How to Lay Driveway Block Paving

Things You’ll Need

  • Paving stones (pavers)
  • Base material–coarse gravel, etc.
  • Sand
  • Edge restraints or concrete toes
  • Transit Level
  • String, stakes, and a level
  • Measuring tape
  • Graph paper and pencil
  • Plate compactor or tamper
  • Screed boards or pipes
  • Masonry saw or guillotine style stone cutter
  • Eye protection


How To Lay Patio Pavers On Dirt

Installing pavers over dirt requires extra care because clay soils absorb and retain water. Wet clay soils can shift and disrupt the pavers above it. When laying patio covers on dirt you must, therefore, have base depths of up to 12 inches and a protective layer of clay for rainy climates.

In dry climatic areas where shifting soils is not an issue, the 60mm pavers with a 4 to the 6-inch base are a possibility. However, climatic change is happening globally so it is safer to use a thick base that will work come rain or shine.

How much time does block paving take?

Creating a block paving surface of average size can take anywhere between four to five days, especially if done by experienced hands. Labour is required to dig up the groundwork while vibrating-plate machines are used for the compacting process. Most of the skill and experience, as such, are required during the surface preparation and block laying stages.


It’s a good idea to have a plan before any ground is broken. On this project, a construction drawing was prepared in advance (as part of the design service ), so that the client could be sure they were happy with the proposed dimensions and layout, and that the contractor knew exactly what was expected.

 Construction drawing prepared in advance by pavin
Construction drawing prepared in advance by

The cost of preparing such a drawing is often recouped in the time saved by not having to argue over just where the edge course was to go, and which bits were to have kerbs, etc. A good site layout plan is an extremely useful addition to a written specification and/or Bill of Quantities, as each party knows exactly what is to be constructed. The area of the planned paving should be marked out in advance, allowing approximately 300mm over at each free edge to make the handling of materials and haunching of edgings or kerbs that much easier. Sand, a spray marker or string lines and stakes can be used to mark out the area – see Setting Out page.

Make sure the approximate location of any services such as electricity, gas, cable tv, etc., are known before and excavation takes place – see Working Safely page.


Spread, level and compact a minimum 100mm thick layer of sub-base material. The sub-base should be profiled or graded to match the planned profile of the finished paving and should be accurate to ±10mm. There should be no voids within the sub-base – any such voids should be filled with stone dust or grit sand and compacted before placing the laying course.

 Spreading the sub-base
Spreading the sub-base

Completed sub-base

On this project, a non-woven geo-membrane has been used between sub-grade and sub-base to prevent the stone being pushed down into the underlying clayey material (and the clayey material being pumped up into the sub-base). As explained in the FAQ , geo-membranes are optional but if there is any query regarding the competence of the sub-grade, they are a good investment.

Does block paving a drive require planning permission?

Provided you use permeable block paving, or direct surface water (such as rainwater) to a flowerbed or a ground drain with soakaway, block paving your driveway won’t need planning permission. You will need planning consent to direct surface water to storm drains in the road.

Steps on How to Install a Permeable Paver Driveway

1. Test the Soil and Excavate

Photo by William Wright

First, call 811 for an underground utilities check. Next, do a percolation test to see how fast the soil absorbs water. (Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for details.) Remove the existing pavement, and dig to a minimum depth of 15 inches, unless the perc rate is less than 0.52 inches per hour. In that case, you may need a deeper base or drainage pipe.

2. Prepare the Stone Base Layers

Photo by William Wright

Cover the excavation with a 6-inch layer of ¾- to 2-inch washed crushed stone, which has sharp edges that knit together. (River gravel, with its rounded profile, is unacceptable.) Go over it twice with a plate compactor, across and lengthwise. Top with one 4-inch layer of ¼- to 1½-inch washed crushed stone, and compact that twice, too.

3. Screed the Bedding Layer

Photo by William Wright

Install a concrete or hard-plastic edging to keep the pavers from shifting. Then, starting from one corner, lay two 2-inch-diameter steel pipes about 6 feet apart and parallel on the compacted base. Cover them with ¼-inch stone, then pull a 2×4 screed board over the pipes to create a flat bed for setting the pavers. Lift out the pipes, fill the gaps, and repeat across the remaining area.5.

4. Place the Layers

Photo by William Wright

Starting at the lowest corner, set the pavers on the bedding layer, tight to the edging and one another. (Nibs on the sides of the pavers automatically create the drainage gaps.) Check every 6 to 10 feet to make sure the pavers are square to the first row. Place all the full-size pieces, then go back and cut pieces to fit in any gaps along the edges.

5. Fill the Joints

Photo by William Wright

Once the pavers are in, sprinkle ¼-inch stone, the same used in Step 3, on the surface, and sweep it into the gaps with a wide push broom. Push the broom diagonally across the grid so that you don’t dislodge any stones already in the joints.

6. Tamp

Photo by William Wright

Sweep the surface clean, then run a plate compactor diagonally over the entire driveway. The machine’s vibrations pack the pavers firmly into the bedding layer and lock them in place. Refill joints that have settled deeply, and compact again. Now your driveway is open for business, rain or shine.

Is planning permission required for laying block paving?

No. UK’s civic and town planning laws clearly state that you do not require planning permission if you are laying permeable block paving in your driveway or garden.

However, if you are using impermeable paver blocks for the purpose, there must be an area for the water to drain off into, like a border or lawn for instance. But if there is no area for the water to run off into, any paving project larger than 5m2 needs planning permission.

Paving a driveway checklist

  • Dig out softer areas and compact more sub-base in.
  • Randomly mix and lay blocks from at least three packs for even distribution of colour.
  • Apply a silicone sealant to protect against spillages once the paving has settled.
  • Make sure the driveway is at least 150mm below your home’s damp-proof course level.
  • Direct the fall (water) away from your house or garage.
  • Make sure the concrete mix isn’t too wet. Place it at the front and rear of your laid out edging and push into place using a trowel.
  • Bed the drainage channels in the same way as the edging.
  • Set out manhole covers at the outset. Use a recessed tray cover you can fit paving into.

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