Block paving is a common sight in the residential areas of the UK. Furthermore, it sometimes seems that almost every house has a driveway or patio constructed from block paving.
Why is block paving installation so popular?
Firstly, they are readily available from garden centres, builders merchants and home improvement stores.
They come in a range of different colours, shapes and standard sizes. In general, you will probably find there are enough types to satisfy the most flamboyant of garden designers.
They are relatively cheap to buy and are made from various materials. In fact, the average cost of block paving compares well with some other types of ground covering.
It is relatively easy to lift and replace block paving if you get tired of them or they become damaged.
Lastly, although they are best installed by a professional, pavers can make a pretty satisfying DIY project for those who have the skills and experience.
In this article, we will discuss the various types of block paving and their benefits. We will then talk about how much they will set you back, and what extras you need. We will also see how much someone will charge to lay them.
Cost of Block Paving (factors to consider)
The average price for a block paving ground covering, whether it is a patio, driveway or walkway will ultimately depend on the size of the area you want to cover. We mustn’t forget, however, the other relevant factors. These include the amount of work needed to excavate and prepare the ground as well as where you live in the country. Furthermore, don’t forget that most advertised prices are aimed at the professional groundworker, garden landscaper or general builder. So take care to find out whether the advertised cost to buy materials includes VAT or not.
When you ask a professional for a quotation to lay block paving, remember that the amount will depend on the size of the proposed area. Don’t be surprised if your estimate is priced as a cost per area basis, specifically £ per m2. If you ask the professional to excavate the area as well, you must understand that he or she won’t know what the ground conditions are like until they have excavated. They may need to dig deeper and lay more hardcore than originally expected or there may be large boulders in the way that need to be removed. Always expect the preparation to cost slightly more than calculated and you won’t be surprised. But whichever way it goes, the professional should keep you informed of possible changes at every stage.
If you intend laying the paving yourself or hiring a professional, you should calculate the cost of the various materials as accurately as possible and include about 10% wastage. Whichever method you choose it’s worth working out the approximate number of pavers needed.
Block Paving Cost Estimates
Overall, the average cost to lay a 50m2 block paving driveway will range from £3,500 in the cheapest regions up to about £5,000 in the most expensive areas.
To help you when it comes to negotiating with professionals the following gives an idea of the average labour and material prices for block paving per square metre.
|Area to be paved
||Cost per m2 (incl VAT)
|40 to 100m2
You can see that a typical driveway or patio of about 50m2 will cost in the region of about £4,250 (including VAT). Professionals in London can raise this to about £5,000. For labour charges outside London, you can expect to be billed at about £45/m2 to include the company’s overheads, wages and profits.
You will usually find that a reputable professional will give a discount on their costs for paving larger areas such as driveways. This is a reflection of the bulk pricing of materials and will encourage the customer to spend more.
Additional Material Requirements
When you lay block pavers, you need good foundations to ensure the ground is stable, flat and has a slight gradient to clear the surface of rainwater.
Let’s look at a more comprehensive list of materials and items needed to produce a 50m2 driveway.
Waste Skips for the excavated soil. For a typical 50m2 driveway, use about 3 large skips costing about £450.
Hardcore fills the excavation and provides a solid base on which to lay the sharp sand. Lay a minimum depth of 100mm. Compact the stone as you go to the correct depth. Scalping stone costs about £30/m3. Our driveway will need about 5m3, totalling £150.
Sharp Sand provides a firm and compacted bed for the pavers. Lay this on top of the hardcore to a depth of about 50mm, in-filling voids and vibrating the sand as you go. Sharp sand costs about £300 for this size job.
Blocks & edgings are calculated depending on the area. Remember to add about 10% wastage onto the number of block pavers to allow for breakages. The cost will be about £1,200 for this size driveway.
You’ll need additional supplies to complete the job. Two of the most important are Kiln Dried Sand to fill the joints between the pavers. Also, Weed Membrane laid under the hardcore ensures nothing grows up from beneath. The total of the additional costs is about £450.
Materials (about £2,550) added to the labour (calculated earlier £2,250) gives a total of about £4,800.
Paving Cost calculators
You could use a very basic calculator to only calculate the number of pavers, or you can use a more comprehensive calculator that will work out the quantities of most of the other required materials. There are many more calculators online so get looking and choose one that suits you.
What is Block Paving?
Block pavers are made from various materials, specifically stone, clay or concrete. Stone and clay blocks are more hardwearing and visually appealing than the commonly used concrete pavers. The Brick Development Association (BDA) recommends clay blocks as a viable and sustainable building material.
How to lay block paving?
A good foundation will always give a stable and firm block paving surface. Therefore apply layers in the correct sequence.
- First of all, excavate the ground to the required depth.
- Then, spread a geotextile membrane to prevent weed growth.
- Lay 100 to 150mm of graded scalping stone sized from 18mm to dust. Compact to the specified depth.
- Lay sharp sand and compact to about 50mm deep.
- Bed retaining kerbs and edging blocks on top of 100mm concrete foundations.
- Arrange block pavers on top of the sand and within the edging course. Leave a 3mm sand joint between blocks.
- When everything is in place, brush kiln dried sand into the joints.
Benefits of Block Paving
A good looking and durable ground cover on the driveway, patio and pathways will always make your home visually appealing. It will also give it more kerb appeal if you decide to move house, especially if you choose the ground covering to complement the colours and textures of your home. Block paving made from stone, concrete or clay is the best material to use as it can be laid in detailed patterns and with contrasting and complementary colours. Let’s just look at some of the benefits of this type of ground covering.
As well as being made from natural materials, block pavers are porous and will absorb rainwater. They then release the water gradually into the ground rather than causing surface runoff.
Pavers come in different textures, colours and styles which can be combined in endless ways to provide a ground covering to your own design. The different styles range from a simple herringbone pattern to more complex sunbursts and mosaics. The only limitations are your imagination and the cost.
The only maintenance needed is to keep the surface clean using a stiff broom, soap and water; and to pull the occasional weed growing between the blocks.
All types of block paving are made from natural stone materials. These are extremely long-lived and if made according to the appropriate British and European Standards will support heavy loads and last a lifetime.
They are available in a large range of styles, colours and textures. And combined to produce stunning complex patterns or a simple herringbone. A well-maintained driveway or patio will always add value to your home if you decide to sell.
Types of Paving Material
There are three basic types of block pavers that you may want to look at. Each type will give a different feel to your driveway and of course, some are more expensive than others.
- These are the commonest and cheapest block pavers available.
- Available in a range of colours, shapes, sizes and finishes.
- Durable, with a low maintenance cost.
- Simple installation.
- Come in standard sizes of 100mm x 200mm x 50 to 100mm.
- Colours fade over its lifespan.
- Better colour dyes have a higher price.
- Made from sand, cement and crushed stone.
- Made from sustainable material.
- Mix clay with dye or gravel to produce textures.
- Tough, durable and naturally antislip.
- No need to seal the surface against degradation.
- More expensive than concrete. Often twice the price.
- Difficult to cut.
- Good choice for driveway and patio paving.
Natural Stone Paving
- Many different types of British and imported stone. Sandstone, marble, limestone, slate, granite etc.
- Naturally textured, coloured and patterned.
- Natural stone is very durable, unlikely to weather or fade.
- Very expensive choice.
Other Things to Consider
You will find that the location where you need the work done will be a factor in the price of labour. The most expensive will be in London and the surrounding area. Cheaper areas are the South, Southwest and the Midlands. Finally, the cheapest areas for labour will be the North of England, Cornwall. Scotland and Wales. Remember that this is a generalisation and there will always be exceptions depending on local conditions.
If you do as much of the excavation work as you can, you will certainly save money on the cost of a new driveway or patio. Obviously, the preparation work of laying hardcore and sand, and getting the levels correct should be left to the professionals but there is plenty of work to do before you get to that stage.
If you have an existing driveway, you can break up the concrete, excavate and load a skip for removal yourself. Finally, remove any plants, bushes and trees that may be in the way of your new paved area and replant them elsewhere.
Rules & Regulations
Don’t even consider making your own pavers. They must meet a certain standard in size, durability, water absorption, breaking load and composition. Therefore, they must comply with BS EN 1338 for concrete pavers and BS EN 1344 for clay pavers.
Do I Require Planning Permission?
Due to the increase in rainwater surface runoff in built-up areas, the government encourages householders to replace impermeable garden surfaces with permeable. This means replacing surfaces like tarmac and concrete with self-draining areas like gravel, pavers and grass. As long as a porous surface covers your garden or drains into one, you do not need to obtain planning permission.
Health, Safety and Environmental
Apart from the common-sense practise of wearing personal protective clothing such as eye protection, dust mask, heavy gloves and safety boots, there are no specific regulations in force.
Bags of sand and stone are heavy so get help when you need to lift things.
Dispose of any waste using a registered skip hire company.
DIY vs. Professional?
Although you don’t need any specific qualifications to lay block pavers, you need experience to lay them correctly. If you do it yourself you will probably find that the blocks will settle over time and rainwater accumulates in puddles. Therefore, hire a professional and you will always have the job done perfectly.
How to Choose a Competent Professional
The Marshalls Register of Accredited Landscape Contractors and Driveway Installers keeps a list of vetted contractors who are competent to do this work. Alternatively, a personal recommendation from family and friends is useful. However, if you want all the research done for you, use the tool on this website to get quotations from three good paving installers.
Block Paving FAQ
Q. What are the alternatives to block paving?
That depends on the intended purpose of the surface. The simplest surface is a real grass lawn or artificial grass. However, these won’t be any use for parking your car unless you inset blocks or metal grills into the ground to support your vehicle.
Concrete paving slabs are a similar surface to block paving but they are less hardwearing and more likely to crack. They also don’t accommodate slight ground movements as well.
Gravel is a useful covering for a driveway and footpath. But, it’s very difficult to keep this looking attractive. Gravel collects dirt, soil and weeds, and small children especially enjoy throwing the stones.
Q. Can I tarmac over block paving?
No, you can’t. Tarmac needs a firm and solid base. Instead, lift the blocks, remove the sand bed and then lay 50 to 60mm of base course tarmac followed by 20 to 30mm wearing course.
Q. Which is cheaper, block paving or imprinted concrete?
They cost about the same to install but over the long term imprinted concrete has less maintenance and weed removal costs. In my opinion, however, the block paving looks far superior to the imprinted concrete.