How to lay slabs on sand

Written by ben wakeling
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How to lay slabs on sand
Sand is a suitable foundation for paving slabs. (sand image by alri from

There are a number of instances in which you may wish to use sand -- as opposed to a sand and cement mix -- as a bedding material for paving slabs. For example, sand is a suitable foundation if you are laying a number of different size slabs that might require rearrangement.

Things you need

  • Slabs
  • Coarse sand
  • Spade
  • Pegs and line
  • Spray paint
  • Spirit level
  • Hammer
  • Block of wood
  • Hose
  • Rake
  • Broom

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  1. 1

    Using spray paint, or a line stretched between pegs, mark the border of the area to be slabbed.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    Use a bright colour of spray paint so the line is clearly visible. (spray image by Dragana Petrovic from
  2. 2

    Remove topsoil from the area to be paved to a depth of around 7.5 cm (3 inches). This allows space for the sand bed and the paving slabs. Use a spirit level at various places at the bottom of the excavation to ensure that it is level. You may wish to allow the ground to slope slightly to allow rainwater to drain.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    Use a spade to excavate for the foundation. (spade image by from
  3. 3

    Spread a layer of coarse sand in the excavated area and use a rake to level it. This layer must be around 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    Use a rake to spread the sand evenly. (Resting rake. image by bluefern from
  4. 4

    Arrange the slabs, beginning in one corner and working outwards. If you are arranging a pattern, keep larger slabs on the perimeter of the area to be slabbed and smaller ones nearer the centre. Small slabs at the edge of a paved area are prone to being knocked out of position.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    You may wish to arrange slabs in a pattern. (Stone paving image by Lee Mann from
  5. 5

    Using a wooden block and a hammer, knock the slabs gently into place, bedding them into the sand. This will prevent them from moving when stepped on. Do not strike the slabs directly, as this can cause damage.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    Carefully hammer the slabs into place. (a hammer image by timur1970 from
  6. 6

    Make sure the paved area is level using a spirit level. If it is uneven, either add or remove sand to raise or lower the slab to the correct height.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    Use a spirit level to ensure the area is even. (wasserwaage image by Rolf Klebsattel from
  7. 7

    Heap small piles of coarse sand onto the paved area and sweep into the cracks in between the slabs using a broom.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    Sweep away any excess sand once complete. (broom image by BaSSaBaS from
  8. 8

    Water the area to compact the sand and allow it to dry for a day or two. Fill in any gaps with more sand to meet the required level. Your paved area is now complete.

    How to lay slabs on sand
    Your slabbed area is now completed for your enjoyment. (patio image by fotogisèle from

Tips and warnings

  • You can use excavated topsoil on your flowerbeds.
  • Allow a working perimeter around your paved area of around 30 cm (12 inches).

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