Brick pavers make a great surface for driveways, patios, walkways, pool decks and more. Unlike Concrete, asphalt and stamped concrete, brick pavers can be lifted and reset when settling occurs and after the repair is made you would never know it was a problem area. Any repairs made to concrete or even stamped concrete leave an unsightly area that will never look the same as the rest of the surface.
When you notice a small area of a brick paver patio or driveway that is settling and needs repair it is important to first determine what is causing that area to settle. Look around, above and picture below the pavers. Some common causes of brick pavers settling are sand washing out from under pavers (especially along edges), improper soil and base compaction before brick paver installation, under ground lines that may have settled or had base around them settle ( underground downspouts, electric lines, irrigation lines, etc…), areas along the house, concrete or other non paver surface, etc…
Let’s focus on the areas that are settling because of the loss of sand or any other non base issues. These are the most common and with the right materials, tools and determination, fairly easy to repair.
What you will need- 2 strong flat head screw drivers, a dead blow or rubber mallet, sections of a 2 x 4 (variable lengths depending on size of repair), vibratory plate compactor (depending on size of repair) and last but not least torpedo sand or other material used for setting pavers.
- The first thing you want to do is determine which areas need to be repaired and mark them with chalk or any other method. Once you start pulling up the pavers it is easy to loose track of what all needs to be lifted.
- Use the 2 screw drivers to pry loose the first brick paver. It is easiest to start along an edge if possible. Work the paver up with a screw driver on each end of the paver and lift it as flat as possible. Lifting one end of the paver at a time will result in the paver being wedged between the surrounding bricks. Once you get the first out the rest come fairly easily. Be sure to remember the pattern the brick pavers were laid and set cut pavers in the order they came out. It’s like a puzzle when they go back in so taking your time here will really pay off. As you go notice how much lower the pavers are then they should be. Remove 2 or 3 rows of pavers beyond the settled area, this will make for a smooth flow from old pavers and lifted pavers when replaced.
- With all pavers out you will want to start adding torpedo sand or a coarse, well graded sand mix. Do not use fine play sand and be sure the sand is not dried, a bit of moisture in it will be help with setting. For small areas smooth out the sand with your hand or a trowel. Larger areas will need to be screed in a manner that provides a perfectly flat sand layer and that is pitched to allow proper drainage.
- Start laying the pavers back in place keeping the pattern and keeping the joints of the pavers tight. It may be necessary to scrap the edges if they have sand or dirt stuck to them. You want all pavers tight in order to have the joints all line up and to end up with enough space to fit that last paver. If you notice the pavers are still too low add sand as needed
- Compaction will set the pavers an eight of an inch or so. For very small areas use the piece of 2×4 set on edge and the rubber mallet to compact the pavers back into place. This will take a lot of force and you will have to reposition the board to set the pavers at all angles. For large areas running a vibratory plate compactor over the reset pavers is a must. 2 runs over the brick pavers with the compactor will set them and force some sand into the bottom of the joint.
- Sweep sand across the top of the pavers to fill joints. Your best bet here is a dried torpedo sand or better yet polymeric joint sand which lasts much longer. Once the joints are filled recompact the pavers using the board and mallet or plate compactor for large areas. This will wiggle sand down into the joint. Most of the times you will have to sweep more sand after this. Repeat this step until the joints no longer take on any sand.
That’s it, your pavers are releveled and can be returned to use. To prevent sand from washing out and other common problems it is always a good idea to have your brick pavers properly cleaned and sealed. Click for more information on cleaning and sealing brick pavers.