Step 4: Add Sand Layer

add the sand layer to make a brick path
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Make a screed, which you can also use as a spacer when installing the side guide rails: Using a handsaw, cut down a 2x4 so it is 6 inches longer than the finished width of your path. Then cut notches at either end that are 3 ¼ inches wide and as high as one of your bricks laid flat.

Using a spade, create narrow trenches along the edges of the graded base to fit lengths of 1x4 composite lumber turned on edge. Position the 1x4s along both sides of the walkway, then space them evenly by wedging the notched screed between them. Using a dead-blow mallet, pound the 1x4s in until they are level with the existing grade. Work your way down the path until both sides are lined. To hold these rails in place as you go, drive wooden stakes about a foot into the ground against the outside of the rails every 3 feet. Secure each stake to the lumber with two 1 ¼-inch deck screws, then cut it flush with the rail.

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    Tools List

    • square spade
      Spade
    • hand saw
      Handsaw
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level
    • tamper
      Hand tamper
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • mallet
      Deadblow mallet
    • push broom
      Push broom

    Shopping List

    1. BRICKS
    Choose bricks rated for severe weather (SW), also called "clay pavers" at the stone yard. Modular bricks measure 8 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 1½ inches thick, but actual dimensions can vary by as much as half an inch. Measure the bricks you like and figure out how many you'll need for your pattern. Depending on the pattern's waste, figure about five bricks per square foot

    2. GRADED BASE
    (a combination of crushed stone and stone dust), for creating a sturdy, porous base

    3. MASONRY SAND
    or stone dust, for creating a smooth, porous base between the graded base and the bricks

    4. 1x4 COMPOSITE LUMBER
    to use as temporary guides along the edges of the path as you set the bricks. Composite lumber is easier to bend for curves than standard lumber, though the latter will also work

    5. WOODEN STAKES
    at least 1½ feet long, to secure the guide rails in place

    6. 1 1/4-inch DECK SCREWS
    to temporarily attach the stakes to the guide rails

    7. 2x4 LUMBER
    to make a screed for shaping the sand

    8. GARDEN EDGING
    (optional) to hold together certain patterns of brick. Must go at least 6 inches into the ground