Paving

The Landscapers Guide to Pavers & Paving

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Paving is a landscape investment that can give you a lot of benefits. There are varying types of paving materials that are found in the market. To choose the right one from the sea of choices, all you have to do is consider the purpose for laying pavers. Whether it’s about increasing the safety of your poolside area or building an outdoor garden lounge area where you can talk with your friends & family. As for your purpose, you need to choose a paving material carefully. Stated below are two of the most popular landscape paving materials, have a look –

What Is Paving?

Pavers are most commonly laid over a compacted base of sand and soil. Because there isn’t any filling between the joints, concrete pavers have a porous surface that allows water to permeate. However, this also means that they may change over time and that weeds could make their way between the pavers. Hiring a professional paver contractor to lay your pavers, rather than doing them yourself, is the best way to protect your driveway, patio, or kerb from damage.

What Is Concrete Paving?

There’s a lot to of benefits in having concrete pavers. Some of these are:

  • Beauty – It’s impossible to argue that concrete pavers are gorgeous. They are made to look and feel similar to the real one, and even the most well-trained eye often can’t distinguish the difference.
  • Style – Concrete pavers are made with a lot of different styles in mind. Whether you’re into an old-world European style, like a hint of quirkiness, or are looking for something ultramodern and stylish, you’ll find the perfect one for you.
  • Affordable – Although concrete pavers look very similar to the real deal, they are available at a much lower price. So, you can work with concrete pavers regardless of your budget.
  • Versatility – Concrete paving materials are the best fit for a wide array of landscaping projects. Some of the most typical applications for concrete pavers include driveways, patios, walkways, poolsides, etc.
  • Consistency – Concrete pavers are made with care, precision and attention to detail which is the opposite of natural stone. You’ll enjoy the same consistency from paver to paver.
  • Longevity – Concrete can withstand the wear and tear. Once you lay your concrete pavers, you’ll be able to marvel at their beauty for several years.
  • Weather Resistant – Concrete pavers are highly resistant to the elements. They can hold up nicely even when exposed to the elements.
  • Low Maintenance – You won’t have to spend a lot of time and effort into keeping your concrete pavers clean.

Of course, there are some points to consider when choosing concrete pavers. It’s essential to make sure that you use the appropriate chemicals for melting snow and ice during the winter month to avoid corrosion. Also, you should watch out for cracks and address them quickly to prevent problems with freeze and thaw cycles.

What Is Porcelain Paving?

Porcelain pavers also have a lot of benefits to offer. Here’s a look at some of the main benefits to having porcelain pavers into your landscaping projects:

  • Gorgeous – With a single look, you’ll surely fall in love with the elegant yet subtle beauty that is offered by porcelain pavers. The ceramic material lends itself to being made into a product that is very similar to wood or natural stone.
  • Budget-Friendly – Porcelain is a very low-cost alternative for natural materials.
  • Traction – Porcelain gives fantastic traction and is perfect for poolside or for making walkways in areas that are often exposed to rain and moisture.
  • Tough and Durable – Porcelain is an extremely hard and tough material, and the pavers are even thicker than usual, which enhances their strength.
  • Easy to Clean – Porcelain is somewhat stain-resistant and is very easy to maintain and clean.

Although it is sturdy and durable, porcelain is very fragile during the installation process. So, it should be treated with the utmost care.

Should I Go for Concrete or Porcelain Paving?

Usually, it’s easy to see that both porcelain and concrete pavers are good options for anyone who wants to take their home’s landscaping game to the next level.

Because both materials are extremely affordable, practical and readily available in most places, the decision will come down to your tastes and desires, and the options that are available from various types of paving material.

It’s a good idea to take some effort into planning how you would like your project to look like when it is completed so that you can make the right choices about the style of paver that you want. Aside from that, you can also think better about the colour schemes that you invest in.

Also, it will help to slim down your options so that as you browse through loads of product lines available from the best paver manufacturers, you can make a quick decision.

Are Concrete or Porcelain Pavers More Expensive?

Porcelain paving is usually a lot more expensive than the most affordable stones and concrete slabs but is competitive compared to high-end stone and concrete slabs. The low maintenance and long-lasting nature of porcelain paving make porcelain lifetime cost very cost-effective.

Concrete has a lower price compared to paving stones. On average, concrete costs about $7-$10 per square foot, while paving stones have a price of approximately $9-$14 per square foot. It’s essential to consider long-term costs in addition to upfront costs for these materials.

How Can I Get Pavers Laid?

Although it looks like quite a lot of work, installing pavers is easy; here’s how:

Prepare the Area

Pre-Demolition

After gathering the materials and tools you need for your project, it’s time to prepare the area where you plan to install your pavers. It’s always a good idea to call your local utilities before you dig, so you don’t accidentally damage underground water, gas, or electrical lines.

Demolition & Excavation

In the place where you will lay your pavers, you need to remove any grass or existing hardscape surfaces, making sure not to hit any utility lines.

  • For driveways, you need to dig 25 cm from the end of the graded slope.
  • For walkways, excavate 20 cm from one end of the graded slope.
  • For areas where RVs will be parked, excavate 30 cm from the end of the graded slope.

Grading

After you’ve gotten rid of any grass or plants, use a level to grade the area at a 2 per cent slope to make sure you take the excess water away from your home. You may have to build up low sections with soil or remove soil in taller areas to achieve the desired slope. For the first 1.3 metres away from the house, you want a 0.64 cm of fall per meter for the first 1.3 metres. Also, you’ll need 0.3 cm of fall per meter after that.

Sub-Base Compaction

A stable sub-base is essential to having a long-lasting, solid paver installation. Using your plate compactor or tamper, compact the soil or gravel where your pavers will be placed. This crucial step makes sure that there won’t be any air gaps in your pavers. If you fail to compact a sub-base can lead to raised or sunken a few years down the line.

Geotextile Fabric Installation

Using geotextile fabric is highly recommended – especially for areas that have clay soil. To install it, roll out your geotextile fabric and cut it to match the shape of your paver project. Doing so will protect your foundation from the underlying soil. If needed, overlap adjoining pieces of fabric. Secure it with your stakes or the geotextile fabric’s anchoring staples.

Place the Foundation

Prepare Road Base

Now that your land has been adequately prepared, you should start laying the foundation for your pavers. So, pour your Class II road base in increments of 5 cm, compacting twice with your plate compactor before pouring the next 5 cm. Compacting all 10, 15 or 20 cm at the same time is not a good idea, as it will create air gaps and can cause a lot of repair works down the road.

The total required depth of road base based on the weight the area will need to support.

  • For areas with pedestrian foot traffic, 10 cm of road base will suffice.
  • Fifteen centimetres is needed for large lawnmowers and vehicles.
  • RV areas require 20 cm of road base to support vehicle weight.

After installing the road base, hose it down and compact it until it meets a compaction level of around 95%. If you were to drive over the base using a tractor after doing so, no tire marks would appear because the road base is as hard as a rock.

Pouring and Screeding Sand

Place your screeding guides (1” PVC pipes) above the road base and pour sharp-angled bedding sand over the entire base. It is not the same as the round sand you’d typically find at an average beach. It is sharp and angular, making it suitable for locking into paver joints.

Next, use your rake to level the sand roughly. Follow this up by screeding the sand by using a 2×4 to ensure an even 2.5 cm depth. Also, you need to ensure that your screeded sand is level before moving on to another one.

Lay Down Pavers

Now for the most tiring part of the project, it’s time to install your pavers. Based on the paver materials that you have chosen, there are a lot of paver patterns to choose from. Place the desired design of pavers before making any border stones. Make sure to lay them straight down, and not kick or slide them into place which can disturb the sand bed.

Cutting Border Stones

Once the primary field of pavers is completed, mark the stones at the edges. Now you can safely remove and use a wet saw on them. You should also wear protective gear while using your circular saw with a concrete blade. Also, you need to remember that when cutting border stones, you need to avoid sharp angles that can make mowing the lawn very difficult.

Install Edging

Trenching Border Stone Area

Before replacing the border stones, trench the areas that lay against grass, dirt or asphalt. Your trench depth should reach the native soil (14 cm for a patio and 20 cm for a driveway) and extend the identical width as your border stone.

After that, install proper bond beam footings into your trench. Rebar can be added for more support and longevity, but this is optional. Pour concrete while setting the newly cut border stones in place and tamp it down. It can result in excess cement on the side of the border stones. Be sure to remove the excess cement from the outside edges of your pavers to have a beautiful, clean finish.

Add Joint Sand and Compact

Next, pour joint sand or polymeric sand at the surface of the entire paved area until it reaches about 0.3 cm above the top of the pavers. Polymeric sand is usually used with large jointed pavers, and regular joint sand will be enough for smaller joints. After making sure that a pad is being used on your plate compactor, tamp down the sand. If you fail to use a pad, it will lead to scratched pavers which have to be replaced.

Clean and Seal

You’re almost done! Using a broom or leaf blower, remove the excess sand before splashing the entire paved area with water.

For polymeric sand applications, you need to water it properly so that the sand will harden. The best way to rinse away polymeric sand is to adjust your hose nozzle to a soft shower and carefully water it until no more water will soak in. It’s essential to make sure all polymeric sand is washed away from paver tops to avoid an ugly haze.

To help your pavers to be long-lasting, you should always seal them. After the area dries, apply your paver sealer by using a spray applicator and a push broom. But after applying the sealer, you need to make sure to turn off any automatic sprinklers and avoid it being exposed to moisture for the next 48 hours.

How Do I Maintain Pavers?

Once pavers are in place, it’s essential to keep them in excellent condition. Follow these simple steps, and your pavers will look elegant and new for several years to come:

  1. Sweep pavers with a broom

Grab a broom and remove the dirt and debris off of your paving stones as much as you can. We recommend cleaning your pavers if it looks like rain. When leaves or other debris get soaked with rain, they can stain pavers, leading to additional clean-up later on.

  1. Rinse off pavers with water

Use your hose and an attachment to wash off your pavers. It will remove the majority of dirt and grime that remains after a thorough sweeping. You usually don’t need to pressure wash them. (But if you have problems such as mould or moss due to standing water, pressure washing can help.)

  1. Create a paver cleaning solution

Do you have some tough to remove stains on your pavers?  Take a bucket full of soap and water. These simple ingredients are the perfect solution to wash away stains. Use a rag or sponge, dip it in the solution, and apply some force to clean the spot. (The only thing this won’t remove is oil. So, in this situation, you will need an oil remover.)

  1. Apply paver sealer

You can keep your paving stones to look good as new by putting a sealer. It should be done on clean, dry pavers, and you can apply it once a year or every other year. The top coat of sealant for your paving stones prevents dirt and stains from penetrating through the stone. It provides a subtle shine and makes it a lot easier to clean your pavers. After applying the sealer, you’ll only need to use water to remove stains.

  1. Replace your pavers

If one of your patio pavers is severely stained or damaged, you can replace it without removing the stones around it. Laying paver stones can be done in only a couple of hours to restore that brand-new look.

With these simple steps, you can keep your pavers looking good for many years. If your paving stones are looking tired and dated, consider applying pavers sealer before you think about replacing them.  

Is Paving Sustainable?

Asphalt and concrete paving has served a lot of people well for several decades. With millions of people walking, driving, and parking their vehicles every day, the need for a durable, solid, and long-lasting material to facilitate our needs for transportation has been fulfilled by concrete and asphalt, for the most part.

As we move forward into the future, but the environment has become more of a concern than ever before. Also, while asphalt and concrete have done well, these materials aren’t the eco-friendliest materials around.

The adverse long-term effects of the production, transportation, and installation of asphalt and concrete paving are extensive and continue to contribute heavily to damaging to our planet. If we wish to make a world that will thrive and will be able to support our grandchildren’s children for decades to come, we need to make decisions like getting green paving solutions.

Concrete and asphalt paving are definitely among the biggest and continuous threats to our environment, but there are also a lot of alternatives that we can use which work just as well, if not better.

What Type of Pavers Will Suit My Home?

Garden paving comes in a vast range of colours and textures. We’ve put together some solid suggestions for you:

Choosing the Right Materials

  1. Research the Prices of Pavers and Labour

Use your favourite search engine to find landscaping contractors around your area. Call at least three to five companies to compare the cost of parts and labour and their ETA for completing the project. Also, you should ask them for client referrals on previous projects and double-check that they’re a licensed contractor or business that also has worker’s compensation insurance. Also, they need to have liability insurance.

  1. Choose pavers that work for your climate

Brick is a porous substance and may chip away more quickly compared to concrete in areas that are often exposed to the elements. If you live in an area with a temperate climate, however, brick is likely to age well. On the other hand, concrete and stone hold up better in harsh environments.

  1. Use sturdy material for exposed areas

If your paving space is exposed to the elements, you will need to use a durable material, like stone or concrete. The sun is powerful and can cause early wearing on all kinds of pavers but will quickly degrade delicate material such as limestone.

  1. Use less sturdy material for covered spots 

If the space that you want to pave is covered, your paving material will not need to be as hardy.

  1. Decide on the design of your pavers

Concrete has a boatload of options in terms of both shape and colour and is going to be the best option if you’d like to have the options. Brick has a classic look associated with it, but is limited in both colour and shape, and is usually only found in red, black, and grey blocks.

Identifying the Best Shape

  1. Choose pavers that can fit the width of your area

The area of your space will aid you in choosing what types of paver shapes will fit well in your yard. A narrow yard isn’t going to do well with wide pavers, as it will have the illusion of a very cramped space. A large yard may not fit well with tiny shapes and patterns, as putting them in will be both labour and time-intensive.

  1. Determine what shapes and styles you like

Look at your yard and home. If you favour rounded shapes, you should go for circles, spirals, or random-shaped edges in your yard. If you tend to prefer angular shapes, simple brick pavers will work well with your space, similar to octagons and pentagons.

  1. Stick with your budget

The more complicated the paver’s shape is, the more likely that it will be expensive. Before deciding on brightly hued spiral pavers, you should check your budget. Make sure you can afford the price of parts and labour for the first install and replacements in the future.

Choosing Your Colours

  1. Choose muted colours if the sun is a factor

The amount of sunlight that your yard receives must be considered before deciding on colour. High sun exposure will not only break up materials but will cause colour fading over time, making once-vibrant hues look dull. If your home has a lot of exposure to the sun, you should go for neutral or natural tones.

  1. Select pavers that mesh well with the colour of your home

Your home’s colour should also play a role in your decision regarding your pavers’ colour. If your home is painted with a neutral colour such as white or beige, most paver colours will work well. If your home is a more distinct colour, such as forest green or a deep grey, be more selective with your pavers.

  1. Use pavers as a new colour palette

If you cannot find a colour scheme you like that works with both your pavers and your existing home and yard colours, use your pavers as the template for a rehaul of your home. It will allow you to experiment with colours and shapes without worrying about your existing decorations.

Related Questions

Why Is Paving A Good Choice for Pool Areas?

While there are many materials that you can choose from, adding pavers surrounding your swimming pool can be useful for both homeowners, and those who are set to enjoy hours of fun splashing around. If you’re deciding on what to cover your outdoor area with, nothing can compare with the quality of natural stone and concrete pavers. Not only can pavers make a natural-looking environment for everyone to enjoy, but they are also strong enough to withstand the effects of both chlorinated and salt-water pools. With this being said, there are many reasons why people opt for pool pavers in the landscaping of their outdoor pool areas.

Should My Driveway Paving Be Completely Level?

Installing pavers in your backyard, driveway, or your poolside is a fantastic way to add character and value to your property. As time passes, however, pavers tend to sink, resulting in less eye-pleasing look. Like any building project, the correct arrangement of the paved area is critical. If you still haven’t installed pavers the area, and want to do it, make sure your pavers are laid on a base of coarse sand or compacted gravel.

Should I Leave A Gap Between Concrete Pavers?

Yes, you need to have a gap in the middle of the concrete pavers. But you do not need to have more gaps. Pavers also get loosened through time, so it’s essential to know how to fix loose pavers if they get too loose.

Sam Christie

Sam Christie is the owner and operator of Christies landscapes, founded in 2013 Sam and his team of landscapers and designers have many years experience in the landscape construction industry. Over the years they have developed and refined a broad range of skills, qualifications and techniques to deliver outstanding projects throughout the Canberra region.

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