How to Install a Dry-Laid Brick/Cobblestone Driveway or Walkway

General Info

Our antique brick or cobblestone pavers are best laid in a bed of tamped sand, usually over gravel; no concrete or mortar is required. The pavers will fit tightly together while fine mason's sand is swept into the thin joints. This sand acts as a cushion and level to compensate for minor irregularities in the gravel or soil.

Base

You can place the sand bed directly on the excavated subgrade if the soil is naturally well-drained and stable. If not, a gravel drainage base should be utilized. The required thickness of the gravel base depends on the strength of the underlying soil. For residential walks, patios, and driveways with light traffic, use a 4-inch-thick gravel or crushed stone base topped by a 2-inch sand setting bed. Our pavers can be laid on existing asphalt or concrete if it's first topped by a 2-inch sand setting bed.

This type of construction, called "flexible paving," creates a stable and durable walk, even in climates subject to frost heave. Plus, it allows you to easily replace damaged paving materials, fill sunken portions of the walk, or remove sections of the walk to access buried utility lines or pipes.

Edging

A course of bricks set on end (either straight or at an angle), will provide the required stability to keep the pavers from sliding.

Materials and Tools Needed:
  • Gavin Historical Bricks
  • Stakes
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Mason's sand
  • Construction sand (figure on using 1 cubic yard for every 150 square feet of walk area)
  • Compactable gravel
  • Tamper
  • Edging
  • Shovel
  • Landscaping fabric (optional)
  • Trowel or rubber mallet


Instructions

  1. Lay Out the Walkway with String
    Accounting for the thickness of any edging materials, measure and lay out the size and shape of the brick walk using wooden stakes and string. Set stakes for the outside corners a little beyond the proposed paving edge. Check for square.

  2. Excavate the Soil
    Accounting for the gravel (if needed), the sand bed, and the brick thickness underground, excavate enough so that the finished paving surface is about 1 inch above ground level and 1 inch below the sill of adjacent doors.

    Remove all grass, sod, roots, and large rocks.

    If you need to add a gravel base for drainage or stabilty, use compactable gravel which can be tamped to form a well-drained, firm subbase. Avoid smooth river run or pea gravel, but crushed limestone, with stones sized 3/4 inch or less, will be ideal. When you buy the gravel, figure on using 1 cubic yard for every 50 square feet of walk area. Lay half the gravel, tamp with a hand tamper, then add the rest and tamp again.

  3. Install Brick Edging
    Retie the string line between the wooden stakes to guide placement of the edging. In this example, the edging is a row of bricks set as "sailors" (vertically and edge-to-edge). Dig a deeper, narrower trench around the perimeter of the excavation to accommodate the gravel, sand, and brick sailors.

    Place the bricks on end, butting them snugly against one another with their flat sides against the string line. Tamp the brick edging with a trowel handle until it's high enough to cover the depth of the 2-inch sand bed plus the thickness of the brick pavers.

  4. Install a Weed Barrier (Optional)
    To keep weeds from growing up between the unmortared paving joints, install a layer of landscaping fabric between the sand bed and the soil or gravel base (Fig. 3). You can keep the fabric in place with a few bricks. If your project includes a gravel base, the weed barrier between the gravel and the sand also will keep the sand from settling.

  5. Spread the Sand Bed
    Fill the excavated area inside the edging with construction sand. Tamp the sand to a level that allows for the thickness of the brick pavers so the walkway surface will be 1 inch above final grade.

  6. Install the Brick Pavers
    Butt the pavers tightly together on the tamped sand, and tamp them into place with a rubber mallet or a trowel handle. Use a string line to keep the courses straight. If you need to be on the sand bed to lay the first pavers, kneel on a piece of 1/2-inch plywood to keep from making holes in the sand. After laying a few courses, place the plywood sheet on the pavers and work from there.

  7. Check for Level and Bed the Pavers
    After setting several square feet, lay a 32-inch length of 1x6 on the walk and, with a hammer or mallet, tap its entire surface to uniformly bed the pavers into the sand. If individual units are slightly tilted or too high, tap them gently into place with a rubber mallet. If a unit sits too low, lift it up, place sand underneath, and reseat it.

    If you're creating a large driveway or patio, rent a vibrating tamper. At the end of each day, tamp the units to compact the sand bed and settle the pavers into place.

  8. Fill the Joints with Sand
    When all the brick pavers are in place, spread a thin layer of dry mason's sand evenly over the surface. With a stiff broom, sweep the sand into the cracks between pavers. Sweep in all directions to fill all of the joints completely. Then lightly spray the walk with water to pack down the sand, and wash it off the surface. Do not use a heavy spray, or you will dislodge sand from the joints. Allow the surface to dry, then repeat the process until all of the joints are completely filled and compacted.