Build Your Own Brick Driveway

by Greg on July 27, 2017

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Driveways can be built using concrete, asphalt and even seashells. Today though, you are going to learn how to build your very own driveway made out of brick.

Now, I am not going to lie, this is going to take some grunt work and some dedication. If you are willing to put in the hard yards though, you can have a nice new brick driveway that will have saved you hundreds and in some cases even thousands of dollars.

So, Lets Get Onto It!

Step 1 – The Law

If you are living in the US, make sure to check with your local state or county to investigate the rules involved in building your own driveway. Some counties will only let a qualified builder add features such as this to your property. In Australia you need to contact your local council to find out what permit you need to apply for.

Also, make sure there are no water and drainage regulations that must be adhered to. If there are, make sure you factor these into your brick driveway’s construction process.

Step 2 – Getting The Right Brick

There are so many different types of brick that you can purchase and lay down as a surface. In saying that though, there are really only two types of bricks that you want to use for a driveway surface.

Interlocking Pavers

interlocking pavers

This type of brick is generally favoured simply due their strength and reliability. These are usually made entirely from concrete and once laid down they interlock with one another. This means that when pressure from a vehicle is applied, they all act to support one another.

Used Paving Bricks

Used paving bricks are basically old bricks from sidewalks and streets being re-purposed. Being used, they will mostly be pretty old and some can even reach up to 100 years or more in age.

How Do I Find Them?

Usually, a bit of searching on the Internet can do wonders. Sometimes construction or demolition companies will be selling old bricks they have collected (Craigslist or EBay is a good place to start).

However if you are after some new interlocking bricks, you will usually have to go to a brick distributor

Depending on your distributor, they will most likely drop your order off at your house, so no need to higher a truck and move all the bricks yourself.

Step 3 – Excavation

This is where the real work begins!

Depending on the size of the driveway, you may want to higher a small digger for the day or some labourers.

Most bricks will be about 2 inches thick but make sure you measure the bricks that you have ordered just to make sure. Below that your will need to lay down about 1.6 inches of sand. Under that you will then need a sub-base that is about 5.9 inches thick.

Lastly, and I know your are begging for me stop telling you to dig deeper, but you will need to go down an extra 9.5 inches in depth to make sure you go below the damp proof course of your house. In total, that excavated land needs to be about 13 to 16 inches deep.

Also be sure to include a very slight pitch in your driveway. This will help with the drainage of water and preventing it from pooling in the middle. To check the slope, use a level and check it regularly.

Ideally, the driveway will slope away from the house but if it doesn’t, you will need to install a driveway drainage system.

Step 4 – Build Edge Restraints

Edge restraints are basically like the wall on the outside of the driveway that holds everything else together. The existing dirt on the edges of the excavated land will act as support but you should still add a thicker layer of bricks on the edge. Edge restraint bricks are usually bigger and bulkier than your average brick, be sure to contact your supplier.

First thing that you need to do is run a length of string from one end of the edge to the other. Insert a pole or length of rebar at the end to tie the string to. Make sure the string is tight and taught and highlights where you want the edge of the driveway to be. Place another metal pole at the opposite end and tie the string off.

brick alignment

Along with being straight, you always want the string to be at a consistent height. The string will indicate where surface level for your bricks will be so set it to the appropriate height.

Next up, you will need a concrete mix that is a six to one ratio, which means six parts ballast to one part concrete. Spread the mix along the edge about one inch below the string line consistently.

Place the bigger barrier bricks inside the string line and against the dirt edge. Insure they are all evenly placed against the string and level with one another. If one is sticking up a bit, using a rubber mallet or piece of wood, knock it down bit. I recommend using a level or a flat piece of wood and placing it on top of the bricks to make sure they are all even at regular intervals.

On the back of the barrier bricks, fill the gap between the dirt and the brick with concrete to prevent the bricks from shifting around. This concrete should be regular concrete rather than your six to one previously used.

Now lay some bricks along the sides of the barrier bricks. We call these bricks course bricks and they will act as the outer ring for the rest of your driveway.

Leave the concrete to set over night and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Step 5 – Filling The Sub-base

Fill the bottom layer of the driveway with a generous helping of sub-base. Sub-base is basically crushed rock and concrete mixed together.

You then want to go over the base with a soil compactor. The end result should leave the sub-base about 3.2 to about 4 inches below the string line.

It will take about 8 rounds to truly compact to the sub-base to the level you need it. Compacting insures that the driveway won’t erode after heavy rainfall so it really pays in the long run to compress it properly.

Step 6 – Lay Some Sand

sand closeup

The next layer you are going to want on top of the sub-base is sand. The sand will need to be rough so as to prevent it from seeping up through your bricks and causing low spots.

Before you lay any sand down, make sure it is dampened to allow it to compact properly and to prevent the wind from blowing it all away.

Lay the sand out in stages to prevent it from drying out before you can compact it. Lay the sand so that it is half way up the course bricks.

Once the sand is all laid out, you may want to wet it down really quickly with a hose. Then, go over it one time with the compactor.

Step 7 – Level The Playing Field

With large piece of timber, you can now begin leveling out the sand. Make sure you work from the end of the driveway to the start. This will prevent you from leaving any footprints when you finish.

I recommend cutting out edges of the timber and lining it up with the course bricks and pushing the wood in stages. Scrape up or compact the sand that builds up behind the wood as you level out the surface.

Making sure the sand is level is probably one of the most important things you will have to do during this project. If the sand is not level, the bricks won’t be level.

Step 8 – Laying The Bricks

Now all you have to do is lay down the bricks in the pattern that you want. Make sure that when you are laying them, you don’t end up stepping on your already evened out sand. Lay down the bricks and work forwards.

Every few rows check the alignments and make sure you are following any patterns that you have decided on. Fill in the entire driveway leaving the edges empty by about two bricks worth of space. Depending on the pattern you have laid out, you may need to cut some bricks to make everything fit together.

Step 9 – Cutting

Depending on the pattern you have set yourself up with, you may need to cut the some bricks along the edges to maintain the pattern.

If this is the case you will need to do the following:

  1. Place the full brick over the edge line and mark where the brick needs to be trimmed.
  2. Cutting the brick can be done in two ways. The fastest way is with a power saw, but you can use a chisel and hammer.
  3. Once the brick is cut, place into the slot and repeat the process with the next row.

chalk marking the brick

If the brick does not fit in you may need to trim it down just a little bit more. However if it is only narrowly missing the mark, you can use a rubber mallet or hammer and gently bang it into place.

Step 10 – Jointing

Okay I promise, you are actually almost done now. Just a little more to go and you finally be finished.

Sweep the driveway clean of any loose sand and general debris that has accumulated.

Now scatter kiln dried jointing sand across the surface and with a soft broom, brush it around. This sand will essentially be filling in the gaps between the bricks giving it some extra stabilization and structure.

If there is any loose or extra sand on the surface, leave it on there, as you will need it for the next step.

Step 11 – Final Compaction

With the soil compactor, go over the driveway’s surface one more time to push the bricks down into the sand below. This will also allow your jointing sand to really get into all the nooks and crannies.

Usually, 3 or 4 runs with the compactor will be enough to get the job. Sweep off all the excess sand into any empty gaps the compactor may have missed.

Step 12 – USE IT!

You are all done!

As long the concrete on the edge of your driveway has dried, you should be good to start using your driveway.


Gavin Hewitson

Gavin Hewitson is the owner of the blog providing free information on how to improve, repair and build your own driveway. If you are looking for tips on how to improve your own driveway, DIY driveway is the place with the answers.

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