How to Build a Brick Driveway
As artists know, pathways and driveways guide the eye toward more distant objects. As a visitor's eye will travel along your driveway as well as the visitor's car, it makes good sense to make the driveway as attractive as possible. While dirt and gravel drives are practical, and asphalt provides a smooth surface, brick driveways add a warm, classical appearance to your landscaping. In addition, while installing brick driveways takes more work than a gravel driveway, they last a long time with little maintenance.
Contact the local water and gas companies and have them mark your gas and water lines. Avoid putting the driveway over these lines.
Temporarily mark the location of the driveway with two hoses, one for each side. Stand back and evaluate the appearance and clearances for the driveway. When you're sure you have it where you want it, use temporary marking spray paint to mark the edges of the driveway.
Dig out the soil and sod where you intend to put the driveway. Dig down at least 8 inches. Check the slope with a level. If possible, slant the driveway toward the street to allow water to run off. If this isn't possible, ensure that there isn't a low spot on the driveway for water to accumulate. If the driveway slants downward toward your house, curve the driveway so that the water will run off to the side of the house and not directly into your garage.
Pour and spread the sand and gravel fill until it is 4 inches deep. This will support the bricks and allow for rainwater drainage. Mark a metal stake at 4 inches, and push it into the gravel and sand fill to determine the depth.
Tamp down the gravel and sand fill and recheck the depth. If any areas are low, add more gravel, smooth it and tamp again. Spray the surface of the gravel and sand with water while tamping to help it settle.
Add 1 inch of sand above the gravel and sand fill. Use a 2-by-4-inch board, held with the narrow edge against the sand, to saw back and forth over the sand base, evening the sand out and compressing it. Use the metal stake to check the depth. The gravel and sand together should now be 5 inches.
Place the first course of bricks along the edge. The running-bond pattern is traditionally used, but there are other patterns possible. To lay a running-bond brick pattern, lay the bricks end-to-end parallel to the side of the driveway. When you start the second course, place the first brick of the second line of bricks alongside, and parallel to, the first course of bricks with the end lined up with the center of a brick in the first course. Your goal is to stagger the bricks so that no two bricks end at the same location, except at either end of the driveway.
Measure and cut bricks to fit at the ends of the driveway using a brick saw. Brick saws use water to keep the blade from overheating and reduce the dust produced.
Tamp the bricks in place repeatedly. Lay a pile of sand on the drive and use a push broom to move the sand into the cracks between the bricks. Sweep the excess sand off the drive. Water down the drive to clean the bricks and settle the sand into the cracks. Repeat filling the cracks with sand after a month.
Fill in along the edges with soil matching your natural landscaping. Tamp down the loose dirt and water it to compact the soil as much as possible. If it's possible to grow ground covers, such as grass, in your area, seed the soil as the roots help keep the bricks from shifting.
- 2 hoses
- Marking spray paint
- Sand and gravel fill
- Lute/screed rake
- Metal stake
- Brick pavers
- Brick saw
- Push broom
- "Popular Mechanics"; Neal Barrett; Aug 2001