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How to Build a Permeable Walkway With Pavers
Whether you want to prevent flooding around a low-lying walkway or you need a less slippery path to walk on, we’re here to explain how to build a permeable walkway with pavers.
We’ll share permeable materials to choose from and key benefits of going the sustainable route, along with our collection of permeable pavers at Unilock, made from only the highest quality materials.
Explore permeable pavers at Unilock
What is a Permeable Walkway?
A permeable walkway is a walking path that allows water to pass through its surface.
This type of walkway offers several benefits, from cost savings, to minimal maintenance and flood prevention.
Unlike traditional paved walkways, which are made of impassable resources such as asphalt or regular concrete (made of sand or crushed stone), permeable walkways are made of materials that allow water to seep through, such as gravel, permeable pavers or pervious concrete.
Materials That Can Be Used to Build a Permeable Walkway
Looking to build a permeable walkway? Here are five materials you can choose from to get started on your project.
1. Permeable Paver
A permeable paver allows water to pass through and infiltrate into the ground below. This type of paver is typically made of pervious concrete or clay.
Permeable pavers are ideal for driveways, walkways, patios, and other outdoor spaces where water management is a concern.
At Unilock, our durable permeable pavers are built for optimal water absorption, with an aesthetically pleasing design still in mind.
2. Permeable Asphalt
Composed of a sand, asphalt binder and aggregate mixture that is similar to traditional asphalt, permeable asphalt offers a more open structure that allows water to pass through.
Permeable asphalt is ideal for parking lots, driveways, and other low-traffic areas where stormwater runoff is a concern.
3. Pervious Concrete
More porous than traditional concrete, pervious concrete is composed of a cement, aggregate and water mixture that allows water to pass through.
This type of concrete is made of the same materials as regular concrete, but with pores that range between 2mm to 8mm and a high void content of 18% to 35%.
Gravel is a loose aggregate of small to medium-sized fragments of rock, stones and pebbles. It is commonly used as a base for walkways, driveways or drainage systems.
A brick is a permeable material that is made of clay, then has been fired in a kiln to create a hard, durable surface.
Bricks can be used as a permeable material for walkways, providing a durable and sustainable option for outdoor surfaces.
6. Grass Paver
Grass pavers, or turf pavers, allow grass and other vegetation to grow in between the pavers. These pavers are typically made of concrete or plastic grids with open cells that are filled with soil and grass.
Tools You’ll Need to Build a Permeable Paver Walkway
Using permeable walkway pavers to build your pathway allows you to provide a non-slip surface while mitigating the risk of flooding. Permeable paver installation requires a wide range of tools and equipment, including:
- Shovel: A tool with a broad flat blade used to dig or lift loose materials such as soil, sand or gravel.
- Plate compactor: A machine used to compact soil, gravel or asphalt, consisting of a heavy steel plate mounted to a machine that vibrates, compressing the material.
- Rubber mallet: A type of hammer with a soft, non-metallic head used to level pavers.
- Wet saw: A specialized tool that utilizes water and a diamond blade to cut through hard materials such as pavers, tiles or stones.
- Chisel: A portable tool with a long, sharp blade that is used to cut, shape or carve pavers.
- Wheelbarrow: A tool that consists of a shallow tray or bucket used to transport materials such as crushed stone, gravel, sand or pavers to the work area.
- Level: A tool used to determine whether a surface is horizontal (level) or vertical (plumb). A level ensures that the base and pavers are level throughout the installation process.
- Tape measure: A flexible ruler used to accurately measure the dimensions of the walkway and ensure that the pavers are spaced out correctly.
- Joint sand: A type of sand used to fill the gaps between the pavers and stabilize them.
- Marking paint: A water-based, sprayable paint used to create temporary markings on pavement, grass, or construction sites.
- Hammer drill: A power tool that is used to drill through hard surfaces like concrete or masonry.
- Safety gear: Protective clothing that includes gloves, safety glasses or goggles, and other gear designed to protect your body when handling power tools.
How to Build a Permeable Paver Walkway in 10 Steps
Here’s how to install a permeable paver walkway in 10 steps:
1. Design the Walkway
First, sketch out your plans on a piece of graph paper.
Then, determine the dimensions of the walkway, the desired layout, and the location of any drainage features, such as catch basins or drainage swales. Consider the slope of the site and any potential water runoff.
The standard size of a walkway is five feet, which allows two people to walk together.
2. Mark the Layout
If you live in the U.S., the next step is to contact the call-before-you-dig contact number, at 811.
If you live in Canada, you’ll want to turn to the click before you dig website.
Both resources will allow you to ensure that the excavation process will not affect gas lines, electrical lines or water lines.
Once you get the green light, mark your layout using marking paint. Then, measure an additional six inches outside the perimeter for your edge restraint.
3. Square the Project
To make sure you don’t accidentally over- or under-dig, square your project by marking a straight line as your border.
By squaring your project, you can ensure that the pavers are properly aligned and symmetrical, and that any features or plantings will be positioned correctly.
4. Excavate the Area
Next, it’s time to excavate the area. You’ll want to dig around 4 to 6 inches deep for your walkway. This depth ensures a stable base layer and prevents weed growth later on.
5. Install the Base
After excavating, place a filter fabric on top of the dirt before filling the excavated walkway with stone or gravel. This fabric will act as a barrier, allowing water to pass through while blocking soil particles and sediment.
Next, add a layer of crushed stone or gravel — around 6 to 8 inches — followed by 1 inch of sand. Using a plate compactor, spread the sand layer evenly.
6. Lay the Pavers
Next, it’s time to lay the pavers according to your desired pattern. Popular paver patterns for permeable walkways include the herringbone, stacked and running bond patterns.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for spacing and joint width. You can use a rubber mallet to ensure the pavers are in place, and a level to make sure the ground is even.
7. Cut Pavers to Fit
When you reach the edge of the walkway, use a wet saw or a chisel to cut the pavers as needed, depending on the shape and length of your walkway.
Unilock tip: Before you start cutting, make sure you are wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job. This includes gloves, a dust mask, protective eyeglasses and earplugs.
8. Install Edge Restraints
Install edge restraints around your pavers to prevent them from shifting. You can use edge restraints made of PVC, plastic, steel or aluminum.
To install edge restraints, drive metal spikes or stakes through the holes of the edge restraints and into the ground below to secure them in place.
9. Add Joint Sand
Once the pavers are in place, sweep joint sand into the gaps between the pavers and use a plate compactor to ensure the sand is evenly distributed and compacted.
10. Seal the Pavers (Optional)
As an optional step, you can apply paver sealant to help prevent staining and enhance color. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and curing time.
At Unilock, our pavers are designed for optimal durability, with or without a sealer.
Unilock tip: Find out what our experts have to say about sealing your pavers!
Key Benefits of a Permeable Walkway
A permeable walkway allows you to provide a safe and functional pathway to walk on, all year round. If you’re still on the fence, here are five advantages of permeable pavers.
- Helps manage water systems: When it rains, water runs off impervious surfaces such as regular concrete or asphalt, gathering pollutants such as oil and debris before entering stormwater drains, which can lead to flooding in low-lying areas. A permeable walkway allows rainwater to pass through the surface and into the ground below, reducing erosion and flooding, improving soil health and protecting nearby rivers and lakes from pollution.
- Offers durability: A permeable walkway is made of durable materials such as pervious concrete, which can withstand heavy foot traffic and weather better than traditional materials such as regular concrete, asphalt or gravel.
- Requires less maintenance: Designed to drain water, permeable pavers are less prone to cracking or heaving (expanding) in freezing temperatures.
- Provides a non-slip resistance: The porous surface of permeable pavers is less slippery than traditional materials when wet, as water is drained rather than pooling on the surface.
- Is environmentally friendly: A permeable walkway is considered a “green” solution, because it allows rainwater to be naturally filtered and absorbed back into the ground, rather than being diverted to storm drains or sewer systems.
[Elevate your walkway with Unilock. Explore our pavers!]
Explore Permeable Pavers at Unilock
As the first manufacturer to introduce permeable pavers in North America, we offer a wide range of eco-friendly permeable pavers designed for optimal water absorption, at Unilock.
Our permeable pavers include:
- Dura-Mat™ – Ideal for erosion control, vegetation growth and retention for pond applications
- Eco-Optiloc™ – Perfect for outdoor hardscape projects with heavy foot traffic, such as driveways
- Eco-Priora™ – Ideal for driveways to achieve a smooth surface texture
- Turfstone™ – A favorite of landscape architects and engineers for outdoor areas requiring erosion control and supported turf
All of our permeable pavers are equipped with technologies exclusive to Unilock:
- Classic Coat helps you enhance the color and protect the surface texture of our classic products. These factory-sealed pavers help you cut costs and save time on after-market sealing.
- EnduraColor protects the surface of your pavers from wear thanks to a two-step manufacturing process that combines a base of coarser aggregates for a stronger foundation, with wear-resistant finer aggregates and concentrated color on top.
Whether you’re a DIY expert or a determined beginner, our Unilock permeable pavers allow you to create stunning outdoor spaces that withstand the test of time.
Need help building your permeable walkway? Find a Unilock Authorized Contractor
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