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I am building a small patio using clay brick pavers. The pavers are being installed over an existing concrete slab. I laid an inch of concrete sand over the slab, and will install the bricks on top of the sand after I compact it.

For compacting the sand, am I likely to get dramatically better results if I use a plate compactor instead of a hand compactor? I've already started doing it with the latter and it looks decent. The only big issue is that I am finding it tricky to get the sand completely level across all parts of the patio, but it's unclear to me whether the plate contractor would address that more easily.

Either way, I am going to use a plate contractor on the brick pavers once they are in place. My question here is about whether there is a clear advantage in terms of project quality to using a plate contractor on the base sand, as opposed to compacting it by hand.

  • I'm reluctant to say it's not possible with a hand compactor but it's a LOT more work. Get the powered plate compactor and you'll get better results. – jwh20 Jun 19 at 1:27
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The metric I use is “Is anyone going to die, and will this last until I’m too old to care.”

A hand compactor is great for small areas, but to be honest, I’ve used neither up to 150 square feet / 12 square meters. Unless the slab is broken or unlevel, you have a great foundation and the slab will provided a good source of “levelness”.

The goal is to get the pavers level enough, with the sand underneath uniform enough, that any grade you’ve included for water management is maintained, and the pavers don’t wobble. That’s it — don’t overthink this.

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