Block paving is touted for adding value to your property, making it a fairly obvious choice if you’re thinking about giving your driveway or back garden an overhaul, and getting rid of uneven ground or old paving.
Being both cost-effective, offering return on investment and a range of styles, colours and shapes to suit almost any look; there are some key things to look out for when hiring a professional to complete your project.
Traders don’t need qualifications or certifications to become block pavers, which can lead to cowboys squirreling their way into your jobs and leaving you with less than desirable results.
But, with some simple questions and know-how, you can avoid this from happening to you and get the block paving of your dreams.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- How much block paving costs
- What affects the cost of block paving
- How you can save money on block paving
- What type of block paving you should choose
- What’s involved in laying block paving
- How to find and hire someone.
If you’re considering upgrading your outdoor space and want block paving to take centre stage, keep reading to find out the most cost-effective hacks to keep payments low, and the quality high.
How Much Does Block Paving Cost?
Below is a table of estimated costs per square metre, based on the size of area, as well as a rough breakdown for extra material costs:
|Size of Area||Cost per square metre|
|Up to 40 square metres||£100|
|40 to 100 square metres||£85|
|100+ square metres||£75|
|Size of Area||Cost per square metre|
|Kiln dried sand||£75|
|3 x skip hire||£450|
|Total (exc. labour)||£2,075 (£38 per square metre)|
As with most projects, these costs are open for negotiation – so once you know what you want and how much you’re willing to part with to get the job done, you can start the conversation with local tradesmen.
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What Affects the Cost of Block Paving?
Costs can vary depending on your geographical location – broadly speaking, London is far more expensive than that of the Midlands, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
|London||£4,500 to £5,000|
|South, South West and Midlands||£4,000 to £4,500|
|Northern England & Scotland||£3,500 to £3,750|
Choice of Material
There’s more than one type of block paving – meaning there’s more than one way of being cost-effective when choosing the best option for your area.
Concrete block paving (CBP) is the most popular choice for block paving, due to the variety of shapes, sizes and textures making it easy to create almost any look or style when laid in specific patterns.
Natural stone heralds hard wearing properties, and gets better with age, offering great potential for return on investment when it comes to selling your property.
Size of Area
The bigger the space, the higher your price will be with both labour and the cost of materials. This doesn’t need to deter you from getting block paving installed, but it is something to be aware of if trying to work to a budget.
As with most floorings, there are plenty of designs and patterns to choose from to give a specific look or feel from your block paving. But, as you’d expect, with more complex laying patterns like herringbone or basket weave, they come in at a higher price than a simple design.
Similarly, choosing a rectangular or square shape versus an organic shape like a circle or oval will drive your price up, as pavers will have to trim every stone to fit the pattern, which leaves room for more potential damage to the stones if they chip or crack in the process – as well as more wastage.
You may already have some existing paving where you want your new stones to be laid, which will need to be removed before the workmen can get started. If you’re able to, removing them yourself can considerably lower your overall cost as you won’t be paying skilled labourers to remove something you can potentially do by yourself.
However, if your land needs levelling or digging out, this will be something you need to outsource to a professional before your pavers come in.
Preparing the sub-base for your paving is an extra cost to factor in, as it’s not just the price of the stones and labour you’ll have to contend with.
Typically, you’ll need a layer of soil, sub-base, sharp sand and then mortar before your paving slabs are laid, meaning quite a few extra materials are needed for the job. If you want to ensure the longevity and health of your paving, introducing an anti-weed membrane may also be something to consider.
Finally, if there’s existing paving to be removed, or ground to be levelled, it may be necessary to have a skip hired. If you’re able to remove the debris yourself and take it to a recycling centre, this is a way to reduce your costs on skip hire and removal.
If extensive work needs to be done to level the ground before you have your block paving laid, it may be necessary to enlist the help of a landscaper. This can become a considerable cost on top of all your materials and labour.
Anything you can do to help prepare the ground before a landscaper comes in can help to cut your costs as it’s less time for them to work on your project. Removing any rubble, large stones or other garden waste can help to save you precious hours of labour costs.
How Can I Save Money on Block Paving?
Block paving requires patience, hard work, and it’s got to be done right the first time. If you’re feeling up to it, completing a block paving project yourself can be the way forward to eliminate labour costs.
There are a few factors to consider before you choose to do it yourself:
- Confidence: are you experienced in DIY and comfortable with the time and effort required to complete the job?
- Skill: have you performed similar work before, or operated similar machinery to what you’ll need to use for paving?
- Time: simply put, can you spare the hours to complete this project?
- Resources: do you already have the necessary tools and machinery, or are you willing to rent them?
If you don’t have the pre-existing experience, it’s wise to start with a small area first, or a simple path. This way, you can familiarise yourself with the process without getting in over your head.
It goes without saying, but doing the job yourself leaves you with no warranties or guarantees in place if something goes wrong. However, if you’re willing to take this risk and think you’re capable of completing it to a high standard, don’t let this deter you.
While you can make a large saving in labour costs by doing it yourself, the true cost of block paving will be your own time. It’s simply not a job that can be rushed; it’s a precision task that requires ample preparation.
The key to excellent block paving is thorough excavation, then prepping the surface to be solid and level. If the job is completed poorly, you may have dips where water collects, or have paving blocks working their way loose.
If you don’t feel like a DIY project is within your grasp, you can look to save money on the materials by seeking out reclaimed or surplus paving blocks from friends or neighbours who have had similar jobs completed recently.
Checking out online marketplaces is also great to find remnants of materials that were bought as contingency and never used, which will often sell for much lower than the RRP.
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What Type of Paving Should I Choose?
In most cases, the material you’ll use for block paving will either be concrete or clay.
Most people tend to opt for concrete blocks thanks to the reduced costs, as well as ease of installation. However, clay blocks are far more hardwearing, and are encouraged for use by the Brick Development Association (BDA).
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of particular types of block paving:
Advantages of Concrete
- By far the most cost-effective option, especially for larger projects requiring more material
- Large variety of shapes, textures and colourways, in a range of block depths
- Accurate sizing, and easy to install for any level of skill
- Expected lifespan of over 20 years
Disadvantages of Concrete
- If choosing coloured concrete, the hue will fade over the years – but this isn’t necessarily a problem if you don’t mind natural aging
- Aggregate can become exposed over time
- Cracks can appear with age and use
Advantages of Natural Stone
- Adds a considerable amount of value to your property due to the cost of natural stone paving
- Incredibly durable, and will not expose aggregate like concrete
- Not as likely to fade in colour over time compared to man-made varieties
- Simple cleaning is all that’s required to maintain natural stone over the years
Disadvantages of Natural Stone
- The expense. Choosing to pave with natural stone can incur great fees – but it can become cost-neutral as it simultaneously raises the value of your property
- It’s not a good option for amateurs to lay, as any damages will be expensive to rectify
Advantages of Brick
- A great way to get a uniform look across an area of block paving
- Easy to install, and can be walked or driven on almost immediately after laying
- Largely slip-resistant due to the texture of the stones
Disadvantages of Brick
- Thinner bricks can break easily when being compacted
- If the sub-base hasn’t been correctly layered, over time the weight of cars can create dips in the brick
- Moss is likely to grow between the cracks and mortar, which will require a certain amount of upkeep over the course of the paving’s lifetime
Advantages of Clay
- Tough and hard wearing, with a natural grip to help with slipping
- Patterned pavers available
- Greater lifetime, and the natural colour won’t fade over time
Disadvantages of Clay
- Prone to moss growth requiring a good amount of upkeep
- Sizes can vary by a few millimetres per block, which can make fitting awkward
- Similarly, clay paving is harder to cut, meaning it’s not ideal for beginners
- Higher price per block as clay paving is typically harder to find than concrete alternatives
- Limited block depths
Advantages of Composite Resin
- Unlike non-permeable stones, composite resin is permeable, meaning there’ll be no pooling of puddles or rain water on the surface
- A sustainable, environmentally-friendly option
- Easy to install and cost-effective
- As it’s water-repellent, drainage issues which may occur with concrete paving won’t be an issue when using composite resin
Disadvantages of Composite Resin
- Moss growth – which can create a substantial slip hazard due to the material’s smooth surface
- There aren’t any regulations on resin solutions, meaning it’s important you thoroughly vet your workmen before they get started to ensure the quality of their product.
What’s Involved in Laying Block Paving?
Laying block paving is a time-consuming job, and whether you’re taking on the task yourself or enlisting the help of a professional, the following steps will need to be undertaken:
First, you’ll need to establish the exact area you want to pave using spray markers or string lines. For larger projects, it’s good to have a construction plan drafted.
If you need to dig out the entire area, consider hiring in machinery such as a digger or excavator for a large driveway, otherwise existing concrete can be broken up using a breaking hammer machine.
Digging should allow for 200 to 250 millimeters below the proposed paving level, and you’ll need to hire skips to get rid of the excess soil.
You’ll need to spread, level out and compact a sub-base using hardcore or scalping stone.
A minimum of 100 millimetres thickness should be used, filling any voids and matching the proposed profile for paving. Using a geo-membrane on top is highly recommended.
A restraining edge for your block paving will help to keep the blocks in place. Use an existing kerb, or lay your own edging stones, ideally secured within 75 millimetres of concrete.
Laying Course and Compacting
To lay the course for your paving, spread and level sand and then compact it down using a vibration plate. Screeding helps to create a solid base for your blocks, which must be smooth and match the intended level of the paving. This should be 25 to 40 millimetres thick.
Laying the Blocks
Press each brick together closely as they bed into the sand. Spacing burs will form small joints between bricks as they are led square.
Alignment and Cutting In
Check the alignment of the blocks using a string line. Bricks should be laid with overlapping joints, and cuts to fit the final blocks can be made using a disk cutter.
Fit any recess trays and gully covers as required.
Spread kiln-dried jointing sand over the entire block paving with a brush, then brush the sand down into every joint. Without sweeping the excess sand, begin vibrating the entire area for 10 minutes. Cover the entire area without concentrating heavily in any particular areas.
… and repeat
Spread more jointing sand over the joints and vibrate the blocks for a further 10 minutes. Repeat this cycle until every joint is filled with sand.
A good tip to note is to ensure any soft spots are fully excavated. These can then be backfilled with more sub-base material. It’s always preferable to dig a little deeper than to not dig enough.
In terms of the time spent, let’s consider you’re going to have a team of professionals undertake an average 55 metres squared driveway. Experienced workers can have it block paved within 4 to 5 days in total.
On the first day, they will use a small group of labourers to complete the initial groundwork. This is going to be quite a noisy day if they are using diggers and cement breaking machines.
The following days may only need 1 to 2 skilled workers to prepare the surface and lay the paving. To level and compact the surface they will use vibrating-plate machines that may be a little disruptive too.
How Do I Find and Hire Someone?
Depending on the scope of your project and your design wishes, you’ll need to decide on whether you need to hire a labourer, a general builder, or a paving specialist – as well as working out if the services of a landscaper is required.
Seeking recommendations from friends, family and neighbours will help you to see your potential tradesman’s work in physical form. This is a great advantage as you can assess their work face-to-face, instead of trying to do so through a printed or online portfolio.
Getting word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted relatives and friends is also a great way to ensure the standard of work you’ll get, as your acquaintances aren’t going to want to lose face with you by recommending someone who isn’t any good.
It’s also good to note that when buying your paving slabs, some manufacturers will have their own list of approved installers listed, so it’s worth checking that out if applicable to you.
If you’d like to keep things simple and use an online tool to conduct your search, HouseholdQuotes can help to consolidate search results so you can quickly and easily compare quotes and find the right tradesman for you.
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What Questions Should You Ask?
Obtaining a written quote is an integral part of any job. As we’ve mentioned before, block paving doesn’t require any formal certifications or training, so getting a physical quote is a good way of weeding out any potential cowboy traders.
As a rule of thumb, if they refuse to give you a written quote, you should refuse to hire them.
Finding out their experience in laying paving, as well as getting hold of references and photos or videos of past jobs is important. This way, you can hear from people who will vouch for the traders, as well as seeing the proof of their work in physical form.
Asking for the trader’s insurance will again prevent you from unintentionally hiring cowboy traders, as well as keeping you and the workman covered in the event of any damages to your property, or health and safety issues.
Last, but by no means least, finding out if they carry a guarantee for their work will help to ensure your project stays in great condition for years to come – and if any issues, cracks or splits do appear over time, you know it’s not your problem to solve, but that of your workman and their team.
Final Checklist and Conclusion
Deciding to have block paving in your back garden or on your driveway can add a clean look to any space, adding to the durability of the ground and usually adding to the price of your property, too.
Before you get started, here’s our final checklist to make sure everything is in place before your project begins:
- Measure out your space, and look at potential paving slabs that would suit the area and your budget
- Pick a design and shape, taking into consideration any potential drainage issues, or manhole covers that might get in the way of the laying
- Once settled on the slabs you want to use and your design, use an online calculator to figure out how much paving you need, accounting for a 10% contingency in case of any damages during placement
- Investigate if there’s any reclaimed or surplus paving you can get hold of to save money on brand new stones
- Let us help you find a professional, using HouseholdQuotes to save on your trade quotes
- Once the paving is laid, make sure to care for it annually with a jet clean and regular removal of weeds, as well as re-sealing every two years to maintain the stones.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Paving Do I Need?
By entering the dimensions of the area you want paved, as well as the slab size you’re considering, the calculator will figure everything out for you, with the option to add on 10% contingency for any wastage or damages during laying.
Do I Need Planning Permission to Lay Block Paving?
If using impermeable blocks, you must allow the water to run into a suitable drainage area, such as a lawn or border. Where there are no suitable drainage areas, you will need planning permission for more than 5 metres squared of paving, so check this before you get started to avoid any nasty surprises that may stall your job from being completed.
How Long Does Block Paving Last?
If well maintained with jet washing, regular removal of weeds and proper sealing, an area of block paving can last in excess of ten years. It’s really a case of the care you put in being rewarded with longevity in your paving, so it’s a worthwhile endeavour – although time consuming.
How Do I Maintain Block Paving?
How Should I Choose a Paving Design?
Consider the shape of the area you want paved, if there are any manholes nearby that might interfere with patterns and if there are any potential drainage issues that could be rectified with some landscaping.
It’s a case-by-case choice, but if you’re really stuck, asking a professional to make some suggestions can be a good way to get started.
Are There Any Alternatives to Block Paving?
If you don’t fancy block paving, or simply don’t like the look of it, there are alternatives. From long-wearing asphalt which can last in the region of 25 to 30 years, to gravel for a decorative option.
You can also choose to opt for a sustainable drainage system (SuDS) as a way of naturally dealing with drainage issues if an environmentally-friendly option is something you want to consider.
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