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How Much Sand Do I Need for Pavers?

A man installing bricks with sand as base.

I remember the first time I heard about “pavers”. My dad was a pool designer in southern California, and he was telling me about how he and his team were putting pavers in a client’s driveway. I heard the word and thought “pavers” meant they were paving an asphalt road. “A black driveway? That seems odd for a residential neighborhood,” I thought. I soon learned what pavers actually looked like, and I loved them! 

Related: Types of Bricks | Mallet vs Sledge Hammer | Can You Put Pavers Over Concrete?

If you’re looking to give your driveway or backyard a makeover, consider pavers. They are a durable alternative to concrete. While they take longer to install, they are less expensive and have endless design options depending on how they are laid out.

A skilled worker installing bricks for driveway.

To install pavers properly, you’ll need a lot of sand to hold them in place. When planning out how much sand you’ll need for your pavers, it depends on whether your pavers are for pedestrian use or vehicular traffic. So if it’s just in your backyard, you can say pedestrian, but if it’s in your driveway where cars will be regularly bearing weight, you’ll want to install them with traffic in mind. 

This difference is important because it will determine the size of the base course. Most builders will tell you that for pedestrian use, the base course will need to be 3-4 inches, and for vehicle use it will need to be 4-6 inches. 

Once you’ve determined the use of the area where pavers will be installed, you’ll need a 2” leveling course of sand to set the pavers. And then, on top of that, you’ll need joint sand to lock them all in. I told you that you would need A LOT of sand, didn’t I? 

When purchasing sand, it is calculated in yards of material. The supplier you purchase from will be able to do the math for you, but the basic formula to calculate sand and gravel is square feet (SQF) divided by 80 divided by X inches of coverage: SQF/80/inches = X yards of sand.

A house backyard with beautiful brick landscape.

So, for example, let’s say you have 1,000 SQF of pavers and you’re doing this in your backyard, where you’ll only need a base course of 4 inches, and another 2 inches for leveling, so 6 inches total. Plugged into our formula, 1000/80 is 12.5 yards, and then divided by 6 (inches) is 2.08 yards of sand (or gravel) needed. So you’d know you need at least 2 yards of sand, plus more joint sand to lock it all in. Who would have thought so much math was involved, right?

Some suppliers will sell sand by the ton, and in that case you just multiply the yards by 1.5 to calculate the tonnage. I suggest finding a contractor or mason who can help you calculate your sand needs, to ensure your math is correct and you don’t buy the wrong amount of materials. 

What are you landscaping with pavers? A pool? Your driveway? A garden? Let me know in the comments.


Working with pavers can be daunting, I know. Here are some other common questions I get asked about sand and pavers.

How long will pavers last?

A park with worn out paved road.

Pavers are incredibly long-lasting, and in my opinion look better than solid poured surfaces because they are less likely to crack. Obviously, the more it’s driven on and used, the more wear and tear it will receive. A properly installed and maintained concrete paver driveway can last anywhere from 25 to 50 years. 

Are pavers hard to maintain?

Plan to clean and reseal your pavers every three to five years. Each spring, you can use a coarse-bristle “stable” broom to sweep them and keep them looking brand new. It’s a simple spring-cleaning task that will pay off beautifully in the long-term. You can also power-wash your pavers to clean them, just be careful while doing it. You’ll need to apply a sealant afterward to maintain its durability. 

Are pavers worth the money?

Different types of bricks displayed on a store.

Pavers are more expensive to install (as opposed to pouring a slab of concrete) but they maintain their visual aesthetic over time much more effectively than concrete slabs, and they last longer, so you won’t need to reinstall them the way you would with concrete. There is also more versatility with the way you can design the layout of pavers.

Concrete is more expensive to replace, so if you’re planning to be in your home for the next 20 years, then I would say yes, pavers are worth it. You can also install pavers over concrete, so if you’re still on the fence, you can always add them in later down the road.

Is stamped concrete better?

A man installing brick pavers with gravel as base.

Stamped concrete isn’t necessarily better, it just depends on what your budget is and the appearance you’re going for. Stamped concrete is less expensive, and the color can be adjusted on site. However, pavers are much stronger than stamped concrete because they’re more resistant to changes in weather temperature (the freeze-thaw cycles). 

I hope my answers are helpful, and I’m sure there are more details you want to know. What other questions do you have for me about pavers? Let me know in the comment section below.