Is there a pavers job in the schedule for the summer, but you don’t know what tools to get? Or maybe you have done it sometimes, but something has felt a little off about the job? Maybe it felt too hard or something?
For those kinds of questions, I’ve made a little list here to help everyone new to installing pavers to get it done a little bit easier. Most of the time we decide to do something, but we don’t follow the proper preparation, but get straight to working and find it hard.
Concrete pavers can make any porch, patio or outdoor space come to life; without costing you a fortune. And to save even more money, many homeowners often opt out to do the work themselves. What’s more, is that projects of this magnitude increase curb appeal and raise the value of your home.
Be sure that before you attempt to install your own concrete pavers you get complete instructions and the following tools and you’ll be sure to get a perfectly installed DIY concrete pavers patio. Some tools like wet tile saw and power tamper are best to be rented.
Gloves and knee protection
The first thing you will need is some hand and knee protection. Some of the work will be done standing, but I usually end up on my knees when leveling the gravel and sand with screeds.
The gloves are good as the rough concrete will eat away the skin from the fingertips. I usually go through few pairs when I’m installing concrete pavers.
I recommend getting some sturdy gloves for the job, something with cut protection might work well as it’s the paver cuts that usually eat the first holes to my gloves. Then it’s the skin next.
Wheelbarrow and shovel
The wheelbarrow is used for transporting gravel, sand and I use it for moving pavers as well. When you have gravel and sand delivered, it’s good to have it as close as possible to the spot we’re paving. It will save you some hard work.
Some will still need to be moved by hand and wheelbarrow is the tool for that. A good digging shovel will be best for loading the wheelbarrow.
When working the wheelbarrow, it’s good to not get too greedy. If you overfill it and you suddenly can’t push it anymore, or it falls over, it’s unneeded setback.
After you’ve excavated the earth from the concrete paver slab area, you’ll need to backfill the hole with some pea gravel and a layer of fine sand. This allows for optimal water drainage and ensures that the concrete pavers don’t sink or sag after they have been installed.
Power tamper is for compacting the ground before you install your pavers. Loose gravel isn’t ideal to install anything on. After we have used the tamper, it’s time to level the sand.
When you level the sand, you might or might not want to tamp it. I usually don’t as I tamp the pavers after I’ve installed them and placed the first sand to the joints. It will help the sand get to the joints and the pavers to be compact. The same can be achieved with a garden hose.
To get the soft white sand layer as flat and as smooth as possible, a handheld screed is needed. Metal screeds work best as these are much more uniform and straight, even under the most stressful of workloads.
The hand screed should be as long as the area you’re working on is or that you’re comfortable using. Too long screed is difficult to handle and it’s not ideal in narrow spaces.
We need a tool to check inclination, even though concrete pavers will let the water through the joints it’s always a bad idea to have anything inclined towards our house. The water should always travel away or towards the drainage we have build.
So we use the level to set the sand sloped away from the house and we check the pavers with it as well. I don’t like working by eye on things like this.
A rubber mallet is needed to ensure that each of the pavers ends up in the right position and is tight as possible against one another. A quality rubber mallet hammer is a must-have tool when your concrete pavers are designed to conform to a specific pattern.
Be sure you tap each row tightly before setting the next and you’ll be sure to get a straight and uniform layout from beginning to end.
Wet Tile Saw / Angle grinder with a masonry blade
This may seem like a strange tool for a paver patio project, but if you need to make any cuts to your paver layout, then a wet tile saw is crucial to getting the most out of your concrete paver project. A wet tile saw makes quick work of even the toughest of paver materials and without the mess of a concrete carbide saw.
When oddly angled cuts are involved, a wet tile saw is the only way to ensure cuts stay smooth and consistent. While a wet tile saw cuts through pavers like butter, it won’t cut through your fingers so you can work efficiently as well as safely.
The best thing about a wet tile saw is the dust control. Any other tool will end up leaving a concrete dust mess. Still, I’ve done work with an angle grinder and masonry blade.
Masonry blade will cut concrete pavers easily, the only problem is the dust that will escape. It’s good to cut in a remote location so it’s easy to wash it off with water. For a big project, I’d rent the wet tile saw as it is so much more comfortable to use.
100′ Tape Measure
Most handheld tape measures only go 25-30′ at the most. That means if you’re installing a sidewalk, driveway or patio that’s over 30′ long, you’re going to need to double up the tape measure to get the full measurement.
This can easily ruin even the strictest of layouts if you have to do this more than once. By using a 100′ tape measure, you ensure that as you layout the concrete pavers, they end up exactly where they are supposed to go.
This list might seem long, but all of them are essentials in my list. You don’t have to own these as renting them or loaning is enough. Even the hand and knee protection have their place as rough paver surface will eat the skin of your fingertips fast.
The reason I consider the others essential is that each and every tool here will help you to achieve the best possible outlook for your project. You can do it with just a shovel and a piece of 2×4 plank, but that isn’t something I’d want in my yard.
Instead, with measuring properly and preparing the ground, you will have beautiful pavers installed and the ground heaving won’t affect them that much. It’s an ugly surprise next year if you see your hard work being uneven on the ground, parts of it lifted and some parts sunk.