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How to Lay Paving Slabs: Comprehensive Guide for a Durable and Beautiful Outdoor Surface

Laying paving slabs on concrete is a fantastic way to create a durable and visually appealing outdoor surface. Whether you’re planning to revamp your patio, driveway, or garden path, this step-by-step guide on how to lay paving slabs will help you transform your outdoor space with ease. With careful preparation and attention to detail, you can achieve a professional finish that enhances the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your outdoor area.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Lay Paving Slabs

1. Prepare the Concrete Surface

Before you start laying paving slabs, it’s crucial to ensure that the concrete surface is properly prepared. This foundation step is key to achieving a smooth and long-lasting finish.

Clean the Surface:

  • Begin by thoroughly cleaning the concrete surface. Remove any dirt, debris, or loose particles. A clean surface ensures better adhesion for the bonding agent and mortar.
  • Use a broom or a power washer to clean the surface. If using a power washer, let the surface dry completely before proceeding.

Level the Surface:

  • Inspect the concrete for any cracks or uneven areas. Use a concrete patching compound to repair cracks. Smooth out any uneven spots with a concrete grinder.
  • Ensuring the surface is level is critical. An uneven base can cause the paving slabs to shift or crack over time.

Additional Tips: How to lay paving slabs

  • For heavily stained concrete, consider using a concrete cleaner or degreaser.
  • For large cracks, you might need to use a concrete filler and allow it to cure as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. Apply a Bonding Agent

Applying a bonding agent or primer is an essential step to promote adhesion between the concrete and the paving slabs. This step ensures that the slabs stay firmly in place.

Choosing the Right Bonding Agent:

  • Select a bonding agent recommended for use with concrete and paving slabs. There are various types available, including latex-based and epoxy-based agents.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Application Process:

  • Apply the bonding agent to the concrete surface using a brush or roller. Make sure to cover the entire surface evenly.
  • Allow the bonding agent to dry completely. This can take several hours, depending on the product and environmental conditions.

Additional Tips:

  • Work in small sections if the area is large to ensure even coverage.
  • Ensure the area is well-ventilated if using a bonding agent with strong fumes.

3. Plan the Layout

Planning the layout of your paving slabs is a crucial step that determines the final look of your project. A well-thought-out layout ensures symmetry and alignment, contributing to a professional finish.

Design Considerations:

  • Decide on the pattern and orientation of the paving slabs. Common patterns include the stretcher bond, basket weave, and herringbone.
  • Measure the area and determine how many slabs you’ll need. Consider the size and shape of the slabs to ensure a good fit.

Marking the Layout:

  • Use chalk lines or string to mark the layout on the concrete surface. This helps in maintaining straight lines and even spacing.
  • Double-check measurements and adjust the layout as needed to avoid cutting slabs unnecessarily.

Additional Tips:

  • Consider using spacers to maintain consistent gaps between slabs.
  • Plan for drainage by ensuring a slight slope away from buildings to prevent water accumulation.

4. Mix Mortar or Adhesive

Mixing the mortar or adhesive correctly is vital for the stability of the paving slabs. The right consistency ensures that the slabs bond well to the concrete surface.

Choosing the Right Product:

  • Use a high-quality mortar or adhesive suitable for outdoor use and compatible with your paving slabs.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing ratios. Typically, you’ll need to mix with water to achieve the desired consistency.

Mixing Process:

  • Use a clean container or wheelbarrow for mixing. Measure the required amount of dry mix and water.
  • Mix thoroughly using a trowel or a mechanical mixer until you achieve a smooth, lump-free consistency.

Additional Tips:

  • Only mix as much mortar or adhesive as you can use within the working time specified by the manufacturer.
  • Work in small batches to prevent the mix from drying out before you can apply it.

5. Place the Paving Slabs

Placing the paving slabs correctly is a meticulous process that ensures they are securely bonded and properly aligned.

Application of Mortar/Adhesive:

  • Using a trowel, spread a layer of mortar or adhesive on the concrete surface. The layer should be slightly larger than the size of the paving slab.
  • Ensure the mortar or adhesive is evenly spread to avoid air pockets.

Laying the Slabs:

  • Carefully place each paving slab onto the mortar or adhesive. Press down firmly to ensure good contact with the concrete surface.
  • Use a rubber mallet to tap the slabs into place, making minor adjustments to alignment as needed.

Additional Tips:

  • Check the level of each slab immediately after placing it. Use a spirit level to ensure the slab is flat and even.
  • Work systematically from one side to the other to avoid disturbing the placed slabs.

6. Check for Level

Ensuring that each paving slab is level is crucial for both the appearance and safety of your outdoor surface.

Leveling Process:

  • After placing a slab, use a spirit level to check for levelness. Place the level on top of the slab in multiple directions.
  • If adjustments are needed, tap the slab gently with a rubber mallet to raise or lower it.

Ensuring Uniformity:

  • Continue to check the level of each slab as you proceed with the installation. Pay close attention to the height and alignment of adjacent slabs.
  • Make necessary adjustments immediately to prevent any unevenness.

Additional Tips:

  • Double-check the overall slope of the surface to ensure proper drainage.
  • Repeatedly check the level throughout the installation process to maintain consistency.

7. Fill the Joints

Filling the joints between the paving slabs is essential for stability and aesthetic appeal. Proper joint filling helps to prevent weed growth and enhances the durability of the surface.

Choosing the Right Joint Filler:

  • Use fine sand or a jointing compound specifically designed for paving slabs. Polymeric sand is a popular choice for its durability and weed resistance.
  • Ensure the filler material matches the color of your paving slabs for a seamless look.

Filling Process:

  • Pour the joint filler over the surface and use a brush or broom to sweep it into the joints.
  • Fill the joints completely, ensuring no gaps are left. Remove any excess filler from the surface.

Additional Tips:

  • For large areas, work in sections to ensure thorough filling.
  • Consider using a leaf blower to remove fine dust from the surface without disturbing the joint filler.

8. Seal the Surface (Optional)

Sealing the surface of the paving slabs is an optional step that provides additional protection and enhances the appearance of your outdoor area.

Choosing the Right Sealant:

  • Select a sealant designed for outdoor use and compatible with your paving slabs. There are various types available, including penetrating and film-forming sealants.
  • Consider the desired finish (glossy or matte) when choosing a sealant.

Application Process:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Typically, you’ll need to apply the sealant with a roller or sprayer.
  • Ensure the surface is clean and dry before applying the sealant. Apply evenly and avoid pooling.

Additional Tips:

  • Apply the sealant in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gear if needed.
  • Allow the sealant to dry completely before using the area. This can take several hours to a few days, depending on the product.


By following these detailed steps on how to lay paving slabs, you can create a beautiful and functional outdoor surface. Whether you’re working on a patio, driveway, or garden path, this DIY project is sure to enhance your outdoor space. Proper preparation, careful placement, and attention to detail are key to achieving a professional finish that will last for years.

Ready to start your paving project? Contact Viv Construct Group today for high-quality paving slabs and expert installation advice. Let us help you bring your outdoor vision to life with our premium paving solutions and ground works services.