If you have read some of our other blog posts, you know we’re huge advocates of “do it once and do it right.” This is because we have seen too many jobs go awry due to a step being missed during the paver installation process. This critical step is compacting the base. A proper compact will help maintain your project’s integrity,protect jointing material, and keep your outdoor patio or walkway looking sharp for a long time.
Interlocking pavers are made to be flexible, meaning that they will move, mold and mimic to any settling or shifts in the soil or base. If they are installed over an improperly compacted sub-base they are not going to stand the test of time.
Not to mention there are other variables that can exacerbate the issue of paver settling and moving on an improperly compacted base,
Weather: Freeze/thaw cycles can wreak havoc on a paver installation that was improperly compacted. Each void within the sub-base serves as a place for water to potentially settle. When this water freezes it will expand and cause the pavers to heave; when it thaws, the pavers will settle (but likely not evenly), eventually creating an uneven surface.
Traffic: Driveway pavers that sit on top of poorly compacted areas will shift and compress over time. The weight of a vehicle will depress pavers into the weak spots, resulting in unattractive (and potentially dangerous) ruts and grooves on the surface.
Joint Failure: While polymeric sand is designed to be self-healing and flexible, it will not perform as intended if it’s installed on an improperly compacted job. Radical shifting and movement of the pavers will eventually cause paver joints to crack and fail over time.
As you can see the resulting compression and shifting of the pavers on an awfully compacted base will quickly lead to problems … many of which can lead to redoing the whole entire thing. So do it right the first time to avoid costly repairs in the long run.
Quick Tips To Ensure Proper Base Compaction:
Have the proper base depth. The guidelines are to dig about 4 to 6 inches for pedestrian walks or patios and 8 to 12 inches for driveways.
Use the correct base material. It is recommended to use a granular course stone 0-3 ⁄4″, otherwise known as “dense grade” for the base and to use concrete sand as the setting bed.
Don’t compact material all at once. Most plate compactors will not compact any more than 4” of base. If you try to compact 6” of base, you will only compact the top 4” and the bottom 2” will settle. It is best to compact your base in lifts of 3″ – 4″.
Our #1 Recommendation for Protecting your Hardscape and Masonry During the Winter Season.
Your hardscape project is a big investment so it is important to protect it all year round. Failure to do so during the winter season can result in some serious problems. For example,
Water can freeze leaving an ice cover on the patio for anyone to slip and fall on.
Freeze and thaw cycles can crack pavers and stone. As the ice and snow melts it becomes salt water that seeps down through tiny crevices in the stones surface and freezes. When the water freezes it expands and forces the crevice to become larger leading to cracks and spalling.
Using the wrong blend of ice melt can contain harmful chemical compounds that can deteriorate stone and concrete surfaces.
Our #1 recommendation to preserve the beauty of your pavers and other hardscape/masonry projects is Mr.Magic Premium Ice Melt.
Mr. Magic outperforms other ice melts because it works fast and has a great residual effect, preventing further ice from forming and melting snow as it falls.
Mr. Magic is safe enough for the environment, concrete, brick, natural stone, decking, and pets, but it is effective enough to keep working at temperatures down to -25° Fahrenheit, when other ice melts stop.
How is that so? Mr. Magic’s unique formulation consists of a special blend of five biodegradable ingredients; potassium chloride (a fertilizer), calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and sodium chloride. And it is coated with calcium magnesium acetate. This makes it safer and more effective than conventional rock salts.
The orange coloring of Mr. Magic is an added safety bonus because it allows you to see exactly where its been placed so you don’t over or under apply! And it won’t track into your home.
Efflorescence is a crystalline deposit of salts (carbonates, sulfates, chlorides) that may appear as a chalky or white haze on surfaces of masonry, stucco or concrete.
The efflorescence you are observing in your pavers is Calcium Carbonate, a by-product resulting from an interaction between the cement used to manufacture the paving stone and the natural environment, which includes the ground, the weather, and the atmosphere. In clay brick, the main component that can cause efflorescence is usually Sodium Chloride.
Efflorescence may appear soon after the pavers are installed or it could appear months after depending on several factors such as the climate, humidity, and the ingredients in the materials being used (such as cement, lime, pigments, and aggregate). When the stone is wet, you may notice that the efflorescence has disappeared but this is only due to water turning the efflorescence salts temporarily transparent rather than actually removing them. Once the surface dries, the efflorescence salts will re-appear.
There is no need to worry because your pavers and brick are not defective. Efflorescence is naturally occurring in cement based products and it will correct itself with time and exposure to the elements.
Why does efflorescence occur?
Concrete products contain cement which produces lime or water soluble calcium oxide. Since pavers have millions of microscopic capillaries, when moisture enters these capillaries it reacts with the calcium oxide and then calcium hydroxide is formed. This rises to the surface and reacts with carbon dioxide in the air and forms a white haze of calcium carbonate. When the moisture on the surface of the paver evaporates it leaves behind the white haze of efflorescence. Still curious about its formation? For a very in depth explanation of efflorescence please click here.
How do you eliminate efflorescence?
As mentioned above, efflorescence is a naturally occurring phenomenon and it will correct itself with time and exposure to the natural elements.Since many factors are involved in the formation of efflorescence it is hard to determine when it will stop occurring. But if you would like to alleviate the problem quicker there are detergents available that can help clean and remove efflorescence. Another option to prevent efflorescence is to seal the pavers with a breathable sealant once the efflorescence is cleaned off.
TLC Supply carries several professional grade detergents and breathable siloxane/silane sealers that can help alleviate the effects of efflorescence. We also carry a wide selection of premium pavers from Techo Bloc, Genest, Belgard and Cambridge Pavers. Please visit our website to see even more hardscape and masonry products ranging from bluestone,granite,brick,natural stone,block,sand,cement, and much more!
Building a patio out of paving stones or “interlocking concrete pavers” can be a beautiful and valuable addition to your home and can offer a durable, low maintenance area for you and your family to enjoy. You may opt to hire a professional mason but with these 10 steps you can install a paver patio all on your own!
Here are 10 Steps to help you build your very own outdoor paver patio!
Step 1: Plan
Determine what kind of paver you would like to use for your patio. There are many paving stone manufacturer’s to choose from that offer pavers in many different shapes, colors, sizes, and cost.
Did You Know?TLC Supply carries only the highest quality pavers backed by a lifetime manufacturer’s guarantee.
During this stage you will also want to determine the size, length, and design of your patio. Next, calculate your square footage to determine how much material you will need by multiplying length by width. You may even prefer to make a pattern.Research your selected paver manufacturer to see what patterns you can make with their pavers. Some patterns will require more or less pavers. Call TLC Supply for help in determining the amount of pavers you may need.
Step 2: Prepare the area
Clear any plants, roots, large rocks, or existing material that may interfere with the patio or cause unevenness.
Step 3: Mark the area
Use chalk line to mark out the area and if you are doing a curved design you can use a garden hose to mark the shape you wish to take and trace with chalk or paint. Then drive stakes into the ground following your laid out sketch. Wrap string around the stakes to outline the perimeter of the patio. Be sure to keep the string level so that your patio will be leveled.
Tip: It is actually the law to call your local utility company or “Dig Safe” and have them identify any buried gas, water, or electrical lines before you start digging.
Step 4: Excavate
Measure the thickness of your paver then dig a depth of 6”-8” below the bottom of the paver. This excavation should also allow room so that the pavers end up being flush with the ground. To avoid puddling you will want to slightly slope the patio in one direction so water can run off.
Tip:You can lay boards across the area and use a level to help you determine the slope.
Step 5: Back Fill
Fill the sunken area with 4”-6” of base material such as ¾” dense grade. This will help provide a solid base and aid in proper water percolation into the soil.
Tip: Fill the area with dense grade in 2” increments and compact with a machine plate compacter. This will ensure that the material is tightly packed. Pour another 2” of dense grade and repeat the steps until everything is compacted evenly to a depth of about 6”.You can even spray the area with water to help keep the dust down when tampering.
Step 6: Sand
Apply a 1”-2” layer of concrete sand over the dense grade and compact it.
Tip:We recommend concrete sand rather than mason sand because it will provide more stability and assist in water percolation.
Now lay down two pieces of round level piping and push it a little into the sand. Depending on the width of your patio you may need to use a longer or shorter pipe. Doing this is going to help ensure your base is level before applying the pavers. Now spread more sand to make sure it is flush with the pipe. You can use a 2 x 4 to screed the sand to a smooth surface. If you cut a 1 3⁄4-in.-deep notch at each end of the 2 x 4, you can rest the notches on the edge restraints while you pull the 2 x 4 across the sand. Once the area is leveled, gently remove the pipe and fill the void with sand and smooth the area out.
Step 7: Lay the Pavers
Start laying the pavers in your desired pattern. Keep the pavers close together and gently press them down with a rubber mallet. If a paver is uneven you can tap it down more into place. If a paver is too low you can add a little sand to the area and rest the paver on top. To better fit pieces you may need to use a wet saw or a paver guillotine to cut pieces to the desired measurement.
Step 8: Edging
Add plastic edging to the sides to define the perimeter of the walkway and to hold the pavers in place. Hold the edging in place with spikes. We recommend B.E.A.S.T. Plastic Paver Edging for its strength and flexibility. B.E.A.S.T. edging comes in 8 ft. sections and can be nailed in with 10” or 12” spikes. This edging is also made from recycled material and it allows for the growth of vegetation.
Step 9: Fill Paver Joints
When you finish laying the pavers pour polymeric sand over the top and gently sweep the sand over the whole area to fill the joints. Tamper the top to ensure compaction. You may need to add more sand and fill the joints again. When the joints are compacted and filled you should sweep away any excess sand with a broom. We highly suggest lightly blowing over the area with a leaf blower to ensure that the sand is off the surface of the pavers (polymeric sand will harden when wet). Then you will want to mist the patio with water to secure the sand and pavers.
Tip: We recommend using polymeric sand over mason sand because it contains binders that help maintain a firm bond between the pavers which in turn help to secure them in place.
Step 10: Touch Up
Fill in any missing areas with topsoil or grass. The roots of the grass will grow through the holes in the edge restraint to further lock it in place. You also can also add cobble stones or paver edging and even plant flowers or shrubs for a finishing touch to your patio.
Tip: Decorate your patio with furniture or even add a pergola, an easy to assemble fire pit, or you can even veneer the front of a grill to create an outdoor kitchen! The possibilities are endless in your new outdoor living space. Fill it with things that make you and your family happy.
Recommended: We highly recommend sealing your pavers with a breathable sealer to help prevent any staining.
*You can always follow this guide to install a paver walkway as well.
Protect Pavers and Other Hardscape & Masonry this Winter!
Protect pavers with these 4 simple tips! Keep these in mind this winter to help prevent any damage winter may bring to your pavers, brick, or any other hardscape products . I’ve also included 3 Tips on how to protect your roof and prevent any water damage from ice dams. So let’s get started!
4 Tips to Protect Your Precious Patios, Driveways, and Walkways:
Tip 1: Use an ice melt that does little damage to infrastructure and environment. We recommend ice melts with a blend of Magnesium Chloride which is a safer alternative to rock salt. Calcium Magnesium Acetate is another smart alternative because it is biodegradable and safe for pets, masonry, and the environment. Mr. Magic® is a great premium ice melt brand that is fast acting and long lasting! It works at temperatures down to -25° Fahrenheit.
Mr. Magic is safe for masonry, decks, roofing, pets, and the environment! Always make sure the ice melt label says it is safe for hardscape and masonry products. If you cannot find any ice melt that is safe for hardscape then you can sprinkle sand or cat litter for traction. If you opt to use regular (non-safe) ice melt then just be aware of the risk and use it sparingly. But I do have to say this – Please do not risk your safety or the safety of others to protect your hardscape! If an area is heavily coated with ice then go ahead and use the necessary amount of ice melt (whatever it may be) to prevent slips and falls.
Tip 2: Metal blades on shovels and plows can scratch the surface of your driveway, walkway, or patio. If you hire a plowing contractor be sure they use a rubber or polyurethane blade on the plow. Be sure to use a nonmetal shovel as well.
Tip 3: If you are using a snow blower please be careful of pavers that may have moved or lifted during freeze and thaw cycles. Avoid any “lippage” which can occur when a paver, brick, concrete, or even cobble stone edge sticks up from another. This “lip” can catch on snow blowers, plows, and shovels.
Tip 4: On a warmer day you may want to sweep off any excess snow or products on your pavers. This step is not necessary but it never hurts! This can help remove any harmful deicer products and prevent future damage.
3 Great Tips for Removing Snow from Your Roof:
We have been getting some great questions from customers asking how to remove snow from their roofs. Here are a few simple steps you can take to eliminate snow and ice dams which can otherwise wreak havoc on your roof. As always please proceed with caution when removing snow from your roof, be aware of any icicles that may be hanging, have someone assist you with a ladder, and wear protective clothing and eyewear.
Tip 1: Purchase a roof rake to help alleviate some of the stress the snow may be putting on your roof. A roof rake is a solid piece of metal or plastic about 16 to 20 inches wide on the end of an extension pole, which allows you to rake or pull snow off the roof. Please refer to manual for proper handling and safety instructions.
Tip 2: Diminish ice dams with panty hose or long socks! It is that easy! All you need to do is fill the leg of a panty hose with ice melt and lay the hose onto the roof so that it crosses the ice dam and slightly hangs over the gutter. Use a long handle stick to position the hose or sock if necessary.
Tip 3: Do-It-Yourself Roof Melt Tablets. Roof Melt Tablets are little pucks that you can easily toss onto your roof to help prevent damage from ice dams. The way these tablets work is the salt and water mixture melts and drains down, melting the ice in its path. If this is not done then there is the potential of snow and ice buildup underneath shingles which can then seep into interior walls and attics. A simple way to make your own roof tablets is by following the same steps in Tip 2. This is where your old mismatched socks come in handy! All you need to do if fill up socks with ice melt, tie them, and carefully toss them all over your roof. Ice melt socks are porous and flexible and they are just as effective at removing ice dams.
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