How to Replace Patio Stones, Tiles and Pavers

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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First, let's sort out a few terms: Any piece used to pave a patio or walkway can be called a paver, though sometimes the word is used specifically for small concrete or (more traditionally) granite paving blocks. As for stones, we're talking here mostly about flagstones, which are about 2 inches (5 cm) thick and irregular in shape. Tiles come in square or other geometric shapes, and they're usually thinner than flagstones or pavers. Whatever type of surface you have--and whatever you call it--how you repair it will be most determined by whether it is set in mortar or is simply resting on a sand base.

Skill level:
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Things you need

  • 2-by-4 Scrap
  • Mortar Box Or Wheelbarrow
  • Work Gloves
  • Fine Sand
  • Broom
  • Garden Hose
  • Stiff Nylon Brush
  • Tiles Or Flagstones
  • Chalk
  • Safety Goggles
  • Bolster Chisel
  • Carpenter's Level
  • Cold Chisel
  • Flathead Screwdriver Or Pry Bar
  • Mason's Hammer
  • Mason's Trowel
  • Pointing Trowel
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Tamping Tool
  • Mortar mix, or cement and sand
  • Replacement pavers,

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Instructions

    Repairing a surface set in sand

  1. 1

    Wearing work gloves, remove damaged or displaced pavers with an old screwdriver or a pry bar.

  2. 2

    Spray water on the exposed sand base.

  3. 3

    Tamp down the sand with a tamping tool.

  4. 4

    Add a thin layer of fine sand, water lightly and tamp again until the sand layer is very slightly above the bottoms of the other pavers.

  5. 5

    Beginning in a corner of the open space, install one of the pavers. Tap on top of the paver with a rubber mallet until it is flush with the adjoining pavers, and check it with a level. Pick up the paver, and add or remove sand below for any necessary adjustments; replace the paver.

  6. 6

    With the mallet, gently tap the sides of the paver so that it is snug against all adjoining pavers.

  7. 7

    Install remaining pavers in the same way.

  8. 8

    Sprinkle fine sand over the repaired area and sweep the sand into the cracks. Rinse the entire surface.

    Repairing a surface set in mortar

  1. 1

    Remove damaged paving stones, using a pry bar or a cold chisel and a mason's hammer, if necessary.

  2. 2

    Chisel off the remaining mortar from the exposed base and from the edges of adjoining pavers.

  3. 3

    Lay down the new pavers in place as a dry run to make sure they fit properly, then set them aside. If you're using flagstones, cut any pieces to fit as necessary (see "Cutting flagstones to fit a space").

  4. 4

    Put dry premixed mortar (or a mixture of 1 part cement and 3 parts sand) in a mortar box or wheelbarrow. Mix in water a little at a time until the mortar is the consistency of mud.

  5. 5

    Wet the surface you'll be working on. Don't work on more than 4 to 6 square feet (1.2 to 1.8 square m) at a time, and start working in a corner if you can.

  6. 6

    With a mason's trowel, lay down a 1-inch (2.5-cm) layer of mortar where the new pavers will go.

  7. 7

    Use a short 2-by-4 wood scrap to smooth the mortar until it is level.

  8. 8

    Place the paving units in the mortar, checking frequently to make sure they are level and flush with adjoining pavers. If a paver is a little too high or is raised on one side, tap it lightly with a rubber mallet (see A); if it's too low, pick it up and add some mortar before replacing it.

    How to Replace Patio Stones, Tiles and Pavers
  9. 9

    When all the pavers are placed, fill the joints between them with another batch of the same mortar mix, using a small pointing trowel (see B). You can leave this mortar flush with the tops of the pavers, or use the trowel to recess it slightly.

    How to Replace Patio Stones, Tiles and Pavers
  10. 10

    After 3 to 4 hours, brush off any excess mortar using a stiff nylon brush.

    Cutting flagstones to fit a space

  1. 1

    Draw a chalk line across the part of the stone that needs to be removed. Flip over the stone and continue drawing the line on the other side.

  2. 2

    Place the stone on a surface that is firm but not too hard, such as a lawn or a bed of sand.

  3. 3

    Wearing safety goggles, tap along the line with a bolster chisel and a mason's hammer. Tap back and forth along the line several times.

  4. 4

    Flip the stone over and do the same on the line on the other side.

  5. 5

    Turn the stone over again, and hit on the line with gradually increasing force until a strong blow breaks off the piece.

Tips and warnings

  • To protect your hands, always wear work gloves when handling stones or working with concrete and mortar.
  • On a patio, consider leaving unpaved a space 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) across and planting a shrub or small tree there.
  • Remember to lift heavy objects--whether a stone or a sack of concrete--by bending your knees and lifting carefully, and not by bending your back and risking injury.
  • Wearing steel-toed work boots is always a good idea if you'll be moving a lot of stones. At least be sure to avoid wearing sneakers-- or open-toed sandals!
  • When you're cutting or trimming stones, always be sure to wear safety goggles.

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