How to Install Tactile Pavers

Tactile pavers are used to assist vision impaired persons when they travel sidewalks in areas with vehicle traffic. The small buttons embossed on the pavers are tactile indicators that the person is approaching a crosswalk and they should use caution when proceeding. The knobby surface of these pavers also provide excellent traction on sloped surfaces.


  1. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 1
    Select a brand, type, and size of paver suitable for your application. Tactile pavers come in sizes and shapes similar to patio type pavers, in varying shapes and sizes. For a public facility in the United States, your selection will need to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, and a specification should be provided by the civil engineer or architect who is responsible for the project design.
  2. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 2
    Layout the location the pavers will be set in. Since the pavers are embedded or surrounded by a concrete curb, you will want to make a recessed block-out in your sidewalk for them to set in. Here are the points you will want to consider when doing this.
    • Size the blocked out area so an equal number of pavers will fit, without requiring border cuts. Typical pavers are cast with an eight thousand PSI concrete mix, and cutting them can be time consuming and difficult. Measuring the actual size of the pavers and dividing the overall size of the paver bed, then adjusting the dimensions will make it possible to fill the space within reasonable tolerances without cutting any border pavers.
      Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 2Bullet1
    • Measure the thickness of your pavers, then make the recess concrete block out about one to one and one half inches deeper than this thickness, to allow for a setting bed of compacted sand.
      Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 2Bullet2
    • Make sure the border curb that surrounds the paver bed meets the construction requirements of your job, if applicable. Usually, the pavers will be immediately adjacent to a street, so you may expect vehicles to occasionally drift onto the curb. For this reason, the border curb should be structurally constructed to support these errant vehicles. Typically, forming the concrete 12 inches (30.5 cm) wide and 6 to 8 inches (15.2 to 20.3 cm) deep, and adding reinforcing bars will support this traffic load.
      Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 2Bullet3
  3. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 3
    Set the concrete forms, grade and compact the fill material, and place the concrete for the pavers to set in. Be careful to have all form surfaces on a flat (not necessarily level, as the sidewalk approach to a street is often sloped) plane. This will enable you to keep the pavers flush with the concrete surface when they are laid in. Place and finish the concrete.
  4. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 4
    Wreck the forms you used to place the concrete for your paver bed. Take care not to damage the edges of the concrete, so the joint between concrete and pavers is clean and neat.
  5. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 5
    Fill the paver bed to a suitable depth for laying the pavers. You may use crushed limestone or fine gravel, or set the pavers in a bed of masonry cement mortar, but the pavers in the example pictures are laid in clean sand. This is the manufacturer's suggested setting technique for these particular pavers.
  6. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 6
    Level the setting bed, in this case, the sand, with a straight board cut short enough to fit in the setting bed. Here, an actual paver is used to establish the depth of the setting sand. You may also make a gauge block or measure down from the surface of the walkway with a ruler or tape measure to get the desired results.
  7. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 7
    Pack the sand (or other non-cementious material with your leveling board by tapping it flatly with the widest side of the board. Damp sand is especially suited for this purpose, since it compacts to a good, solid density easily.
  8. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 8
    Re-level the sand after packing it, by pulling the board over the surface lightly. This should lay down any humps (high spots), and some more sand can be placed in the low spots and repacked.
  9. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 9
    Stock pavers around the area you are working in. Stack them with the dimpled side up, close enough to be within easy reach of the place they are to be laid. This will usually mean stacking them in groups of ten or fifteen, around the perimeter of the blocked out, recessed area.
  10. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 10
    Lay the pavers in the pattern you choose, or as specified by the designer/architect. Here, a two by two cross hatched pattern is used. This is the simplest pattern, resulting in few, if any cuts. Hound's Tooth is another pattern, as is a simple diagonal and staggered design, but these will require half cuts around the border to complete.
  11. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 11
    Tap the pavers down with the edge of a short 2X4 board or a soft rubber mallet to seat them firmly in the setting bed. Make sure the joints remain tight, and square, since the interaction between the individual pavers keeps them from working or shifting around after they are set.
  12. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 12
    Realign the pavers after the whole area is paved, so that the joint around the perimeter is equal. Because it is necessary to allow some space for fitting the pavers, you should end up with about a 14 to 38 inch (0.6 to 1.0 cm) outside joint around the pavers. A flat bar or narrow screwdriver will usually work for this step, but for very large fields of pavers, a large pry bar or wrecking bar may be required. Keep all joints as closely balanced and aligned as possible.
  13. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 13
    Check the flatness of the pavers after the joints are aligned and all the pavers are laid in. You may find you have to pull a few pavers that are setting too high, so that a small amount of your base material can be scooped out to re-level them. Pavers that are too low, or appears to have sunk down, will need some additional setting material underneath them, as well.
  14. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 14
    Scatter loose, dry sand to fill the joints, or the cracks between the pavers. Use a broom to sweep the sand back and forth, tapping the pavers to help settle sand deeply into the joints.
  15. Image titled Install Tactile Pavers Step 15
    Clean the pavers after you have finished filling the joints, leaving a little of the surplus sand for refilling any areas that may settle.


  • Make sure the joints are equal and the pavers are setting flat before sanding in the joints. Once this is accomplished, it is very difficult to remove any pavers, since the sand in the joints wedges the pavers in tightly.
  • Check the dimples on the pavers as you lay them, to be sure they formed correctly in the mold and none have been broken off in shipment and handling.
  • Never use a steel tool, such as a hammer, on concrete pavers, as they chip and break easily.


  • Make sure your project design meets the requirements set forth by law and in accordance with contract documents.

Things You'll Need

  • Pavers
  • Sand
  • Lumber
  • Prying tool

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Paths and Paving