Whether you’re making a driveway, patio or walkway using pavers, you need to use gravel to create a solid foundation for the pavers. Choosing what size gravel to use for paver base means considering your site of construction and climate, and consider what will be on top of the pavers once the project is complete.
What Size Gravel to Use for Paver Base
If you are installing pavers around your fire pits or on your driveway, it is important to consider the size of gravel you are using. You may have stomped concrete or pavers on your patio, in this post, we’ll discuss how to choose the right size gravel to use as a base for your various types of pavers. We’ll also look into the factors that determine the size of pavers you need to use.
The most common gravel used for paver base are fine, about 3/8-inch, medium 1/2 to 3/4 inch, and heavy or coarse (1.5 inches). Bigger gravel stones are available but they’re usually not used for paver bases.
Fine gravel compacts almost like sand into an almost solid base. Because it compresses so tightly, it doesn’t allow for proper drainage. Fine gravel can stand up to the weight of furniture or heavy foot traffic but shouldn’t be used for applications such as driveways. If you have well-draining or sandy soil, fine gravel is an ideal choice.
Medium gravel is the most popular choice for a paver base. It compacts well but not as tightly as fine gravel, leaving enough room for water to drain through. Medium gravel is the middle ground in terms of support and drainage, making it ideal for regular or loamy soil with an adequate amount of drainage. The weight of most cars can be supported by a layer of medium gravel of about 6-8 inches thick but this is also works well for lighter uses such as furniture and heavy foot traffic. Make sure you also consider the thickness of pavers when paving your driveway.
If your driveway holds more than one car at a time or sees plenty of traffic, consider large or coarse gravel for your paver base. Similarly, if your yard sees a lot of runoff water or rain or you have poorly draining soil such as clay, consider using coarse gravel to support your pavers. Coarse gravel is the largest type of gravel that can support the heaviest loads and allows for optimum drainage.
Recycled gravel is created by crushing used-up or salvaged concrete and comes in the same sizes (coarse, fine and medium) as regular types of gravel. Alternatively, you can use quarry rocks that are left over from quarry operations. Both options are sustainable sources of paver base material and
significantly cheaper than new gravel and help preserve limestone rock. All you need to do is just lay it and compact it like regular gravel.
Now you know what size gravel to use for paver base. Typically, you’ll need about 4-6 inches of gravel for patios and walkways and about 8-12 inches for driveways. If you have heavy clay subsoil, consider adding a geotextile underlayment that will prevent the base layer from mixing with the soil below. When installed the wrong way, pavers can become loose, so always make sure that you are installing the correct way.