Secrets to successful paver installations

October 24, 2022 -  By
(Photo: Smitt/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: Smitt/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Tim Edick, territory manager for Unilock, says successful paver and brick installation comes down to planning and preparation.

“I’ve seen it time and time again, where a disorganized job site is a very unprofitable job site,” he says.

Edick, Jeremy Mutschler, director of marketing and advertising with Nicolock Paving Stones, Retaining Walls & Outdoor Living, and Jason Arseneau, contractor services with Unilock, share their secrets to a great installation.

Before starting the job

Edick says contractors must make sure to place orders and have material on hand before starting an installation job. He says he often sees design/build companies waste time by sending workers to pick up a pallet of material when the contractor could get the material delivered for a nominal fee.

“‘Oh, I need an extra ton of base. I need an extra half pallet of material. Oh, I didn’t realize what this grade was,’” he says, referring to a disorganized contractor’s thought process. “The less organized you are upfront, the more headaches you have down the road.”

Mutschler agrees, saying contractors must place orders for materials as soon as the homeowner signs off on a design.

“Inventory changes hourly, and not placing the order in advance or scheduling accordingly could delay the installation significantly,” he says.

Arseneau says it’s also important for contractors to be realistic about the space at the job site.

“Not all sites are large enough to have all of the material brought at once, including aggregates and pavers,” he says. “A well-thought-out plan for each stage of the project and proper staging of materials on-site will help to ensure success.”

Proper permitting is another important part of preparation before the project starts, says Edick.

“I’ve seen that happen numerous times to where they don’t have the job scheduled, or they’ll go to start the project and they might not have a sign-off on a permit,” he says.

All about that base

“A good paver installation starts from the ground up,” Edick says, referring to having a suitable subgrade for the job. “Sometimes you run into situations where you actually uncovered some really bad soil,” he says. “Instead of just saying, ‘I’ll just gravel over top of it,’ you need proper subgrade, you need proper compaction with your base material.”

Another issue that could pop up is the improper excavation of the base to the right depth, says Arseneau.
“Compaction of the native soil and then compacting the aggregate in lifts is key to building a strong foundation to support the installation of the pavers,” he says.

In the act

A major issue that could arise during the installation process is improper drainage, says Mutschler. Poor drainage can lead to problems later on with the lifespan of the pavers.

“When a contractor does not take into consideration the amount of water that could accumulate and factor in the proper drainage needed to prevent flooding, the results can be devastating,” he says.

Edick says a major pitfall during the installation process is a dirty job site. Crews that walk on installed pavers with dirty boots or cut material and create dust, which puts a film on the pavers.

“By the time they’re done with the job, these beautiful pavers or pieces of natural stone look terrible, and then they have to spend time cleaning it,” he says. “Many times, we are called onto job sites for paver issues and it ends up being the pavers are just so dirty that they’ve lost all their color, all their vibrance, everything. It has nothing to do with the paver or the natural stone product. It’s just a matter of how it was installed.”

This article is tagged with , and posted in Design/Build+Installation, From the Magazine, October 2022
Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at

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