If you’re thinking of laying pavers around your home to spruce up your garden decoration, here’s the best base for pavers which will protect your foundation too
Pavers are a big part of garden decoration. But laying them is another story. Most of us know that you can’t just lay them on the ground and hope it works out, but finding the best base for pavers can be a pain.
Are you looking to figure out what to lay under your decorative stones? If so, read on and we’ll help you find the right material to make a lasting, attractive addition to your yard.
Why Is the Base So Important for Pavers?
Pavers, in an ideal situation, are a low-cost alternative to paving part of a yard. They’re also notorious for sinking or shifting out of alignment as time goes on. Pavers are available in a wide variety of materials, there’s far more than just the usual brick fare out there.
That said, the material under them is often the culprit when it comes to things getting wonky over time. Putting some extra thought into what’s under the pavers is something that many people miss. The bases can have a huge impact on the entire building, you can not think of a great building without a hard base.
If you skip on making sure you have the right material, however, then you may end up with some serious problems over time.
What Materials Are Used as a Paver Base?
Most people think that they have the perfect solution already and there’s a surprising array of materials used for the base layer underneath pavers.
Each has some strengths and weaknesses.
Sand is often recommended as a paver base. It’s not a bad option in some cases, although it will need to be laid down at least 2″ and compacted in order to create a level layer.
Sand has some problems, however. It’s not good for drainage, for instance, which means you may end up looking for foundation solutions if you’re not careful about placement.
It also tends to shift over time, making it only suitable for low traffic areas. If you’re careful, however, then you may be able to go for years in between having to pull and re-level the pavers.
Gravel is one of the most common bases for high-traffic areas where pavers are in use.
Gravel is usually laid down 4-6″ thick to create a suitable base. That requires quite a bit of excavation and can turn laying your pavers into a serious task. There’s a reason that many people opt for sand even when it’s not completely ideal.
In most cases at least 1″ of sand will also be placed on top of the gravel to maintain a level surface.
While a great solution, gravel requires a lot of work. You have to actually excavate the area of top-soil to make something that works.
You may also need to place a landscape cloth underneath the gravel to prevent it from getting into the topsoil. This creates a hazard for your foundation due to water retention if you’re not careful about placement.
New to the paver scene, plastic panels are now often used to create a seamless, level layer underneath your pavers. They require a lot less work than either sand or gravel since they’re placed on leveled topsoil.
In other words, the amount of material that needs to be removed is far less than you’ll find with either sand or gravel bases.
They’re not perfect, however. Many contractors don’t use them because there’s little long-term data on how they last. DIYers often skip them for one simple reason: cost.
In the long run, it’s not hard to see why they’re recommended so frequently and in theory, they should last just as long as any other base material. In practice, the costs end up being roughly the same when you factor labor versus materials so they may not be ideal.
They tend to save more on labor than they do on money in the end.
The worst solution is to simply compact a layer of dirt and place the pavers down. While it’s a very low effort solution it won’t last very long.
Some people use this form of base for a single season or temporary paver area. That said, if you’re looking for something long-lasting then you’ll need to put in the effort to build a real base rather than just pounding the topsoil until it’s hard.
So, What’s the Best Base for Pavers?
There are two approaches that work best
The first is the good old fashioned 6″ of gravel and 1″ of sand approach. It’s classic, it’s time tested, and it serves it’s purpose extremely well.
The only problem is that you’ll also need to pull out a ton of top-soil.
On the other hand, plastic paneling may seem new and scary but it may be the best DIY solution. Again: this isn’t a time tested method but it’s extremely easy to install and most people will have no issues with them.
In the end, it comes down to whether you value your time and work or your money more. Paneling is best for those who have extra money and don’t want to take the time to dig things up.
No More Shifting or Sinking, Use the Best
Shifting and sinking pavers are serious problems that face anyone who wants to use them as an outdoor attraction. Finding the best base for pavers in your situation isn’t as hard as you’d think.
Just weigh out the pros and cons before you decide on a final solution or you may be in hot water. You can have a meeting wuth people who have used certain types of pavers.
Moreover, through internet you can have an idea about the quality and pros of some pavers.
So, are you ready? Why not start planning out the base level of your new paver patio today?