Basic Guide to Installing Stoneworks Pavers – Flexible Method
Check Availability & Order Pavers
Stoneworks pavers are generally kept in stock at our Brisbane factory and key distribution points around Australia to allow for delivery within a day or two of ordering, however it is always a good idea to check local lead times, especially in regional areas, before preparing your site. Order your pavers, Paver Bedding Sand, Road Base (also known as Crushed Rock but NOT Crusher Dust) and other materials from your local landscape supply yard (see our list of Stoneworks distributors in “Where to Buy”) with a view to having them delivered to site a couple of days before you need to start laying. This way, everything will be ready for you when your all of your friends and family turn up for the free BBQ (…oh, and to lay some pavers).
Check for correct quantities and colours as soon as your delivery arrives but leave the pavers wrapped on the pallet until the day you’re laying them. Don’t leave stacked around the site in “star-stacks” for more than a few hours as any corners exposed to the air for a day or two will tend to lighten up compared to the covered part of the paver. This can cause a whitish “picture frame” effect on the corners which can be difficult to remove. This is caused by fine minerals forming on surfaces exposed to the air during the concrete curing or “hydration” process. Ensuring an even exposure to oxygen across the whole paver surface as soon as the wrapping comes off is the best way to go.
We recommend ordering all the Stoneworks pavers you need for an area in one order to ensure you receive the most consistent, consecutive batches available. This is especially important if ordering matching bullnose, which we prefer to Make To Order for you with the body pavers so we know they will match well. Made To Order may take 1-2 weeks in general. As with all masonry and stone products, if you have multiple pallets of Stoneworks pavers, blend them from a variety of pallets as you lay, as colours will generally vary a little from pallet to pallet even if all made in consecutive batches. This natural, subtle variation in colour is a deliberate, key feature of Stoneworks pavers when well blended and enhances their natural charm.
In fact, to reflect the interesting variations and veins of colour found in natural stone, we make almost all of our Stoneworks pavers as a two-tone blend, with both colours in each paver blended randomly all the way through the whole paver from top to bottom. The only Stoneworks pavers that are monotone colours are our Abode range and all our Bluestone colours. All Stoneworks paver colours may also vary noticeably from batch to batch due to variations in natural materials and weather conditions during manufacturing and curing.
Finally, always allow at least 3% to 5% extra pavers to allow for mishaps on site, cutting waste and to have a few spares to pop in the garage in case of any need to pull up and replace pavers in the future.
Prepare the Site
Excavate the area to be paved to allow for the Base Layer (generally 75-150mm thick of Road Base depending on how rocky and stable the sub-base is), Paver Bedding Sand (a washed, coarse, river sand with an even thickness of 20mm to 30mm) and the Paver thickness (40 or 50mm thick depending on the type of Stoneworks paver selected). Establish the falls and level using a spirit level on a Concrete Screed or board and string lines where appropriate.
Spread & Compact Road Base
Spread the Road Base (also know as “Crushed Rock” in some regions) to an even thickness and compact using several passes of a vibrating plate compactor (a.k.a. “Wacker Packer”). Fill any low spots with more Road Base until a firmly compacted, very flat, level base with the correct falls and heights is achieved. Your finished paver surface will only be as good as the base, so this part is critically important. Don’t be tempted to lay pavers without a good base layer, as pavers laid straight on dirt or sand and dirt will move, stain and promote weeds. The Road Base or Crushed Rock you use should be well graded, with a spread of sizes from dust through to around 20-30mm so it locks in well. Do NOT use Crusher Dust / Cracker Dust as it lacks the larger chunks that provide the base with the interlocking support you need. All paving should be kept below any weep holes in walls and should slope away from the house with a clear path for water to drain away quickly. Any soft spots or poor drainage will need to be rectified before proceeding.
Place Screed Rails & Spread Paver Bedding Sand
Place two 20-30mm thick screed rails parallel to each other and maybe a metre or so apart on the Road Base and spread Paver Bedding Sand roughly between and over the rails. PVC piping makes great screed rails – flexible to follow any contours, consistent in thickness and smooth for sliding the screed board across the top. Do not use Crusher Dust or “Cracker” Dust as bedding as it contains fine minerals that will migrate through the pavers and cause unsightly, stubborn staining and tends to hold more moisture than coarse, clean Paver Bedding Sand. Washed, coarse, River Sand is free of salt and other minerals, drains well to keep pavers drier and is the only bedding material we recommend.
Screed & Level the Paver Bedding Sand
Using a Concrete Screed, Straight-Edge or similar, work across the two rails in a sawing, zig zag, left to right motion to scrape away excess sand, leaving a smooth bed for the pavers. Carefully slide the screed rails out without disturbing the sand. Fill the voids with more Paver Bedding Sand and smooth with a trowel or wooden float.
Set the Lines
Set string lines at right angles to establish paving lines. These will help keep the joints straight for that truly professional look. One easy way to make a perfect right angle is with the 3-4-5 rule: make a triangle with 3 metre, 4 metre and 5 metre stringlines and the corner between the 3m and 4m sides will be a right angle. Who knew?
Start laying along the longest straight edge of the designated area (make sure you don’t pave yourself into a corner!) and lay whole pavers first, checking against your stringlines as you go, and taking time to step back occasionally for a visual check along the lines. Always leave 3-5mm between pavers to allow for Jointing Sand (most Stoneworks pavers have 2-3mm spacer nibs built into the sides to help easily establish the minimum width, Abode Pavers are tapered on the sides so the top edges do not touch). Pavers should never be butt-jointed as this does not allow for minor variations in pavers sizes, leading to wonky looking lines and difficulty laying. Spalling or chipping will occur if there is movement or subsidence where paver edges push against each other. So please remember, give your pavers a little space!
Install Edge Restraints & Cut Pavers
Install Edge restraints to prevent the pavers from moving. Typically, this is done by scraping away the bedding sand and pouring a concrete haunch around the outer edge of the paved area. Other materials such as Aluminium or Steel Edging strips, sleepers or the base of a wall make great restraints as long as there are no gaps for sand to escape and the edge restraints are strong enough to withstand pressure for pavers to spread out, especially on a slope. Cut and position part-pavers if the job requires them – an angle grinder is ok for small jobs but can be very dusty. It is best to hire a brick saw (wet saw) for bigger jobs and a professional finish as you will get straighter lines and no dust. Mark cuts with a permanent marker and cut carefully, always using appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, ear protection and a dust mask where appropriate).
Fill the joints
Sweep a fine, clean, silica based Jointing Sand over the finished dry paving, working the sand in to ensure all joints are full. Dry sand/cement mixes are not recommended for use by DIYers as they can cause permanent cement stains on the surface if handled incorrectly. Flexible joints can last longer too as they’re not affected by cracking. Polymeric Sand (dry, fine sand in 20kg bags, stabilised with a form of gel which sets reasonably hard in the joints but maintains some flexibility) can be used to reduce incidence of ants, weeds and wash outs in small joints. Wider joints (minimum 25mm thick by 5mm wide) can be grouted very easily with our Geo-Fix® air curing mortar jointing compound. This is especially useful for products like Bradstone Cobbles or Old Town.
With excess jointing sand still on the pavers, run a light vibrating plate compactor (with carpet tied on to the base to protect the pavers) to compact them into the bedding sand and settle the jointing sand, locking the pavers in. Once compacted, replace any broken pavers and sweep away all excess jointing sand. Keep some jointing sand handy as it may need to be topped up again over the first few weeks.
Caring for your pavers – prevention is better than cure
- Leave pavers wrapped and as dry as possible until just before laying. After wrapping is removed, ensure paver surfaces are evenly exposed to the air, do not leave them “star-stacked” around the site for long periods before laying as the concrete hydration process may cause exposed corners to visibly lighten in comparison to covered sections.
- During construction, cover the paved areas to protect against damage from mortar splatters, mud and clay, paint, rust, etc.
- If grouting with tile grout or a sand/cement mix, consider sealing pavers first with one coat of a penetrating pre-sealer such as Environex Clear Seal before grouting, to make clean up easier.
- If your pavers have turned whiter after laying, this is a normal and temporary surface issue called efflorescence. It will generally occur more when pavers have just been laid, especially after heavy rain or in areas that dry slowly (e.g. undercover areas, south side of walls, etc). It can be left to wear away naturally with normal weathering, but in many cases it’s preferable to remove it more quickly – especially if you want to seal the pavers.
- Efflorescence is basically a type of salt that is initially soluble but becomes insoluble due to a chemical reaction after extended exposure to carbon dioxide in the air. But don’t worry! It’s pretty much always very easy to fix! Very light efflorescence may be removed with plain water and a light scrubbing with a plastic scouring pad (same type you may use to scrub your shower) – so it’s worthwhile trying that first. If that has no effect, you may need to use Environex Anti-Eff to break up heavier efflorescence and wash it away. Do not use hydrochloric acid to clean Stoneworks pavers. The use of certain acids and chemically-based cleaning agents can be hazardous and may damage the pavers if applied incorrectly so always consult a professional and follow instructions with great care. If you think you need to use Anti-Eff, feel free to call us so we can walk you through how it works and how to do it right.
- Organic stains from leaves, twigs or timber (tannin stains), algae, lichen or animal droppings can be safely removed with chlorinated cleaners. A solution of 1 part Pool Chlorine to 10 parts water is an economical way to go. We also recommend Environex Maestro, a specially formulated chlorinated cleaner specifically for use on masonry, to effortlessly remove organic stains. Chlorinated cleaners will not damage the paver surface or remove the colouring even if applied quite strongly. Household bleaches such as White King or Domestos or similar can also be used at a pinch. Just ensure there are no other chemicals being used in the solution. With all of these, apply the solution with a watering can or pump spray if preferred, enough to saturate the affected area. Leave for a few minutes (when it dries out it will stop working) then rinse with fresh water. Scrub lightly with a scouring pad (Eager Beaver pads are great for this, available from Stoneworks) or broom to loosen any debris (if required), then neutralise the area with a ph neutral detergent then rinse again with fresh water. If this did not remove any brown stains, they may not be organic (possibly rust, clay, and may require a different approach.
- Once your pavers are settled in and cleaned, you’re ready to seal!
- While Stoneworks pavers do not require sealing, we highly recommend it – especially for feature areas. Sealing makes maintenance so much easier – drastically reducing the penetration of stains into the surface and giving you more time to clean effectively. It can also significantly reduce migration of minerals through the pavers , helping them maintain their natural inner colour far longer. Any premium penetrating sealer designed for use on concrete masonry pavers is fine, but we stock and recommend Environex Cleaners and Sealers. Two of the most commonly recommended sealers for Stoneworks Pavers are Environex Tuscan TSL and Environex Synergy (which also offers better protection against salt attack, so it’s ideal for around salt water pools). Both will give superior protection against staining for years and will not affect the appearance of the pavers. We do NOT recommend “Wet Look” or colour enhancing sealers for most Stoneworks pavers as these types of sealers may make the pavers significantly more slippery.
- Re-seal pavers as required, paying extra attention to heavy wear areas and salt-water locations (e.g. pool coping). The difference between a cheap sealer and a premium sealer is usually how long it will last and how well it will protect – it is always worth going with the premium option. Many premium sealers will last more than 10 years, while cheaper sealers may require a new application every year.
- Sweep regularly with a stiff bristled broom or clean with a blower to keep pavers free from debris. Regular use of high pressure water cleaners can strip or etch the paver surface. High Pressure water cleaners should be used as little as possible, on less than 1000 psi, at more than 50cm away from the paver, and with a fan spray angle of around 15 degrees with no turbo or rotary attachment. Brooms or blowers are your friends!
- Assess type of stain carefully before taking action (incorrect assessment and treatment of stain can cause it to be more difficult to remove). In all cases, attempt to clean a stain before it hardens or dries. If a stain cannot be accurately assessed, conduct a trial process on a small portion of stained area to determine the most appropriate action.
- We are here to help – please call us for further advice or to discuss your specific issue!
This is general information and should be viewed as a guide only National Masonry urges you to ensure that you obtain appropriate professional advice tailored to your circumstances before commencing Stoneworks paving projects.