Laying Brick Pavers on Cement

There is more than one way to take an existing cement patio and lay in the more attractive brick pavers over the top of it. Naturally, there is simply replacing it – tearing out and dumping the old and reconstituting a base, then installing the new. This can be superior, especially since the old cement can break and heave if weather conditions get nasty enough. The one below I feature elsewhere here, but it gives the picture of removal and what is required.

However, with an old cement patio properly installed and with it intact and still serving its purpose, a makeover can be accomplished in one of two ways, which I specifically list below this next picture.

A new home might take an immediate upgrade by applying new pavers over the existing, somewhat boring cement surface. This is an after-the-fact look at just that in a newer home. Notice, if you enlarge the picture, we also cut a circle into the standard pattern at the doorway, to make the entry more inviting and to provide interest:

1. Pavers can be glued down right onto the cement, which is what the above was. The current adhesives for the job are astoundingly durable and are simple to apply. There are glues now which can be applied while the surface is wet – in fact, they require it. Thus a thorough washing (which is always required prior to the application of glue) can see one working to install the new pavers immediately. As well, there are any number of glues which can be applied with the help of a grouting gun and which come in tubes. These are best applied to the clean and dried surface, being water-aversive if anything.

2.  One can also lay in some gravel much the same as a new construction, perhaps a sand layer over that, in order to achieve the same result. The primary difficulty here is in the veneer and the later compacting. Where the gravel/sand layer is extremely thin over the top of the old cement, the bouncing effect of the compactor can actually break the pavers in that there is so little cushion below. It therefore requires a quick and uniquely powerful touch and we only get one try. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean:

We went from this:

To this next phase after a huge cleanup. Notice how thin the relative thickness is of the material we lay the pavers on. You can see better by noticing the scuffed part, exposing the original cement patio:

In the end, we ended up with some clean lines and a pretty renovated patio area, complete with yet another “bubble rock”:

The water running through and over the rock made a gorgeous small trickling sound – very soothing for this extremely quiet neighborhood. It was a satisfying project but it was challenging, in spite of the apparent simplicity. It was anything but.

26 thoughts on “Laying Brick Pavers on Cement

  1. Hi Steven! I found your blog while surfing the big blogworld. I just love your design and big projects! Really beautiful works. I especialy like the use of stones/rock in the planting areas 🙂 It looks like have much sand in your area. Good draining, but not so much mulch for the plants maybe. But although not dessert like? You have many gourgeous plants in your projects. I’ve added you to my bloglist and hope that’s ok! Have a really nice week 🙂

  2. Ninni, I am delighted you dropped by and that you like the blog! I am totally pleased to be added to your bloglist. Your blog is a beautiful one, simply gorgeous. I love the many flower pictures and that you’ve put titles to them. Oh – lots of snow, eh?? Wonderful to meet you, Ninni and thanks.

  3. Hey Steve, thanks for this post. I’ve been considering laying pavers over my existing concrete patio for some time now but wasn’t sure it this was possible. Thanks for the great info, got to show this to hubby too. 😉 Don’t think he’ll be quite as grateful though, lol.

  4. hi i have isuses with my back yard if i have a 240 pound mastif and a 60 pound sheperd mix that likes to dig needless to say i have planted grass twice and once again have holes and no grass any ideas what i can do to make my yard look nice that my dogs won’t destroy

  5. Have you considered a cat? LOL. You can always take the lawn out and completely reorganize your yard, I suppose. If a dog wants to dig, chances are he will. He may, in fact, find new delights in digging in your garden, once you solve the grass digging. You could always install a barrier and then rocks over that, some landscape fabric and some pretty rock with plants and a design could work. Or get him a friend. He may just be a bit bored. What does a dog like that eat? In tonnage, I mean?

  6. Your work is very nice! Do you take any measures to allow water to drain through drilled weep holes in the concrete or anything similar? I notice on a lot of paver overlays that the pavers stay wet because they block a lot of the water. I have read about drilling weepholes in the concrete every so often but never actually met anybody that did it. What are your thoughts?

  7. Greg, I have – in emergencies not of my making – used a masonry blade in a skill saw to score a line leading drainage off. Drilling holes might work for a while but I hate messing with the integrity of a monolithic pour. As you know, in climates where it gets uber cold, water can freeze, expand and break pretty much anything. I try and plan ahead. I have never put in a patio with less than a 1% grade and I have, therefore, never had issues with standing water. Living in the North Western US means you get rain for days and even weeks at a time. Torrential rains are another story. Those you throw your hands up and hope for the best, lol.

  8. I am interested in doing the “pavers over existing concrete patio” you outline in the Feb 2, 2009 posting. Do you do this type of work, or recommend someone who does? If not, is this something a DIYer could do? I have done tile (inside only), but I’m not sure if this project is more difficult than that. Thanks for any info.

  9. Becky, it is very doable for a DIY-er. If you’d like, we can correspond by email to get it down. I have no idea where you live, so this presents a small quandary, lol. It is absolutely no different from tile, although the edges and the cutting required may or may not suit the saw you may have used for the tiles. If I were in your town, I would consider doing this. Among almost all of the paver situations, this is actually the easiest. The primary consideration for most people is the weight – they weigh about 3-5 lbs a piece and are typically 4 x 8″ – so you need 4.5 pavers – or 20-25 lbs per square foot. The subsurface needs to be clean as a whistle and as level as possible. There is a great water-based adhesive which I have found to be amazingly durable, but there are many others with similar characteristics. Tell me where you are and I may be able to provide a good contact for you.

  10. I live in Lexington, KY. My patio is new (poured at 2 different times) and is about 4-5 inches deep. There is a brick border around a part of it. The brick border is solid, but looks really bad (i.e. moss covered and dirt stained in places, but essentially solid in terms of substrate stability). The newer part of the cement has rounded edges, which is one of my concerns. I’m not clear as to how to work with the rounded parts. I would love any help you can give me, and would be happy to discuss via email, or if you have suggestions as to someone who does this work, that would also be good. Also, what is the water based adhesive you were talking about? Thanks.

  11. Hi Steve,

    I am a diy enthusiast and am very curious about laying a tile that would deal with the weather presented in the rocky mountain region year after year. I have a patio constructed of newly poured concrete, good drainage but it just looks drab. I would rather not raise the height of the patio drastically, as would be an issue with pavers. So would floating the existing concrete and using a waterproof grout/caulk stand up year after year?? Also is there a specific type of tile needed to deal with freeze/thaw?? Thanks for any information and your projects look great.


  12. Sam, thanks for your nice words and, yes, by all means, even in your neck of the woods you can safely lay a thinner tile on top of your slab. In fact, the choices are pretty remarkable. I always recommend using a natural stone product when doing so, by the way, more for aesthetic purposes than really anything else. It can also be done either with an adhesive or by cement and grouting. I suspect most guys who do that there use a cement application, although I could be wrong. I would call around – generally, anyone who sells adhesive (masonry or paver suppliers) could steer you more specifically to what’s been successful there, far more so than I. But as far as I’m concerned – and I have worked in Lake Tahoe with similar projects, I have used adhesives to good effect.

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  14. Dear Steve,

    Would this above apply to bricks as opposed to brick pavers? I have been collecting bricks forever to cover a cement path in our side yard…and possibly I am close to the needed amount. Also, if this makes any difference what is the better method for hot humid climate of New Orleans? Also, I imagine you are not in NOLA. Would you have any colleague here who you would recommend?

    Many thanks,

  15. Natalia, you can most definitely use an adhesive and get great results. The only caveat I would offer is to lay them down as well as side by side and compare thickness and widths, first. Fired bricks can shrink during their fabrication and therefore not be as “universal” in size as one might want. Concrete bricks are simpler because they pretty much conform totally. If indeed your bricks are different this way, it poses certain problems – the last thing you want is an edge sticking up you could trip on. You can adjust the widths or lengths by pre-laying and then assessing what spacing you need to make them all work in a pattern you like. The thickness issue is another tale altogether and represents why so many clay-fired bricks are laid on at least a skim coat of mortar.

    I’m afraid I don’t know and New Orleans contractors. But I work for beer! 😉

  16. So many thanks for your answer, Steve!

    Taking into account that we live without the kitchen and just with studs for some walls for the last four years, it may take us some time to get to the brick path (i.e. that is, it should not be first priority). So, if you are down here anytime, you have a job! And it will be more than beer for payment (even though they have a relatively OK local Abita beer than you should try!).

    Best, Natalia

  17. Hi…I have a brick fireplace that was painted white (semi-gloss_…Would like to redo it with thin paver stone…will any of these adhesives work for that (safely?)…



  18. It would work, sure. Just as is the case with cement, however, you’ll need a method of securing the bond as it sets.

  19. About 9 months ago I had my concrete driveway pulled up and replaced with pavers. The driveway is on a slight slope. At the bottom (bottom 1/3 of the driveway), the new pavers stay wet. It looks like the water is getting trapped at the bottom of the driveway. It’s about a 15 ft section as wide as the drive. If it doesn’t rain for 10 days it dries out, but even a light rain will keep it wet for days. should i be concerned? How to correct? THANKS for any advice.

  20. Eddie, forgive me for responding late. The bottom line is always function. If there are no issues from slumping pavers or changing the grade to such an extent that it would collect even more water, then no big deal. Typically, getting rid of water at the bottom of a slope would involve a “channel drain” at the lowest point, directing water to another location.

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