March 7, 2016

All you need to know about paving

If there’s no staving your craving to lay some great paving, this guide’s for you.

At MKM Building Supplies HQ, we get a lot of questions related to paving – about the prep to be done beforehand, whether you can get samples of your favourite paving slabs seen online and, chiefly how to go about the task of laying paving itself.

You asked – we’re answering. Here’s our best tips and instructions on laying paving that’s perfect for you.

First and foremost, you’ve seen some paving you like. Can you get a sample from MKM?

Yes you can – you can grab a Stonemarket sample from us free of charge (and delivered directly to you), if you make an enquiry.

So where do you begin when it comes to laying it?

Laying paving greatly depends on your pattern and design plans – so before you do anything hands-on, you’ve got to put your creative cap on.

There are plenty of different pattern options for paving in the ranges we supply for your consideration. Our Millstone Flag Paving, for instance, works brilliantly with ‘random’ layouts, their ranges of shapes and colours adding some exciting variation to your paving project:


Millstone Flag Paving in a ‘random’ layout, Stonemarket’s Brochure.

Our Yorkstone Radius Paving, alternately, fits perfectly in a circular design – as does our Trustone Radius Paving and Truslate Circle Paving.


Yorkstone Radius Paving in a circular layout, Stonemarket’s Brochure.

You can also, of course, go for standard linear paving – most of our slabs complement this style (unless they’re built to fit a unique design, like our radius slabs, built to fit circular).

Whatever pattern you choose to adopt, your paving design will soon follow suit – so go outside, consider where paving will work best in your garden and go from there!

If you’re not confident about designing it yourself, or are unsure of all the potential paving designs/patterns available to you, you can always get a professional eye to give you a hand.

Then, based on the patterns/designs you like, you’ll need to draw up a plan specific to your garden’s measurements.


Draw your paved area to scale, making sure to flag up where obstacles are (such as walls or garden features, like ponds/archways) and where different levels are (a.k.a., steps).

Not handy with a pencil? For an easier option, you can use Stonemarket’s Paving Generator app to figure out your design for you, the tool complementing our in store range – it’ll create laying patterns on your behalf in minutes, and demonstrate how to best utilise your chosen slabs. It even tells you the quantity of materials you’ll need and the estimated carbon footprint of your project. Not too shabby.

Associate yourself with ‘the rules’.

Unique types of paving will need slightly different approaches when installing it.

If you’ve chosen a ‘random’ layout, remember to:

  • Not put two identical-sized slabs side-by-side;
  • Not have a straight line cutting all the way through the paving design;
  • Use as many different sizes as possible (for optimum visual effect).

If you’ve chosen a circular or octant layout, remember to:

  • Lay from the centre outwards, never the other way around.

Bring it to life.

Lay out your site with string lines and pegs as per the design generated/drawn, checking its proportions work with your garden and house.

Find out the exact measurements of your paving slabs at this point, too, if you haven’t already, as they’ll need to be accommodated into your plan.

Where possible (for your paving to have maximum effect), you’ll want to use full slabs, and keep cutting them to a minimum.

The best builders are prepared.


Before you start laying your paving, you’ll need to apply a foundation for it – so consider, what will it be used for, and how often?

Paving that’s going onto firm and solid ground, or paving that will only be used lightly, only needs a little foundation applied underneath it (often, you just need to use sand in these cases) – the heavier the usage or more feeble the ground, the more foundation needs to be applied.


  • For light pedestrian use on solid ground, sand alone should provide an adequate foundation;
  • For less stable (or damp) ground, you need to apply at least 100mm of well-compacted foundation beneath your layer of sand;
  • For domestic driveways or very unstable ground, apply at least 150mm hardcore-compacted foundation beneath your layer of sand.

Once you’ve figured out the depth/type of foundation you need, mark the area where your paving will go, and dig out the required total depth.

Tap in wooden pegs to show where your ‘finished’ surface will come to, including the required gradients. Infill the appropriate foundations to the levels marked, and remove the pegs to smooth over the sand surface with a leveller. Then…

… it’s time to pave your way to success.

You’ve got the measurements, the foundations and the slabs at the ready – it’s time to get cracking.

You will need:

  • PVC gloves and eye protection gear for when you’re mixing mortar;
  • A dust mask for when/if you’re cutting some of your paving slabs;
  • Mortar mix consisting of one part cement to five parts building sand, for laying;
  • Mortar mix consisting of one part cement to four parts building sand, for pointing;
  • PVA or alternate bonding agent;
  • A rubber mallet;
  • A trowel;
  • Spacers (small pieces of timber works well);
  • A power tool with a diamond-cutting disc for when/if you’re cutting some of your paving slabs;
  • A sponge;
  • A leveller.

Simple laying guide:

  • Make up a slightly wet mortar mix, for laying, with a PVA such as this one (or other bonding agent) to assist bonding.
  • Prepare a full bed of mortar ahead of each slab, approximately 25mm in thickness (but allow for a variation in thickness between slabs).
  • Tap the slab you are laying down to the required level, using a rubber mallet – use a leveller consistently to make sure your slabs are even with each other as you go.
  • Keep the correct joint width by gently shuffling your slabs with a trowel where necessary, and/or use spacers to help, here.
  • If necessary, use your power tool to cut slabs into specific shapes before laying.
  • After your paving has ‘settled’ (see below), you’ll need to ‘point’ it. Make a damp mortar mix, for pointing, and press firmly onto your slabs’ joints to produce a dense surface that will drain water across the paving. If mortar gets onto the slabs’ faces, wash off immediately with a damp sponge.

Your paving will need time to settle in.

Once your paving’s been applied, it’ll need to adjust. Ensure that nobody walks on it for at least 24 hours, and, during wet or frosty weather, cover it for protection until the mortar has cured. Then, ‘point’ it (as per the instructions above).

To keep it in top nick, clean with lukewarm soapy water, and brush away bracken and bits with a stiff broom. A lovely finish.


Any more questions for us?

Pop them to over to and we’ll address them shortly. Alternately, ping your queries and ideas over to our Facebook or Twitter page. We look forward to hearing from you!