What are the Best Tips for Laying Paving Slabs?

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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Paving slabs can provide an attractive and long lasting surface for patios, driveways, and walkways. There are several tips for laying paving slabs that can improve the quality and appearance of the project. Begin with a sturdy base for the slabs to rest upon. Allow the entire surface to slope gradually for drainage purposes, and keep the paving slabs level in all directions. Apply a surface sealer or use polymeric sand to prevent future erosion.

Laying paving slabs requires a smooth, sturdy base material to prevent them from becoming uneven in the future. Excavate the area to a depth of at least 6 inches (15 cm), and backfill the area with a layer crushed or whole gravel. Tamp the gravel thoroughly and apply a layer of sand on top of it. Tamp the sand until it forms a solid layer. Some type of edging material may be required to contain the sand and gravel base during this procedure.

Another good tip for laying paving slabs is to gradually slope the entire surface to permit rainwater runoff. The pavement can slope from one side to the other or from the middle outward. It is best to slope the area when installing the base material. The area must also slope away from any building or house. Areas that naturally slope towards a structure may require a small retaining wall to divert runoff.


When laying paving slabs, a builder’s level should be used to keep each piece level. It may be necessary to gently tap the edges of the slabs to achieve a completely level surface. Place a piece of wood between the hammer and slab before tapping. Striking a paving slab directly with a hammer may cause it to crack in the future. Avoid walking on the leveled pieces until the filler sand is in place.

Add the filler sand gradually and water the surface with a garden hose or sprinkler between applications. This will help compact the sand and make it more resistant to erosion. A wide push-type broom can be used to avoid stepping on the slabs. Placing a temporary edging material around the perimeter of the pavement prevents excess sand from washing away during the process.

To prevent future erosion, a sealer may be applied to the finished pavement surface. This sealer hardens the compacted sand and helps hold all the materials in place during heavy rains. Using polymeric filler sand is another way to prevent erosion. Polymeric sand forms a type of mortar when water is applied to it.


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