How to Lay Natural Stone Pavers?
This is a very good question because installing stone pavers can be quite challenging.
On top of that, you may have found there are a lot of different opinions on the “correct” and “best” method of installing natural stone pavers.
As with any industry, there are also many “techniques” (aka shortcuts) that can save time and money which is all well and good until something goes wrong. When this happens, you will be left with devastating consequences for your home or commercial project that will add extra costs and time to fix, not to mention the added stress on your mental health.
Doing it properly from the beginning would be best, wouldn’t you agree?
This is why it’s important to take advice specifically from those professionals who have a successful track record in the industry.
It’s equally important to invest your hard earned money in products supplied by companies who have a track record for quality materials.
You see, it’s all part of the package. If you want to create an impeccable pavement, this involves investing in quality materials and quality workmanship. Having one without the other will make a world of difference once the project is completed.
Also, cutting costs (or corners) may seem like a ‘saving’ today, but in reality, it is likely to increase on-going maintenance costs or forking out lumpy sums for repairs in the long-haul.
In this article we will review four methods of laying stone pavers. This will give you a solid foundation when starting your project.
When you speak to your installer, be sure to make notes and compare them with what we discuss in this article. If you find inconsistencies, make sure to get another opinion.
If you would like additional support, we are happy to chat with you over the phone and assist with:
- Interviewing your installer for you.
- Cross-checking the information the installer provided to you.
* Oyster Limestone Pavers – Installed by Just Clip It
It’s imperative to make sure you have chosen not only quality products but also a quality installer.
This can mean a world of difference once all your hard work is over. Cutting on costs today may seem like saving but in reality, it could mean increasing on-going maintenance costs or forking out lumpy sums for repairs in the long-haul.
We’ve given you some points below to read over. We’re happy to speak with you further on the phone should you want to talk to us however this should give you some foundation before you talk to an installer to help with either,
A) Interviewing them
B) Cross-checking the information they’ve given you
Make sure to take notes of what any installer says, as you move forward and you can compare against our methods below to see if there are any inconsistencies.
3 METHODS HOW TO LAY NATURAL STONE PAVERS
The 1st Method called “SLAB PAVING”- Ideal and the best possible way
Our preferred method for laying stone pavers is to always start with installing a concrete slab of about 50-60mm high.
Let’s have a look at the steps involved:
- Pour a concrete slab min 90-100mm thick for foot traffic and 125mm thick minimum for a driveway. Once poured, allow 14 days for it to cure.
- Waterproof your concrete slab to avoid efflorescence, efflorescence happens when salts come to the surface of the concrete and create a white icky, foam-like substance along the grout joints. As most natural stones are porous, if the concrete slab is not waterproofed, efflorescence can come out of the pores of the stone. Otherwise, with stones like porcelain pavers, the salt will find any-which-way to seep through and this typically happens through the grout joints, efflorescence can also occur when using a traditional mortar bed installation as there is salts and minerals found in the bush sand.
We recommend using a product like Mapei Mapelastic Smart!
- Once your concrete slab has been waterproofed, use your 12mm Notch Towel to apply a flexible glue, like Ardex x18, onto each paver.Allow a minimum 3mm gap between each stone paver for expansion and contraction.
- If you are working with highly textured surfaces, be sure to pre-seal them before you start grouting. Otherwise, it will be very challenging to remove any grout haze from the textured surface.To do this, you can use a specific non-bond breaking sealant, such as the Aqua-Mix Pro Block. This product improves adhesion and lightly seals your natural stone which makes cleaning the excess grout off easier.
- Once you’ve laid the concrete slab, waterproofed it, sealed the stones and applied the glue, you can finally grout your pavers!Here we recommend using either the Mapei Ultracolour Plus range or the Ardex FG8 with an added Grout Booster.The Mapei Ultracolor Plus products have an in-built sealer. This helps the stones resist efflorescence as well as fighting against mould and/or staining. The majority of other grouts on the market do not have this added feature. As always, research the products to ensure they are a premium make with helpful benefits for your home in the long-term.
- Once you’ve finished grouting, you want to clean off any excess grout from your pavers.To make this process easier, we suggest using the Aqua Mix – Grout Haze Clean-Up. Simply add this liquid into your bucket of water while you are cleaning the grout.After you’ve completed the initial clean, revisit the grout the following day. When you do this, you may find that some pavers still have grout haze left on them. This typically has a film-type look. Remove this with the Aqua Mix- Cement Grout Haze Remover. This product has Phosphoric Acid in it so before application, read the instructions to determine the correct mixing ratio.Call 1300aquamix if you need any technical assistance for Aqua Mix products.
- Now that your pavers look schmick and clean, you can add the final touch with the top sealer! We recommend using a product from the Aqua Mix range called the Sealers Choice Gold. As a water-based sealer, it penetrates well into the pores of the stone and typically lasts up to 15 years. Using nanotechnology and micro-band formulation, it also fights against active mould and is specifically created to have a low VOC rating.
There is nothing better than having an A-grade product with an A-grade environmental rating!
Congratulations! Now that your pavers are sealed you enjoy your entertainment area with your family and friends.
The 2nd Method called “RIGID PAVING” – Recommended method
When it involves improving one’s home, we understand that this can become a costly investment and sometimes concessions need to be made along the way.
This is why we have this method as a recommended alternative to the first one.
This installation method can only be used on stones that are 30mm above, 20mm porcelains can be used as they are very dense and tough, anything else below 20mm or 12mm is classified as a tile and must be installed using a tile adhesive on a sand cement tile screed or direct stick as referred to in the 1st method
Here’s how this method works:
- Install 100mm compacted road base footing
- Once the roadbase is set, The stone can be installed using a mortar bed installation. This consists of:
– 3 parts washed bush sand: 1 part GP white cement.
– 1 part water and or/additive.
- Once the mortar mix is made the mortar can be trowled out onto the slab and or roadbase footing, the mortar bed should be no more then 30-40mm thick, using a bricklayers trowel the mortar can be spread evenly allowing for no air pockets. Once the mortar is ready the paver can be placed on the mortar bed and hit into place using a rubber mallet (you should only tap the paver a few times to get it into position, to much mortar or over hitting the paver can loose its bond between the mortar and become drummy once set)
- Using a stringline for correct fall(s) is recommended when using this technique to make sure the stone is all even and falling correctly
- Once installed into its desired position, leaving a 3-5mm joint for grout, fill any voids and air pockets around the perimeters of the stone leaving it completely sealed.
- Once this paver is set you can move onto the next stone installation following the same technique.
- Once the mortar is set and the paver is solid you can now walk on the area and proceed grouting
While this method is less costly and more efficient, it is still considered a quality installation for laying natural stone pavers or porcelain pavers.
The 3rd Method called “FLEXIBLE PAVING”– The most Cost-effective
Another widely accepted and adapted method of installing stone pavers, also known as flexible paving which is traditionally seen and used on most brick paving, any paver or stone greater then 30mm thick can be used for this procedure
- Install a 100mm compacted roadbase footing.
- Install a 20-30mm paving sand / river sand bed.
- You can use screed rails or some form of rigid steel bar or pipe, this can be used as a guage for your sand bed, place the screed rails evenly apart (enough to get a large screed or level to be placed over the top)
- Set the two rails to the desired height and fall
- Once set infill with your paving/river sand scraping the sand back using the rails as a guide with your screed or level to create the perfect fall and surface
- Repeat this until the area is complete
- Once compete carefully remove the screed rails and infill where the rails have been with paving/river sand to fill in the voids.
- Once the screed and level is complete you can begin by placing your pavers into position and lightly tapping it down with a hammer.
- Leave a 3mm gap in between each paver
- Fill the gap with a Sydney sand/ paving sand
- Lightly mist the surface of the pavers, sweep sand in the joints until the are flush with the surface.
An alternative to stone for this method would be installing the Armstone 20mm Structural Porcelain Paving range. We recommend our structural porcelain paving range in this situation because the material is extremely dense and hard-wearing. This makes it ideal for such solutions where it may be somewhat dangerous to use other (more natural) pavers.
While you still need to allow a 3mm gap between pavers (for expansion and contraction due to temperature changes), you will fill those gaps with sand, instead of grout.
As this method of installation will naturally evoke the movement in the base and pavements, grout will create visible cracks in the paving joints. Ideally, you want to avoid this.
As with all budget options, there are a few disadvantages with this method. Namely:
- Strong rain can wash off the sand between the pavers which means you will need to regularly refill the gaps. Depending on Mother Nature, this may become a regular (and time-consuming) process and occurrence.
- Weeds can easily grow through the grout joints because there is nothing stopping them from coming through. The time it will take for you to maintain the grout joints can cost you more than if you had invested your funds (and time) in methods 1 and 2.
Unless you are in extremely dire circumstances, at Armstone we recommend using methods 1 and 2 for laying natural stone pavers and holding off on method 3 as long as possible.
Overall, installing stone pavers does require a certain level of expertise. As such, we strongly recommend finding a professional who can tailor the ideal solution for your unique landscape. You are, after all, working with a valuable asset, a little piece of Australia: your home.
We wrote this article to serve you as a general guide and blueprint.
If you are looking for an installer, we can easily recommend one. You can reach us on the phone or online here.
As always, thank you for reading this article.
it’s been a pleasure helping you!