Just as an area rug can pull a living room together, so can interlocking concrete pavers tie a house to its setting.
The most popular pavers resemble cobblestones and add an instant patina of age and refinement.
Some pavers look like quarried stone; some have the color and shape of bricks; and others have angular, multifaceted outlines that meet in intricate geometric patterns. Paver colors are warm and earthy, with subtle variations between hues.
Interlocking pavers are cast individually in multiunit molds, then vibrated and compressed under extreme pressure.
They’re laid piece by piece in sand atop a compacted, crushed stone base, just as if they were cobblestones or brick ― the sand locks them together. The ones used in residential installations are 2 3⁄8 inches thick and are strong enough to bear the weight of cars.
After the pavers are set in place, they can move with soil expansion, which causes cracking in poured-in-place concrete. “Plus they’ll last a lifetime and are easy to fix,” says landscape contractor Bill Healy, who installed the driveway above, in Belmont, California.
According to the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, pavers perform well in climates that freeze. Visit www.icpi.org to find the widest range of pavers and manufacturers in your area.
Design and construction: Healy Landscape Construction, Belmont, CA (650/631-8078)
Tips for setting a level path
Home centers and landscape supply yards sell pavers by the individual piece or by the pallet, which holds about 100 square feet.
Prices vary with paver style, and generally range from $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot. Installation by contractor is $12 to $14 per square foot.
Here's how to install path or driveway pavers:
1. Remove the existing slab.
2. Excavate about 11 inches below the finish grade.
3. Compact the soil and lay a weed-inhibiting geotextile, a fabric that doesn’t rot and thus prevents soil migration.
4. Top with an 8-inch layer of compacted base rock.
5. Add a 1½-inch layer of sand, then level and roll it.
6. Add restraining barriers along edges.
7. Place and cut the pavers to fit the space.
8. Sweep fine sand into cracks, then settle the surface with a flat-plate vibrator.