Pavers come in many styles, shapes and materials. You can use brick, concrete blocks, marble, flagstone or other attractive, durable material. Pavers can be used on driveways, walks and paths, patios, porches or outdoor seating areas. They can be regular shapes put down in varied patterns or irregular stones laid like jigsaw puzzles into a solid surface. What is common about pavers is that they need a solid base.
Decide on a Base
Decide what kind of base you want. Pavers are usually laid on a bed of compacted gravel and sand but also can be put over a concrete base. They can be installed over asphalt, too, although most paver suppliers recommend against that as a base. Concrete provides a very solid base, but is more work to create than a sand bed. Lay a sand layer atop the concrete unless you plan to mortar the pavers in place and fill the paver gaps with cement.
Mark the Space
Outline the area for paver installation with builder's twine stretched between wooden stakes. For a patio or similar area, make sure corners are square. For a walk or driveway, install barrier strips of metal, vinyl or wood along the edges. These barriers can be temporary, to be removed after pavers are laid, or permanent when metal and vinyl are usually left in place.
Excavate the area at least four times the depth of the paver. For a 2-inch concrete paver, that's 8 inches. Put down a layer of gravel halfway up the depth (4 inches) and compact it with a hand or mechanical tamper; a hand tamper works fine in small areas. Cover the gravel with sand up to the depth of the paver. Use a long board to smooth the sand and level it. Some people wet the sand to compact it; if you do that, let it dry before laying pavers. For maximum weed control, lay garden fabric or plastic over the dirt before you add the gravel.
Mortar the Pavers
Mortar pavers in place if you decided on a concrete base. Spread a layer of mortar over the concrete with a trowel and set the pavers in place one at a time, in any desired pattern. Check each paver with a level. Once you have finished the pavers, sweep dry cement into the gaps, then sprinkle it with a hose to set it. You may have to repeat this to get a solid installation.
Lay Individual Pavers
For an irregular paver walk, made of varying sizes of flagstones or brick or block paver elements set between grass sections, excavate the area for each stone or block portion, then fill with gravel and sand just like a solid paved area. Lay these pavers one at a time, leveling each as you work.Fill around the paver edges with dirt.This technique works well on a slope or other irregular ground.
Set Pavers in a Pattern
Lay pavers for a defined space one at a time, starting at one corner and working across the outline. Work with the pattern you have chosen - pavers butted against each other, set in herringbone or other designs, connected with interlocking joints or in random fashion if you are mixing stones and formal pavers like bricks in the same space. Check pavers with a level as you work; adjust the sand base as needed to keep the surface level. Sweep fine mason's or polymeric sand into the gaps to complete the job.