Ask the Contractor: Solid foundation key for paver durability
We are contemplating installing pavers for our driveway and are a little nervous about the installation process, the disruption of travel in and out of the garage, and hope that you have some YCCA’s helpful hints. — Lewis and Margaret, Prescott.
Whether you are building a paver project for the first time or the 10th, hardscape installations can be messy work. There will be mud, but it will be gorgeous in the end.
Unless your project involves overlaying existing concrete, the first step is to excavate the top layer of soil. The amount of soil excavated will depend on the type of project. Typically, the next step is to install a layer of compacted aggregate, then a layer of bedding sand, then the hardscapes, then jointing material.
The compacted granular aggregate should be between 4 and 6 inches deep. The depth of the base layer is influenced by the soil type and application. The base layer should be leveled and compacted firmly, and will safeguard against the pavers shifting or settling.
Once the base is in place, a layer of sand is added and leveled. Bedding sand plays a critical role in ensuring proper interlock between the pavers and allowing for a smooth surface. Bedding sand should be at least 1 inch deep and spread evenly across the base material.
Pavers are laid on top of the sand. Polymeric sand is then swept into the joints between the pavers, and a compactor should be used to ensure the sand is evenly distributed into the joints. By compacting, you obtain joints that are nearly 20 percent stronger.
Polymeric sand helps to further lock the pavers in place and plays a critical role in keeping debris and weeds out of the joints. Polymeric sand is specially formulated for the filling of narrow or wide joints when installing pavers, slabs or natural stones. Unlike conventional sand, it stays in place and remains stable. It softens when wet and firms up when dry to better resist soil movements.
Like many projects, creating a solid foundation is the key to creating a long life for pavers.
Proper installation can ensure your paver driveway, patios and walkways will remain durable for a long time. Installing pavers is an art, a science and takes skill.
When placing pavers, drainage and spacing should be taken in to consideration. Because pavers are part of a flexible pavement system, they will perform better with a proper base of aggregates placed and compacted per a design and again a solid foundation is so crucial.
The biggest key to a great paver project is paying attention to detail and installing the pavers according to Brick Industry Association (BIA) and Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) specifications initially, as a lot of maintenance tends to revolve around trying to fix installation issues and not with the pavers themselves. It is important to ask the hardscape installer of their education and knowledge pertaining to the BIA and ICPI.
Most pavers can hold up against even the toughest weather conditions.
If you are considering pavers for your hardscape project, look for products that include colorfastness, weather resistance and durability. There are pavers on the market that disperse colors throughout the paver to resist UV rays, maintain color and hold up to weather extremes.
It is also important to be aware of the effects of deicing salts on pavers. While deicing salts can effectively eliminate slippery conditions, they also may adversely affect interlocking concrete pavers, often used in the landscape and walkways, by causing visual and structural damage. Resistance to salts is related directly to a low absorption rate and a high compressive strength, and concrete pavers generally outperform solid concrete and asphalt in both areas.
Deicers can, however, cause efflorescence, which is the white scum on the surface of the pavers caused by the salt drying on the surface of the pavers and then the efflorescence has to be flushed off of the pavers with water or removed with a specialty efflorescence removing product. It doesn’t affect the durability, but is unsightly.
Deicers made from magnesium chloride do not affect the efflorescence but can be harmful to cement. Do not over-apply salt; once inclement weather passes, wash off the pavers since the salt can continue to cause degradation even after the ice or snow has melted.
Because pavers do chip, use a rubber-tipped shovel if removing snow to help reduce the possibility of chipping the edges of the pavers that are not flush.
Although pavers appear to be indestructible, and they can withstand a great deal of the elements, one false move, and a paver could be permanently damaged.
Homeowners should be aware that if the pavers are going to be pressure washed, the nozzle needs to be far enough away from the edges of the pavers or the joint sand could be removed.
If you are considering pavers, it is important to stay educated on the latest in pavers and al-ways hire a certified paver installer this will ensure paver performance to maintain their life.
Choose products that are high quality and have a warranty to back up the claims.
To seal or not to seal is the question. Sealers are the perfect finishing touch to ensure that outdoor spaces look beautiful season after season. Sealing can be a DIY project; however, fol-low the instructions and understand not all sealers are the same.
Periodically wash or sweep the surface to remove any collected dirt or food stains using a detergent such as dishwashing soap or cleaners designed for use on concrete pavers. When selecting any cleaner or sealer to use on your pavers, check with the manufacturer to make sure that the product won’t harm the paving stones. Always consult with the paver manufacturer when you are considering sealing pavers. Some may not recommend it for you, given the climate, paver brand or installation features. If too much sealant is used, water can get trapped — pavers need to breathe!
Continual care — in the event of winter weather, do not over-apply salt; once inclement weather passes, wash off the pavers since the salt can continue to cause degradation even after the ice or snow has melted.
Paver installation is a project that you do not want to rush. You need to be aware that the in-stallers have schedules, they rely on material delivery and shipments, and we all know that Murphy’s Law is out there. Hire the right contactor for the job try to remain calm during the process because it will be a disruption.
Just another little side note, do not simply go with the low bid. Do the necessary homework to compare the products and services. There are so many varying levels of quality, service and craftsmanship that can contribute to price disparities, and one major disparity is using an unlicensed entity to install pavers.
When it comes to pavers, there are many different types, and paver experts recommend each type for a particular area of your property. For example, 60-millimeter smooth pavers with small gaps for smoothness work exceptionally well with patios. Heavy traffic areas, such as driveways, might require 80-millimeter pavers. The increased strength and tumbled or textured design also adds extreme curb appeal.
Bottom line: Do your homework.
Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time at 7 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday on KQNA 1130 AM, 99.9 FM, 95.5 FM or the web at kqna.com. Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry, meet your local community partners and so much more. What a great way to start your weekend.