polymeric-sand-tips

Polymeric Sand – 14 Things You Should Know Before You Buy

Polymeric Sand is as ubiquitous to interlocking pavers as garden soil to gardening.  You need good garden soil to grow your vegetables and plans.  You need good polymeric sand to maintain the look and appearance of your landscape.

Some naysayers will say that polymeric sand is a complete waste of money and that it isn’t worth a dime because the weeds keep on coming back or the insects are burrowing between the pavers.  This may be true, however, like everything else nothing is ever maintenance free.  Like your car, a little bit of maintenance can go a long way to protecting your investment and keeping your landscaping looking that much nicer longer.

So here is what you need to know about polymeric sand and why it is really that important to protect your interlocking paving investment and maintaining the curb appeal of your home.

What is Polymeric Sand made of?

Pretty every single manufacturer of polymeric sand in the marketplace has three main ingredients:

  1. Quartz silica

  2. Crystalline silica

  3. Proprietary polymer/organic

Out of these three main ingredients, the first two make up approximately 85-95% of the product by volume.  The rest of the ingredients are some type of filler and the proprietary glue.

What is the proprietary polymer?

Essentially this is a man-made chemical binder or organic biner that binds the sand together and to create a single surface between the joints of the interlocking pavers. This glue holds the sand in place so that when it rains or running water, the water will not wash away the sand.

Are all polymers the same?

No. Not all polymers are the same. Some are stronger and some are weaker.  The cost of the polymeric sand can indicated how good the glue is and its performance.

How is the polymer activated?

The polymer is activated by the use of water.  It can only be activated once and hardens to make the joint water repellant.  With that being said, there are now polymers that can be resoftened with the use of water so that minor cracks are automatically filled in.  However, there are limits in which the sand can be resoftened and it will eventually the glue will get washed away.

How important is the polymer to the maintaining the impermeability of your finished landscape?

It is important.  Theuse of polymeric sand increases the durability of the entire surface of the landscaped area.  This minimizes the opportunity for water to seep below the surface of the interlocking pavers and into the sand and/or crushed stone foundation below. Without water beneath the pavement, silt and fines have no ability to migrate from one area to another.  This means a drier foundation which translate to less deformation of the surface under traffic loads. It also means that your backyard patio, walkway or driveway will look perfect longer.

Is all quartz silica and crystalline silica the same for all polymeric sand?

No. Like glue, there are varying degrees of granuality or fineness of the sand.  The finer the sand (smaller the particles) the easier it is for the sand to fill every single nook and cranny and crack.  When the sand can reach these minor cracks, it lessens the chance for weed growth or insect burrows.  This plays a part in minimizing the maintenance that is required to keep your interlocking pavers looking good.

How come there is portland cement in the sand?

Portland cement is one of the key ingredients to help increase the hardness and strength of the sand.  Polymeric sands that solely rely on an adhesive are not as strong as those with BOTH the portland cement and the adhesive.

Can polymeric sand have different colors?

Absolutely.  Most polymeric sand manufacturers offer at least two colors that match 95% of the interlocking pavers on the marketplace today: tan and grey.  We currently carry sand that comes in 5 colors: brown, black, grey, red and buff.

How much does polymeric sand cost?

The price does vary from store to store and from region to region.  You can expect the price to vary between $20 – $40 per 55lb – 50lb bag.  The cost of this product outweighs the cost of having to relay the interlocking pavers every few years.

How to use polymeric sand for the first time?

Because polymeric sand will stick like glue to whatever wet surface it contacts, only apply the product when rain is not in the forecast. These are the steps for pretty much all polymeric sands in the marketplace:

  1. After laying your pavers, sweep the polymeric sand into all joints

  2. Compact or tamp the pavers and sand to make sure that the sand fills all cracks

  3. Sweep in another round of polymeric sand

  4. Compact again to fill in all the cracks

  5. Sweep in, but do not tamp. In this last round, get the polymeric sand as close to the tops of interlocking pavers as possible

  6. Ensure no sand is sitting on the pavers themselves.  You can sweep individual pieces or use a blower (at near parallel angle to the surface). Polymeric sand is hard to remove once wet

  7. Spray water mist over the entire paved or hardscaped area, from high point to low point

  8. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then rewet with a light mist

  9. Allow a full 24 hours for complete curing

How to maintain the hardscaping with polymeric sand?

After a long hard winter, you may want to just spread some polymeric sand onto the pavers and sweep it into all the cracks to prevent any weeds and/or any burrows.  Once you’ve done that, remove any excess sand and then wet the surface to activate the polymeric sand.

What are the three things you should always look for in a quality polymeric sand?

  1. Granularity of the sand – the smaller the particle the better it is get into the cracks
  2. Polymer or adhesive – a strong glue is better withstand the environment.
  3. Portland cement – some portland cement increases the hardness and impermeability of the surface

Is there a difference in polymeric sands between what big box stores sell and what specialty retailers sell?

There is good chance that there is a difference.  You would never see a specialty retailer sell what is being sold in a big box.  The reason is that specialty retailers place a greater emphasis on quality as opposed to price. When manufacturers focus on price, there are going to be some sacrifices made to the quality of the ingredients used. This is reflected when you see movement, weeds, or insect burrows in interlocking pavers.

19 replies
  1. Tim
    Tim says:

    Can you give me some stores where your product is available in California or Orange County area ZIP code 92708 thank you

    Reply
    • toemar
      toemar says:

      Hi Tim. I’m sorry we are located in Ontario, Canada. If I’m not mistaken Lowes will have a product that is similar.

      Reply
  2. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    Hi, I heard that the sand should be not stored outside and Lowe’s stores it outside. Is this true and is their another store you would recommend

    Reply
    • toemar
      toemar says:

      Hi Brenda.

      It would depend on the packaging and how it is packaged. If the bags are shrink wrapped and turned often then there will be no issue. The other thing to keep in mind as long as water does not penetrate the bags then outside storage is. Ideally you want to see the product indoors in open pallets. However, once you break the plastic cover for the skid then you introduce the probability of water entering the bags.

      To summarize:

      Skids fully wrapped – okay for outside storage
      Open skids (plastic is off) – not ideal for outside storage

      Reply
  3. Roger G
    Roger G says:

    i bought the king brand from you and after 9 months the sand is loose now. its a big mess. Stop carrying this brand and you should stand behind the product you sell

    Reply
    • toemar
      toemar says:

      We have sold hundreds of pallets of this particular brand without complaints regarding binding. We have had a number suppliers over the years and if we feel that there is an issue with a product we would have eliminated that brand immediately. We currently carry two brands of polymeric sand and we feel they are the best – one of which is Seal King which is technically made by Sable Marco. Please feel free to reach out and we can give you some guidance. We can also take it a step further and have the manufacturer come out and resolve the issue.

      Reply
  4. Kiki
    Kiki says:

    Hi …my patio pavers were layer 5 years ago …magic sand was not used ..
    Weeds have been a constant problem …Does the pavers have to be taken up and relayed to use the sand or can it be done without redoing them .
    that’s beyond my skill level..Thanks

    Reply
    • toemar
      toemar says:

      Hi Kiki

      Removing all of the interlocking and relaying would not be necessary for the installation of Polymeric Sand. The best technique is to remove the existing sand and debris with a high pressure wash – specifically something that produces 4000 psi (or around that amount). Let the bricks dry for minimum 24 hours and then you can apply polymeric sand.

      The Toemar Team

      Reply
  5. Natural Stone
    Natural Stone says:

    These are some great tips on polymeric sand things you should know before buy that you have discussed here. I really loved it and thank you very much for sharing this with us. You have a great visualization and you have really presented this content in a really good manner.

    Reply
  6. Craig McFarland
    Craig McFarland says:

    Question / Answer from this link:
    “Polymeric Sand – 14 Things You Should Know Before You Buy”
    https://toemar.ca/polymeric-sand-things-you-should-know-before-buy/

    How much does polymeric sand cost?

    The price does vary from store to store and from region to region. You can expect the price to vary between $20 – $40 per 55lb – 50lb bag. The cost of this product outweighs the cost of having to relay the interlocking pavers every few years.

    Is this true? Product is more expensive than to relay the pavers?
    Thanks,
    Craig McFarland

    Reply
    • toemar
      toemar says:

      Hi Craig,

      If properly installed (paver and sand) you should not have to relay or redo a project for at least a decade if not more. With that being said the average bag of polymeric sand will cover 85 square feet; if the price per sand is $22/bag it is fair to say that the cost per square foot is $0.26. Taking into account other expenses such as pavers, base, machine rentals, bin rentals – the percentage at which Polymeric Sand will represent is 3 to 4%. If you were to have an installer come in and do a project for you that percentage would be divided in half, 1.5 to 2%.

      Most installers would charge at least $7-10 per square foot to relay existing pavers, this would typically include sand. At this rate Polymeric Sand would represent about 3 to 4% of total cost. To relay existing pavers yourself (without accounting sweat equity/time, base materials, power washer etc) polymeric sand would still represent $0.26 per square foot. The price per square foot would remain more or less fixed and expenses would be variable, the percentage will be determined who does the relay – a contractor or yourself. Either way it does not represent a huge percentage or portion of a hardscape project.

      I hope this clarifies things for you.

      Reply
  7. Mary Pearsall
    Mary Pearsall says:

    Can you tell me how toxic this product can be to the numerous organisms that currently reside in the soil under a stone patio using this product. Soil is considered the most important resource currently on our planet. The organisms that live in soil are both critical to carbon Sequestration. For those who do not know what that is, Soil, soil organisms and plants Are a critical component of drawing down the Co2 that is collecting in our atmosphere. So, the less we cover our ground spaces, the better.

    Reply
  8. Mark
    Mark says:

    According to the Techniseal site I’d need about 17 bags of their HP Poly sand for my patio which I’m redoing(pressure washed out the old and relayed stones).
    A friend suggested to use some stone dust first to partially fill the gaps then finish with the poly sand to help defray the cost.
    Any thoughts on this strategy.
    Located in Eastern Ont.

    Reply
    • toemar
      toemar says:

      Hi Mark,

      Here is our point of view based on our experience and from contractors that we work with.

      It is not recommended to partially fill with ordinary sand or dust; the Polymeric Sand that you would have installed will only be a small layer and will crack and flake out of the joint. The only way to install Polymeric Sand is with a full joint. This will ensure full strength and an installation method that is intended by the manufacturer. Saving in the interim will cost you more later on – you will of course have to re-purchase more Polymeric Sand, rent a power washer and re-do all the work again

      Reply
  9. Mohit
    Mohit says:

    Question: What Sealer recommendations are there? Looking for Non-Slip, Matte Finish (not high gloss), and recommended a space near a pool. Looking to seal the interlock to help stop any weeds or grass from growing in the future :)

    I redid my interlock by removing the existing sand with a powerwasher – and refilled with EnviroSand :)

    Reply
    • toemar
      toemar says:

      Hi Mohit,

      The best sealer to use is a solvent base. Solvent based sealers will give you maximum longevity and surface protection. Most companies that sell sealer will have gripping agents that can be mixed into the sealer. This product is typically white and resembles very fine sand. This should add extra grip and traction to the area.

      Please keep in mind that sealer is not going to prevent weeds from growing – a good polymeric sand that is properly installed and general maintenance will keep you weed free. Please keep in mind EnviroSand is technically not Polymeric Sand; it will soften considerably upon moisture.

      Reply
  10. Nasir
    Nasir says:

    Hello Toemar Team,
    I was at your Mississauga location this afternoon. Found your people very helpful and this particular discussion on Polymeric do’s and don’t is great. Saved me hours on researching.

    Thanks.

    Reply

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