A great job for the DIY/home enthusiast is to build a brick driveway. To withstand the daily pressure of being used as a drive the bricks used here are actually concrete blocks, that are available in a variety of colors and sizes with specially designed edging and cornerstones also being available; these edging and corner bricks are frequently in a contrasting color to the main brick-work. They can be arranged in a variety of patterns known as herringbone, angled herringbone, basketweave and stretcher bond. Each of these patterns has its own charm and attraction but for a driveway – herringbone designs are recommended.
What you’ll Need
The majority of the tools you’ll need for this job are almost certainly ones you already posses, so we’ll only mention them as we come to them or need them. However, if you haven’t got a wet saw you will need one, although an angle grinder with diamond tipped wheels is a good alternative.
Another tool you probably won’t have is a vibrating plate compactor. You can rent these from your DIY store or if you wish to you can always buy yourself one if you intend doing several such jobs as building brick drives or paths in the future.
You’ll also need to buy some 25mm PVC pipe for drainage along with the bricks and edging etc you need to over the area of the drive. To actually set the bricks in place you need medium coarse gravel along with building and fine sand, sometimes known as silver sand.
Remove the old driveway material, or top soil, for where the new drive will be to a depth of at least 150mm plus the depth of the bricks to be used; and adding 25mm depth for every 1m of slope, you must then install a solid and level foundation.
Start by using the plate compactor over the area to used then add coarse gravel to at least a depth of 100mm, roughly leveling it with a garden rake; then wet the gravel with a hose and then use the plate compactor to level it off.
On top of this add approximately 50mm of building sand, adding this in sections creating 3m or 4m squares with the PVC piping, the piping should be just visible at the top of the sand layer. Finally, level the sand off with a length of stout timber – this is known as screeding.
Setting the Bricks
Start setting the bricks from a corner so that you can work outwards towards the drive edge that will be nearest the road. Use a wet saw or angle grinder to cut the bricks and edging as required, if you haven’t been doing so before you should wear goggles for this job. Regularly use a builder’s level, at least 1m long; to check that the bricks are being set level, using a rubber headed hammer/mallet to tap them into place as needed.
If the edging meets against a wall or other solid line it can be set the same as the bricks. If the edging is in anyway exposed it is best fixed in place with a cement mixture.
The final step is to brush the fine, or silver, sand over the whole drive, which will drop between the gaps between the bricks helping to secure them in place. This fine sand will also enhance the appearance of the drive by creating the impression of a grout between the bricks.
Refresh this coating of sand once or twice a year to maintain the smart appearance of your new drive and to help suppress the growth of weeds between the bricks.
Photo by namestartswithj89, Creative Commons Attribution License