What is a Paving Subframe?

February 2022
Armani Eagle

The most common way to lay paving whether it be concrete, stone or porcelain, is to mix mortar and lay the slabs directly on to this. However, this method does have its drawbacks. Another way to law paving is by using a Paving Subframe. These can be made from aluminium, wood, or even composite, and remove the need for mortar. A paving subframe is made from joists supported on a pedestal spaced at the correct intervals to support the tiles suspended off the ground.



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This article will cover the main factor, benefits and disadvantages of a paving subframe method so you can decide what the best method of installation is for your paving project.


Price & Install

Using an aluminium paving subframe costs similar to mortar when installation is accounted for. A 20sqm aluminium paving subframe at a 200mm build-up costs around £2800 including the porcelain and we would expect the full installation, from start to finish, to take around 6 hours or 1 day. It is simple to install so is highly unlikely to require any professional installation. Total cost for a 20sqm area at 200mm high = £2800

The traditional paving method would take two professional labourers around 15 hours or 2.5 days to complete, and the materials would cost around £1700 for a 20sqm area at a 200mm build-up including the porcelain. As installing the porcelain on a mortar base is quite difficult and requires some specialist tools, we recommend that professionals are used to ensure that a desirable finish is met. A labourer costs around £250 per day each, meaning a 20sqm area would cost £1250 to install. Total cost for a 20sqm area at 200mm high = £1700 + £1250 = £2950.



You can be sure that when using a paving subframe, you are very likely to have a perfectly level surface. This is because when using a rail, levelling is much simpler, and each tile does not need to be levelled independently. You may be wondering, what about drainage? A fall does not need to be allowed for when using the paving subframe system as no grout is used in between the tiles, meaning water can drain freely.


Need to run lighting? This is no problem when using a paving subframe as there is almost always space underneath the pavers to run wires to light up your outdoor area. And if anything goes wrong in the future; tiles can be simply lifted up and wires underneath inspected. This is one of the main drawbacks of the traditional mortar paving method, is that all lighting needs to be planned in advance, so that the wires can be run through the mortar. And if anything goes wrong, it is not possible to fix them without damaging your paving area.