How to Fix Loose Pavers

Paving stone walkways, driveways, and patios enhance your home’s visual appeal, provide the perfect foundation for outdoor living, and can even increase your property value. When properly installed, pavers provide an even, slip-resistant surface that has excellent longevity. However, over time, even a proper installation can have a loose paver or two. And, of course, when pavers are installed by homeowners as a do-it-yourself project, there may be issues with spacing, edging, compaction, sanding, or drainage that cause pavers to loosen, sink, or shift.

If you have noticed a paving stone that has sunk, lifted, or shifts when you step on it, it is time to learn how to fix loose pavers before it becomes a tripping hazard or takes away from the look of your property. Handy homeowners will likely feel comfortable completing this repair on their own, but if you are not sure you want to take this on, you can also simply hire a professional paver installation and maintenance company to repair your loose pavers for you.

Why Do Pavers Come Loose?

1. Poor compaction of the native soils and/or class II road base: If the native soils and/or base are not properly compacted, this can destabilize the installation and cause undulations + loose pavers.

2. Improper spacing: If spacers are not used in the installation, the pavers may not be properly installed. Improper spacing can result in gaps that cause pavers to loosen over time. Most pavers are manufactured with spacers built into the paving stones and the pavers must be spaced accordingly, however, for pavers without built-in spacers, then spacers must be applied.

3. Lack of edging: If you did not use edging or did not properly install the edging during your paving stone installation, this can be a big problem. Edging is integral to the stability and longevity of your paver patio, walkway, or driveway. The edging is what holds the paver field together. If you did not include edging in the installation, it is not too late: Edging can still be added to protect your investment. Edging can be in the form of a concrete bond beam on your paver border, concrete curbing, or plastic edging.

4. Improper drainage/grading or sprinkler leaks: Professional paver installations must be graded correctly to account for proper water flow away from the house/property and towards the drains. Pooling water is not good for the integrity of your paver installation, so drainage is key in keeping them from loosening. Any leaks underneath the paver system will cause undulations and loose pavers so ensure there are no leaks prior to the install.

5. Roots, Gophers, etc.: There are many variables that can undermine a paver installation and cause the paving stones to loosen. Roots from a nearby tree/bush as well as gophers tunneling underneath the paver install can both lead to undulations in the installation and loosen the pavers.

Fix Loose Pavers

How to Fix Loose Pavers

If you have loose pavers and you would like to try to fix them yourself, here are the basic steps.

1. Remove the loose pavers. It may be necessary to use a screwdriver or similar tool to help you pop the paver out of place.

2. Recompact. Recompact the native soils and then the class II road base to ensure the foundation is solid. The base must be compacted in two-inch lifts.

3. Screed the bedding sand. Screed a one-inch layer of bedding sand on top of the base.

4. Carefully place the pavers back in their individual spots. You need to make sure that each paver fits snug against each other with only the width of the spacer between each paver.  You also need to make sure that the pavers you have repositioned are level with the rest of your patio, driveway, or walkway, following the proper grade outlined for your patio. You can use a rubber mallet to gently tap the paver into place and use a level to make sure it is level with the surrounding pavers. 

5. Add joint sand. Once your pavers are back in place, pour joint sand over them, and then use a broom to sweep the sand into the cracks between the pavers. This will help lock in the pavers, keeping them in place.

6. Sweep away any remaining sand.

If you are not sure about completing this project yourself and would prefer to use a professional paver installation company to maintain your pavers, choose a well-established company that also offers paver cleaning and sealing services. This way, you can have your pavers cleaned and sealed after they fix the loose pavers. Or, at least, you will have a relationship with a professional contractor for when you need these services in the future. Paver cleaning and sealing service includes pressure washing, spot cleaning, re-sanding, and applying a protective sealer.