How to Install Pavers on a Slope

For the most part, installing pavers on a slope looks a lot like installing pavers on flat ground. The process is nearly the same as far as preparing the ground and the steps required for a successful installation. However, there are a couple of important differences, which we will point out as we go through these steps.

Step-by-Step Guide to Install Pavers on a Slope

Step 1: Choosing a Location

When your walkway is on flat ground, you can choose any location that works with the rest of your landscaping. When you are planning on installing a walkway on a slope, it is best to choose an area with the least amount of grade possible that still serves your purpose. This will make it easier to level the ground and install your pavers without creating tripping hazards or an unsightly installation.

Step 2: Mark Your Path

Use a garden hose, strings, and stakes, spray paint or a similar method of demarcation to mark the edges of your pathway. This will allow you to confirm the location and width and to measure the area to determine the amount of materials you need to complete the project.

Step 3: Gather Your Tools and Materials

The materials you need include your pavers, class II road base, bedding sand, joint sand, concrete, and sealer. You will also need one-inch PVC pipes to use as screeding guides and a 2×4 to use as a screed. We also strongly recommend using geotextile fabric. While this is not an absolute must for installing paver patios, driveways, or walkways, it protects your foundation from the soil and helps secure the longevity of your paving stone project.

You likely already have most of the tools you will need on hand. You may need to rent or buy a tamper or a concrete blade for your circular saw, but most of what you need you probably have in your shed or garage.

Here are the tools you will need:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Speed square
  • String line
  • Stakes
  • Garden hose
  • Push broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Hammer
  • Rubber mallet
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Circular saw
  • Concrete blades
  • Tamper or plate compactor
  • Protective gear (gloves, hearing protection, eye protection)

How to Install Paving stones on a Slope

Step 4: Preparing the Area for Installation

Once you have gathered your tools and materials, it is time to get to work. The first step in preparing the ground to install pavers on a slope is to remove any hardscapes or landscaping that are in the area that will soon be your walkway. This is also a chance to diminish the slope as much as possible by evening out the ground wherever possible. Always call 811 before digging to avoid hitting utility lines.

Step 5: Grading & Drainage

When installing pavers on flat ground, use string lines and a level to grade the area to ensure a two-percent slope for drainage. Because you are preparing to install pavers on a slope, you likely do not need to worry about this, since the grade will already be greater than two-percent. Use your level to check your grade and make the ground as even as possible.

Drainage is extremely important when dealing with a slope because when it rains the water will need to exist somewhere and will pick up more momentum when traveling down a slope. Make sure to take drainage into consideration, whether you need to incorporate channel drains, popups, a sump pump, drainage basin system, or a comprehensive drainage system that ties all your downspouts and surface drains to various core outs to the street, leading to the storm drain.

Step 6: Compact Your Sub-Base

Compacting the sub-base is a crucial step in all paving stone installations and is integral to the longevity and integrity of your walkway. It is even more important when installing on a slope, since you need to take extra precautions to limit erosion. Use the tamper to tamp down the soil and create a solid foundation for your pavers.

Optional Step 7: Install Geotextile Fabric

Again, some folks skip this step to save a little money, but we do not recommend it. To install the fabric, unroll it, cut it to size, and secure it with stakes or landscape staples. Absolutely recommended for clay soil conditions.

Step 8: Add and Compact the Class II Road Base

For a walkway, about four inches of class II road base will provide enough of a foundation for your paving stones. Pour the first two inches of road base throughout your walkway, and then use your tamper to compact it as much as possible. Add another two inches of road base on top of that, use the garden hose to wet the area, and use the tamp to compact it. Continue this process of wetting and compacting until you have compacted the base as much as possible.

Step 9: Add and Screed Your Bedding Sand

It is essential that you use bedding sand for this step and not some other type of sand. Bedding sand is made up of sharply angled grains that make it more efficient at locking in your pavers. Set up your screeding guides, pour your bedding sand over the installation area, use the rake to level it, and use a 2×4 to screed the sand evenly at a one-inch depth.

How to Install Pavers on a Slope

Step 10: Install the Pavers

To install pavers on a slope, this step is going to take longer than it might when installing on a level surface. Your patience will pay off, though, since proper installation will help you avoid tripping hazards or an unsightly finished project.

Following your chosen pattern, start laying out your paving stones at the bottom of your pathway. Start with the pavers in the middle of the walkway, and work your way out to the borders. In the same manner, work your way from the bottom of the path to the top of the path. Use concrete blades on your circular saw to cut the pavers to accommodate the grade of the slope as you work your way up the path. For example, you may need to make your pavers narrower to allow your installation to gently rise with the slope while keeping the walking surface even.

Optional Step 11: Install Extra Bond Beams

Concrete bond beams are typically installed on the outer perimeter where the pavers abut up against any soft-scape surfaces such as grass, gravel, dirt, etc. and its purpose is to inhibit the pavers from moving laterally. For added assurance, you can include/insert a concrete bond beam every 10-15 feet. What this does is add another layer of support and essentially locks down and/or contains the pavers within each 10-15 foot span which disperses the pressure/load.

Step 12: Install a Border

To help ensure the longevity of your investment, it is important to install a border. This can be a wood or plastic landscaping border, or you can install a paving stone border, which takes more work but is much better looking.

Step 13: Finish with Joint Sand

Pour joint sand over your installation to fill the joints between the pavers. Tamp down the sand with your tamper or plate compactor, and be sure to use a pad so that you do not damage the paving stones. Use your push broom to remove any extra sand from the pavers. Then use your garden hose to wet down all of the paving stones and sand.

Optional Step 14: Seal the Pavers

We recommend sealing your pavers after you finish installing them to protect them and help keep them looking great over time. Sealer is especially recommended on a slope due to the fact that the water will be traveling down the slope picking up speed along the way and will most likely wash out all the joint sand over time. The sealer helps lock in the joint sand.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, or if you are concerned about your ability to successfully install pavers on a slope, give Install-It-Direct a call. One of our design consultants would be happy to come out to assess your project and let you know how we can help.