Paver vs. Poured Concrete

It always disheartens me when I suggest inter locking concrete pavers for a hardscape application and the client has had or heard of a paver job that has “failed”. They complain about shifting, settling, and weeds. These problems are caused by improper excavation, base preparation, base materials choices, compaction, edging installation and maintenance. Yes you have to do some minor maintenance with pavers.

People who have had these bad paver experiences often return to poured concrete or stamped concrete. Stamped concrete is merely wet concrete “stamped” with a paver or stone pattern. Both of these poured concrete pavements have major short falls. The Romans knew that using segmental paving stones was an excellent way to create long lasting roads. Some are still in use today! The problem with poured concrete is how rigid it is. The ground moves with the freeze thaw cycles and lifts, heaves and cracks the surface. Expansion joints are used to alleviate this process. The problem is the shifting may cause the expansion joint to become a tripping hazard. If your poured concrete does crack you can leave it or patch it. Of course a patch job is usually temporary and unsightly. Pavers move with these cycles and are easily reset when necessary with no sign of repair.

Inter locking concrete pavers are a much better choice in most applications. The problems I mentioned above can be eliminated or minimized by proper installation. Most paver manufacturers advocate a do it yourself installation. I personally disagree with this. Proper paver installation needs to be done by trained professionals with the appropriate equipment. Although, the biggest problem is cheaply and improperly installed paver projects by companies that fail to take all the steps or use the correct materials and equipment to do the job right.

The excavation needs to be at least six inches wider on both sides of the trench to allow for edging restraint installation. The sub surface soil needs to be rough graded and compacted to 95% proctor. Depending on your soil type a ramming compactor or a vibratory plate compactor may be used for this. The excavation should be 7-10 inches depending on the paving application. In most cases, especially in clay soils, a geo textile fabric should be laid down on the compacted soil before the base material is installed. This keeps the aggregates from migrating into the soil. The base material should be a ¾” minus quarry process. The base material should be installed and graded to set mason lines that were previously set by laser or transit for proper height and pitch. The base must be plus or minus 3/8 of an inch to those lines. This takes great amount of skill.

The base is then compacted by plate compactor. The compactor must achieve at least 5000 pounds of force to attain the all important 95% compaction. If the quarry process is too dry or too wet proper compaction will not be achieved. A trained professional can do a simple field test to check the moisture level. Most contractors are using 3000 pound compactors causing many failures. The next part causes controversy with all paver installers. The screed rails are laid down and an ASTM #33 concrete sand is screeded to create the bedding for the pavers. Many installers use stone dust. Virtually all paver manufacturers do not want you to use stone dust. Stone dust holds too much moisture and can break down under heavy loads causing rutting.

After the pavers are laid and cut the edging restraint must rest on the quarry process and not the sand. The spikes should not be hammered to deeply causing air pockets under the restraint that water can heave up. I always recommend an aluminum restraint as the plastic seems to warp over time.

By following these guidelines your paver project will out last and out perform poured concrete. By learning about these facts you can interview installers with confidence. As for the weeds, there is a new product for pavers called polymeric sand. This sand is swept into the joints and watered to activate. After it dries it becomes a flexible “grout” helping to reduce weeds. For the occasional weed use an herbicide such as Round-Up. You can further reduce weeds by applying a paver sealer. The sealers come in a “wet look” or a regular finish and greatly enhance the beauty of your paver project.

Maintenance & Plowing

Regency Landscape offers high quality residential and commercial grounds maintenance and snow plowing services in the following towns:

• Long Hill Township
• Warren Township
• Bernards Township
• Bernardsville
• Berkeley Heights
• Watchung
• New Providence
• Surounding areas

Patio & Pavers

Regency knows that a well designed and installed paver project can add beauty and value to your home. Pavers may be used for eye pleasing patios, elegant pool skirts, meandering walkways and drive ways. Don't forget retaining walls and raised planting beds. The possiblities afforded by pavers are limited only by the imagination. Our Design/Build services are available in:

• Morris County
• Somerset County
• Union County
• Hunterdon County
• Middlesex County
• Warren County