How to level the sand base for patio pavers

Updated February 21, 2017

Laying concrete or brick pavers for a patio requires more than simply placing the pavers on top of your existing landscape. To ensure a stable and reliable base for your patio, you must excavate the area and lay down a few levels of support structure. The topmost support level is a layer of sand, which allows for easily installation of the pavers but must be completely flat for the safest paver installation.

Excavate your patio area to a depth of at least 18 cm, until you reach stable subsoil. Check with your local council's building control department and utilities companies before you start digging to find any limitations or requirements for building in your area, as well as to ensure that you will not damage any underground wires or pipes while you dig.

Compact the subsoil with a plate compactor or hand tamper to create a stable starting surface for your building project. You can buy or hire these tools at DIY shops or plant hire centres.

Cover the subsoil with a layer of landscape fabric, followed by a 7.5 to 10 cm layer of patio paver base or gravel. Spread the base material evenly across the area with a garden rake or hoe and then compact this level as well. The landscape fabric, as well as the porous base material, help rainwater to drain from the patio.

Lay two PVC pipes about 75 cm apart near one end of your patio.

Pour levelling sand in between and around the two pipes until you have filled all of the area around the pipes with sand. You should still be able to see the top of the pipes slightly through the sand.

Level the sand by scraping a flat wood plank over the pipes. This will scrape away excess sand, creating a level layer of sand.

Pull the PVC pipes out of the sand and fill in their spaces with sand until the area is completely level. If working on a large patio area, move the pipes to another spot in the installation area and repeat the steps, until you have created a completely level sand base.

Moisten the sand with a garden hose to help it settle. Compact or tamp the surface once more. Once the level sand is also completely flat, you can lay your pavers.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel or hoe
  • Plate compactor or hand tamper
  • Landscape fabric
  • Patio paver base
  • 2 PVC pipes, 2.5 cm thick
  • Levelling sand
  • Wooden beam
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.