If you’re planning to use pavers to create a patio, pool deck, or driveway, you’re probably wondering where to begin. While it may seem intuitive first to buy materials, take a moment to consider the intent of your project. Depending on the application, you may need thicker pavers than you realize.
Generally speaking, the thicker the paver, the stronger it is. This is because a thicker paver can better support its own weight and the weight of people, furniture, or a vehicle. If you’re using pavers for a patio or walkway, a thickness of 40-50 mm should be sufficient. For a driveway or other high-traffic area, pavers should be 70 mm thick or more.
Failing to purchase the right thickness of pavers can throw your entire project off schedule. If you are unsure of what to buy, continue reading to learn more about various applications, paver strengths, and what can happen if you use the wrong-sized pavers. Rest assured, though, that you can always work with a professional if you need more advice.
Why Does the Thickness of Pavers Matter?
Pavers are built in a range of thicknesses and tested for their strength, or compressive strength. This is the amount of pressure a material can withstand without breaking. The compressive strength of a paver is determined by its thickness, as well as the type of stone or concrete used to make it.
For example, bluestone pavers have a compressive strength of 19,000 psi, while granite pavers boast a compressive strength of 21,000 psi. In contrast, the average concrete paver has a compressive strength of 8,000-10,000 psi. So, if you need extra strength, opt for thicker pavers made of granite or bluestone.
In addition to their weight-bearing capabilities, pavers also have to be able to withstand freeze-thaw cycles, which can cause cracking and heaving. If you live in an area with harsh winters, make sure to purchase pavers that are rated for freeze-thaw conditions.
Ultimately, the thickness of your pavers will be determined by the application. For example, if you need to support a lot of weight, such as a car, you will need to buy thicker pavers. If you’re using pavers for a patio or walkway, you can get away with thinner pavers.
Picking Pavers Based on Application
Depending on what you’re building, you may be able to use thinner or thicker pavers. Below, we’ve given a brief overview of the common paver thicknesses and what they’re designed to support.
40-50 mm Pavers are Perfect for Pedestrian Access
If you’re only paving a small walkway or patio area, you can get away with using thinner pavers. Since these areas are unlikely to support substantial weights for more than a few seconds, the pavers don’t have to be as strong as what you would use for a driveway.
For these applications, 40-50 mm pavers are a good option. At this thickness, pavers can support light foot traffic and occasional furniture, but they are not meant to be driven on.
60 mm Pavers are Strong Enough to Support Patio Furniture
For larger patios with furniture and outdoor accessories, you will need to use stronger pavers. 60 mm pavers are a good option for these applications. They can support heavier weights and are less likely to crack under the stress of added weight.
70 mm and 80 mm Pavers are Best for Driveways
If you’re paving a driveway, you need to use the strongest pavers available to support the weight of a motor vehicle. Currently, 70 mm and 80 mm pavers are the thickest options on the commercial market and they can support the weight of a car. These pavers are also less likely to crack or chip under the stress of heavy traffic.
Picking Pavers Based on Subgrade Soil Quality
In addition to the weight of the pavers and the traffic they will experience, you also need to consider the quality of the subgrade soil. The subgrade is the layer of soil beneath the pavers. If the subgrade is too soft, it will not be able to support the weight of the pavers and the traffic above.
In this case, you will need to use thicker pavers to make up for the lack of support from the subgrade. On the other hand, if the subgrade is too hard, the pavers may not be able to penetrate it. In this case, you will need to use thinner pavers.
To ensure your project is successful, it is always best to work with a professional. They will be able to assess the quality of the subgrade and recommend the best thickness of pavers for your project.
What Happens if You Use the Wrong-Sized Pavers?
As you start shopping, you may be tempted to save money by purchasing thinner pavers. We don’t recommend cutting corners, though. If you use the wrong thickness of paver, your project may not turn out as planned and it could cost you quite a lot more in the long run.
For example, if you use thin pavers for a driveway, they’re likely to crack and crumble under the weight of a car. Not only will this damage your pavers, but it could also damage your vehicle. In contrast, if you use thick pavers for a patio, you’ll end up spending more money than necessary. In either situation, you’ll spend more to either fix the mistakes or on unnecessary materials.
The bottom line is that you should always consult with a professional before starting your project. They can help you determine the best thickness of pavers for your application, as well as assess the quality of your soil to offer a more accurate recommendation.
If you’re in the process of planning a paving project, don’t forget to factor in the thickness of the pavers. Depending on the application, you may need stronger pavers. If you’re using pavers for a patio, walkway, or other light-traffic areas, you can get away with using thinner pavers. For a driveway or other high-traffic area, use thicker pavers.