Here are some of the problems that may occur if you use more than an inch of sand under pavers

24 June 2021

Pavers are a great way to enhance the look and functionality of a space, but if they aren't laid properly, you'll likely run into some trouble down the track. Throughout this post, we'll share how to lay pavers and what issues you may have if you use too much sand.

Here's how to lay pavers using sand

When laying pavers, you can set them in mortar or sand. Listed below is a basic guide on how to lay pavers on sand:

Prepare the ground

Making sure the ground is properly prepared is a vital step to ensuring your pavers are sturdy and are going to stand the test of time. You will need to clear out any rocks or roots in the paving site. The remaining dirt is known as the subgrade, it will need to be compacted to make way for the next level of your paving.

Lay your subbase

You cannot use sand alone to lay pavers, it won't provide the longevity you'll need and over time, your pavers will shift and sink. To support your pavers and to allow adequate drainage, a subbase material such as crushed aggregate should be laid down next. It should be 50mm thick at the minimum and levelled off. Next, the area will need to be dampened but not wet and compacted. There are a couple of subbase materials to choose from, and which one is best for the job will depend on where you are paving.

Laying the sand

To get a perfectly even finish, lay two runner boards on either side of the project in levelled sand. Place your sand on top of the area. You can then run a level or screed board along the two runner boards and fill in any gaps as you go.

Place the pavers down

Starting at the straightest edge, place your paver down and tap into position with a rubber mallet. Ensure you leave a space of around 2mm between each paver for sand fill.

Compacting and filling the gaps

Once you have finished laying all your pavers, you should run a mechanical plate compactor across them to set the pavers into position, but before you do, a thin layer of fine sand should be spread across the pavers and a buffer such as a piece of ply should be added to the metal plate of the compacter. This will help the compactor move across the pavers nicely. You will then need to brush the sand into the gaps to secure the pavers into position.

Edge constraints

If your paving doesn't meet up with a solid surface such as a wall, you will need to place edge constraints around the paving to prevent them from moving. An edge constraint is a concrete barrier.

Here are some common issues that arise from using too much sand

Sinking pavers

For pavers to hold securely, the bedding sand you use should contain concrete sand. The sand should be 1 inch thick when laid. This is just the right amount of sand for the pavers to nestle in once they have been compacted. When too much sand is used, the pavers can sink further than they should as the support from the subbase is too low down. It's important to get this right to avoid such issues.


When your sand layer is too thick, it's more difficult to create even joints. If your joints aren't spaced correctly and don't have the right amount of sand between them, it can cause erosion, and in turn, the pavers will move and become misaligned.

Looks unsightly and it's a hazard

Sinking and uneven pavers not only look unsightly, but it makes the space feel uninviting and you may not be able to enjoy it in its entirety, especially if it is a patio area. Along with not looking the best, uneven or loose pavers can be a hazard. Tripping on a paver and falling onto the hard surface can cause significant injuries.

Can devalue your home

A simple mistake such as laying too much sand under your pavers can make a home look unkempt. If you plan on selling, this may devalue your home.

How do I know if I've laid the correct amount of sand?

It can be tricky to know if you've laid enough sand or too much just by looking at it. Here is an insider tip that can help! Place PVC tubing that is one inch high on each side of your sub-base running parallel to one another. Lay your sand and level to the height of the PVC tubing. Once you've laid your 1 inch of sand, you can remove them and start laying your pavers.

We hope this post has given you an idea of why it's so important to get the basic steps right when laying pavers. It will ensure your pavers look great and will last for decades to come. Before tackling any DIY projects, it's a good idea to do your homework first and make sure you check with your local council to see if you need a permit or not. If all else fails, you can hire a professional to take care of it for you! If you're looking for pavers that are handmade here in Western Australia, check out our stunning collection here at Bonita Stone, we have pavers for every setting and budget.