D-I-Y Block Paving Instructions

Like to try your hand at D-I-Y? This comprehensive instruction sheet will help you to block pave your drive or paths or patio. Although, with less weight and stress on paths or patios, you are not limited to the Herringbone style of laying the blocks, as with driveways, you are.

Most of the tooling can be rented from the local tool hire shop. Most of these businesses allow you to rent a tool from one day or how many days you will need the tool. For this job, most people will definitely need to hire a plate vibrator. (Unless its on your Christmas wish list of course!)

  • Plate Vibrator
  • Block Cutter
  • Type1 Sub Base material
  • Drainage Channels
  • Washed Sharp Sand
  • Shovels , Broom, Gloves

The selection of paving, blocks and edgings are for you to decide. Most local builders merchants will supply a range of these products. Or, specialist companies who manufacture clay or concrete castings usually have a brochure you can pick up and peruse. 

If it seems such a big groundwork job to do on your own, then give D K Goymer a call!


Step 1 

a. Mark out the area to be paved and remove all the topsoil or existing surfacing to a depth so that the finished level is at least 150mm below the damp proof course of any adjoining house or building. If the area is flat it will be necessary, for drainage purposes, to create a slight slope during the excavation, dropping 25mm over 1 metre across the width (1:40) and 25mm over 2 metres along the length (1:80). 

Block Laying Guide

b. Compact the excavated area with the plate vibrator, digging out any soft spots and filling them with sub-base material. c. Install surface water drainage channels if required, i.e. if the paved area slopes towards the house/building or any other place where water run-off would not be welcome. Recessed manhole covers should also be installed at this stage if required. 

Note: Finished level of paving should be approx. 5mm above any drainage point. 

Step 2

 Install all edge restraints, whether kerbs or edgings, by setting firmly in concrete to correct levels. 

Step 3 

Lay the sub-base material within the edge restraints and compact it firmly with the plate vibrator; depending on how well it compacts, you may need to go over the whole area between 5 and 10 times. It is essential that this sub-base is firm and to the right level and if there are any voids, fill them with sharp sand. 

Note:  Also, at this stage, if you intend to use lighting in your driveway, lay down the electrical cable within a conduit sleeve in your sub base. You can work out where to leave the cable ends in relation to the lights. If you have no electrical knowledge, I suggest that you get a fully qualified electrician to install the electrics for the lighting. Ideally, the lighting should illuminate each side of the drive.

Step 4 

Spread the sharp sand to a depth of 50mm, compact it with the plate vibrator and spread a further 15mm of sharp sand over the area as a loose screed. Correctly level the screed with a rigid piece of timber or screed bar drawn along guide rails. 

Screeding Sand

Step 5 

Lay one course of blocks on the sand along all the edge restraints. They may be laid long ways against the edge ('a stretcher course') or with the short side against the edge ('a header course') depending on personal preference. 

Laying Blocks

Step 6 

Lay the blocks hand tight only, with a joint gap of 2-5mm, starting in one corner and at the bottom if there is a slope.   


a. Randomly mix and lay blocks from at least 3 packs to ensure even distribution of colour and texture. 

Herringbone Pattern

b. If laying in herringbone pattern pull a string line across the area at 90" or 45", as appropriate, and lay the blocks along the line. To start a herringbone pattern either put stretcher blocks along the line with one corner against the edge restraint and fill in the voids later with cut blocks, or use Bishop's Hats, which sit flush against the edge restraint and give you the angle to work from. 


c. Pieces smaller than one quarter of a block should be avoided where possible. 

Step 7 

Sweep the area thoroughly after it has been laid - particularly if a block cutter has been used - to remove all chips and fragments. Then check to ensure there are no damaged blocks; if there are any, this is the time to replace them. 

Step 8 

Compact the whole area with two or three passes of the plate vibrator. 

Vibrator Plate

Step 9 

Sweep jointing Sand over the entire area, ensuring it gets right into all the joints between the blocks. 

Jointing Sand


a. Jointing Sand should not be applied in wet weather as wet sand will not fill the joints properly and could stain the surface of the blocks. 

b. If there is a recessed manhole cover, care should be taken to avoid any sand getting in between the cover and the frame. 

Step 10 

Vibrate the whole area again to force down the Jointing Sand and fill any gaps which appear in the joints. Leave any surplus sand on the surface for the wind/rain to wash into joints. Alternatively sweep off the surface and re-sand if necessary.

 We hope this DIY Paving project and general groundworking advice helps you to achieve the driveway you want.