How To Compact Pavers Without A Plate Compactor? Simple Steps!

Compact Pavers Without A Plate Compactor

Last Updated on July 30, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

To compact pavers without a plate compactor, use a hand tamper or rubber mallet. Start from the edges and work inward, applying consistent force to each paver. Verify levelness regularly and repeat until all pavers are firmly in place. Add more sand for stabilization if necessary.

How to compact pavers without plate compactor Overview

1Assess Material: Determine the type of pavers being used. Some materials are sensitive to high impact.
2Level Base: Ensure that the base is level and flat. Any inconsistencies could lead to shifting over time.
3Lay Pavers: Position pavers securely and keep them in place using sand or cement mixture as needed.
4Use Hand Tamper: Utilize a hand tamper, a simple tool to compress the pavers into the bed of sand or cement.
5Even Out: Even out the pavers by repeatedly striking the surface of each. This is especially essential in uneven areas.
6Check Consistency: Ensure consistent compaction across the entire area to prevent differential settlement.
7Add Joint Sand: Fill spaces between each paver with joint sand, then sweep the excess away.
8Seal Pavers: Once the pavers are compact and stable, seal them by applying paver sealer, which consolidates the joint sand and aids in forming a solid, durable surface.

Steps On How To Compact Pavers Without A Plate Compactor

Whether you are making pavers, a patio, or laying a new driveway, you’ll need a compacted base that is fit for building a road over it. Remember, when the ground is not compacted enough, it’ll end up developing cracks over the pavers or in your patio’s walls.  Follow these steps and pack pavers without a plate compactor;

Step 1: Wear Protective Clothes

The first step before compacting your pavers is putting on protective clothing. It’s pretty necessary to wear the correct protective equipment when handling a vibrator without a plate compactor.  Remember not to wear baggy, loose-fitting clothes, loose jewelry, or tile when compacting the soil.

You should tie your long hair back; wear sturdy and long trousers since the hot exhaust gases can easily burn your legs. Put on protective goggles, gloves, and hearing protection.  Don’t reach into the motor area if your device has not yet cooled down fully since your machine gets hot during operation. 

Step 2: Substrate Preparation

Carefully check the underground in the pit. Ensure the soil is so smooth that the water can’t collect in the puddles whenever it rains. You can choose to compact the natural land if this isn’t the problem. 

To prepare the substrate, lift the vibrator into the pit, but ensure you’ve got a secure footing when starting and working.

Reduce the engine output minimum enough if your ground is uneven or very young. This prevents your device from sinking into the ground and enables easy control while working. To achieve an even surface, run the machine evenly over your entire space.  Compact the interior first for areas that are higher than the surrounding soil. To finalize, compact the last 30-40 cm in the edge area.

Step 3: Make A Layer Of Frost Protection.

Distribute the coarse crushed stone or gravel on your ground. Then peel off the surface with a broad while creating the necessary slope directly

A spirit level is a good measuring tool for greater services. Gravel is perfect for less polluted areas like paths or terraces in the garden.

Gravel is more stable to use in the parking spaces and the driveway areas as well. Your frost layer should be at least 10cm thick. However, your subsurface doesn’t need to become too dense, but rather firm and stable to allow the water to drain away as drainage.

Step 4: Building The Base Course

After successfully compacting the soil with the frost protection layer, it’s time to build the actual base layer. The base layer also has crushed stones or gravel, though you need to use a finer grain size here. The base needs to be at least 13cm thick. 

Apply the material plus moist and distribute it. Straighten it again with a board while paying more attention to the slope.

Step 5: Sand Layer

You need to apply a 5-8 cm thick layer of sand as the last step. It’s enough to distribute the sand evenly and remove it with an important slope

You will be able to see decking wood plus the patio stones on the sand. Remember you have to compact the subsoil for the terrace three times or more. If you plan to load your soil heavily, your subsoil needs to be more compacted to prevent the soil from sinking.

Step 6:  Cleaning The Vibrating Plate

After finishing your work, the work equipment needs to be cleaned. Clean the air filter and the case of the machine. For long service, ensure there is proper care and maintenance. Drain your machine fuel to a clean container. Add a few drops of engine oil to the cylinder and remove the spark plug. To distribute oil on the machine, pull the starter cable several times.

Tips For Compacting The Soil

The key to success for any development project is adequate compaction of the sub-foundation and foundation. Here are the helpful tips;

1. Learn How To Recognize Your Natural Soil- identify the type of soil you will be working on before starting the project. The ground must be able to support the overload of weight for both vehicular and pedestrian applications. Clay soil and highly organic soils should be removed or amended. You can amend clay soil with Portland cement, medium caliber stone compacted in clay, or combine the two.

2. Make Sure You Check The Hydraulic And Hydrostatic Content– to obtain a good compact foundation; your granular soil must have a certain degree of moisture. Its degree of humidity will lubricate the particles and help them to settle.

3. It Would Help If You Had Correct Compaction Equipment– Make sure you have the right and enough gear for your project.  A vibrating plate is perfect for granular-type soils, a sheep roller or jumping jack is suitable for clay soils.  You should compact natural soil to 98 percent of the proctor.

4. Don’t Reuse Excavated Soil– it’s significant to avoid evacuating dirt from any site into a hole to fill it. Mainly because when the soil is evacuated, the volume multiplies by 20-30 percent and is commonly unusable since the initial density is altered.

5. Evacuating Dirt. Try to even the excavation- You should at least go;

4 inches deep if you are laying pavers on the surface area with foot traffic only.

6 inches deep if you are applying your pavers on a site with heavy foot traffic.

6-8 inches for pavers if you’re expecting cars or bikes.

8-10 inches for your patio.

If you leave in a cold or wet environment, add two inches to all of these measurements.

Common Paver Installation Mistakes

Here are some of the common mistakes you need to avoid when installing your pavers;

Backfilling With Dirt

Avoid using dirt as your backfill or base if you don’t want your pavers to sink, separate or rotate. Rather than having a smooth surface, you will have uneven and bumpy surfaces. Because dirt shrinks by 30 percent when compacted hence your hardscape will settle 30 percent.

Laying A Shallow Base

A shallow base is not recommendable; you need to dig deep enough area for your floor. You will need 4cm for normal foot traffic areas and 6-10 for residential parking lots and driveways. Remember to add 2-4 cm to your gravel base if you stay in a cold and wet environment.

Not Compacting Your Base

Your gravel needs to be even, and firm without rises of more than an eighth or any bellies before laying pavers or bedding sand. To achieve this, compact your base and pavers properly. Doing so will prevent unevenly, raised, or uneven pavers.

Installing Your Bedding Sands Improperly

The bedding sand is a key aspect of your entire hardscape since it helps stones settle firmly into the base and stay in place. Also, it serves as a leveling layer for an evening out of any minor discrepancies in your gravel base. Improper installation of the bedding sand will leave voids and dips that will show in the final product.

Avoiding The Click And Drop Method

It is good to use the click-and-drop method when placing your paving stones. Not using it will lead to bulldozing the sand beneath your paver and creating a deep void or large hill. The result is either sunken or raised pavers.

Laying Long Linear Lines Of Pavers

Paving stone patterns accomplish stability and beauty. If you choose beauty over strength, your hardscape will be structurally unstable, thus shifting and wrapping over time, which causes visual imperfection and safety hazards.


Compacting pavers properly is essential if you want a paving project that will stand the test of time. It will be good if you get it right the first time since you’ll avoid the additional cost that comes with repair and replacement.  A plate compactor is a great piece of equipment for compacting pavers. But, if you don’t have it, you can rent it or use other means like road rollers, vibrators, rammers, plus others to achieve proper soil compaction.