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What Are Pavers?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pavers are hard blocks which are used to create smooth, hard surfaces outdoors. Patios, outdoor steps, pathways, and driveways can all be constructed with pavers, and some people also use these blocks to construct retaining walls and other landscaping features. Many home supply stores carry an assortment of these blocks for people to choose from, and they can also be ordered directly from the manufacturer, or made at home. For people who do not want to install their own, some contractors and landscapers will happily perform this service.

Cast concrete, glass, clay tile, brick, cut stone, and even plastic can all be used for pavers. A variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures are usually available, allowing people to select the best choice for a particular environment. Multicolored brick, for example, might work well in the driveway of a Mediterranean-style home, while irregular cobblestones might be suitable for a pathway in a storybook garden.

Installing pavers requires some time and effort if it is to be done properly. First, the area must be carefully mapped out, so that a pattern can be devised. Then, the ground has to be cut, leveled, and compacted so the pavers will rest on a flat surface. Failure to do this can result in subsidence, causing the blocks to buckle or sink. Next, the blocks are carefully arranged in the desired patten and compacted so that they sit evenly. Finally, sand or another packing material is forced between the cracks to discourage weed growth and to keep the stones even and stable.

A big advantage to pavers is that they are extremely durable, making them preferable to things like gravel, wood chips, or asphalt for long-lasting features around the home or business. As long as the blocks are laid properly, they can last for years without any maintenance work. They are also not terribly difficult to install, making them suitable for do it yourself home improvements, and they can be arranged in very creative and unique ways.

Some home supply stores rent out soil compactors which can be used to install pavers. Renting or borrowing such a machine is highly recommended, to ensure the blocks are installed on a very level and even surface. Other than a soil compactor, a shovel will also be required, for digging out the dirt in the area where the blocks will be installed, along with a stiff broom to sweep the packing material into the gaps between the stones.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By obsessedwithloopy — On May 26, 2009

It is good to first make a frame for the area that you are going to place your pavers. You can use for example treated lumber for that purpose.

If you are covering your patio, make sure that it is slightly graded away from the house.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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