Block Paving Driveways

 Block paving is the most popular form of paving used on driveways over the last 30 years. A product everybody is familiar with is block paving because it has been around for so long. Gone are the days, however, where the only options were oblong blocks in a herringbone pattern albeit with a choice of colours. There are over 1200 different types of block paving in the UK. It is often used for driveways and paths but it can also be used for patios and edgings for other types of paving.  With such an overwhelming amount of choice it is often difficult to choose the correct block paving for your needs. Our advice is to choose a block 60mm deep this is to avoid cracking and never choose the cheapest block as there is a huge difference in quality, the colour will fade quickly on cheap blocks. For most people it then boils down to personal budgets due to the huge variation in cost of materials and length of time taken to lay different types of block. You should pick out a few of your favourite blocks and get a few different quotations this would usually help you decide, after all it must be affordable and good value to you.

Block paving is the most popular form of paving used on driveways over the last 30 years. A product everybody is familiar with is block paving because it has been around for so long. Gone are the days, however, where the only options were oblong blocks in a herringbone pattern albeit with a choice of colours. There are over 1200 different types of block paving in the UK. It is often used for driveways and paths but it can also be used for patios and edgings for other types of paving.

With such an overwhelming amount of choice it is often difficult to choose the correct block paving for your needs. Our advice is to choose a block 60mm deep this is to avoid cracking and never choose the cheapest block as there is a huge difference in quality, the colour will fade quickly on cheap blocks. For most people it then boils down to personal budgets due to the huge variation in cost of materials and length of time taken to lay different types of block. You should pick out a few of your favourite blocks and get a few different quotations this would usually help you decide, after all it must be affordable and good value to you.


How to Lay Block Paving

 Block paving is usually laid on a bed of sand by hand and the joints filled with a fine silica sand.  The area is dug out usually at a depth of 250mm and levelled using a vibrating plate. Any drainage is then installed at this point. The sub base is then formed by compacting 150mm of Type 1 with a vibrating plate. Edging blocks will then be laid around the perimeter of the driveway on a bed of concrete and haunched, this forms a strong framework and foundation for the driveway. Sharp sand is then spread and screeded to the correct level on top of the new sub base and compacted to a depth of 40mm, the surface should now be smooth and at the correct level to lay the block paving. The blocks are then laid by hand in whichever pattern desired, the alignment of block paving should be checked using string before continuing. Once the alignment has been checked the edges can be cut to measure using a bench mounted saw or a block splitter. The final step now is to joint the blocks, kiln dried sand is swept into the joints between the blocks using a soft brush and then compacted for the final time using a vibrating plate, some blocks require a neoprene mat to be used for extra protection if they have a decorative such as granite.

Block paving is usually laid on a bed of sand by hand and the joints filled with a fine silica sand.

The area is dug out usually at a depth of 250mm and levelled using a vibrating plate. Any drainage is then installed at this point. The sub base is then formed by compacting 150mm of Type 1 with a vibrating plate. Edging blocks will then be laid around the perimeter of the driveway on a bed of concrete and haunched, this forms a strong framework and foundation for the driveway. Sharp sand is then spread and screeded to the correct level on top of the new sub base and compacted to a depth of 40mm, the surface should now be smooth and at the correct level to lay the block paving. The blocks are then laid by hand in whichever pattern desired, the alignment of block paving should be checked using string before continuing. Once the alignment has been checked the edges can be cut to measure using a bench mounted saw or a block splitter. The final step now is to joint the blocks, kiln dried sand is swept into the joints between the blocks using a soft brush and then compacted for the final time using a vibrating plate, some blocks require a neoprene mat to be used for extra protection if they have a decorative such as granite.

Block Paving Maintenance

 Most people nowadays are against the idea of block paving due to the amount of weed growth or sinking driveways that they have seen over the years.  The truth is block paving will last a long time if it has been laid properly, sinking driveways are purely down to inexperienced contractors. Weed growth is down to neglect, all block paving requires a fairly high level of maintenance which you should be aware of before you decide that block paving is the correct paving for you. The look of a newly paved driveway can be preserved for a long time but it will require work. We recommend that block paving should be treated twice a year with a general weedkiller such as sodium chlorate, to deter mosses and weeds from growing in the sand joints. If it is possible pressure washing should be avoided as it is likely to damage the jointing between the blocks. Unfortunately a badly neglected block paved driveway can only be restored using power washing, once the driveway is dry then kiln dried sand should be compressed back into the foundation with a vibrating plate by a professional.  Be careful of contractors using a membrane for weeds underneath the paving as weeds grow into the paving not through it so it would not make any difference and it is often another lie which could lead you to neglect your paving. Block paving can be sealed with a number of different sealants to help repel oil, fuel spills, weeds and algae, the more expensive sealants are worth the extra money as the cheap ones have very little use.

Most people nowadays are against the idea of block paving due to the amount of weed growth or sinking driveways that they have seen over the years.

The truth is block paving will last a long time if it has been laid properly, sinking driveways are purely down to inexperienced contractors. Weed growth is down to neglect, all block paving requires a fairly high level of maintenance which you should be aware of before you decide that block paving is the correct paving for you. The look of a newly paved driveway can be preserved for a long time but it will require work. We recommend that block paving should be treated twice a year with a general weedkiller such as sodium chlorate, to deter mosses and weeds from growing in the sand joints. If it is possible pressure washing should be avoided as it is likely to damage the jointing between the blocks. Unfortunately a badly neglected block paved driveway can only be restored using power washing, once the driveway is dry then kiln dried sand should be compressed back into the foundation with a vibrating plate by a professional.

Be careful of contractors using a membrane for weeds underneath the paving as weeds grow into the paving not through it so it would not make any difference and it is often another lie which could lead you to neglect your paving. Block paving can be sealed with a number of different sealants to help repel oil, fuel spills, weeds and algae, the more expensive sealants are worth the extra money as the cheap ones have very little use.

Block Paving Pros & Cons

  Pros   + Huge of colours and styles  + Long lasting  + Easy to repair   Cons   - High maintenance  - Lots of inexperienced installers

Pros

+ Huge of colours and styles

+ Long lasting

+ Easy to repair

Cons

- High maintenance

- Lots of inexperienced installers

Block Paving in Brief

 Block paving is a great long term option that will stand the test of time if installed properly, the variety of styles means that there is something for everyone. The only downside to block paving is the high maintenance required to keep it looking nice and the number of general builders and newbies without the correct training or experience. It is tempting for amateurs to try their hand at installing it due to the lack of specialist equipment needed to install it.  To read about other types of driveways  click here - Ultimate Guide to Driveways 2018.

Block paving is a great long term option that will stand the test of time if installed properly, the variety of styles means that there is something for everyone. The only downside to block paving is the high maintenance required to keep it looking nice and the number of general builders and newbies without the correct training or experience. It is tempting for amateurs to try their hand at installing it due to the lack of specialist equipment needed to install it.

To read about other types of driveways click here - Ultimate Guide to Driveways 2018.

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