26

I have a couple pavers that have sunk in my driveway. If this was close to the edge, I’d take up a few, re-level and replace. But this is in the middle of a large expanse of pavers.

driveway pavers

How can I pull up a few in the middle to fix this without having to pull apart 1/2 my driveway?

  • 9
    Don't try to start with the sunken one - go for the ones around it first. – Ecnerwal Jul 13 at 23:40
  • 4
    Be prepared to find rather large cavity under them. – fraxinus Jul 14 at 13:49
  • 3
    Given that this is caused by soil erosion, wouldn't the best solution be to hire professionals to pull up all the pavers, lay a proper concrete foundation, and then lay new pavers into said concrete foundation? – nick012000 Jul 14 at 15:08
  • 2
    I would certainly check that there isn't something much bigger going on down there. Depending on local geology and geography, check if you haven't got a broken drain or an old grave or even a huge sinkhole waiting to swallow your street. – RedSonja Jul 15 at 5:12
  • 8
    @nick012000 Paved driveways are not usually laid over concrete. Usually you build a hardcore base, cover with a blinding layer of sand (well compacted so that it fills any void around the hardcore), and then lay pavers onto the sand. The most common cause is the sand/hardcore shifting slightly over time, but that's relatively stable once the shift has happened and just needs a bit more sand. The other common cause around here is ants excavating the sand to build a nest - again, just needs more sand, – Graham Jul 15 at 9:46
34

I've done it two ways. Take a coat hanger and bend a 1" 90 degree at the end of a straightened out hanger. Insert the bent edge down into the seem and twist the hanger so the 1" piece turns under the paver you want to pull up. work it back and forth with a screwdriver in the opposite edge while pulling the paver up.

My other trick was to drill a hole in the paver I wanted to remove and stick in a plastic anchor. Insert the screw, screw it in a bit and lift up. Save the dust from drilling and when you reset the paver mix it with a little silicone, clear, caulk and stuff it into the hole.

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  • 1
    The "coat hanger" method is the best method, personally not wanting to deface a paver by drilling a hole in it, unless it is quite large (12" x 12"). – G Warner Jul 15 at 1:59
  • The lifting method can work too when you work the paver loose with a rubber mallet and then attach something with some kind of glue. Hotglue has worked in my case, there may be some other kinds of glue that you can then later more or less easily remove. – PlasmaHH Jul 15 at 15:51
  • Couldn't you just turn the paver upside down to hide the drill hole? Or does the bottom look too different due to having sat there for years. – Kaz Jul 16 at 22:07
  • @Kaz The pavers had been sealed a few times so the surface did look different. – JACK Jul 16 at 22:10
23

Using a crowbar or screwdriver etc. lift the pavers to the left of the sunken ones first. Lift the ones numbered 1 and 2 in the image:

enter image description here

Then you should have enough room to dig out the sunken ones.

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19

I've recently seen a video but can't find the link. Consider a Flexible Joint Knife, or the equivalent in a fairly wide spatula. Get a pair of them, to enable uniform lifting.

Slice from each edge of the spatula about one-third of the way inward, about an inch or two from the bottom. Bend those cut tabs in the same direction. As you force the tool into the crack, the tabs will be in the same plane as the crack, until you get below the level of the brick.

At that point, the tabs will extend under the paver providing lift points at four locations. Gently work the tool upward, lifting the paver a bit at a time.

joint knife mod

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  • I've done this (without modifying the spatulas) to lift a row of tiles from the middle of a piece of pavement to put some low voltage wire under them. It works. Slowly "crank" the tile up for a few mm at the time from each side. For OP's case, I'd place them on the North and South side of the lower tile in the picture, otherwise you'll wedge it stuck. – CodeCaster Jul 16 at 16:18
14

Try using a pressure washer and a wet/dry vac to erode the sand and debris in the gap between the pavers. That'll hopefully get you to a place where at least the paver block can wobble freely, which will ease lifting it up.

For lifting.. if you're lucky, and/or have a sufficiently large vacuum, the paver might be lifted by vacuum alone. A ring of clay or putty massaged into the face of the paver could help seal the vacuum hose and improve the odds. Otherwise maybe fashion a wire hook, or use a bit of thin sheet metal, etc. Mechanical lift will require at least two lifting hooks.

If you have or can get spares/replacements then it might be OK to use more aggressive tactics which might result in breaking the paver. If it does break, grab a paver from a less-noticeable position and install it here, then use a whatever-you-can-get paver to restore the less-noticeable spot.

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  • This is the right answer; I have done this successfully. The pressure washer gets the sand out (and sprays it all over you) and it could even move little paving stones like those in the picture. – RedSonja Jul 15 at 5:09
13

Just to add to the various hints, and complete the picture of available techniques, professionals who do this a lot would use a vacuum slab lifter, something like this:

Image from Express Tools
Source: Express Tools

However your surface area may be too small for this, but even smaller attachments are made for bespoke situations.

A bit much of a purchase for a one-off, but worthy of note for completeness sake!

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  • 4
    Might such a tool be available for rent? – Fred Larson Jul 14 at 19:44
  • 1
    Yes: Major tool hire places might have it. Some come up in a web search. I just picked the one with a nice image – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Jul 14 at 20:07
  • I'd think your slabs would have to be pretty smooth in order to get an adequate seal with one of these. It does appear that the guy in your picture has wet them down to improve the suction, but I'm not sure how well even that would work on the rough bricks in the OP. – Darrel Hoffman Jul 16 at 13:27
  • Only a complete sucker would buy this. – Kaz Jul 16 at 22:07
  • @DarrelHoffman Also, that's going to suck up all the debris from the gaps between the pavers; how is the vacuum pump machinery going to like that? – Kaz Jul 16 at 22:09
6

What works for me is using two pruning saws. Place one in the gap on each side of the paver, then twist each one so the teeth grab the paver. Then lift. Easy.

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2

How about using some white glue (or other water-soluable) glue to attach a bolt/handle to the face of the paver? Once the repair is done, leave a soaking-wet rag on the glue overnight and wipe it off. If that doesn’t work, maybe some construction adhesive that can be dissolved with mineral spirits or ground off?

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  • In a similar vein - duct tape as a handle might be all it takes. Be generous and try get some down the sides too, then simply lift straight out. Have something ready to kick underneath as soon as the paver is clear. – Criggie Jul 15 at 2:44
2

If you have even a single spare paver (as I do) then drilling in and using an appropriate plug can allow you to attach a screw eye and lift one straight out. After that the others should be fairly easy. When you've filled the void, replace the paver with the spare (perhaps using the one with the eye for a test fit)

Even without a spare, you may be able to swap the one with the screw hole to a less obvious place at an edge.

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2

In this video Mike Haduck shows how he fixes pavers in his area (IIUC, he's been a stone mason for many years) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioJsUnUDvok

Basically he uses two screw drivers to get the first paver out, he gets it gradually from one side, then the other and so on and so forth until it's out. The rest of them should be easy. IIUC, pavers are usually not cemented to the ground.

And as he writes in the description of many of his videos:
"... all my videos are my ways and ideas, I always suggest anyone doing any type of work to consult professional help".

EDIT: described the process a bit, as @ThreePhaseEel pointed out, if for whatever reason the video/link is down, there should be some description.

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  • 1
    It'd be helpful to provide a description of what's shown in the video. (Links rot, YT vids get taken down due to flagstorm campaigns, and so on) – ThreePhaseEel Jul 14 at 12:04
  • I scrubbed the video and found no reference for removing an "inside, isolated" paver. It shows the process starting from the edge, to lift and level a series of pavers, but nothing from the inside. – fred_dot_u Jul 14 at 13:21
  • @ThreePhaseEel: it's hard to explain all that he does in the video... besides some stuff can be see much easier than described... :) Also AFAIK, the channel is his, the videos are shot by him... I hope it doesn't get taken down anyway. – Ahmad Samir Jul 14 at 14:25
  • The first paver he removed, he didn't start removing it from the edge, just used two screw drivers to gradually get it out from the sides. – Ahmad Samir Jul 14 at 14:27
  • So that's what Han Solo is doing these days. – chasly - supports Monica Jul 15 at 15:14

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