Laying granite setts in 10 easy steps

How to properly install granite setts for optimal durability

When it comes to choosing a durable and visually appealing material for your driveway, patio, or walkway, granite setts stand out as a robust and versatile option. However, the longevity and durability of these beautiful stones depend significantly on the quality of installation. Incorrect installation can lead to problems like water pooling, uneven surfaces, and decreased lifespan of the setts. In this comprehensive guide, we aim to walk you through the crucial steps for installing granite setts correctly. From the initial groundwork to the finishing touches, we'll provide expert advice to ensure that your investment stands the test of time, all while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space.

Table of Contents

Preparing the Groundwork: The Importance of a Strong Foundation

The initial phase of installing granite setts starts with preparing the groundwork, a step that cannot be overstated in its importance. A well-laid foundation is crucial for the overall durability and longevity of your granite setts, and it’s here that most of the issues related to water pooling, uneven surfaces, or sinking can be addressed and prevented.

Firstly, mark out the area designated for the setts using wooden stakes and strings, ensuring the boundaries are straight and aligned. This is also the time to decide on the slope or grading of the surface for proper drainage.

Next, focus on excavation. Remove the topsoil, grass, or any existing pavement to create a flat and uniform surface. The depth of this excavation will depend on what the setts will be used for. Driveways will need a deeper excavation to support the weight of vehicles, whereas pathways or patios may require less depth. A general rule of thumb is to dig deep enough to accommodate both the thickness of the granite setts and an additional 4-6 inches for the sub-base.

After the area is excavated, soil compaction is essential. This provides a stable base for the sub-base materials, usually composed of compacted gravel or crushed stone. Following that, a geotextile fabric should be laid down. This fabric acts as a barrier to weed growth and helps in effective drainage, all while serving as a separator between the sub-base and the native soil.

Selecting and Sourcing Your Materials: Quality Matters

Choosing the right materials for your granite setts project is not just about aesthetics; it also directly impacts the durability and longevity of the installation. There are several factors to consider when you are selecting the granite setts, sub-base, and other accessories:

  1. Granite Sett Thickness: This varies depending on the usage. Thicker setts are generally recommended for driveways to withstand the weight of vehicles, whereas thinner ones are suitable for walkways or patios.

  2. Sub-Base Materials: Crushed stone or compacted gravel serve as excellent sub-base materials. The sub-base should be compatible with the drainage needs of the area, which could vary based on your local climate and soil conditions.

  3. Grouting Material: The choice between permeable and non-permeable grouting materials will affect drainage, so choose wisely based on your specific needs.

  4. Colour and Texture: While aesthetics are a personal choice, keep in mind that darker colours can absorb more heat, and rougher textures may require more frequent cleaning.

Beyond just the granite setts, the accessories you select can also affect the outcome. For instance, using high-quality adhesives can secure the setts more effectively, while good-quality edging stones provide a neat and stable border for your project. It’s also worth noting that the source of your materials can impact quality. For example, granite setts from certain regions are renowned for their superior hardness and durability.

Whether you’re an avid DIYer or you plan to hire professionals, make informed decisions on materials and sourcing to set the groundwork for a durable and visually appealing installation.

Laying the Setts: Techniques for Optimal Placement and Stability

Once you’ve prepared the groundwork and sourced your materials, the next crucial stage is the actual laying of the granite setts. This process involves more than just arranging stones; it requires a careful approach to ensure each sett is properly aligned, level, and secure. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. String Guides: Use string guides to mark straight lines, which can help in the precise alignment of the setts. This is particularly useful for intricate designs or when you’re looking to maintain a specific pattern.

  2. Tamping: After placing a layer of sand or fine gravel on your sub-base, each granite sett should be tamped down to ensure it is snug and level. A rubber mallet can be particularly effective for this.

  3. Joint Spacing: Consistent spacing between setts is important both for aesthetics and for the structural integrity of the surface. Generally, a 3-5mm gap is recommended.

  4. Staggering Rows: Similar to laying bricks, it’s advisable to stagger the rows of granite setts. This not only improves visual appeal but also enhances the surface’s ability to handle pressure and wear.

  5. Checking Levels: Periodically, use a spirit level to check that the setts are lying flat and even. Any significant deviations can lead to water pooling and other long-term issues.

Remember, the order and orientation of how the setts are laid can make a big difference in the end result. If you are incorporating curves or specific patterns into your design, the direction in which the setts are laid may need special attention.

The goal is to achieve a sturdy, level surface that not only looks great but is also built to last. By focusing on these techniques, you are well on your way to creating an installation that combines both form and function.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Durable Granite Setts Installation


To start, proper preparation is essential. This includes leveling the area and laying a bed of sharp sand. Use a string line to ensure a straight and even surface as you lay the granite setts. 

Next, mix and apply pave mortar or cement to secure the setts in place. Ensure the setts are evenly spaced and use a plate compactor to firmly press them into the mortar or cement. As you continue with the installation, use a cobble saw to shape and fit the setts into the desired pattern.

Finally, once the setts are in place, fill any gaps with more mortar or sand and use a plate compactor once again to ensure the setts are firmly secured. 

To ensure that your granite setts installation serves you well for years to come, careful planning and meticulous execution are paramount. From preparing a robust foundation to selecting high-quality materials and employing precise laying techniques, each step is crucial for both durability and aesthetic appeal. 

By adhering to these guidelines, homeowners can significantly extend the lifespan of their granite setts and maximize their investment. A well-executed granite setts project not only enhances the visual appeal of your outdoor spaces but also adds value to your property. Whether you’re an avid DIY enthusiast or planning to hire professionals, being informed is the key to a successful, long-lasting installation.

Follow these expert tips to make the most of your granite setts project, ensuring a blend of long-lasting durability and timeless beauty.