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How to Prepare a Sub Base for Paver Brick

By Lois Lawrence

Bricks make an excellent paving material provided they are installed correctly. After time, incorrectly laid brick patios, driveways and walkways can become unsightly as frost heaves move and dislodge individual bricks or bricks without proper under-support become cracked. Weed and moss control can also be more of a problem if the foundation for a brick walkway or other paving project is not properly prepared.

Dig the Paving Base

Step 1

Use a shovel or backhoe to excavate about 7 inches of soil from the area you intend to pave. This will allow you to create and control a shock-absorbing base for your brick pavers that will be stable and supportive even when underlying soil conditions change as the result of moisture or cold.

Step 2

Line the excavated area with perforated sheet plastic. The perforations will allow water to drain downward into the underlying soil but the plastic layer will still be quite effective in preventing the emergence of unsightly and even damaging weeds.

Step 3

Cover the plastic with a layer of 3/4-inch gravel. Rake the gravel or tamp it by foot or with a special tamping tool until it appears relatively level and compact. It is not necessary at this stage to level the foundation completely. You will accomplish this with the next layer.

Step 4

Insert a plastic or metal edging material on the perimeter of your project. Ultimately, the edger should protrude no more than an inch above the soil level and the paving level which will be flush with one another. In this way the edging will be nearly invisible and will not interfere with the operation of lawn care equipment.

Step 5

Gradually add an even layer of stone dust or sand making sure that the first application penetrates and cushions the stone layer. Once that is accomplished continue adding the stone dust or sand until it is about 3/4 inch--plus the depth of your paver--below the soil line. The brick pavers will be set into this base and will continue to settle afterwards, so eventually, with the help of the extra 3/4-inch cushion, they will be approximately on the same level as the surrounding soil. The extra edging will prevent water and, with it, soil runoff onto the paving.

Step 6

Use the edge of a board to level the top of the stone dust or sand layer before beginning to lay the brick. Begin to install the paving using a rubber mallet to set each paver firmly in place. Keep a level on hand to monitor the consistency of your work.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Perforated plastic sheeting
  • Edging material
  • Gravel
  • Stone dust or sand
  • Board

About the Author


Lois Lawrence is an attorney and freelance writer living and working in Stonington, Conn. She has written on many subjects including travel, food, consumerism, relationships, insurance and law. Lawrence earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1976, and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law in 1979.