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Easy DIY guide to paving



This easy DIY guide to paving is intended to provide those of you who want to do paving but don’t know where to start with a few guidelines and tips.

It is also going to offer advice on how you can add paving to your home using affordable paving blocks that you can pick up at your local Builders Warehouse and building supply store that aren’t exactly the best paving bricks you can buy, but they are inexpensive and can be finished off to add curb appeal to your home or set up an outdoor area. Pop into your local building supply store and you can pick up paving bricks that cost in the region of R2.00 each, add in the cost of coarse and fine sand at around R80 per cubic metre and you will see that paving isn’t that expensive if you do-it-yourself.



Before you get started on a paving project you are going to need a few basic tools:

Builder’s line and some wood stakes
Rubber mallet
Angle grinder and diamond disc for cutting pavers
Sweeping brush
Compactor (hire for the day)
Pickaxe (if you need to dig out hard ground)
Sweeping brush
Spirit level


Paving bricks
River sand
Fine sand


Measure up the area before you start to calculate how many paver bricks you will need, and how much sand needs to be delivered. 


1. The area to be paved needs to be levelled out. This is an important step and there are several factors you need to take into consideration when preparing the area.
- In my case the level needed to be lower than a fitted gate, to allow for opening and closing, and you will also need to take this into consideration if you are paving an area that has access and exit points.

- The paving needs to be at a very slight angle if butting up against an existing property wall. Since my new pathway butts up against the front of the house, the paving is angled at a slight slope away from the property, so that any rainwater will run away and not collect against the property walls. If you are paving a patio or entertainment area outside the house, make sure that rainwater flows away from the building to a suitable point – preferably a drain or a lower point that will direct rainwater with the natural flow of the land.

- The area being paved needs to be free of bumps and lumps, as these will affect the level of the pavers once laid. After digging out the area and removing loose soil, use a rake to remove any loose stones.


2. Compact the soil before you put down sand, especially if you had to do quite a bit of digging to get the level right. You can hire a plate compactor for the day from a hire shop, and this will ensure that the ground is compacted firmly. If you don’t compact the soil properly you might find that you will have a problem with dips where the paving sinks into soft spots during the rainy season. Compact the ground a few times to make sure it’s done properly.



At this stage you have the option to lay down landscaping fabric to reduce the possibility of weeds sprouting through the paving at a later stage.

3. Lay coarse sand over the compacted area. If you’re not sure what sand to buy for the base, let the guys at the building centre know that you are using it for paving base and they will make sure you get the right sand. Coarse sand is fine sand that doesn’t clump or hold together when you compact in your hand.


4. With the ground already level you can shovel small piles of sand over the top of this. Use a straightedge (a piece of steel or length of straight hardwood) to even out the sand. The sand base needs to be about 4 to 5 centimetres in thickness.



  • If you are paving over a previously paved area and need to make allowance for a slope, use the coarse sand to adjust the level at one side to direct water away from a building.
  • If the paving needs to be in a straight line or angled, use builder’s line or string and stakes to show the direction that the paving needs to follow.


5. Now you are ready to start laying the pavers. It isn’t always possible to lay the paving bricks right up against a wall, especially where walls are not straight, so leave a small gap at the edge. You can always fill large gaps with cut pavers or mix up a batch of cement to fill in these areas once you have finished.




There are a variety of patterns that you can use for paving and it is simply a matter of choosing the one that you prefer. Herringbone or horizontal running bond is a good choice if you need to pave an irregular area, or one that is not level around the sides, as paving bricks can be cut to fit easily and without distracting too much from the pattern.




6. Since the driveway is already paved in a herringbone pattern, and because the pathway is not completely straight, the paving bricks are being laid in a herringbone pattern. It was necessary to run a builder’s line from the front door to the driveway to ensure that the pattern followed the same line.


7. Starting at one corner you lay bricks one by one in the pattern. Each paver is gently tapped to make sure it is bedded nicely in the sand base. As each brick is added it is tapped flush with the previous brick and firmly bedded.




ABOVE: A string line is run from the door to the existing driveway paving to ensure pavers are laid as straight as possible.




8. Continue adding pavers in the desired pattern, leaving the outside edges until last so that pavers can be cut to fill in.


9. When you need to cut pavers to fit, use an angle grinder and diamond cutting blade, or blade specifically for use on cement bricks. This way you have a clean, precise cut.


ABOVE: Using an angle grinder you can cut all the pavers to side to fit in around the edges. Don’t worry about small gaps, as these can be filled in with cement mix. . You will find detailed information on the various types of cement mixes on



  • Wear safety goggles and gloves when using an angle grinder, and always follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for correct usage of the tool.



ABOVE: Now you can see the completed pathway with herringbone pattern and all surrounding edges filled.



If you need to add detailing, such as around a drain, placing the bricks in a design to fit perfectly around the drain is achieved simply by using full bricks to create the pattern and then cutting pavers to fill in the empty spaces.


ABOVE: You have the option to fill in the gaps with a cement mix, or to add your own additional detailing. For something different I added glass pebbles to the gaps. While the cement mix was still wet the glass pebbles were gently pressed down into the surface. You can also use mosaic or sea shells, etc.

10. Leave the cement to cure for a couple of hours before placing small piles of sand over the area and brushing fine sand over the top of the bricks. You want the fine sand to fill in any gaps in the bricks and will need to sweep this over the surface a few times until all the gaps are filled. After that you can lightly spray the surface of the paving using a fine mist spray head on your hosepipe.



  • I added a small amount of cement to the fine sand (3 shovels of sand to 1 shovel of cement). This helps to bond all the bricks together and also reduces the opportunity for weeds to pop up in small gaps.
  • Wear a dust mask with brushing the surface with sand.



11. For edging a paved area, such as a driveway or patio area, you will need to use pre-cast concrete kerbs. These cost around R15 each and are available in different lengths and profiles. Installing a kerb is essential if the pavers are not butting up against a solid edge, as the kerb prevents the pavers from slipping out.

Dig out sufficient for the kerb to be mounted flush with the top of pavers and secure in place with cement mix. You will find detailed information on the various types of cement mixes on


Something I noticed when shopping around for pavers was the inconsistency in shape and colour, as well as texture. The colour can differ dramatically, with some being a pink rather than red, and others being more brown than red. If you don’t mind a rustic look then this is acceptable, but if you are looking for a solid colour the easiest way to overcome this is to use Prominent Paints Paving paint.


Paving Paint not only ensures a consistent colour for your paving project, it also seals the gaps between the pavers and reduces the possibility of weeds popping up. Paving paint is extremely durable and easy to keep clean with a hosepipe.



  • Do not wash painted pavers with a high-pressure spray, as this will remove the paint between the blocks.
  • The easiest way to apply paving paint is with a paint roller with a long pile and an extension pole. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for correct application.


Janice Anderssen



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