sand over the whole walkway and made a few additional passes with the plate compactor to lock everything in place.
The Evolution Rage2 chop saw with a diamond blade made quick work of the cuts. Evolution Tools sent over a saw for me to test out and this was the first time I used it. Worked well for cutting rebar to hold the timbers in place and also cut the pavers easily with the diamond blade. Special thanks to Evolution Power Tools for sending over the saw.
All in this project only cost me about $400 and almost all of that money came from the tool rentals of the plate compactor and tiller. I rented both from Home Depot and had to hang onto them for a few days longer than I initially planned because of the rain.
I’m super happy with the result and think it adds a really nice flourish to the front of the house. Now I just need to get the rest of the front cleaned up so the house actually has some curb appeal!
Make sure you guys check out the full video of the project above! Hope it inspires you to tackle that project you’ve been putting off!
If you enjoyed this project, consider checking out some of these other outdoor projects: