We thought we were being smart by planning our pathway's width around the size of our pavers. Since our pavers were 4x8, we decided that 48-inch-wide path would give us the necessary width without unneccessary cuts (since it's a multiple of 4 and 8). Unfortunately, just because our pavers were marketed as 4x8 inches didn't mean they are actually 4x8 inches. Whoopsies. As we started to lay our pavers in our freshly laid sand, we realized that they actually each measured about 3.95x7.91, which meant that our walkway needed to be 47.5 inches wide instead of a full 48 inches. It wasn't a big deal to make the adjustment, but it's something that's worth thinking about in advance if you can.
John (and the neighbors) were all pretty skeptical of the herringbone design I had been talking a big game about. I mean, really. More cuts! Geometry! Why would you do it, they wondered? To be honest, I was a little skeptical that we'd be able to pull it off without it looking like amateur hour. But, I really wanted to do something a little different with our cheap pavers (only 44 cents each on sale at Menard's) to make them seem a little more special, so I talked John into it against his better judgement.
The landing was a little tricky and ended up being a process of trial and error. If I had plotted things out on graph paper, that certainly would have helped. But alas, I didn't get the engineering gene that seems to run rampant in my family so I tend to avoid things like graph paper and tangent points and instead would rather visualize things in person.
I mentioned previously that we wanted the landing to be a little wider to stretch the width of the 5-foot-wide stairs and give us a little more room toward the street since we usually have to use our front door to move in big furniture. (See: Couch.) I also wanted a soldier row of pavers outlining the landing the path. That put us in the 5x5-foot range for the landing. If you look closely, you can tell from the photo below that we weren't off to the best start.
Our friends came over to have a picnic lunch with us when we got to this part. After the four of us put our brains together and chowed down on Chipotle, we finally realized things would be a heck of a lot easier to bring the wider landing width down to about 4 feet for the walkway portion if we used an even number of rows to create the landing. DUH! I had forgotten my own advice that multipes are easier! I was able to adjust the landing design from 15 rows x15 rows to 15 rows x 16 rows wide. This brought our landing to about 5x6 feet, so we could take it down by exactly one paver's width on each side to bring the walkway portion down to 47.5" wide.
If you're a visual person like I am, then this photo probably says a lot more than my rambling will.
We placed the three additional pavers on each side because I wanted to cut them down at an angle to bring it down to walkway width, but we eventually nixed them and decided to just leave them as is after we encountered a bit of cutting drama. It just wasn't worth it to mess with them. Once the pattern was established, things started to move along pretty quickly. We decided to skip all our cuts for the half blocks and fill those in later to keep things moving.
After a day, we only had about a quarter of the walkway pavers laid. Since we wouldn't be able to touch it in a few days, we had to cover our progress with tarps so the pavers wouldn't shift if it rained.
When we got back to it several days later, things moved along fairly easily until we got to the first curve. Until this point, we had been installing the plastic edging (using 8 to 12-inch spikes) after we laid the pavers. When we reached the curve, we decided to install it first on both sides we would have a guideline to butt the soldier row pavers up against. This was super helpful.
We knew we could leave small gaps between the solider row pavers as we fit them together around the curves, but in some cases we knew we'd have to trim them to get a tighter fit.
My little prop sale wheelbarrow was the perfect size for hauling the pavers from our driveway (where they were delivered) to the walkway.
To fill in the pavers between the soliders rows, we just continued the pattern, skipping places where we'd need to make cuts around the curve so the pavers would fit.
At some point our pattern got a little slanted, and we had to remove a bunch of pavers and replace them. It's amazing how being off by just a little bit throws off your entire pattern b/c mistakes multiply the further along you get in the process. Once we course-corrected, we were back on track.
We bought a $10 brick set and used our hammer to cut the blocks directly in half.
I was the designated paver layer, while John was the hauler of sand and bricks and the cutter.
Things were moving right along and we were feeling great and working as a team until it was time for all those angled and curved cuts. We were so happy to reach the driveway...we even sent the below pic to our family and friends to brag about our progress. We should have kept our moths shut though, because it the cuts turned out to be super stressful. (You'll notice by the lack of photos of the cutting process that it was too tense for photos.)
We don't have a tile saw, but we do have a circular saw, a Dremel mini circular saw, and a miter saw. It was clear the brick set wasn't going to be of help for the curves, but we hoped one of our saws (although none of them ideal for the job) would do the trick with the right blade.
To make a long story short, the cheap masonry blades we bought for the circular saw could barely put a dent in the pavers (even when we borrowed our neighbor's more powerful circular saw). The Dremel mini circular saw wasn't deep enough to get through the pavers. The miter saw blades were expensive at about $75 and we weren't even sure it would actually work since a miter saw isn't really made for this kind of work, so we skipped that method.
Things were looking glum at this point, and we were starting to get really frustrated until we discovered the tool that would save the day. The masonry saw!
It was at about 3:30 pm on Sunday that I called about the Home Depot tool center to ask if they had anything to rent that would cut pavers. It was music to my ears when I learned about the masonry saw they had. When they told me we could rent for 4 hours for $55 or 24 hours at $79, John couldn't get there fast enough. Since the tool center was about an hour from closing that day, we were able to rent it until 9am the next morning for the $55.
It was a race against the clock to get all the cuts made before a downpour that evening. I measured and marked the pavers, John cut them. We weren't able to get everything done before it stormed, so we had to wake up early the next morning (and probably annoy our neighbors) to finish cutting the last of the pavers before we had to stop to clean it out and bring it back to Home Depot. TOTALLY worth forking over the money to rent the right tool for the job.
With more rain in the forecast, we had to wait a couple days before we could complete the last step: filling in the joints with polymeric sand. This special sand hardens when you get it wet so it functions sort of like grout. It's supposed to better at keeping weeds at bay, and it won't wash away over time like normal sand will. It was pricier (about $25/bag and we needed about 5 bags), but several friends who had completed projects convinced us it was worth it. We chose a gray color that would blend a little more with our pavers.
This process was fairly simple and completed in just one evening. We just emptied the bags of sand onto the walkway and then swept it into the cracks with brooms.
The push broom worked better in the middle sections, while the regular broom was better along the edges. (John had filled the dirt back in around the walkway before we filled in the sand so that it wouldn't squeeze out along the edges.)
After we filled in all the cracks, John used a leaf blower on the lowest setting to blow off the sand from the pavers surface. The sand will stick to the pavers when it gets wet, so the pavers need to start out completely dry and clean before you bring water into the mix.
We misted it with a hose several times and let the sand harden. Finally, we were done! And we rejoiced! Our neighbors came over and high-fived us. We were so proud.
We still need to work on the flower beds on either side of the house now that the walkway is in place, but we're loving the curb appeal it brings to our little house. We've already had visitors test it out...now we just need to get used to answering the front door. :) We're hoping to get a start on the rest of the landscaping in July so we can hopefully score some deals on plants. we also might seal the pavers so that they look wet/darker. Right now they appear a little chalky and blue-tinted when they're not wet, and I prefer them to be a little darker (like they are in the photo above) so they look more charcoal. This is one of our biggest projects to date, and we couldn't be prouder of the results!