Pavers are a wonderful choice to enhance any outdoor area, making it both more useable and more attractive. But what do you do if your pavers start to wobble or move around? This can be a frequent occurrence, but can create headaches for house-proud homeowners. Here’s what you need to do to fix the problems caused by wobbly pavers.
What causes loose and wobbly pavers?
There are several things that may cause your pavers to loosen over time and become uneven and wobbly:
- Too much space was left between the pavers when they were installed. This often allows pavers to loosen and move over time. Close-knit pavers hold the paved surface together much more strongly and help it to remain stable.
- The pavers were installed on a dirt base, as this type of unstable base allows pavers to settle into place unevenly and creep out of place over time.
- You used a sand base for the paved area, but didn’t compact it properly (or at all).
- Not enough filler sand was used between the pavers to hold them in place.
- The slope of the paved area to allow drainage was not carried out properly, meaning pooling water can loosen the pavers and destroy the integrity of the surface.
- You didn’t use paver edging to hold the paved surface firmly in place.
- Tree roots growing under the paved surface may cause pavers to lift and become unstable.
Whatever the cause of wobbly pavers is, you can’t go back and change the past – now you just have to deal with the problem. Obviously wobbly pavers need to be fixed, as not only do they make your paved area look unsightly, they are also a safety hazard. The last thing any homeowner wants is for someone to trip and fall on an uneven or wobbly paver!
It’s best to fix the pavers as soon as you notice them becoming wobbly, before the problem becomes worse and harder (and more costly) to fix. Here’s what you need to do.
Inspect the pavers
If you’ve noticed one wobbly paver, chances are there might be others, so take the time to inspect your entire paved area. It should be pretty obvious if your pavers are starting to move around and become unstable. Look for pavers that are loose, wearing excessively around the edges, broken, cracked, uneven, tilted or sitting higher or lower than the surrounding pavers.
Each time you find a problematic paver, mark it with chalk or a marker so you remember where it’s located and can find them easily when it comes time to fix them.
Remove problem pavers
The best solution is to remove all those pavers that are causing problems, re-build the base and replace them with new ones. This only works if you have a spare stock of the pavers (it’s always a wise idea to order extra pavers so you do have a stockpile of pavers for when you need them). If you don’t have any extra pavers, you have two options: buy a small quantity of additional pavers (not always possible), or simply replace the pavers you have removed as long as they are not too damaged.
Remove the pavers using a flat-head screwdriver, or hammer and chisel to gently lever them out of place. If you’re planning to re-use these pavers, keep each one right next to the hole it was removed from, so you can ensure each one goes back into the right place where it fits securely.
Fix the specific problem that has caused the pavers to loosen
While it’s not always possible to fix the problem that has caused loose and wobbly pavers, if you can fix it then this is the place to start. For instance, you may not be able to fix wobbly pavers caused by an improperly compacted base, or inadequate drainage slope (short of removing all the pavers and re-installing the whole lot). But if your problem is caused by tree roots lifting the pavers, you might be able to remove the tree entirely as well as removing the offending tree roots. Or if the wobbly pavers were caused by too much space left between them during installation, you could fill the gaps with more joint sand to help the pavers lock into place more securely.
If you can’t fix the specific problem, you’ll need to do a more general fix – and be prepared to do this periodically over time, as the problem is likely to re-occur.
Fix the base
You’ll need to add some additional sand into each paver hole, to stabilise and re-build a firm base. Pack the sand down firmly until it provides a solid and even base. Using a leveller may help with this process.
Replace the pavers
Return your paving stones to their original place, making sure they are now level with the other pavers. If not, adjust the amount of underlying sand. Place the paver firmly, and then rock it back and forth to determine whether it’s still loose. If it is, add more sand until it doesn’t move. Tap the paver with a rubber mallet to help it settle firmly into the space. Finish with some additional sand swept into the paving cracks.