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DIY: Installing Pavers Over Concrete

You might already have a functional driveway in your home or the pathway to your landscaped garden is already smart and neat. The only catch is – it’s a dreary grey colour, completely devoid of imagination and utterly uninspiring.

So you think to yourself, how do I spice it up?

Well, we have a solution for you. You can liven up your existing garden path and create a more impressionable facade for your home simply by using pavers or tiles.

Tiling over concrete is actually a lot easier than you think! Here’s a basic step-by-step guide for all three options of installing pavers over existing concrete.

Why it’s Easy to DIY

Some people think that tiling or paving over concrete floors, driveways, patios and paths would be a huge headache if an existing plain concrete is already installed. But the reality is, you can actually complete the project a lot more quickly.

Requires Very Little Technical Skills

Achieving a remarkable tile finish to your concrete surface actually requires very little technical know-how. It’s so easy in fact, that it is actually a very common and popular DIY project among homeowners. You’ll only need to have basic knowledge in the process which, luckily, we will provide for you here in this article.

A Lot of ‘How to’ Resources can be Found Online

If you scour through the internet, you’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of ‘how to’ articles that range from the most basic guides to the most technical step-by-step run-throughs. In this article, we will share with you an easy guide on the entire process plus additional tricks so your handiwork looks professionally done.

Materials Are Easy To Source

What’s so appealing about tiles and pavers are the countless materials you can choose from for your surfaces. The products available are so varied that you can easily complement the look of your surface to the design of your home. In fact, here is a wide array of products available to you.

Australian Paving Centre offers a wide variety of pavers in stock. These are all durable, highly stylish, and slip resistant materials with varied finishes that will fit any home design. Any of these products may be used for both indoor and outdoor applications to suit any of your current home improvement projects. Give your home a luxurious feel or a modern look, or add a bit of your personality into your surface improvement using any of these tile and paving products.

Click on any of the images below to see which ones will fit your home and which ones speak to your personal style. Just go to any Australian Paving Centre store near you and we will be happy to give you our expert recommendations.

Click here to view all list

Make Before Laying Pavers: Important Considerations

Before laying pavers on your concrete surface, there are several considerations you need to make. Not the least of which are the materials you should use.

Keep in mind the function of the area in your home that you want to improve and how much load it is expected to yield against before deciding on one particular material and design. If it’s a driveway you have to use pavers like bricks for long-lasting endurance. If it’s for your pool surround, consider using natural stones to create a pool paradise. Consider also if the materials will survive freeze-thaw conditions and the hot sunny weather, depending on your location.

Selecting the right type of paver for your surface is critical for its longevity. You want to achieve a properly installed flooring the first time around in order to avoid having to redo it all over again two or three years down the road.

Existing Concrete on the Job Site

Once the all-important phase of choosing materials and design is done, it will be time to assess your concrete slab. Pavers are normally laid over a ground base so laying them over existing concrete will require a different approach.

Remember, your aim is to extend your living environment so it’s vital that the flow from indoor to outdoor space becomes seamless. Whether your project involves a patio deck or driveway, you have to make sure the height of your existing surface will allow a good distance between the door sill and the thickness of the newly installed pavers, plus an additional ¾ of an inch for “frost heave” when the soil freezes and the slab underneath rises. If water and ice settle beneath the pavers, the surface may experience some damaging heaving and settling.

It’s also important to keep your surface cool and shaded for added protection from the scorching heat during the summers.

Consider also the new height your newly paved surface will be from the ground once new pavers are installed. Will you be able to conceal the surrounding edges and borders so as to hide the increased height? This can mean additional costs but a little creativity is all you’ll need.

However, if your existing slab is in poor and unsalvageable condition with cracks and is not level, it may be better to demolish the slab and start from scratch. Especially if making all these changes will cost you more than just excavating the concrete and laying paver on the ground.

Proper Drainage of the Site

Make sure your concrete foundation is properly sloped and doesn’t accumulate surface water. Laying pavers over this material may pose problems to the drainage as concrete slabs have the inability to drain water through the blocks and into the earth. Follow the concrete’s slope when installing the pavers and make sure the edge that drains water stays low and permeable. A trick you can do is drilling small holes through the concrete every few inches to help eliminate puddling.

The importance of the choice of materials cannot be stressed enough, though. Choose permeable pavers if your surface does need adequate drainage. You have to select materials according to functionality and not just style.

Some Misconceptions

Contrary to popular belief, installing tiles over existing concrete actually makes a lot of sense. Concrete is heavy, solid, and unbending. The uncompromising material will provide a far denser material for its base. Add to that the fact that both tiles and concrete are both mineral-based so it makes sense that they would be a perfect match.

There will be no need to cut up old concrete and pay huge sums to cart it away to the dump. Neither will you need to worry about damage to existing underground services. Easy to DIY, extremely durable, and the additional advantage of heaps of new looks and designs made possible by the wide range of paver products available!

Installation Options

There are ways of installing pavers over existing pavers, these are the sand set, the bituminous set, and the mortar set.

Sand Set

This method is more popularly used for paved pathways or walkways with light traffic. Although this may also be used for vehicular applications, a suitable curb and a durable sand bedding need to be used.

Steps in Using This Method

Step 1. Level half an inch of gravel and at least an inch of sand on the concrete surface. The bedding sand will allow for drainage, settling, and the expansion and contraction of the pavers.

Step 2. Install the edge restraints securely so that the pavers don’t shift or move once it is in use.

Step 3. Compact your sand and gravel base with a tamper or compactor making sure the base is as compact and as level as possible.

Step 4. Complete your paver installation. This method is best used when installing brick pavers.

Step 5. You will need to fill the gaps between the brick pavers with jointing sand once all the pavers are laid.

Step 5. Compact the laid pavers. Three passes should be sufficient to secure the bricks. And your brick paved driveway should be ready for use.

Bituminous Set

This method is commonly used for high impact traffic areas like crosswalks. A bituminous setting bed is used to make the pavers adhere securely to the concrete base. This consists of a tack coat of neoprene modified asphalt adhesive.

Steps in Using This Method

Step 1. Mix the bituminous binder with sand and spread this mixture on the concrete surface making sure it is well levelled and is an inch thick.

Step 2. Ensure draining holes are placed in low spots, allowing water that seeps into joints a place to escape.

Step 3. Install your pavers simply by following the instructions that came with them.

Mortar Set

This is actually what we recommend in installing pavers unto a concrete surface. A mortar mix will be used in this method.

Steps in Using This Method

Step 1. Start off by cleaning and drying your concrete. You may choose to use TSP (trisodium phosphate), a high strength cleaner. This will remove excess dirt and grime from your concrete. Look out for any cracks that need patching, or any uneven surfaces that will cause your tiles to rock back and forth. It’s important to prime and to level out your concrete to prevent cracking of unevenly laid porcelain, granite or other stone.

Step 2. Seal the concrete. While this isn’t a critical step – sealing the concrete will prevent moisture from settling under your tiles and allow your mortar to stick tightly to the concrete.

Step 3. Plan your layout in advance. Knowing your start and finish points is important so that your tiles will look neat. This is important, as it’s likely that you’ll have to cut your chosen product to fit. Ideally, you’ll want to cut them in areas that aren’t as visible, such as against the house. Mark your starting point with a chalk line along the length of the area to be tiled or paved. This will ensure that your tiles will line up squarely.

Step 4. Mix the mortar. Before mixing mortar, keep in mind that different mortars or tiling cement work best with different types of tiles. After selecting a compatible mortar or tiling cement, follow the instructions. Ensure that you don’t mix too far in advance, or it’ll begin to set before you use it.

Step 5. Apply the mortar. When applying mortar, it’s best to use a grooved trowel. As a rule, never spread out more than 3-4 tiles worth of mortar or tiling cement at a time. If something unexpected comes up or you begin to slow down, you risk having the mortar set before you can reach all areas.

Step 6. Start the installation. Lay the tiles using plastic tile spacers, making sure you’re staying square with the chalk lines. Be careful with doing it right the first time, as you’ll find that a small adjustment to one usually means an adjustment to all other tiles. Wipe off the tiles as you go, as dried mortar is a lot harder to clean up.

Step 7. Grout the tiles. Mix the grout as specified by the manufacturer and liberally spread it over the tiles with the grout float. Once it has set, repeat the process.

Step 8. Once the grout is completely dry, take a wet rag and run it over the surface of the floor. You may notice a hazy appearance. Once dried, wipe it again until it looks polished. At this point, you may want to use a grout sealer to prevent mildew or mould from forming.

Doing it Yourself Is Not Hard

You can easily dress up the pool, balcony patios, outdoor entertainment areas and even the driveway by laying pavers over existing concrete. Like any DIY project, laying pavers over an existing concrete surface can be done easily as long as it is accompanied by considerable planning, learning the needed knowledge and skills, and a substantial amount of patience and determination.

If you’re in need of supplies or expert advice to help you recreate your outdoor space – there’s no better place to start than with friendly professionals at your local APC store!

Visit us today or call us at 1800 191 131, we would be happy to answer your questions!

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