There’s just something almost magical about having a brick patio on your property made from correctly installed pavers.
Adding a tremendous amount of visual flare to your outdoor space, proper patio pavers also help to increase the amount of usable space you have outdoors. These spaces aren’t going to become soft and mushy after it rains the way that traditional grassy areas might!
At the same time, there’s a lot more thought that goes into installing a paver patio than most people realize.
This is not the kind of project that you can pull off on-the-fly, something you can sketch on the back of a napkin and just sort of drop pavers in place hoping for the best.
No, you really need to think things through, measure carefully, and (maybe most importantly) make sure that the slope on your pavers is perfectly dialed in.
That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide!
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How Much Slope Should a Paver Patio Have?
One of the most important things to get right when installing a new paver patio is the actual slope of the patio itself.
A paver patio that is installed without any consideration to the slope (or if the pavers slope at all, even) is going to become a nightmare after the first rainstorm.
Water is going to end up collecting pretty much anywhere and everywhere it wants, usually in a big puddle right in the middle of your paver patio, and that’s going to be a nightmare to deal with – not just when you want to entertain outdoors, but as for the longevity of your new patio goes, too.
With properly sloped pavers, though, these headaches are eliminated completely.
All of your drainage issues are taking care of with the finely tuned slope allowing gravity to handle the heavy lifting of moving water out of your pavers, away from your patio, and (ideally) down to a collection or runoff spot on your property.
Minimum Slope for Drainage
Before we get any further, though, you should know that every local area and municipality may or may not have specific building codes and regulations in place to determine the minimum slope necessary for proper drainage.
The 2018 International Residential Building Code (the gold standard for most states across the country) requires a slope to fall at least 6 inches or more within the first 10 feet of a paver patio.
The only exception is if a paver patio is going to be installed within 10 feet of the building. Then the paver patio needs to have a 2% or greater slope that moves away from the structure no matter what.
Just to give you some “back of the napkin” math for that 2% grade, this would mean you’d need an inch of drop away from the home for every 4 feet of paver patio – or ¼ inch drop for every individual foot.
No matter what, though, you’ll want to make sure that you check with your building inspector and your building codes to confirm that you are in full compliance.
As long as you shoot for at least a 2% drop (like we mentioned a moment ago) you should be good to go, though.
At the same time, it’s important that you make sure that your slope doesn’t exceed 5%.
This is the maximum slope a sidewalk can have in most municipalities around the country, and for good reason. Anything that slopes more than 5% can be a real nightmare to walk on – let alone stand on for a considerable amount of time while you are out enjoying your patio.
Hit the sweet spot between 2% and 3% slope and you won’t have much (if anything) to worry about.
Measuring the Slope of Your Patio Correctly
Calculating the slope for your paver patio is generally pretty simple and straightforward.
Start with the part of your patio closest to your home or other existing structures and then begin to measure the distance away from that point until you reach the end of where you want your patio to terminate.
Take that number and multiply it by 0.25 (to get the 2% slope we mentioned earlier) and you’ll have a pretty concrete number to work with when it comes to figuring out how far you need the farthest end of your patio to drop.
Using a 4 foot builders level makes this process really easy, too. Just make sure that every foot of paver drops ¼ of an inch away from existing structures (and towards where you want your water to terminate) and you’re all set.
Laser levels can help speed this process up quite a bit, too.
Not only will you be able to “shoot” a line using a laser level to come up with your slope calculations, but you can also run some string along the perimeter of your paver patio to make sure that you have physical representation in the space to measure up against as well.
Laser levels are the least expensive thing in the world, though. Luckily most hardware stores (especially most local hardware stores) are going to be willing to rent you one for this kind of project – and they will almost always teach you how to use it to calculate and track slope, too.
How to Fix Too Much or Too Little Slope with Your Patio Pavers
Fixing an improper slope issue isn’t the end of the world, though most people find that the fastest and most “permanent” fix is to simply tear the patio up completely and then start the project over from scratch.
You’ll want to make sure that you keep a close eye on how and where water accumulates after a rainstorm to figure out where your high spots are, where the slope isn’t working well, and how things need to be adjusted.
Some people have had good luck “spot fixing” high spots by removing the pavers in that area, trenching down, and then backfilling before covering with pavers again – using sand to improve drainage without compaction problems.
That might be a route you take, too.
At the end of the day, though, the idea is to do whatever you have to do to get your pavers to collect, funnel, and channel water off of the patio and into your lawn or drainage ASAP.