How to Screed Sand for Pavers

Proper paver installation requires sand, and not just any sand will do. All-purpose sand, sandbox sand, beach sand, and masonry sand might all seem like they would work, but they do not have the coarseness required for a successful, long-lasting installation. For that, you must use bedding sand.

For example, at Install-It-Direct, we screed one inch of bedding sand over the base materials. This bedding sand is not like the sand you enjoy at the beach; rather, it is sharp and angular to lock into the paver joints. Once the pavers are installed, they are compacted down into the bedding sand to bring the sand up between the paving stones and securely interlock them. More sand is added and compacted from the top until the paver joints are completely filled.

You can learn more about the paver installation process here.

Why Is Sand Important When Installing Pavers?

The coarse, jagged nature of bedding sand is an integral component in paver installation. This is the element that holds your pavers in place, allows for proper drainage and compaction, and promotes structural integrity. Without a solid foundation of base and sand, your pavers will sink and shift over time. This will take away from the visual appeal of your patio and driveway, while also creating uneven surfaces and tripping hazards.

Using sand to install pavers serves several purposes:

  • Holds pavers in place
  • Allows for easier compaction
  • Promotes proper drainage
  • Makes joints stable
  • Provides stability and structural integrity
  • Makes it easier to create a flat, even surface
  • Allows flexibility to help avoid pavers cracking and shifting
  • Is an important part of making pavers interlock

Sand is what helps your patio, walkway or driveway function like a solid surface while, at the same time, being much easier to repair and less likely to need repair. While pavers can be installed without sand, it is not a good idea. Skipping this step will significantly impact the stability of the installation, which will surely sink and shift over time.

how to screed bedding sand

How to Screed Paver Sand

Prior to adding your sand layer and screeding, you will need to prepare the base, which will include any necessary excavation, grading, compacting the sub-base, adding the base, and compacting the base. Once you have accomplished this, it is time to add your bedding sand. You will then need to screed the sand, which is the method used to level the surface.

Here is a step-by-step guide for adding sand and screeding before installing your pavers.

1. Set up screed guides.

Once you have compacted the base, set up screed guides. You will need two guides that are set up parallel to each other, on which you will place your screed. You can use PVC pipe, conduit, metal railings, or whatever you might have on hand. Just make sure the rails are the correct height for the depth you want. If you are doing a one-inch layer of bedding sand, you will need rails that are one inch in height. These rails are going to be the guides for your screed, so make sure you measure and place your guides correctly.

2. Add the bedding sand.

Once your screed guides are in place, add one inch of bedding sand on top of the compacted base.

3. Screed the sand.

Set your screed, which can be a 2×4 board or something similar that has a straight edge, on your screed guides. Make sure that your screed is long enough to rest on both guides. Position yourself at the screed between the guides. Slowly back up and pull the screed towards you to level the sand between the guides. Repeat this process until you have leveled the sand for your entire project.

4. Remove the screed guides.

Once you complete screeding your sand, remove the screed guides and use a trowel to fill in the spot where your screed guides were resting.

Once you screed your sand, you will then move on to laying your pavers and completing your project.

Screeding Tips

1. Do not walk on or otherwise disturb the screeded sand.
2. Do not make your layer of sand too thick or it will be too soft and will allow your pavers to shift and sink.
3. For more accurate leveling, move your screed back and forth as you move it along the screed guides.

For more information on how to screed sand or to talk to a design consultant about your paving stone project, call us at (858) 925-3000. One of our design consultants will be happy to answer your questions or provide a free estimate.