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June 07, 2021
The sun is high, the days are long, and the temperature keeps going up. It’s finally summer time, and all we want is to relax outside with our vaccinated pals and a cool beverage or a popsicle (it’s 2021, they’re not just for kids anymore). It’s the perfect time to get our backyards in check for some serious entertaining - and upgrading your patio set-up with new pavers is definitely the way to go. Whether you’re into a classic marble look, an industrial concrete vibe or something bolder, porcelain pavers are durable, easy to clean, and budget-friendly. Read on for a how-to guide on how to install pavers in your backyard, and more reasons why porcelain pavers are perfect for you and your space.
WHY PORCELAIN PAVERS?
It may not be the first thing you think of when considering a patio revamp, but this isn’t the same porcelain you’d find in a delicate teacup. It’s a strong, high-quality clay material cured under extreme high heat and that makes porcelain pavers exceedingly strong and durable. They’re also slip-resistant thanks to a grippy, textured surface, which makes them perfect for high-impact, high traffic areas that can experience wet weather. And precipitation isn’t the only weather concern - sunlight? Heat? Cold? Porcelain pavers can withstand all of these weather conditions without discoloring, fading or cracking.
While natural stone can be highly desired for its beauty and wide selection, porcelain is an excellent alternative, in terms of cost as well as versatility. Porcelain can closely mimic the look of any natural stone - travertine, marble, slate, take your pick - and it can come in a variety of shapes. Whether you’re looking for large-format tiles or more irregular shapes, there’s no shortage of creative styles you can achieve with porcelain. The pay-off? An absolutely gorgeous patio that is easy to maintain (no sealer or power-washing necessary) and simple to install.
HOW TO INSTALL PORCELAIN PAVERS
Ready to transform your backyard? Let’s break down the steps of installing porcelain pavers.
Prep - what to do before you install
You’ll need to measure your space to figure out exactly how many pavers you need. This should be easy enough - grab a tape measure and a note pad of your note-taking app of choice and hop to it! Once you have the dimensions of your space, there are a couple of things you’ll need to account for. There is a space requirement of 4mm between each paver that will likely affect either your total number of pavers or the dimensions of your space in a small way. You’ll also use the dimensions of your space to calculate how much base and sand you will require - you can reach that volume calculation by multiplying the total surface area by ⅓.
And don’t forget to acquire all your tools and materials before you start - safety tools, spacers, base and sand materials, a rubber mallet, digging tools, rake, broom, compactor. You might also require geotextile - more about that as we go! - and a wet saw, if you’re planning to cut your tiles to size. Make sure your wet saw is designed to accommodate the size of paver you’ve chosen.
Things to keep in mind
There are a few factors you want to keep a pin in as you go.
Dry Grass Installation
This is the style of install you’ll want if the look you are going for is individual pavers inset into grass, generally for a path or in a garden setting. To start, you’ll want to mow the grass to the shortest possible length. Place your pavers in the desired configuration and mark it with a sod lifter or other tool - make sure you leave enough room for grass to grow. Remove the pavers and lift 2”-3” inches from the designated space, being careful to make the bed as flat as possible, fill with gravel or crushed rock, and level again. Place the paver and tap in with a rubber mallet.
This installation can be visually effective, but does not have as long a life span or durability of an installation on an impacted substrate, so be sure that serves your purpose before going ahead with this style!
Dry Sand Installation
Clear your area of all grass and landscaping - add 8”-10” to the perimeter to account for the larger substrate area. After making the substrate base as smooth as possible, remove 3”-5” of topsoil and install an edge restraint - we want those pavers staying in place! Next comes the bedding sand - go with 2”-4” and compact it well, being sure to follow the 2-degree slope. And then it’s time to place your pavers: make sure you’re using those 4mm spacers. Tap with a rubber mallet to solidify and level the placement. Fill the spaces with paver sand, carefully sweeping off the pavers to prevent any staining, and then wet with a hose to firm up.
Compacted Gravel Base Installation
This is the most time-intensive and detailed installation style, but it definitely pays off in terms of durability and stability. You’ll start the same way as the dry sand installation, clearing your area of all grass and landscaping and adding the extra inches to the perimeter for the larger substrate area. Next, excavate the area to a minimum depth of 4”-6”, accounting for your specific geography and climate, and compact the base soil (don’t forget the slope!). It’s time to install the geotextile, which is a fabric designed especially for this purpose: it allows water to pass through without disturbing the soil below. Install your base on top, usually gravel or some kind of crushed stone. This should be about 2” deep - wet it and then compact, and repeat with another 2”, making sure to level. Once this has been compacted, in goes the bedding sand - you guessed it, level, wet and compact. Once this is level, time to set the pavers - be meticulous with the edges to make sure they’re straight, and use the spacers to ensure the appropriate gap. If you need to cut any pavers, use a wet saw and DO NOT forget goggles and gloves! Once those are set and tapped into place, clean everything up and either install an edge restraint or mortar your edge pavers. Your final step is to fill the spaces with paver sand (again, carefully clear off the pavers) and set with water.
And that’s all she wrote! It’s a detailed and somewhat repetitive but not particularly difficult process, and you’ll have a gorgeous space you created yourself for all your effort. Now that you know what you’re in for, all that’s left is to choose your pavers. From bright whites to deep charcoals, you can meticulously curate your vibe. If you’re into a wood-look, check out the Caldera styles: Grigia for a cool grey, and Blanca for a sun-streaked ashy white. Palmwood Walnut is another wood-look paver, in a sunnier, golden brown tone. For high drama, go with True Bluestone- this stormy, blue slate grey is an absolute stunner. And if you’re into a more elegant look, we can only recommend Praia Carrara, which serves up a gorgeous marble look. Check out these and more here.
Summer is the season to enjoy yourself, be it with family and friends or in delightful solitude - preferably a healthy mixture of both! A drink and the appropriate SPF on your brand new porcelain paver patio is hands-down the way to go. We want to know - which paver would you choose? What does your perfect patio look like? Tell us in the comments, and, as always, if you’ve got any questions or need any help, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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