What is the Best Base for Pavers?

When it comes to paver installation, there are many choices you’ll need to make. From the color and size of the pavers to the type of base that will help to anchor them.

Three Layers of Support

While you may think pavers are simply placed on the ground, there is actually a complex support system below them. Without the proper installation and support, pavers can shift and crack over time.

The three layers of support under pavers are:

  • Subgrade- the compacted soil beneath the installation site
  • Subbase- the support layer applied on top of the soil
  • Base- the material the pavers are installed into

Depending on what region you live in, the subgrade could be comprised of anything from dirt or clay to rock and sand. The next layer, the subbase, is usually comprised of gravel with small particles that will interlock with each other under the weight of the pavers. However, it is the next layer, the base, that will keep your pavers in place.

The Best Base for Pavers

There isn’t just one base that is best for your pavers. There are different considerations you’ll want to make based on the region where you live, the use of the space where the pavers are being installed, and how much traffic they will receive.

Sand-Set Base

best base for pavers- sand

A sand-set base is one of the most popular choices due to sand’s availability and versatility. To install pavers in a sand-set base, a layer of sand is placed on top of the subbase. The sand is smoothed and leveled before the pavers are placed on top and pressed into place.

Sand is able to provide proper drainage for your patio or walkway. However, sand should typically not be used on its own. It can shift over time, compromising the integrity of your pavers. To prevent weeds from growing between your pavers, additional sand will have to be added between them after the initial installation.

Crushed Stone Base

best base for pavers- crushed stone

Your next option for a base for pavers is crushed stone. This can also be called an open-graded base. If you live in an area that is prone to heavy rain or flooding, this is the best base for pavers. This type of base is porous and allows water to flow freely though it with minimal shifting. Crushed stone is also an excellent choice for larger paver projects like driveways.

The stone usually used in this type of base includes:

  • Limestone
  • Dolomite
  • Granite

Although crushed stone comes in a variety of sizes, most experts recommend ¾ inch gravel for paver installation.

Recycled Concrete Base

best base for pavers- recycled concrete

If a crushed stone base appeals to you, but you want to be more environmentally friendly, then think of recycled concrete. Recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) is made by breaking down existing concrete into gravel. Because this process is reusing preexisting materials and you do not have to mine for new materials, it is a more sustainable option. Unfortunately, because you do not know the stone mixture that was used in the initial concrete, this can make it a less predictable option than crushed stone.

Compacted Soil Base

best base for pavers- compacted soil

Although compacted soil is an important part of your paver installation, it shouldn’t be the only part. While you can technically lay your pavers directly onto compacted soil, this can cause many issues down the line. Because you are basically placing your pavers right onto the ground, there will be poor drainage. Soil is meant to retain water, and that prolonged exposure to excessive moisture could damage the pavers. Soil is also prone to shifting, especially if the ground freezes and thaws over the winter.

Stone Dust Base

best base for pavers- stone dust

Like compacted soil, stone dust is another option you’ll see that isn’t the best base for pavers. Because the particles are so small, they will not properly compact. This means that the stone dust can easily shift and lead to uneven pavers over time. Additionally, because of their particle size, stone dust will not allow for proper drainage like larger aggregates.

Because of all the options, paver installation may seem daunting. Luckily, here at Concrete by Design we have over 30 years of industry experience to help you make the right decision for you space and pick the best base for pavers. Request a quote today!