Raising Patio Pavers

Updated: Sep. 06, 2023

Remove and reset pavers with this easy four-step method.

FH07JUN_SUNKPA_01-2Family Handyman
Follow these special techniques for removing sunken or dipped patio pavers and resetting them at the proper height. Make your patio perfectly smooth again.

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Step 1: Remove the sunken pavers

Photo 1: Remove the pavers

To fix a sunken patio, first pry up the paver with a thin screwdriver, pounding on adjoined pavers to vibrate packed sand loose.

After a few years, paver block patios and walkways often develop low spots. However, these areas can be brought back up to grade with a few bags of sand, a length of pipe and a screed board. We’ll walk you through how to fix a sunken patio yourself.

First, remove the pavers from the low area. If they’re packed in tight, use a screwdriver to lever the first paver out, levering each end a little at a time and tapping on surrounding pavers until you can pull out the paver (Photo 1).

Step 2: Lay in a screed pipe

Photo 2: Level the screed pipe

Level a screed pipe using a screed board with a notch at one end 1/8 in. shallower than the depth of the pavers.

Make a screed board long enough to rest on the level pavers around it. Then notch the ends 1/8 in. less than the depth of the pavers. If the area is large or against the house or grass, set a screed pipe along one side and level it against the pavers you’re matching. If you’re trying to match a sloping walk, shim the level at the downhill end to match the slope (Photo 2).

Step 3: Add sand and level it

Photo 3: Add and screed the sand

Add sand to the low area, then level it by pulling the screed board along the pipe and the pavers.

Fill the low area with coarse, all-purpose sand, then screed it level (Photo 3). Use a trowel like a spatula around the edges to scrape away any excess sand.

Step 4: Reset the pavers

Photo 4: Tap down the pavers

Remove the screed pipe and set the pavers back, tapping them down level with a board.

Brush any old sand off the sides of the pavers, then set them back into place and drive them down until they’re flush with the other pavers (Photo 4). Spread dry sand over the pavers, tamping and sweeping until the joints are completely full. That’s it, your sunken patio is fixed! Here’s what you need to know about paver base.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Trowel
You’ll also need a broom.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 1x screed board
  • Sand
  • Straight steel pipe