Pavers are a common way to change up the appearance of a concrete driveway or patio.
There are many colors, sizes, and patterns to choose from, and the application is fairly simple, although time-consuming.
If you’re looking for some information on how to transform concrete using pavers, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, I’ll walk you through all the necessary steps for paver applications so you can do it yourself!
I should mention there are three main methods of application. You can use a sand set, a mortar set, or a glued set.
Each has its advantages, but the glue set is the quickest and cheapest of the three.
Applying Pavers Over Concrete – A Detailed Guide
Gluing pavers to concrete isn’t as simple as building a layer of construction adhesive over concrete and then plastering the pavers.
You’ll need to do some prep before and need quite a few tools and extra materials.
Besides construction adhesive and the pavers, you should also have some additional equipment on hand, including a caulking gun, a tile saw, measuring tape, a rubber mallet, a torpedo level, and a 2-foot level, security equipment, and some concrete cleaner.
Before even placing the pavers over the concrete slab, the concrete surface must be cleaned thoroughly.
A pressure washer and some concrete cleaner will do wonders to remove any impurities that might get in the way of the adhesive.
Then, after the concrete is clean and fully dry, you can apply construction adhesive and attach the border pavers.
For higher durability, it’s best to go in with a thin layer of sand before applying the pavers. About 1-inch thick is enough.
This sand layer acts as a buffer zone between the concrete and pavers. It will also prevent water from seeping into the pavers or the concrete slab, preventing cracks and spalling.
The pavers don’t always need to be directly glued to the concrete. If you’re using a sand base, once all the pavers are in place, you can bind them together using polymeric sand.
You have to fill all the paver joints with this material, and the pieces will be tightly bound together.
You can also apply an adhesive layer over the concrete beforehand if you want to bond pavers to concrete directly.
But overall, this method is perfect even for heavy-weight applications or high-traffic areas such as driveways.
Now that we’ve got the general overview out of the way, here’s a detailed step-by-step list of instructions on how to do it:
- Step 1: Delineate the working area, measure, and calculate how much material you need. Make sure you have enough pavers for the pattern you’re going for and that you can perfectly fit the working area. There should be around 3-4 inches of space between the bottom of the doors and the height of the pavers. If you’re paving areas such as driveways or patios, remember to also account for the gap spaces necessary for doors.
- Step 2: Clean the concrete slab thoroughly. You must get rid of all debris before applying the pavers. Use a concrete cleaner and a brush to scrub the concrete. Alternatively, you can also use a pressure surface cleaner for concrete. Whichever option you choose, make sure there’s no detergent residue left. After washing away the impurities and leftover cleaner, let the concrete dry completely before the next step.
- Step 3: Using a caulking gun, apply construction adhesive over the concrete surface. Over the concrete surface, spread the adhesive about 2 inches apart from each block. Then, apply adhesive to the bottom of the edge pavers and press them down onto the concrete slab. Use two beads of adhesive for each edge paver.
- Step 4: Ensure you align the edge pavers with the concrete slab edge. This will create a neat-looking result and ensure all your inner pavers will fit nicely. Use a level tool to ensure that the edge pavers are perfectly leveled. Use a rubber mallet to press down the blocks if necessary.
- Step 5: Continue the same checking and correcting process as you apply more edge pavers. After all the edge pavers are in place, wait about 24 hours for the construction adhesive to cure.
- Step 6: Once the adhesive is fully cured and the edges are steady, you can go in with the inner pavers. If your measurements are exact, there’s nothing else to worry about here. Construct the pattern you want by laying all the pavers in place. If your pattern leaves you with small gaps that can’t be filled with regular pavers, you might need to cut some of the last ones with a tile saw. After you’ve covered the entire concrete slab with pavers, you can apply the polymeric sand to fill the paver joints. Once finished, wait another 24 hours.
- Step 7: Lastly, after 24 hours, you can finally use the paved area. However, you can also go the extra mile and apply a pavement sealer. This is completely optional, though it will improve the look of your pavers and the resistance to damaging factors such as rain and temperature fluctuations.
Check out my guide on how to use glue for cracks in concrete in order to learn more about the above.
Can You Install Pavers Over Older Concrete?
Installing pavers over older concrete is possible but not advisable. There are multiple factors you must consider beforehand.
First, the structural integrity of the concrete slab might be compromised.
If there are large or moving cracks, the concrete has already started to degrade.
Applying pavers over it would only mask the issue. As damage continues, your paver surface will also degrade.
Then, you might be dealing with terrain erosion, an issue that isn’t always immediately apparent.
The soil might soak up too much water if the concrete slab is constructed over an area with poor drainage.
Over repeated flooding and drying cycles, the soil can expand and repeatedly collapse, which will inevitably cause fissures in the concrete.
It’s much faster and cheaper to apply pavers over old concrete, but you have to ensure that the slab is in good condition.
Otherwise, you’ll deal with uneven pavers, cracks, and further structural damage concerns.
My guide on glue for concrete will give you more tips.
Potential Issues When Installing Pavers Over Concrete
The main issues you might encounter when installing pavers involve measurements.
Your pattern might come out uneven, or the pavers might be too high, obstructing doorways and becoming a tripping hazard.
Sometimes, pavers could also cause drainage issues, or come out unequal, when the concrete base has slopes that you can’t cover properly.
The issues specific to old concrete might also apply to a new concrete slab in certain conditions.
If you have the following problems, you’ll have to destroy the concrete slab and start anew.
In case of foundation problems, fixing the concrete slab won’t help much. You must first fix the underlying issue before worrying about integrity and cracks.
Fixing the symptom without addressing the cause extends the lifetime of the concrete. However, you’ll still get extensive damage and breakdown due to an unstable foundation.
Foundation cracks and moving cracks are other potential issues. These cracks directly affect the integrity of the concrete. If enough time passes, these will eventually lead to gaps and craters.
If you apply pavers on top of moving cracks, you’ll encounter various unpleasant issues later.
To prevent such unpleasant surprises, it’s best to keep the concrete as it is, at least for a few months. Closely monitor it to see any emerging cracks and their evolution.
There you have it! If following all the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to apply pavers to concrete quickly and effectively.
To prevent any future foundation or concrete integrity issues, it’s also a good idea to ask for an expert opinion before commencing your project!
For good concrete-compatible adhesives, you can check some other articles on concrete glues.