Line Streets, Sidewalks, And Beyond

Photos Courtesy Of Pine Hall Brick Company

Photos Courtesy Of Pine Hall Brick Company

Stroll through downtowns, city parks, college campuses, and backyards to see the oldest trend return: genuine clay brick pavers used in sidewalks, streets, driveways, and patios. Because the pavers are the same color throughout, they combine classic aesthetic appeal with today’s emphasis on “green” construction. Durable enough to last centuries and made from clay and water—two of the most abundant building materials on the planet—these pavers are the essence of sustainability. 

Some of the newest clay pavers are “green” twice: 

  1. They direct stormwater into the ground instead of allowing it to wash across the surface and carry pollutants to the nearest stream.
  2. Except for tiny bits of gravel rather than sand in the joints, modern pavers appear indistinguishable. 

Any new brick installation requires research, beginning with the materials. Traditional 4-inch by 8-inch pavers are made with square or beveled edges, while tumbled pavers are tumbled in steel drums after firing to make them look older. New pavers that appear antiquated are less expensive than reclaimed brick, are more durable, and are of consistent size, which makes installation easier. Veneer or face bricks being sold as pavers are not intended for contact with the ground, and may not last as long under the pounding of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. 

Once material has been determined, it is time to consider the desired size and pattern for the project. Square and rectangular designs are viewed as more formal, while curved installations are more casual. Some patterns will require more cuts than others. There are several methods for installing clay brick pavers, including conventional flexible base, a permeable system, and installation over existing concrete.

Conventional Installation

Conventional installations require: 

  • Crusher run gravel
  • Sand
  • Edge restraints
  • A compacting machine or hand-held tamper
  • A broom.

As a general rule, conventional pavers require about 4 inches of compacted, crushed stone as a base and upwards of 8 inches in harsher climates where ice heaving is a problem. 

For use in trafficked areas—such as a driveway—a base between 8 inches and 12 inches is recommended. In roadways, it is advised that an engineering study be conducted. A good rule is to inquire about the generally accepted practices and use them. 

Dig deep enough to include the depth of the crusher run gravel, 1 inch of sand on top of that, and the paver itself, which should be flush with the surface of the ground. Dig 6 inches beyond the area to be paved. Slope the soil about ¼ of an inch per foot to allow for proper drainage. Next, tamp the soil down with the tamper or plate compactor. 

Put the crusher run gravel down and compact it well. Next, lay down two lengths of 1-inch outside-diameter pipes (metal or PVC) parallel to each other and several feet apart. Cover the pipes with concrete sand, and then use a board across the top to screed the sand level. Remove the pipes and use a trowel to fill and smooth voids. Lay the

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