How-To-Lay Paving

Guidance on how to install your new paving or flagstone products

Whether you are planning to do the work yourself or employ a professional to do it for you, this guide covers all the essential points you need to know about.

1. Preparation

Remove all topsoil then dig down until you reach a layer of hard ground (subgrade) that is firm enough to provide a good foundation. Dig out any soft spots and fill with compacted crushed stone.


  • Allow for the depth of your chosen paving block.
  • Plus, a minimum of 40mm for bed of compacted sand (laying course).
  • Plus, if laying paving blocks an additional 3-5mm of compacted sand for bedding in.
    NB. this is NOT required if laying flagstones.
  • Plus, the required depth of crushed stone or hardcore (sub-layer). For patios and walkways, use a minimum of 100mm of crushed stone. For driveways, at least 150mm should be used.

Don’t Forget…  Allow for a fall in the finished surface. A gentle slope or fall allows water to run off naturally instead of forming puddles.

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2. Drainage – how to stay on the right side of the law

Planning permission is only required for new or upgraded front driveways or parking areas bigger than 5m2 when the rainwater runs onto the road or into the drainage system. To avoid the need to apply for planning permission, the driveway can be constructed so that the rainwater soaks into the ground.

One way to achieve this is to install permeable paving. Alternatively, rainwater can be channelled off the surface of the drive into a soak-away which then allows it to disperse naturally into the ground within the boundaries of your property.

Don’t forget! If you are planning to use a soak-away, remember to allow for a gentle fall on the driveway so that rainwater naturally runs off the drive and into the soak-away system.

3. Restraining edges

When laying any sort of pavers, it’s important to work within solidly constructed restraining edges.

An edge course should be built using kerbs or blocks and should be laid on a concrete bed. This will act as a rigid frame, preventing the pavers and their foundations from moving.

So if you don’t already have your edges in place, these need to be built before moving on to the next step.

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4. Sub layer of crushed stone

Lay crushed stone then compact with a vibrating plate vibrator to create a firm base layer.

Add more crushed stone and compact again until the required depth has been achieved across the entire area.

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5. Bed of compacted sand (laying course)

Use a coarse concrete sand. Spread the sand evenly and deep enough to allow for compaction then lightly compact the sand using a vibrating plate.

Remember: the final compacted layer of sand should be at least 40mm – and, if you are laying paving blocks, don’t forget to allow an additional 3-5mm for bedding in!

Do not compact the sand too heavily (1 or 2 passes only) at this stage, otherwise the paving blocks will not be able to bed-in when laid.

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6. Screeding

Use a screed board (a straight piece of timber) to level the surface of your sand laying course. This can be done by pulling the board along screed rails laid at the desired level in the sand.

Remember to allow a gentle fall in the eventual finished level of the paving so that rainwater will run off the surface into your soak-away system.

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7. Fill gaps left by screed rails

Remove the screed rails then carefully fill and compact the gaps left behind in the sand.

Carefully screed off these areas to the level of surrounding sand.

Avoid standing on the sand laying course once screeded

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8. Laying Paving

Remove the screed rails then carefully fill and compact the gaps left behind in the sand.

Carefully screed off these areas to the level of surrounding sand.

Avoid standing on the sand laying course once screeded

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9. Lay header / string course

Think about laying a header course of pavers or setts of a different colour and/or shape along the edge to create an attractive feature.

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10. Cut blocks

Cut the blocks as required using a hammer and bolster chisel, mechanical block splitter or (for a really clean edge!) a stone saw.

Remember to wear appropriate safety equipment – including safety goggles – when cutting pavers.

Carry out all cutting before moving on to the next step.

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11. Bedding in – paving blocks only!

After checking and adjusting the pavers to ensure the lines in the laying pattern are straight, compact paving with a plate vibrator. This will reduce the finished level of the paving by the 3-5mm allowed for.

Note: Flagstones should NOT be compacted with a plate vibrator. Instead, gently bed in each flagstone using a rubber mallet.

12. Spreading jointing sand – paving blocks only!

Spread jointing sand and brush into joints.
Fill joints level to top of pavers.

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13.Compact sand

Compact sand into joints using plate vibrator then top up joints with more jointing sand as required.

Brush off excess sand so that only a small amount remains on the surface.

Note: A dust mask should be worn to avoid inhaling fine particles of jointing sand while using the vibrating plate.

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