Paving Installation Advice

One expects paving to provide a solid surface to walk on or drive on, be functional for a lifetime and to add value to the property. Remember that segmented paving is installed outdoors, on the Earth’s surface, and is exposed to harsh elements. Before we get into the details of installing paving, we would like to cover a number of basics.

Is the installation of paving quick and easy?


The simple answer is no. It doesn’t matter what an installer tells you. Expect inconvenience. Most paving can’t be installed on top of existing paved materials. There will be digging, refuse and dust. Don’t ever try to rush the installation. Rather let installers do it properly instead of pushing them to rush the job. Remember, you would expect paving to last a lifetime so one or two days of additional inconvenience is nothing in the bigger scheme of things. It is also essential to take the recommended period of “curing” seriously, before using a driveway or patio. If you start using a driveway too soon, it will negatively affect the integrity of the installation.

Are some suppliers better than others?


Not all paving bricks or stones are the same. Our aim with this statement is not to try and win your business. Just be aware that there are dishonest paving manufacturers out there and that the cheapest option will very likely work out to cost the most in the long term.

What paving material is the best?


If you haven’t yet, please refer to our paving comparison guide for an unbiased guide to the most common paving materials used in South Africa. All paving materials have advantages as well as disadvantages. Make a wise decision when it comes to the type of paving material you select.

The following points are what we regard as the essentials in making sure that your paving installation lasts a lifetime. For a more detailed explanation, or if you are an experienced installer, we recommend using our comprehensive installation guide.

Use a reputable installer:


Use a reputable installer. The vast majority of site complaints we tend to, relate to bad workmanship and inadequate earth preparation by installers. Refer to our installation guide prior to seeing an installer and make sure that the installer will comply with the guidelines provided. Point out the instructions, especially to general builders as the installation of paving is not their main line of expertise.

Beware of scam artists that disappear with deposits etc. Check references and consult consumer bodies and public tools like Hellopeter.com. Contractor memberships with industry bodies like the Master Builders Association or Concrete Manufacturers Association provide you with some form of recourse when complications arise.

Determine the laying patterns:


There are many different laying patterns for paving bricks and slabs. Certain patterns are basic, while others are more complex and require further attention to detail. The choice of laying pattern is determined by the size and combinations of pavers as well as the application.

We have assembled various patterns for each our paving products to make the decision easier for you. Click here to view and/or download the recommended laying patterns.

Consider drainage and water run off:


Poor drainage and run off plans will cause ponding which will infiltrate the foundation layers, leading to the eventual failure of the installation.

It is important to consider the natural land, walls and buildings when planning drainage and run off. It must be noted that the gradient/slope to ensure sufficient drainage is constructed into the foundation layer and not the bedding sand.

Ensure that the foundation layer (subbase) is well compacted:


The foundation layer underneath the paving, known as the subbase, should be very well compacted. If the subbase isn’t compacted properly, the following can happen:

  • The paved area may sag in certain areas as layers beneath the surface of the earth shift and organic material in topsoil deteriorates over time.
  • The paving blocks or slabs may break due to the weight on top of the paving, use a car for example, isn’t distributed throughout the layers beneath the paving.

We recommend the use of a roller, plate compactor (at least 75kg) or jumping jack tamper to compact the earth to the point of refusal. For a comprehensive understanding of foundation/subbase preparation, view our Installation Guide.

Use solid edge restraints:


The importance and use of edge restraints is often overlooked. Edge restraints ensure that paving doesn’t creep sideways. Should this happen, jointing sand can easily erode and cause chipping, unwanted water will seep in and ultimately lead to the failure of the installation. Experience has shown us that the use of kerbs form the best edge restraints, however, the correct use of copings or pavers is still sufficient.

We do not recommend creating edge restraints by digging a little trench on the edge after the paving has been installed and filling it with concrete – this is guaranteed to fail.

For a comprehensive understanding of edge restraints, view Page 10 of our Installation Guide.

Plastic sheeting beneath paving – not recommended:


Bosun doesn’t recommend installing plastic sheeting beneath paving as this will negatively affect the structural integrity of the installation. In addition, it doesn’t prevent weed growth as weeds grow from the top and not through the paving. Weeds grow from seeds carried by bird droppings and the wind.

Ensure the correct bedding sand is used:


The use of correct bedding sand will go a long when in ensuring that the paving installation won’t begin sagging. Ideal sand used for bedding pavers should be a well-draining river sand. Such sand should contain no clay and as little fines as possible. The bedding sand should also be moist to ensure that the pavers bed evenly with no high or low pavers.

Page 11 of our installation guide provides more detail on bedding sand and methods.

Be careful when handling and cutting materials:


Pavers are fragile. Careless and indiscriminate handling of paving will cause chipping and breaking. We strongly do not recommend throwing pavers in wheelbarrows or front-end loaders and carelessly tipping them out at the laying destination. Pack and unpack pavers by hand, or make use of specialised handling equipment, such as the Probst Paver Transport Cart.

Our sister company, Cretesol, imports specialised handling equipment and tools from the German manufacturer – Probst. Probst handling equipment enables paving installers to do their jobs more effectively, through making the installation of paving safer, easier and more accurate. Available equipment includes: Block Cutters, Paving Block Extractors, Paving Slab and Brick Handles, Kerb Laying Clamps and Alignment Tools. Click here to view the product range.

Another important factor is cutting. Precise cutting will create a beautiful effect, but bad cutting will look awful and can lead to the failure of the installation. Inaccurate cutting will result in large grouting gaps, in turn, the pavers will begin to creep sideways.

Cutting over paving already installed can also lead to fine dust that will stain pavers. To avoid this, we recommend using a Probst Block Cutter or similar mechanism. Paving blocks can be cut seamlessly, without dust, noise or wastewater.

Use the correct jointing sand or grouting:


The use of correct jointing sand creates and interlock between pavers – ensuring no sagging and excess movement. Plaster sand is generally used for jointing in South Africa. We recommend using a light-coloured sand rather than red sand which could stain the paving.

Cement and sand mix grouting is generally used between larger paving slabs and flagstones; however, it seldom performs the way it’s intended to. Common problems associated with this method are cracking, popping out, permanent staining and picture framing of pavers.

Advancements in grouting methods has resulted in many installers opting for newer, resin based grouting methods. The leader in this technology is the German company, Romex. Bosun and Cretesol are fortunate enough to supply these Romex grouting products. Romex products hold numerous advantages such as:

  • Quick and easy installation
  • No staining
  • Does not crack or disintegrate
  • Reliable and long lasting
  • Seamless repairs are possible
  • Consistent strength

For more information on joint sand and grouting, please refer to our installation guide.

Post installation Do’s and Don’ts:


Sand grouted paving installations can be used immediately after grouting. Cement grouted installations should not be trafficked for seven to ten days after installation.

To clean and remove general dirt, regularly hose down your paving and sweep with a hard-bristled broom or use a mechanical sweeper. Regular hosing and sweeping will keep your paving clean and more importantly prevent weeds from taking root.

Do not use high pressure cleaners to clean paving. You can run the risk of washing out jointing sand between the pavers, leading to the failure of the installation.

We do not recommend using acids or harsh chemicals to clean paving. Rather opt for specialised cleaners.

Do not seal your paving within the first six months after installation. We strongly recommend sealing paving once the paving has fully cured and that any possible efflorescence has run its course.

For more information on cleaning, sealing and general maintenance, please refer to our Paving Maintenance and Cleaning Advice article.

Remember to have reasonable expectations:


Most people expect to pay less for paving than what they eventually do. Look at our page on the price of paving to get a feeling of what paving will cost. Remember, paving is expected to last a lifetime and, in many instances, it could also carry vehicles like a normal road. In South Africa paved areas are usually large as we have bigger yards and outside living spaces. We will always recommend saving a bit longer rather than to opt for something cheaper.

Paving is made to be rugged and is installed outdoors. Therefore, don’t expect paving to look like ceramic tiles. When paving is newly laid it also doesn’t yet look its best. It needs a few months to settle down in a manner of speaking.

Consider these practicalities:


In general paving trucks are big and bulky. Make sure that they can gain access to residential estates and boomed off areas. Paving will generally be offloaded by cranes in bundled packs. It will however usually need to be manually moved to the place of installation. Therefore, be very clear on where you want the paving offloaded.

Allow for breakages and cutting when ordering paving. An extra 5-10% should be sufficient.

Preferably be present when paving is offloaded and inspect the packs or at least do it before unpacking and installation takes place. Once packs are broken there is always the possibility of passing blame between installers and manufacturers.