How to keep pavers from sinking?

A lot of homeowners choose pavers over concrete in their front and backyards for some good reasons. Aside from making any outdoor space look more classic and rustic, pavers are also cost-efficient and easy to maintain compared to other materials.

But it’s also not uncommon for pavers to sink over time from different causes. They begin to become an eyesore and risk for you as a homeowner.

Why your patio pavers are sinking

First, you have to figure out why your pavers are sinking. There are several common reasons why they sink:

Improper installation

Sure, installing your pavers sounds like a good DIY project. In fact, it doesn’t take rocket science to get the job done. If you’re an amateur handyman, you can probably do it.

The step that will give you the most problems with sinking pavers is installing the under layers. You need to make sure you clear and level the ground before laying down your sub-base.

Your sub-base should be made of the right kind of material necessary to support pavers and not shift out of place. Good material to use under pavers crushed rocks.

Once you sub-base is installed, you need a good base material. Concrete sand is a good material to use as your base. It will spread well and drain properly.

But if you’ve never done this kind of job before, it may be best to leave it to a professional contractor who has done many projects like this. You also need to be careful when hiring a contractor.

Always ask for proof of experience to make sure that your pavers will be installed properly. If they aren't, you can expect your pavers to sink easily and not get the best value for your money.

Excess water

If your pavers are located in an area where water usually accumulates, it won’t be long until the ground under them will start to soften, which will cause the pavers to sink.

If you keep ignoring this problem, your entire paver system could easily sink deeper before you know it.

Good planning before you lay down pavers can help prevent excess water from building up under and around your pavers. You need to grade the soil correctly so that there is a slope for water to drain away from your pavers. Also, proper installation of a crushed rock bed and sand will keep water moving from underneath your pavers toward your drainage.

Unstable ground

This may be one of reason you would hire a professional contractor to install your pavers. Preparing the ground where they will be installed is crucial to whether your pavers will last or not.

If the ground is unstable and shaky, it’s easy for pavers to start sinking, especially if they are constantly stepped on.

You need a solid soil subgrade layer. Make sure that the water table is not to high where you are putting your pavers. If water rest close to the surface of your soil, the soil may shift even if you build good rock and sand layers.

How you can repair sinking patio pavers

How you fix your sinking patio pavers will depend mainly on the cause of the problem. Here are a few general rules that you can follow:

Assess the problem first

Before doing anything to your sinking pavers, it’s very important to assess the problem first to know exactly what is the right solution.

For instance, if your pavers are sinking due to water pooling in the area, you need to address the drainage problem first before you can start repairing your sink. Otherwise, you’ll go through the same problems over and over again.

Pull up the affected stones

Once you have identified the cause of your problem, you can start the repair by pulling up the sunken paving stones and those adjacent to it. You have to measure 12-16 inches past the affected area in every direction so that you’ll have a good reference for the grade. Remove the first paver by using a putty knife, screwdriver or paver puller.

Remove the bedding layer

After you’ve cleared the affected paving stones, you have to remove the sand from the base, but make sure to leave a few inches of sand around the perimeter for reference purposes. You should scrape moss and sand off while you’re doing this to make sure that you’ll have a good seal once you’re re-laying the pavers.

Replace your base

Once you have the gravel layer exposed, you can add more gravel until it is level with the rest of your ground. Once this is achieved, you can start adding new concrete sand and use a trowel to spread the surface evenly.

Re-lay your stones

Carefully re-lay your paving stones one by one using the click and drop method to make sure that they are tightly sealed and no debris is locked between them.

Tamp and sweep the pavers

Once all the paver stones are in place, tamp them to make sure that they are all compacted to form a tight bond within your bedding layer. This will prevent your pavers from sinking again.

You should also pour a pile of sand on the surface and sweep it over the stones to fill up any spaces within the joints. Do this until the joints are completely filled up.

Once the sand has completely dried, you should seal your pavers to protect them.

The cost to repair sunken patio pavers

The cost of repairing sunken patio pavers will depend on the extent of the damage and the surface area that you’re dealing with. Patio pavers are a lot cheaper to fix than concrete patios.

A complete patio paver repair could cost you around $1,500. If you’re just dealing with a small section of your patio pavers, it will cost a lot less. If you’re going to do the repair yourself, you’ll only need to spend money on materials. This will run you somewhere around $0.50 per paver.

The steps to keeping patio pavers from sinking

Of course, you don’t want to go through the same problem again with your patio pavers, so here are some steps to prevent them from sinking:

Keep an eye out for uneven stones

Over time, some of your patio paver stones might get dislodged causing an uneven surface that could be potentially dangerous if not addressed right away. Make sure to check your patio pavers every now and then. Have any uneven stones fixed before they start sinking.

Make sure that your foundation is strong

One of the best ways to ensure that your patio pavers won’t sink is to build a strong foundation from underneath the stones. Dig at least 6-10 inches and dig deeper if you have problems with poor drainage or lower soil.

Make sure that your base is even, compact and strong before you lay down your stones.

Call a professional if needed

If you constantly experience the same problems with your patio pavers, it’s best to let the professionals handle the problem. As much as you’d like to DIY your repairs, you’re actually spending more if you keep on fixing the same problem.

So, if your pavers keep sinking, you should get in touch with a contractor who can solve the problem for good.

Follow these steps and never have to worry about sinking patio pavers again.