The paver installation tips you can’t overlook for a successful job

February 17, 2023 -  By
Proper grading and underwater management are key to a successful installation. (Photo: Lifescape Colorado)

Proper grading and underwater management are key to a successful installation. (Photo: Lifescape Colorado)

Seasoned hardscape professionals know that every paver installation reaches the make-or-break point before the first stone hits the ground.

That means it’s important to treat the ground below your next paver project with the same care as the pavers themselves. Compaction, drainage and grading are all keys to a proper installation and will set you up for success when planning the finishing touches that make any new hardscape complete.

Grading and underground water management

LeAnn Ostheimer, executive vice president of design/build services at Lifescape Colorado in Denver, says managing a paver installation project means managing water flow above and below the surface. Lifescape Colorado offers primarily residential design/build and maintenance services.

“Drainage is the most important thing to manage,” she says. “Any installation that is at least 6 inches thick will bring excavation into the subgrade and affect the flow of underground water.”

While surface water is easy to monitor, the hidden flow of underground water can affect pavers, and you should carefully manage it with good early planning.

“Surface drainage management is a must with any paver project, and subsurface drainage should mirror those efforts,” says Ostheimer.

Compaction, compaction, compaction

Similarly, Cristhian Ambriz Frias, owner of Urban Grass Landscape in Fenelton, Pa., says all good paver installations depend on proper base preparation. Urban Grass offers maintenance and design/build services for a primarily residential clientele.

“Excavation and compaction are the parts of projects people sometimes overlook,” he says. “Not just because these areas can’t be seen after the work is done, but usually because of a lack of proper equipment or experience. Preparing the base can take more time than installing the pavers, but that can be normal depending on the application.”

Like water, contractors should address excavation and compaction before the first paver hits the ground. If handled incorrectly, these hidden areas can lead to settling, water ponding and trip hazards at the surface. 

“We perform mostly new installations,” says Ambriz. “Sometimes we’re called to fix or replace a bad patio installation. These older projects show their problems right away, with bad compaction or a lack of the right subgrade aggregates.”

Understanding project scale

Large installations spanning thousands of square feet may feel out of reach for many clients. Ambriz says medium to large jobs can provide greater value if scaled properly.

“You have to consider the same logistics if it’s a small- or medium-sized project,” Ambriz says. “Small projects seem easy because they require less in materials, but the same details need to be applied as in large projects. It’s easy to overwhelm your margins this way.”

Because small hardscapes still require the same time-intensive build practices, final costs to the consumer aren’t necessarily as small as the project would suggest, he says.

“Customers might wonder why small projects cost so much,” says Ambriz. “It’s important to present them as much information as possible and explain solutions to any possible problems that might arise during a build.”

Don’t be afraid to upsell

Ostheimer explains that paver installations are usually only a part of the greater plan for a fully-realized landscape. 

“Our design teams consider the entire outdoor living space when planning work for our clients,” Ostheimer says. “How will the space be used throughout the year? What is the level of investment in each surface? These are all considerations in selecting the right paver products.”

Ambriz recommends contractors see the sales conversation as an opportunity to enhance the property. Lights, plantings and other landscape elements can bring a project together, he says.

“Don’t be afraid to explain to customers how these additional items can make a project better,” he says. “We need to use imagination and be flexible when designing each project, and we ask our customers to use their imaginations when thinking about their projects and how they want to spend time at their homes.”

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

About the Author:

Conley is a green industry professional specializing in design, installation and digital marketing from Pittsburgh, Pa.

Comments are currently closed.