What base should you use for patio pavers?

Pavers are versatile and affordable outdoor flooring choices that can drastically improve the appearance of a space and make it more functional. To get a long-lasting result, you need to make sure your installation technique is correct, and just as importantly the right products are used. So what base material is best for patios? Here we’ll run through a couple of options to give you an idea of which may be best for your area.

Why do you need to use a base material when laying pavers?

Using the correct base material under your pavers is of high importance for several reasons. It provides a stable and flat foundation to lay the pavers on, this will ensure they last and remain secure without shifting. The base material also helps with drainage, without it, water could potentially pool on top of the pavers and cause an array of issues both with the patio and the areas surrounding it.

Here are some base materials that can be used for a paved patio

Crushed stone

Crushed stone is crushed limestone, and it makes a sturdy base to lay pavers on as it compacts well and withstands high traffic with ease. This material makes the installation process simple with minimal mess and fuss.


Sand offers great drainage benefits as it allows water to pass through into the ground. If you intend on using your patio a lot or it will be exposed to high traffic, using sand only is not the best option as it doesn’t offer the long-term support that other base materials do.

Compacted soil

Laying your pavers directly on soil is not usually recommended unless it’s only a temporary measure. The main reasons why you shouldn’t lay pavers directly on soil is because it doesn’t provide sufficient drainage. Water can run off the pavers and onto everything around it and cause flooding. They are prone to sinking and shifting and cannot weight-bear heavy loads. It’s a good chance that weeds will invade the paver joints unless weed prevention measures are taken before laying the pavers down.

Cement or concrete

Pavers can either be laid directly onto existing concrete permitting it’s in good condition, or they can be set onto wet concrete and as it dries, it fixes the pavers to it. Adhering the pavers into position using cement can provide you with a long-lasting patio as they can weight-bear heavy loads without compromising the integrity of the pavers, and the likelihood of them moving or sinking is drastically reduced. If you decide to install your pavers onto existing concrete, it’s a good idea to hire a professional or at the very least, do your research first to ensure you end up with a quality finish.

Your pavers need more than one base layer

A paver patio that stands the test of time has typically been installed correctly, and the right amount of base material has been laid. There are several materials that you should use when laying pavers, including:

Gravel or crushed rock

Once the ground has been sufficiently excavated to make way for the new pavers, a layer of crushed rock or gravel needs to be laid and compacted.

Bedding sand

Next, a layer of bedding sand is screeded across the crushed rock or gravel.

Pavers are laid

The pavers are then set on the bedding sand.

Paver sand

Once the pavers are laid, and you are happy with their placement, you will then need to brush paver sand into the paver joints. This secures the pavers into position and provides a buffer to prevent them from moving and hitting one another.

The amount of sand you use can make a significant difference in the longevity of your patio

The sand layer is extremely important to get right as getting it wrong can negatively affect how long your patio lasts. It should be 1 inch thick, no more, no less. There are a couple of reasons for this, and they are:

If it’s too thin, it’s not going to support the pavers as it should.

If it’s too thick, it can create unevenness and sinking.

Major factors to consider when laying a paver patio yourself

Whether you need a permit or not

Building works that have been completed without the necessary permit approvals are deemed illegal, and you may receive a fine as a result. Before starting your paver patio, check with your local council to see if you need a permit or not first.


Virtually all outdoor structures require drainage of some sort, and a patio is no exception. Failing to implement proper drainage in your new patio area can cause major headaches. When water has nowhere to go, it will inevitably sit on top of the pavers and erode the sand in the paver joints. This can cause sinking and paver movement. A paved patio that has no drainage can cause flooding, and this water can pool at the base of the house or end inside as a result. Drainage must be considered when installing any new structure outdoors as it protects your home from preventable damage.

If you have any questions about which base is best for your patio project or if you’re looking for some statement pavers, contact our team here at Bonita Stone. We are paver experts and would love to help if we can.