Block paving is a common sight along the suburban streets of the UK. It seems that almost every house has a driveway or patio constructed from block paving.
But why are block pavers 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. You will find there are enough types to satisfy the most flamboyant of garden designers.
They are relatively cheap to buy and come in different materials. In fact, the average cost of block paving compares with some other types of ground covering. It is relatively easy to lift and replace block paving if you get tired of them or become damaged, but overall, they are best left to be installed by a professional.
In this article, we will discuss the various types of block paving and their benefits. We will discuss the costs to buy them, and what extras you need. We will also see how much a professional paver will charge to lay them.
Typical Block Paving Costs
The average price to construct a block paving ground covering, whether it is a patio, driveway or pavement will ultimately depend on the size of the area you want to cover. Other factors include the amount of work needed to excavate and prepare the ground as well as where you live in the country. Don’t forget that most advertised prices are geared up for the professional groundworker, garden landscaper or general builder so take great care to find out whether the cost to buy materials includes VAT or not.
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 South East. 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 to the rules depending on local conditions.
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.
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 professional but there is plenty of work that you can 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.
Calculating Block Paving Costs Per Square Metre (m2)
When you ask a professional for a quotation or estimate, remember that the cost will depend on the size of the proposed area. Don’t be surprised if your estimate is mainly 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, but whichever way it goes, the professional should keep you informed of possible changes at every stage.
To help you when it comes to negotiating with professionals the following gives an idea of the average prices for block paving.
|Area to be paved||Cost per m2 (incl VAT)|
|40 to 100m2||£85|
You can see that a typical driveway or patio of about 50m2 will cost in the region of about £4,250 (including VAT). We mentioned previously that London, having a premium, can raise this to about £5,000. For labour charges outside London, you can expect to be billed at about £45 per m2 to include the company’s overheads, wages and profits.
You can also see that you will usually receive a discount for larger areas. This is a reflection of the bulk pricing of materials and will encourage the customer to spend more.
If you are intending to lay the paving yourself you will have to calculate as accurately as possible the cost of the various materials, otherwise, allow the professional to do this. Whichever method you choose you will need to ensure you aren’t being conned so it’s worth working out approximate the number of pavers needed.
You could use a very basic paving calculator to only calculate the number of pavers, or you can use a more comprehensive installation calculator that will work out the quantities of most of the other required materials.
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.
- 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 of these will be about £1,200 for this size driveway.
- 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.
- Hardcore fills the excavation, providing 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.
- Waste Skips for the excavated soil. For a typical 50m2 driveway, use about 3 large skips costing about £450.
- 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 £4,800.
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.
Block pavers can be 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.
- These are the cheapest and commonest 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 – 100mm.
- Colours fade over its lifespan.
- Better colour dyes have a higher price.
- Made from sand, cement and stone.
- Made from a sustainable material.
- Made in a kiln at high temperatures.
- 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 driveways and patios.
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.
Pavers 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.
Benefits of Block Paving
A good looking and durable ground cover on the driveway, patio and pathways will always make your home visually appealing and will give it more kerb appeal, especially if you choose the ground covering to complement the colours and textures of your house. Block paving made from stone, concrete and clay is the best material to use to provide this appeal 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.
Sustainable – As well as being made from natural materials, block pavers are porous and will absorb rainwater, releasing it gradually through the ground rather than causing surface runoff.
Versatile – Pavers come in different textures, colours and styles which can be combined in endless ways to provide a fully customisable ground covering.
Low maintenance – 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.
Durable – All types of block paving are made from natural stone materials. This is an extremely long-lived material and if made according to the appropriate British and European Standards will support heavy loads and last a lifetime.
Visually appealing – 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.
Block Paving F.A.Qs
What are the available alternatives to block paving?
The alternatives depend on what the intended purpose of the surface could be. The simplest surface can be 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.
Gravel is a useful covering for a driveway and footpath but it’s very difficult to keep gravel looking attractive. Gravel collects dirt, mud and weeds, and small children especially enjoy throwing the stones.
An unusual ground covering is old, worn wooden railway sleepers laid side by side.
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 unbroken surfaces like tarmac and concrete with draining surfaces like gravel, pavers and grass.
If you are a keen gardener, there are many low growing plants you can use to break up an expanse of paving or concrete. And, if you choose the correct plants it won’t matter if you drive over them.
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.
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. After all, the purpose of the concrete is to impersonate the blocks.
Do I require planning permission?
As long as a porous surface covers your garden, you do not need to obtain planning permission. This includes gravel, permeable concrete block pavers or if diverted rainwater drains to a flowerbed or lawn. If you intend laying an impermeable driveway you’ll need planning permission if the area is more than 5m2.
Can I lay the paving myself?
Although you don’t need any specific qualifications to lay block pavers, you need a lot of experience to do it correctly. If you do it yourself you will probably find that rainwater accumulates in puddles, and the blocks will settle over time. Therefore, Hire a professional and you will always have the job done perfectly. The Marshalls Register of Accredited Landscape Contractors and Driveway Installers keeps a list of vetted contractors who are competent to do this work.
What are the different components of block paving?
A good foundation will always give a stable and firm block paving surface. Therefore apply layers using the approved 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 required thickness.
- Lay 50mm of sharp sand and compact to the required thickness.
- 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.
The price of block paving per square metre is more than some other domestic surfaces such as tarmac or concrete. However, the overall visual effect is far more appealing when a professional tradesman arranges the blocks into your own customised design. Above all, a professionally done block paved driveway or patio will increase the value of your home and provide a useful and attractive surface for your day to day outside living.