How to Cover a Concrete Patio With Pavers
No need to tear out an ugly slab—just hide it!
A concrete patio is made for practicality, not beauty. It starts out looking plain and goes downhill from there. As craters, cracks and stains accumulate, it can go from dull to downright ugly in just a few years. But there’s a simple solution, whether you want to dress up a bland patio or hide an aging one. Covering concrete with paver bricks is much easier than pouring new concrete or laying pavers the traditional way. It requires less skill and less time, and it’s a whole lot easier on your back. Assess your slab This project will work with most patios. Surface damage like flaking, chips and craters is no problem. But a few conditions make this method a no-go: A too-low threshold. Door thresholds have to be high enough above the existing patio to allow for the thickness of the border pavers, plus an extra 3/4 in. to allow for “frost heave”—rising of the slab when the soil freezes. Expanding cracks. This method will work over most cracks—which grow and shrink with seasonal ground movement. But if you have a crack that has noticeably grown in recent years, this method is risky. The crack may eventually “telegraph” through the pavers, creating a hump or gaps. Note: Search for “patio” or “path” to find paving projects galore. Cool your scorching deck or patio! Search for “shade” to see ideas and projects. Search for “patio furniture” and get complete plans for chairs and tables.
Pavers Over Concrete
Step 1: Assemble the materials
The materials for this 12 x 14-ft. patio cost about $850, or $5 per sq. ft. Using less expensive pavers, you could cut the cost by almost half. Most landscape suppliers and home centers stock all the materials, but you may have to do a little hunting for the right combination of pavers. The pavers used for the border must be at least 3/4 in. thicker than the “field” pavers, which cover the area between the borders. That thickness difference will allow for a bed of sand under the field. A difference of more than 3/4 in. is fine; you’ll just need a little more sand. If you can’t find thick pavers you like, consider retaining wall cap blocks for the border. We used cement pavers (patio blocks) for the border and clay pavers for the field. To estimate how much sand you’ll need, grab your calculator. First determine the square footage of the sand bed. Then divide that number by 12 for a 1-in. bed or 18 for a 3/4-in. bed. That will tell you how many cubic feet of sand to get. You can have a load of sand delivered or save the delivery fee by picking up a load yourself with a truck or trailer. Most home centers also sell bagged sand. A 50-lb. bag (1/2 cu. ft.) costs about $3.
Step 2: Lay the border first To get started, scrub the border area with a concrete cleaner or muriatic acid mixed with water.
Any stiff brush will do, but a deck stripping brush on a broom handle makes it easier. Hose down the patio when you’re done scrubbing the border. While the concrete is drying, grab a tape measure and a chalk line and carefully plan the locations of the borders . Using the chalk lines as a guide, glue down the border pavers along the house and two sides of the patio . We used polyurethane construction adhesive for a strong, long-lasting bond (about $5 per 10-oz. tube). If adhesive squishes up between pavers, don’t try to wipe it off. Just let it harden, then trim it off of the patio blocks with a utility knife.
Step 3: Spread a flat bed of sand If the field area is more than 10 ft. wide, you’ll need a screed pipe in the center of the patio.
A 10-ft. section of black or galvanized steel plumbing pipe ($14) works best. For a 1-in. bed, use 3/4-in. pipe; for a 3/4-in. bed, use 1/2-in. pipe. Keep in mind that each pipe size is listed by its inner diameter, but the outer diameter is what matters here: 3/4-in. pipe has an outer diameter of about 1-1/8 in.; 1/2-in. pipe, about 5/8 in. In both cases, you’ll get an extra 1/8 in. of sand bed thickness and the field pavers will stand about 1/8 in. above the border pavers. Then, when you “tamp” the field with a plate compactor, the sand will compact and the field pavers will settle flush with the border. “Screed” the sand flat with a notched 2×6. The depth of the notch should be 1/8 in. less than the thickness of the field pavers. If the field is less than 10 ft. wide, notch both ends of the screed board and skip the pipe. Screeding is hard work and it’s best to have a helper.
Step 4: Lay the pavers and finish the border From here on out, this is mostly a standard paver job.
Lay the field pavers over concrete as you would on any paver patio. Scrape away the excess sand and cut off the excess landscape fabric with a utility knife. Glue down the last border patio blocks. Let the glue dry for a few hours before you tamp the field pavers and sweep sand across the patio to fill the joints. Tools for this pavers over concrete Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY pavers over concrete project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- Caulk gun
- Chalk line
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
You’ll also need a shovel, leather gloves, a plate compactor (rental) and a scrub brush with handle.
Required Materials for this Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
- Concrete cleaner
- Landscape fabric
- Polyurethane construction adhesive
- Screed pipe
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine