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How to Lay Paving Slabs: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Lay Paving Slabs, laying paving slabs can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your outdoor space. Whether you’re looking to create a new patio, pathway, or driveway, following the right steps is crucial to achieving a professional finish. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of laying paving slabs, ensuring your project is both beautiful and durable.

1. Planning and Preparation

Assess the Area

Before you begin, assess the area where you intend to lay the paving slabs. Measure the dimensions to determine the number of slabs and materials you’ll need. Consider the purpose of the area – will it be a patio, a garden path, or a driveway?

Gather Materials and Tools

You’ll need the following materials and tools:

  • Paving slabs
  • Sharp sand
  • Cement
  • Hardcore or crushed stone
  • Weed membrane
  • String line and pegs
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Rubber mallet
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Broom

Design Layout

Sketch a design layout to visualize how the paving slabs will be arranged. Consider the pattern you want to achieve, whether it’s a simple grid, a herringbone, or another design.

2. Excavation

Clear the Area

Remove any existing grass, plants, or debris from the area. Use a shovel to dig out the top layer of soil to a depth of about 150-200mm (6-8 inches). This depth includes the base material, bedding layer, and the paving slabs.

Create a Stable Base

A solid base is essential for preventing the slabs from shifting over time. Spread a layer of hardcore or crushed stone across the excavated area. This layer should be about 100mm (4 inches) deep. Use a plate compactor to compact the hardcore, ensuring it forms a stable, level base.

3. Setting Up the Bedding Layer

Lay a Weed Membrane

To prevent weeds from growing between the paving slabs, lay a weed membrane over the compacted hardcore. Cut the membrane to fit the area, making sure it overlaps at the edges.

Mix the Mortar

Prepare a mortar mix using four parts sharp sand to one part cement. Add water gradually until you achieve a consistent, workable mix. The mixture should be firm enough to hold its shape but not too dry.

Spread the Mortar

Spread a layer of mortar over the weed membrane, about 50mm (2 inches) deep. Use a trowel to create an even surface. Work in small sections to ensure the mortar doesn’t dry out before you lay the slabs.

4. Laying the Paving Slabs

Start at One Corner

Begin laying the paving slabs from one corner, working your way across the area. Gently place each slab onto the mortar bed, pressing it down firmly. Use a rubber mallet to tap the slab into place, ensuring it sits level with the adjacent slabs.

Check the Level

Use a spirit level to check that each slab is level both side-to-side and front-to-back. Adjust the mortar bed as needed to achieve a level surface. Continue this process for all the slabs, maintaining consistent gaps between them.

Maintain Straight Lines

To keep your lines straight, use a string line stretched between pegs. Align the edges of the slabs with the string line as you work. This will help you achieve a neat, uniform appearance.

5. Filling the Joints

Prepare Jointing Material

Once all the slabs are laid and level, prepare a jointing mix using sharp sand and cement. Mix the materials dry in a 4:1 ratio. You can also use a ready-made jointing compound if preferred.

Fill the Gaps

Carefully sweep the jointing material into the gaps between the slabs using a broom. Make sure the material fills the joints completely, ensuring there are no air gaps. For a stronger finish, you can lightly mist the surface with water to help the jointing material set.

Compact the Joints

Use a trowel or a pointing tool to compact the jointing material into the gaps. This helps to create a firm, secure bond between the slabs. Wipe away any excess material from the surface of the slabs.

6. Final Touches

Clean the Surface

Once the jointing material is set, clean the surface of the paving slabs to remove any remaining debris or mortar. Use a soft broom and water to gently wash the slabs, ensuring they look clean and pristine.

Allow to Settle

Allow the newly laid paving slabs to settle for at least 24-48 hours before walking on them. Avoid heavy loads or traffic for a few days to ensure the mortar and jointing material set properly.

7. Maintenance Tips

Regular Cleaning

To keep your paving slabs looking their best, regularly sweep away dirt, leaves, and debris. For stubborn stains, use a mild detergent and a brush to clean the surface.

Weed Control

Occasionally check for weeds growing between the slabs. Remove any weeds promptly to prevent them from spreading. Applying a weed killer can help manage persistent weed growth.

Re-pointing Joints

Over time, the jointing material may wear away. If you notice gaps forming between the slabs, re-point the joints with fresh jointing compound to maintain stability and appearance.


Laying paving slabs is a rewarding project that can transform your outdoor space. By following these steps, you can achieve a professional-looking result that enhances both the beauty and functionality of your area. Whether you’re creating a new patio, pathway, or driveway, the key is in the preparation, precision, and attention to detail.

For expert advice or professional installation services, consider contacting Viv Construct Group. With years of experience and a commitment to quality, we can help you achieve the perfect paving solution for your needs. Contact us today for a personalized quote and take the first step towards transforming your outdoor space.