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How to Lay Paving Slabs on Sand: A Comprehensive Guide

Laying paving slabs on sand is an excellent way to create a sturdy, attractive surface for patios, walkways, and garden areas. This method is straightforward and doesn’t require specialized skills, making it ideal for DIY enthusiasts. In this guide, we’ll walk you through each step of the process, ensuring you achieve a professional finish that enhances your outdoor space’s beauty and functionality.

Step-by-Step Guide to Laying Paving Slabs on Sand

1. Gather Your Tools and Materials

Before starting your project, it’s crucial to have all necessary tools and materials on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paving slabs
  • Sand (sharp sand or builder’s sand)
  • Hardcore or crushed stone
  • Weed membrane
  • Rubber mallet
  • Spirit level
  • String line and stakes
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Plate compactor (optional)
  • Measuring tape

Having everything ready will streamline the process and ensure you don’t have to stop midway to gather supplies.

2. Plan and Mark Your Area

Planning your layout is essential to achieving a professional finish. Decide on the pattern and orientation of your paving slabs before you start. Popular patterns include stretcher bond, basket weave, and herringbone.

Marking the Area:

  • Use a string line and stakes to outline the area where you’ll lay the slabs.
  • Measure the area carefully, making adjustments as necessary to ensure even spacing and a symmetrical layout.
  • Consider any features like drainage slopes; typically, a slight slope away from buildings is recommended to prevent water accumulation.

3. Prepare the Ground

Proper ground preparation is crucial for the longevity and stability of your paving slabs.

Clearing and Excavating:

  • Clear the area of any vegetation, rocks, and debris.
  • Excavate the soil to a depth of approximately 150-200mm (6-8 inches) to allow for the base and sand layers.

Laying the Base:

  • Spread a layer of hardcore or crushed stone about 100mm (4 inches) thick.
  • Use a rake to level the material, ensuring an even distribution.
  • Compact the base layer using a plate compactor or a hand tamper to create a solid foundation.

4. Install a Weed Membrane

Laying a weed membrane over the compacted base helps prevent weeds from growing between your paving slabs. Cut the membrane to size and lay it over the entire area, securing it with garden staples or pins if necessary.

5. Spread the Sand

The sand layer provides a bed for the paving slabs to sit on and helps with leveling.

Adding the Sand:

  • Spread a layer of sharp sand or builder’s sand to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches).
  • Use a rake to level the sand, ensuring a smooth, even surface.

Leveling the Sand:

  • To achieve a perfectly level surface, drag a straightedge (like a long piece of wood) across the sand. You can use the string line as a guide to maintain the correct level.

6. Lay the Paving Slabs

Now it’s time to place your paving slabs onto the sand bed.

Positioning the Slabs:

  • Start from one corner and work your way out, placing the slabs carefully onto the sand.
  • Leave a small gap between each slab (typically 5 – 10 mm) to allow for joint filling later.
  • Use a rubber mallet to tap the slabs gently into place, ensuring they sit firmly on the sand.

Checking the Level:

  • Use a spirit level to check each slab as you lay it, making adjustments as necessary to ensure they are even.
  • Ensure the entire surface remains level and consistent as you work your way across the area.

7. Fill the Joints

Filling the joints between your paving slabs adds stability and prevents weed growth.

Using Sand or Jointing Compound:

  • Pour fine sand or a jointing compound over the surface and use a broom to sweep it into the gaps between the slabs.
  • Ensure all gaps are fully filled, and add more material as needed.
  • For better stability, consider using polymeric sand, which hardens when it gets wet, providing a stronger bond between the slabs.

8. Compact the Surface

Compact the entire surface to ensure the slabs are firmly set and to prevent movement.

Final Compaction:

  • If using polymeric sand, lightly spray the surface with water to activate the binding agent, then allow it to dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • For other types of joint filler, simply brush away any excess sand after filling the joints and ensure the slabs are level and secure.

9. Optional: Seal the Paving Slabs

Sealing your paving slabs can provide additional protection against stains and weathering, enhancing the longevity and appearance of your surface.

Choosing a Sealant:

  • Select a sealant that is suitable for outdoor use and compatible with your type of paving slabs. Options include penetrating sealers, which soak into the material, and surface sealers, which form a protective layer on top.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, typically using a roller or sprayer to apply the sealant evenly.

Applying the Sealant:

  • Ensure the surface is clean and dry before sealing.
  • Apply the sealant in thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next.
  • Avoid over-application, which can cause a glossy finish and potential slip hazards.


Laying paving slabs on sand is an effective way to create a durable, attractive outdoor surface. By following this comprehensive guide, you can achieve a professional finish that enhances the beauty and functionality of your patio, walkway, or garden area. Proper planning, careful preparation, and attention to detail are key to ensuring your paving project is a success.

Ready to start your paving project? With the right tools and materials, and a step-by-step approach, you can transform your outdoor space into a stunning, functional area that will stand the test of time. Whether you’re creating a new patio, garden path, or driveway, laying paving slabs on sand is a rewarding and manageable DIY project that brings lasting benefits to your home.

For expert advice and high-quality installation of both paving stones and asphalt driveways, contact Viv Construct Group. We specialize in creating driveways that not only meet but exceed your expectations, transforming your property into a stunning masterpiece