How to Keep Pavers From Sinking?

A few short months ago, your pavers were brand new – freshly installed and gleaming in the sun.

But now, they’re starting to sink. It seems like every time you walk past them, they’ve dropped another inch or two.

Now when you look at your pavers they look like a lopsided chessboard!

So, how do you keep pavers from sinking?

Luckily, there are some things we can do to make sure they stay put:

  • Ensure the ground is level before laying your pavers
  • Set an appropriate paver base
  • Use proper irrigation systems
  • Practice regular maintenance

Why do pavers sink?

pavers gardenwalk

Before we learn how to prevent pavers from sinking, we need to understand why they sink in the first place.

There are several reasons pavers sink, but it typically comes down to 3 things:

  • Incorrect installation
  • Excess water
  • Unstable ground

Incorrect installation

There are a number of things that can go wrong during installation. The most common is assembling your pavers on unstable ground.

If the ground underneath is not compacted correctly, there may not be enough support under the pavers to hold them up.

Another reason that the pavers could sink is if they are not laid down on a solid surface or do not have sand placed between each one.

Excess water

Water can lead to the settling or sinking of pavers for a few reasons. First, the weight of the water can cause them to sink into the ground gradually.

An excessive amount of water pooled on top of the pavers will create added pressure and can eventually push them down.

Additionally, water that seeps underneath the pavers can dissolve the soil and erode the base, leading to even more sinking.

Unstable ground

Paver installation can be tricky because it requires a stable base to hold the weight of the stone in place.

​​The unstable ground is a major contributor to pavers sinking because it does not provide an appropriate platform underneath the base of the pavers.

Pavers and foundations can attach themselves to each other if they are set on top of wet clay, which causes them both to sink.

Various things contribute to unstable ground, such as drainage, high water tables, and heavy soil content.

How to prevent pavers from sinking before installation?

You can do a few things before installation for pavers to stay put and not sink over time.

Ensure the ground is level before laying your pavers

First, make sure your ground is level. If you try and build up uneven stones, your pavers will surely sink into the ground.

If there are huge dips or changes in height, this can cause the pavers to sink into them. Before starting, look for any large obstacles around the area you plan to dig up, such as tree roots.

Also, add gravel or paver base in areas where your pavers will be set down and compact with a tamper.

Assemble the proper paver base underneath the surface

Next, consider using a paver base underneath the surface. This will create a solid foundation that won’t shift or sink as easily.

You could use gravel or paver base if you need a quick fix, but it may begin sinking in time, too. So instead, try digging down and using a stone underlayer beneath the pavers for a more permanent solution.

Lay down landscaping fabric

First off, you will want to lay down landscaping fabric. This will keep the paver’s joints clean and dirt-free.

Artificial turf, gravel, and stones generally stick to landscaping fabric. So when it rains, these materials will runoff instead of spilling onto your pavers or patio surface.

Landscaping fabric also traps all the leaves, twigs, and other organic material that might end up on your pavers away from them. This will reduce the number of weeds growing in between your pavers.

Lay down 21AA base

Next, you want to lay down 21AA base, also known as “Paver base.” Again, it’s limestone aggregate that compacts very well. 

You can place the paver base on top of the landscaping fabric or grade it directly onto the ground. It’s up to you and the specific application, but you need to add a paver base before placing any pavers on top of it.

After you lay down your base, check your work with a level. For example, if you are using pavers with slopes on the sides, make sure they are at consistent height across the whole area of your patio.

Compact the area

Next, compact your landscape fabric and paver base with a tamper.

This step is important for leveling them before adding pavers to your driveway, path, or patio. 

Compacting finely graded materials into surface voids is essential for proper compaction. If not done, the base will shift and settle over time.

Add sand or gravel

Next, you will add sand or gravel under your pavers

This step is crucial because it ensures that your pavers are raised off the ground, allowing air and water to circulate.

If you skip this part, your pavers will sink into the ground over time because water will collect underneath them. In addition, if not protected by sand, plant roots could also break through under cement pavers.

Use proper irrigation systems that won’t sink your pavers

If rainwater accumulates too quickly, it can cause flooding, which guarantees that your pavers will sink. A french drain system could be the answer to your problems!

A french drain system is a subsurface drainage system that is used to remove excess water from an area. It is often recommended for areas that have problems with standing water or sinkholes.

The french drain system consists of a perforated pipe that is buried in the ground. The pipe collects the water and channels it away from the area.

Practice regular maintenance

Finally, you’ll have to keep up with regular maintenance.

This means occasionally leveling any uneven ground and replacing damaged or cracked pavers.

It’s also important to keep heavy objects away from your paver surface and ensure that you don’t leave excess water sitting on top of them for too long.

If they don’t sit on stable ground, they can sink into the earth and fall out of place. If you already have sunken pavers, use them as a guide to try and figure out where the dips in your ground are.

How do you repair sinking patio pavers?

Identify the problem

If you already have sunken pavers, use them as a guide to try and figure out where the dips in your ground are. It is probably sinking if you have a concrete patio because of one or more problems. 

Pay attention to whether your pavers are moving vertically or shifting laterally, as this may hold the key as to the cause of your problem.

Vertical movement means either too much moisture under the pavers or insufficient support underneath them. 

Lateral movement means that the structure under your patio is too weak, or it’s sinking.

Give the pavers a gentle tug to see if they are shifting around. If so, note whether they move slowly or too quickly for your taste. If the pavers are not moving but are still dipping downwards, you have a drainage problem.

Fix the cause of sinking pavers

If you have an area where water drains to, or if it’s damp under your pavers, you’ll need to fix the drainage first. 

If the ground is too soft, there should be sufficient support under your pavers (if not, consult with a professional).

Isolate the area and remove affected stones

When you have identified the cause of your problem, measure 12-16 inches past it in every direction so that we can get an accurate idea about how steeply graded our course is. 

Next, use either a putty knife or screwdriver for removing these first pavers to make room for new ones!

Add recycled gravel to the base

You can do this by taking away some of the stones around the area and putting in recycled gravel to make it even. 

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to see if the stones are even with the naked eye, so if you often see puddles in certain places, there might be a problem.

What can I use to hold pavers in place?

When repairing or installing pavers, it’s essential to use a material that will hold them in place so that they do not move. We use a 21AA base and polymeric sand.

Polymeric sand is an excellent base for pavers because it’s level, durable, and easy to clean. 

The small plastic particles in poly-grade create an anti catchment system that keeps water from seeping into cracks on your patio flooring, ensuring you won’t have any puddles or sunken areas!

This creates a more robust surface that will not easily move and makes keeping the patio clean much easier. 

Polymeric sand also comes in various colors, so you can choose one that will match your patio or landscape design.

How much will pavers sink when compacted?

In general, pavers should only sink a few inches after being compacted. However, the amount they will sink depends on a few factors. 

The first is the type of paver you use. For example, concrete pavers are denser and will sink more than others. The second factor is the soil conditions. If the soil is wet or loose, it will be more prone to sinking. 

The type and amount of materials used when compacting can significantly impact the final result. If too much force is applied, it could cause them to sink more than desired, so take care with these factors!

How do you stop a landscape block from sinking?

A few easy tips will ensure your landscape blocks remain flush for years of beautiful garden scenery.

Start by making sure that the area where the is flat. Then, compact the soil well before laying down the pavers, using a tamper or plate compactor. 

Keep in mind that if you are installing over a concrete surface, you will need to use adhesive to keep them in place.

Finally, make sure all walkways and paths remain clear of debris and plants. If any dirt or sediment does accumulate, sweep it off the pavers with a brush or hose them down periodically.

What causes brick pavers to sink?

The most common reason brick pavers will start to sink is when the adhesive becomes too wet. This acidifies the soil underneath them, which then causes the adhesion of the bricks to loosen somewhat.

The other possibility is when there’s too much dampness in general, like in an area with poor drainage.

If brick pavers are set onto what is already compacted soil without any aggregation material (such as sand or dust) underneath them, they can also sink over time.

How do you fix sunken pavers around the pool?

If you have identified an area in your home that needs repairing, you will need to excavate the area around the problem spot.

It is essential to do this correctly, so be sure to take your time and excavate around the affected area.

The first step is to remove the pavers and photograph them (this way, you can put them back in the same place).

Next, you will get your sand and use a push broom to fill in the recessed area. Make sure to add a little extra so that when you put the pavers back in place, they will sit higher than the surrounding area.

You will then take your tamper and press down on the newly laid sand. Make sure you push it as much as possible so that there’s no chance of any air pockets.

Finally, lay down your pavers and fill in any gaps with more sand.

What happens when water gets under pavers?

If water gets under the pavers, it can cause the pavers to become loose and even move. This is because the water causes the soil beneath the pavers to become soft, which makes them more susceptible to being moved.

In addition, if there is too much water accumulation, it can lead to the formation of puddles and even cause the pavers to sink.

It is important to make sure that there is proper drainage in your landscaping design so that water does not accumulate under your pavers.

You can do this by installing a French drain or using gravel as an aggregate material. Be sure to slope the ground away from your house or other structures so that any water will run off instead of seeping in.

In addition, the use of a waterproof membrane underneath pavers can further help to prevent water from seeping in.

If you have not installed a membrane and discover that the pavers are sinking, take steps to address the problem as soon as possible before doing any further damage.