I'm planning a DIY patio paver project. The site is down a steep hillside only accessible via steps, where bringing in large amounts of base rock would be back breaking work.

I found this product called Brock Paver Base which purports to eliminate the need for the 4-6" layer of base rock. It is used in conjunction with a bed of sand directly over bare ground. However this product is quite expensive for what is essentially a piece of plastic with holes in it for drainage.


It seems to me that interior cement board with holes drilled in a regular pattern would accomplish the same effect of distributing the paver load over a larger area, at a fraction of the cost per sqft.

Has anyone heard of this being done, or see any obvious problem with it? Other cost effective base materials (outdoor carpet? vinyl flooring?)

Edit: This is in coastal California where frost is not an issue.

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    I considered doing that years ago and forget why I didn't. However, a simple solution to getting heavy materials there is to build a chute that rests on the stairs. If you don't think the product bags will hold up sliding down the surface, put them on a sled. You can attach a rope to the sled to retrieve it and control the speed going down.
    – fixer1234
    Oct 6, 2017 at 1:03
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    My guess is that the interior cement board would fracture and not provide the proper support. Use the designated product. Oct 6, 2017 at 1:04
  • Agree with Jim backer board has very little sheer strength , once the base is wet and mushy the backer will crack then crumble with more foot traffic.+
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 6, 2017 at 3:25

2 Answers 2


While they do make exterior cement board your issue is really going to be that of loading and exposure to other elements.

  • You will have pavers and then a person standing on them you may exceed the loading (although they are used as a base material for underlayment of ceramic floors there is additional support across the board - your ground may not provide that support.

  • Further you will also have the elements at play here chemical composition of various components of the soil and rain water (is your rain water alkaline in nature or acidic) and what other contaminants will be in it as it washes the board over time.

  • You will have issues with shear over time as people walking on the top of the pavers, ground movements from vibration of nearby roads, perhaps trucks or trains - also your ground might be subject to subduction.

Please look to the following for more information:


I've done it and have had no problems. In lieu of the paverboard we put down about 2 inches of sand, then hardibacker, then pavers, then polymeric sand. We are in northern california with several days of freezing temps but have not had any freezes since we put the walk together. It was considerable work getting the hardibacker level especially from one section to the next but the end product looks fantastic and appears to be holding up well after about two weeks of rain. We did drill holes in the hardibacker to allow the water to drain through. The 3 foot by 110 foot walkway curves around a lawn. Hadibackeer is much cheaper than the paver base products they advertise. I think Hardibacker is missing the boat by not promoting this use of their product

  • Thanks for the feedback. Good to hear I'm not the only one to be wondering. I
    – pscl
    Nov 17, 2017 at 5:41

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