Pavers are paving stones or brick-like pieces of concrete that are commonly used as flooring for the outside. Concrete pavers are made in factories by pouring a mixture of concrete and a coloring agent into a mold of any shape. These are then given time to set. Pavers are most commonly made of brick, clay, stone or concrete and are used to create patios, driveways or walkways.
While laying down these pavers in the correct manner can seem like a tedious task, you can carry it out yourself at home or with the help of professionals. If it is your first time, it is mostly recommended that you enlist some help. To get the pavers to look professionally done, you will have to execute all the installation steps properly and with great care. In order to do this in the correct way and sufficiently interlock the individual pavers, you may be needed to fill the spaces between pavers with sand.
This step is important as when it is done correctly, the sand helps to keep the pavers in place during the entire lifespan of your patio or path. This lifespan, if the pavers are installed properly, can go up to even 20 to 30 years.
Pavers have the effect of immediately upgrading the look of your property so you must make sure they are installed well. There are a bunch of specific tools and materials that are important when you are setting out to carry out the installation of pavers. One of the most important of these is the sand that is used to join the pavers together. An interesting fact here is that sand is used twice during the installation process!
Sand is used as “bedding” or to act as a cushion for the pavers before they are laid. It is used for the paver joints to seal the stones together so that you have a smooth surface and there is no chance of weeds growing through the gaps.
Both the functions, however, are carried out by two different types of sand because of which it is easy for many homeowners to get confused about which type of sand should be used for each. To make sure that you don’t suffer from this confusion, here is a breakdown of the different types of sand you can choose and the benefits of each.
First, we will briefly discuss the type of sand that can be used as the bedding or the layer above which the pavers will be placed. The sand being used should be coarse and grainy in texture so that when it is pushed together, its edges move together and lock the sand well in its place. This helps prevent any movement or erosion.
The sand used for the above task isn’t the one that can be used for filling in the areas between pavers or paver sealer. If loose-fill sand is used for this purpose, it will wash away over time or upon exposure to water in case of heavy rains. To combat these issues with other types of sand, polymeric sand was developed for use specifically on paver joints. This type of sand holds its form and keeps everything in place.
There is also a relatively new type of sand that is now available in the market. This type of sand has been developed to soften when it becomes wet to allow for more flexibility in the paver joints. There are, however, some problems with erosion when this is used, because of which you may be required to frequently re-apply the sand and waste more of your time.
Polymeric sand is a form of granular sand material that is used to place between the cracks and joints of pavers. Using this sand helps you to interlock the paver units with greater ease, while preserving the integrity of the pavers and the look of your patio or walkway.
This type of sand is different from the regular versions as a water-activated polymer is introduced into it. When you apply the sand to the paved surface and go over it with a spray of water, the polymers in the sand start to harden. This helps in securing the sand in place and effectively sealing the paver. The polymeric sand is very durable and can actually be power washed with some amount of care.
What this means for you is that you won’t be required to replace the material on a regular basis, even when it has been exposed to extreme weather conditions. Not only will polymeric sand prevent the need for you to replace your joint filler after each and every rainstorm that hits your region, it is also so durable that it ensures that water is not able to seep underneath the paving stones. The latter is especially important as then the water cannot wash away the other base layer of sand.
If the integrity of that layer is compromised, there is more of a chance of your pavers moving around or even sinking.
In order to ensure that you have sealed the pavers in an effective manner that will keep them from coming undone within a short period of time, you will have to follow the directions given below with great care.
It is very important for you to make sure that you inspect the surface for moisture. This is a critical step, as polymeric sand needs to be installed on a completely dry surface. Therefore, it is important that you check for dampness before jumping into the project.
Clouds can cast a dreary shadow over your patio and this can be especially dangerous when you are trying to seal the pavers in your driveway. Sand installation day needs to be a clear day with no chance of rain. Not only is the moisture a problem, but you will also have to check the temperature before you start installing the sand. Polymeric sand should ideally be installed at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
Now for the more interesting part of the installation – getting your hands dirty with the sand! Take out a limited amount of the sand and start spreading it evenly across the pavers. Make sure that the sand covers all the pavers.
For the next step, you will be needing a sturdy broom. Start from one corner and start moving the sand that you have spread over the pavers. Ensure that all the open spaces between pavers are filled in well. Slowly work your way through the other side as you utilize the broom to lodge the sand between all the pavers or paving stones. The sand should look relatively compact when you’re done with this step.
Once you are satisfied that the sand has reached between all the pavers, you can use a broom to remove any excess sand off the pavers. Do not be too harsh and try to do this as lightly as possible. This is important so that the sand that has crept down the gaps in the pavers is not dislodged.
Put on your garden hose with the spray nozzle set to low. You will not be needed to hose down the sand. It is important that you spritz the pavers with water as the sand needs to settle down well in the gaps where the pavers meet. Once this is done, wash away any sand that is left on the surface and allow the area to dry down together.
Once you have gone through all the steps one by one, you will be required to start once again. Pour some extra sand onto the concrete pavers and repeat all the steps mentioned before. The reason behind doing this is to make sure that there is no spot left which hasn’t been packed with sand and sealed well.
The main purpose of sealing the pavers with sand is to maintain the strength of the paver installation. The sand is important for preventing the pavers from shifting and sliding against each other so if the sand is dislodged, the structural system of the pavers is disturbed.
You can prevent the sand from being washed out by sealing the paver surface. Sealing helps in restoring the beauty of pavers as it acts like the glue between the sand particles and holds them together. It prevents the sand from being washed away even in the case of rainstorms or pressure washing.
Concrete sealers aren’t a permanent solution, as they do tend to wear off after a few years. When you notice this happening, you will have to clean the pavers and reseal the surface. Not only does this keep the pavers looking new, it also improves their resistance against weed and moss. So go out there and buy yourself some sand and a good quality paver sealer!