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How best to construct a simple paved side path?

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How best to construct a simple paved side path?

Hi All,


I'm looking to change my sloped side path into paved stairs to make it safer, and also to get easier access to the switchboard.


After a bit of researching and youtubing I've settled on a fairly simple timber frame structure using H4 treated pine sleepers and intend to use concrete pavers for the surface. For the subbase under the paver (bottom up) I'm thinking: natural ground, recycled soil as backfill coupled with crushed rock/large pebbles to assist with drainage, 10mm roadbase, 10mm mortar, then the paver on top so that it is flush with the timber frame.


The total area being paved is approx 9sqm. The existing natural ground level needs to be backfilled slightly to accommodate the new height of the stairs. I'm estimating I'll need about 2.7 cu. metres. I may need more to build up the outer side of the stair between me and my neighbour. The last image shows a plan and elevation of what I have in mind. 


The goal is to make it safer to traverse, especially after rain, keep maintenance at a minimum, and maintain the overland flow path during severe weather.


Phase 2 will be to jazz up the front yard of the house, including the dead grass you see in the pictures below - but that's for another day.


My main questions are:

1. is the subbase appropriate? is there a better or more appropriate build up?

2. what volumes/kgs/tonnes of the various materials do I need? (eg how many 20kg bags of mortar, how much soil in tonnes, how much rock on tonnes, etc)

3. are the rocks for drainage necessary or can I simply backfill and put the roadbase directly on top? I've read mixed opinions

4. does the backfill need to be compacted before the roadbase is placed on top?

5. do I need to worry about expansion with any of the components? 


This is my first moderate DIY project so I'm a little lost as to whether I'm making the right assumptions, especially with the subbase, or if I've missed something blindingly obvious to other - any help/advice/suggestions/corrections are really appreciated!


Thanks to everyone in advance!





existing front and side pathexisting front and side pathexisting side pathexisting side pathproposed timber stair with paversproposed timber stair with pavers

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @bbrodriguez. It's sensational to have you join us, and many thanks for your question about constructing a paved path.

Have you considered digging into the slope as opposed to building it up? I believe that to be a much more straightforward approach to this project. You wouldn't need to add any additional fill, and you could just add your road base and compact. You'd need to retain soil at the stairs riser and on the sides with your current design. You'll also end up with drops on either side of the stairs. I wouldn't consider this a "simple paved path". If anything, it's going to be reasonably complex.


As you no doubt have realised, the calculations to find appropriate volumes for material in your design are difficult to work out.


Let me mention some of our knowledgeable members @TedBear, @Chaks_DIY, @Noyade, @tom_builds and @Brad to see if they have any thoughts on this design.






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Trusted Contributor

Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

My back is rubbish and I will avoid using a shovel at all costs.


Amateur suggestion below....


I would follow the natural slope line with treated sleepers. The ends of the sleepers will need to be mitred as per the slope and anchored together with home made brackets with predrilled steel plate to match the slope and embedded in concrete. The joins are bolted together.

The work will be from left to right - so the step lengths are going to be different. As you work up you coach screw/bolt cross members and 'cut in' as required based on the paver size. There will be some filling of course - but should be easily managed?

I guess it's similar to what they do in National Park walking tracks.


"If anything, it's going to be reasonably complex."


My back is in spasm just looking at this. :unhappy:

Best wishes Rodriguez! - from a flat part of Australia.




Trusted Contributor

Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

Some random thoughts...

I can see the idea of raising the area for access to the meter box, it does have issues with retaining the filling.

Digging in while easier may give a height issue with the meter box.

10mm mortar bed is not going to allow drainage.

I wouldbuild it to match the deck at the front, that could just be my ocd about matching things though.

Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

Thanks Mitchell - I'll take your suggestion on board.


This way would be simpler but makes the switchboard even higher, although admittedly not much worse than it currently is!



Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

@Noyade this looks like it could also work. 


@Brad we're thinking about changing up the front including the deck so matching is not too important for this project, but I generally agree with you.


Does anyone have suggestions on the subbase? I don't want to create issues with pooling water and poor drainage!

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

Could you build an additional platform off the stairs under the switchboard, so it was at a more accessible height? Kind of like a little step up off to the side of the steps down.


As long as the subbase is gravel, it'll be free-draining. As @Brad mentioned, though, if you're planning on bedding the pavers with mortar, water won't penetrate that.




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Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

Thanks Mitchell.


Taking your advice I'm going to dig in rather than fill and doubled the depth of every step. I figure the material that's removed at the bottom can be reused to fill towards the top with the revised design.


Given the drainage issue I've been convinced to not use mortar. 


Would this be a suitable base above the roadbase?


Brunning -20kg landscape paver sand 


side path project v2.jpg


Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: How best to construct a simple paved side path?

Hi @bbrodriguez


It's wonderful that you've received excellent advice from @MitchellMc, @Noyade, and @Brad. My suggestion for your stair build is to add a drain channel at the very end of the run. In a very large downpour, your stairs will act as a mini waterfall. Water will eventually pool on top of the pavers and proceed to flow downwards. By the time it reaches the bottom step the water will have gained a little bit of momentum. To prevent the water from overflowing down the side of your house to your neighbor's property an Everhard 1m EasyDRAIN Polymer Grate And Channel must be placed at the bottom to catch and redirect the water into your drain. As luck would have it you have a downpipe right at the very end of your wall.


I find @Noyade's suggestion of using straight sleepers and attaching the cross members and using them as the guide for both the fall and run of the stairs very appealing. It would save you from having to cut multiple pieces. However, having individual stair frames makes it easy to adjust. I've added a drawing on the possible layout of the steps. Please have a look and tell me what you think.


If you need further assistance, please let us know.





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