Can I Use Gravel As a Paver Base?

If you’re considering laying an outdoor patio, this article will help you ensure you have strong sturdy, level foundations for your pavers.

It is possible to use gravel as a paver base because it has the same functions as the paver base. 

Paver base is coarser and more secure than gravel, both are utilized to make a strong layer on top of your landscape fabric. This layer is covered in sand which is laid on top of the pavers.

Does Paver Base The Same as Gravel?

In essence, yes it is. But, it’s not the beautiful gravel you choose to make your drive and pot planters. It’s a coarser, more granular aggregate usually made of locally-sourced rock (coarse gravel is made from whatever rocks are readily accessible).

It’s also referred to as road-bed gravel or crusher rock. Your dealer may also call it ” 3/4 minus gravel” because that is thought to be the largest size biggest gravel pieces (in inches) but it is possible to get bigger 1 1/2 inches of gravel, too.

It is evident that this stone is likely to cost less than ornamental gravel. But its roughness is its primary benefit. The irregular shapes and rough edges join making a solid base (smooth gravel doesn’t do this).

It is also possible to purchase recycled gravel as a cost-effective and sustainable alternative that is often made of crushed-up concrete used for construction. Sand for builders is an alternative to paver base dirt.

A few home builders suggest that there is no need to put gravel beneath pavers, and for smaller jobs, it’s enough to place them straight on the ground. This is a bit risky for us. How do you ensure that the ground will remain level and stable?

It’s not too costly or complicated to choose a suitable gravel paver base prior to laying the slabs. Without gravel, you might be in danger of causing damage to your soil’s natural drainage characteristics (or in some instances the absence of).

What is the best size of gravel What Size of Gravel Should I

There are three types that paver bases available which are medium, fine, and coarse. The type you select will depend on the type of project you are working on such as a fire pit. A fire pit would require a different form of gravel than your driveway, as an example.

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Fine gravel is similar the same as builders’ sand and is a great choice when you have sandy or well-drained soil. It is able to compress into a sturdy base, which is why we don’t recommend it unless you have a good drainage system, since it doesn’t drain very well.

It’s also not recommended for light use. It’s great for use in the garden at home (under your grill, fire pit, or furniture for instance) It’s not the ideal base to be used under the driveway or in car parking areas. It is expected that the gravel pieces be about 3/8 inch.

Medium-sized gravel can be an excellent all-purpose choice that provides you with strength as well as drainage. It’s compact and still allows water to flow through it. It is able to handle certain transport (such that of the mass and weight of a normal vehicle) but, as it’s suitable for many different types of soil, it is also employed for less heavy domestic jobs mentioned earlier. The well-known gravel is made of pieces that can be as large as 3/8 of one inch (hence its ” 3/4 minus gravel” name).

For more demanding use, be cautious and choose coarse gravel. If you’re in a drainage situation (clay soil for example is a poor drainage material) or you want to construct driveways for multiple vehicles it is the most secure and reliable choice.

We also recommend installing coarse gravel underneath your pavers in the event of an excessive amount of rainfall in the area you live or having issues with the runoff of water. The standard pieces are 1 1/2 inches. You could get more however super-heavy gravel typically isn’t a good choice for backyard paver projects.

Therefore, prior to ordering your materials, think about your plans, the kind of soil you have, and the way you’ll use your paved space.

How thick should the Gravel Layer How Thick Should The Gravel Layer

This is also dependent on the type of project you’re planning since such a driveway that is heavily trafficked requires stronger foundations than walkways with low footfall. 

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Additionally (yes we’ve said that a lot) the different soil types behave differently, and you might require compensating for insufficient natural drainage.

We’ll explore the anatomy of the base in more depth later, but here are the most fundamental guidelines regarding gravel layers.

The majority of experts recommend at least 4 inches of crushed stone or gravel layer, and an additional inch to cover the layer with sand. We’ve always opted for a minimum of 6 inches of the gravel layer.

Yes, it’s more work but we think it’s worth the effort to get that added assurance. In the case of driveways, contractors require digging down to a foot and ensuring you get a sturdy and durable paver base layer.

Of course, the dirt in your area is as important in the construction of pavers as the actual installation. If you reside within one of the more rainy states or have clay soil the more draining layer you can get the more effective.

If you’re fortunate enough to be within a dry, or warm climate, you should be prepared for drainage. There’s a chance of ruptured water lines, flash flooding, or unintentional runoff, so it’s recommended to plan for the worst (sorry that this may not sound appealing, but we’re here to safeguard your property from any potential problems in the future).

Once you’ve settled on the size of the gravel you require to purchase, you can use a simple formula (depth multiplied by surface) to determine how many pavers you’ll need. The usual practice is adding 10% of the top as a backup plan – you might need it, but if you don’t, it’s rare that gravel will be wasted in the world of busy gardeners.

A Brief Anatomy of a Patio Base

We’ve discussed layers beneath your pavers. However, exactly what is a layer, and what do they contribute to the overall construction? Beginning with dirt upwards this is the outline of your driveway or outdoor dining space.

Excavate to the depth you prefer and then, on the top of the soil, the first thing to add is the landscape fabric. It can be a polymer membrane or a woven fabric that is responsible for protecting your building from plants that are growing upwards. 

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The layer must be permeable so that it can allow for drainage. Choose the most durable material that you would choose for lighter gardening chores.

We then have the densest section, which is the gravel layer. It is the best base material for paver construction since it’s durable and long-lasting, expands to create a strong layer, and is, as we’ve previously discussed, perfect for drainage. 

Select the type of gravel you prefer according to the soil type and the purpose for which you are using it.

In addition to the gravel, we apply a layer of coarse sand. This is an even, smooth layer over the gravel. It can be used as a foundation for pavers. The majority of builders suggest that the layer be at least an inch thick. It is then sprayed with water and tamped down until it forms an even layer that is ready for on the pavers. 

Finally, we come to the most important part the choice of pavers. They come in a variety of textures and colors.

We also need to note that there’s a brand new alternative to gravel bases. Certain builders don’t employ the traditional structure, instead of replacing the gravel layer with a plastic paver panel. 

They are made with grooves to allow for drainage and are suitable for areas susceptible to hard frosts since they provide insulation. If you choose to employ this method type of material, the layers are composed of dirt, fabric, sand, paver panel, and paver.

Final Words

Similar to what you can do in the setting of laying an outdoor patio, you can make use of gravel to serve as a base for installing your pavers. 

Similar to the base of the paver which is more coarse is able to be utilized to make a dense layer on the surface of the landscape prior to the sand layer and pavers being laid over it.

The only major difference between paver base and gravel paver base is that the sharper edges in paver base indicate that it will be able to lock more efficiently than gravel when compacted under pavers and sand. But, this doesn’t hinder the use of gravel when you compact it in a manner that is sufficient.

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