Machine Lay Block Paving

Why should I be considering machine laid block paving?
The single most important reason for using machine lay block paving on larger sites is Health and Safety. Large areas of block paving laid by hand have traditionally carried a high risk of RSI, back injuries, knee injuries, wrist injuries and tendonitis. Properly conducted machine lay dramatically reduces these risks.

Don’t wait until machine lay is forced on you like it was with kerbs and flags!
In addition, machine lay is usually much faster than hand lay, thus either ensuring you meet your handover dates or in situations such as occupied roads on new estates, avoiding conflict between residents, contractors and developers.

Can any blocks be laid by machine?
No. In order to be machine laid, blocks must be produced in a format suitable for the laying machine to pick up each layer of the pack and place it within the laying pattern.

What blocks are currently available in the UK for machine laying?
Most UK manufacturers are working on producing blocks suitable for machine laying but currently there are two shaped blocks available for conventional laying, Marshalls Eskoo and Cemex’s Unicoloc. There are also two permeable, shaped blocks available: Cemex’s Uniecoloc and Hanson Formpave’s ML block.

The best news is that for some years, Tolly Paving has been working with UK block manufacturers and Probst, who manufacture block laying machines in Germany, to provide a solution to machine laying conventional 200 x 100mm rectangular blocks in herringbone pattern, and this has resulted in the 45 herringbone layer. This block can be laid in either 45 or 90 Herringbone pattern on site and has the benefit that the only hand lay involved is at the edges of the paved area.
This format is now available in both standard and permeable versions from several manufacturers.
All previous herringbone systems have relied on blocks being inserted by hand to tie adjacent clusters together, entailing between 10 and 40% of the blocks (according to system/layout) still being laid by hand. This both increases manual handling risks and reduces production rates and whilst Tolly Paving can lay these systems, the above factors make this format less competitive.

Are all sites suitable for machine laying?
There are very few sites which cannot be machine laid. However, like tarmac, it may not be economic to lay very small sites by machine as the cost of moving plant to site for small areas may not be justifiable. Sites with complex patterns or many different colours or products in the design may also be uneconomic to machine lay.
We are always happy to look at projects at the design stage and advise on their suitability for machine lay.

Can I hire a machine and lay the blocks myself?
Would you hire a Blaw Knox and lay your own Tarmac? Like Tarmacing, machine laid block paving is a whole system, not just a machine to place the blocks and it relies upon a team of experts working together. Hence we know of nobody who would hire a machine for this purpose.

Is machine laid paving more expensive than hand lay? 
It depends on site layout/conditions, but usually machine lay is competitive with hand lay and on larger sites it is often less expensive.

Where do I go for more advice on machine laying? 
You speak to us. As the UK’s leading experts on all systems of machine lay paving, and the world leaders in the 45 herringbone system, we are always happy to give you advice without obligation.

What else do I need to consider in respect of machine lay?
Site layout, access, logistics, interfacing with other trades, delivery times, programming and protection are all more critical with fast track machine laid block paving and we are not only pleased but need to get involved in all these areas at the pre-contract planning stage. As the UK’s most experienced machine lay contractor, we have wide experience of foreseeing and overcoming problems at pre-construction stage. This saves time and money for both you and us, and of course, our quotations include this service.

More Questions?

Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call us on 01206 571778 or email us at!


View a wide range of images showing the paving we have done by visiting our Gallery page.

When & Where?

We know that timing is important to you, thus we have the resources in both manpower and machine power to ensure your job is completed on time. We pride ourselves on being large enough to cope and small enough to care!