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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.

Polymeric Sand – A How to Install Video

Although we’ve written about Polymeric Paver Sand in the past, seeing how someone does it just makes the job a little less stressful. One of our vendors produced a video that will make it easier for you to install the polymeric sand successfully along with some great tips on getting the best results possible.

Here is a breakdown of the video just in case you don’t want to watch the whole thing.

0:30 – General explanation of the function of Polymeric Sand
0:50 – Choosing the right sand
1:10 – Tools required
1:34 – Installation of the sand
2:45 – Removing old sand
5:00 – Wetting the sand

Enjoy the instructional video!

If you have any other questions about the installation of polymeric sand, please feel free to contact us by email or by phone and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Image Source: Necessories-Kits

Protecting your Interlocking Pavers – Tips on using a sealer

protecting-interlocking-pavers-using-a-sealer

If your neighbor is able to keep his driveway or patio looking brand new and vibrant, chances are he has used a Paving Stone Sealer. Paving Stone Sealers minimize or eliminate the porosity of most stone. If the stone is left unsealed, it will be most certainly be prone to certain types of damage such as
oil, salt, rust, harsh pool chemicals, colour fading from UV rays, dirt, and even autocare products.

Although applying the paving stone sealer isn’t difficult, having the right equipment to do it makes it simpler and easier to manage. Here is a list of the most essential and necessary equipment:

  • Paint Roller (thick nap) or Pump Sprayer
  • Rubber Gloves (throw away)
  • Goggles (you really don’t want this stuff in your eyes)
  • Work Pants (don’t care if you get sealer on it)
  • Work Boots (if you get this stuff on your sneakers, they will be ruined)
  • Pressure washer or hose with nozzle

In addition to having the right equipment for the job, here are some professional tips before applying, applying and using the paving stone sealer to keep that fresh and new look for your interlocking stones:

1. Remove all oil, grease, dirt

You can use the proper cleaners or use a power washer/hose with nozzle and allow the surface to dry for 24 hours before applying the sealer. If you are using a power washer, keep the angle at a shallow angle to minimize the loss of joint sand.

2. Removing efflorescence

Allow 30 to 60 days for the efflorescence (whitish salt) to escape from the stone. If the efflorescence is still visible, use efflorescence cleaner to remove it and let it dry 24-48 hours and then sweep the paving stones with a stiff bristled brush.

3. Keep water away

If you get water on the surface or on the roller while applying, a cloudy spot will form on the paving stone surface. If you sweat a lot, consider wearing a hat or headband to keep the sweat from dripping onto the sealer.

4. Watch the weather

Keep your eye on the weather as you do not want to apply the sealer below 10 degrees, or when there is a chance of rain (surface must be dry for at least 24 hours).

5. Increase durability

You can increase the durability of the surface when you apply the sealer in two thin coats than one thick coat. This will also reduce the possibility of the paving stone surface turning white.

6. Prevent streaking

For surfaces being sealed for the first time, apply a second coat by rolling in a cross direction than the first coat to prevent streaking. Allow first coat to dry prior to second coat application (drying time dependent on sealer brand). Allow sealed surfaces to dry for 24 hours before using. This will be more apparent on large flat surfaces such as flagstone.

6. Cleaning your tools

You must clean the tools immediately after the application. If you use a solvent-based sealer, use a lacquer thinner to clean the nozzle, canister and hose of your pump sprayer.

Polymeric Paver Sand – A Weed-Free and Insect-Free Solution

Now that you have your own backyard escape area using Interlocking Pavers, you wonder how your friends backyard patio looks so clean and sharp for many years. The secret of countless happy homeowners is the use of Polymeric Sand.

Polymeric Sand is the key to stabilizing your Interlocking Pavers and getting that weed-free, insect-free finished look. In fact, it should always be used once you’ve completed your landscaping project and not be thought as an option. With the use of Polymeric Sand, erosion has been virtually eliminated – no more re-filling sand year in and year out.

Although applying the Polymeric Sand is fairly straightforward, here are some tips that will help you get that clean finished look you were after:

1. Check for rain-free weather

Make sure that have at least 2-4 days of sunny weather with NO chance of rain or precipitation. You want to make sure that the glue in the sand has a chance to activate properly and harden without getting washed out.

2. Use a proper broom

Using a wide broom will help you distribute the sand across all the joints more evenly. Avoid corn brooms as they can potentially leave bits and pieces of broom in the crevices and potentially weakening the joint.

3. Use a compactor

After you pushed all the sand into the joints with a broom, use a power compactor with a rubber sleeve or base to help you get the sand into every single crevice and crack. This is almost like an insurance policy to help prevent weeds from growing and insects making those spaces their home.

4. Use a leaf blower

After you’ve swept in the sand or used the compactor into all the joints, blow the sand away at an angle nearly parallel to the surface of the patio. The key is to remove all the sand on the surface of the patio pavers. You don’t want the glue and sand to sit on the surface of the stone once it has been activated, especially if it is smooth patio stones.

5. Use water misting only

By using water misting to activate the glue in the sand, you do not wash away the sand between the patio stones before it has a chance to harden.

How to Install Interlocking Patio Pavers Tips – Part 2

If you missed part 1, of how to install interlocking patio pavers tips, you can click here.

Now that you’ve done your research, visualized your project, received free advice, determined your timeline and budget and possibly hired local help, its time to dig in and watch your dream landscape come to life.

Here are some additional tips that we think will help you to keep your project moving forward:

1. Keep your sketch or drawing close by

You’ve spent all that effort to visualizing your dream landscape, make sure you have it handy so that everything goes to plan. Better yet, make photocopies or scan your plan just in case it gets lost, waterlogged, ripped, eaten by the dog, or even buried (yeah, it has happened before!).

2. Getting the proper tools

You want to keep your significant other happy, get the rights tools so you can get the job done faster and better. Forget the snow shovel and go out and buy the right tool(s) or just rent them.

3. Stake it right

Make sure that when you stake out the dimensions of the project, it is important to keep your measurements consistent to your drawings to avoid shortage or overage of materials.

4. Keeping the edge straight

During installation you will need to use string between the stakes as a guide to help keep your interlocking pavers straight. If you want your pavers to stay straight for many years to come, think of installing landscape edging.

5. Tamping the sand

After you have applied the polymeric sand with a broom, use a tamper with a rubber pad to ensure that the sand fills in all the cracks properly. Once the polymeric sand activates, you are going to get a strong cohesive surface that will resist weeds and keep your landscape looking pristine.

6. More free landscaping advice

Just because you’ve started work, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still ask for advice. This is especially true if you encountered something unexpected like a large tree root. It won’t cost you anything and it may save you heartache and frustration down the road.

7. Don’t stop unnecessarily

Place your sand, gravel and stone in piles along the project perimeter so you don’t need to stop when you run out. This will help you keep focus on getting the project done. Don’t forget to cover the piles overnight to protect the sand from the rain.

8. Using a stone cutter

If you want smooth cut curve for your interlocking stone, rent a stone cutter or take it to your local garden centre to get cut it for you.

9. Keeping the help happy

If you’ve decided that you want to hire labour, save time and money by providing food and snacks so your help can stay onsite and help you finish your project faster.

How to Install Interlocking Patio Pavers Tips – Part 1

Interlocking pavers is probably one of the most cost effective and aesthetically pleasing products on the marketplace to add value to your property. The myriad of colors, shapes, sizes from a multitude of manufacturers will allow you to create the spectacular patio, walkway, terrace, or driveway that you dreamed of while adding value to your home.

As with any DIY project, installing interlocking pavers requires a bit of patience, time and elbow grease to come up with the finished look that you want. Here are some guidelines on how to prepare for the installation of interlocking pavers.

1. Research Interlocking Pavers and Materials

This is probably one of the most important parts of installing interlocking pavers. Good solid research will make your project a relatively smooth one. Here are some key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What do you want to do or accomplish or build and where do you want to build it? (e.g. pathway, terrace, patio, driveway, etc.)
  • Ask for product catalogs and pricing sheets
  • Visit the interlocking paver manufacturer’s website or visit our showroom or check out their picture gallery for ideas on things can be done.
  • Ask questions to help understand the myriad of options and choices available such as mixing and matching stones from different manufacturers to create that unique look.

2. Draw and Sketch Your Landscape Vision

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to help you visualize your dream landscape. Roughly drawing your landscape layout will help you gather your thoughts and guide you through to the end of your project. By having your vision articulated on paper, you can always easily fine-tune your project with an eraser and pencil. You can start now by downloading this graph paper and sketch away.

3. Taking Measurements

Measure the perimeter (sides) of the project. There are two approaches to measuring out the project.

  • First method – use your garden hose to mark the area where the interlocking stone will be laid down. It is not the most accurate, but it does give you a good idea of how much square footage is being used.
  • Second method – use wooden stakes and string and precisely mark out the area and then measure with a measuring tape.

With the second method, you eliminate the need to stake out the area again when you start digging, thus saving you some time and effort later on.

4. Smart Budgeting

Understanding how much want to spend and sticking with it will give you great satisfaction when you finish. There are typically 3 types of expenses you need budget or account for:

  • Variable Expenses – These expenses are typically related specifically with the quantity, type, size, and color of the interlocking paver.
  • Fixed Expenses – The expenses are the sand and gravel that you require to build a solid foundation. Regardless of what type of interlocking stone you decide to go with, you will typically have the same amount of sand and gravel.
  • Miscellaneous Expenses – These expenses are extraneous items that will help you complete the project such as renting equipment, bins for waste disposal, and accessories.

5. Free Landscaping Advice

It doesn’t hurt that once you’ve got your plans put together to get some free expert advice. Call us and we will help you fine tune your landscape project and provide a quotation on all the required materials.

6. Timing it Right

Once you have finalize your plans, make sure you block out enough time in your schedule (eg. 1 day for 4 weekends, 2 days for 2 weekends) to complete the job in a timely manner. Don’t schedule a project a few weeks before an event because time pressure may cause you to make costly mistakes. Always give yourself extra time to compensate for any unforeseen delays such as rainy days. Lastly, the key to timing is to estimate the pace that you want to work at.

7. Pre-ordering for Less Headaches

Placing your pre-order for materials is also important to making sure that you are off to a smooth start. Landscape materials such as interlocking stone typically require a 24 hour notice for delivery while bulk materials have a turnaround of 4-6 hours. Other items such as bin rentals or tool rentals require 4-6 hours’ notice to ensure that the items are available.

8. Hiring your Friends/Family

Getting your friends and/or family to help you with a part of the job or the entire job will allow you to complete the job faster and make it far more enjoyable.

9. Hiring Local Labour

If none of your friends and/or family can help you out, you can always find local help through your local classified ads (Kijiji or Craigslist). For example, you may need someone to help you dig out the dirt and remove it or move the sand and gravel for you from the driveway to the project area. Make sure that you do your due diligence on the individual(s) and provide right tools to get the job done correctly.

10. Giving Yourself a Break

If you are doing this yourself, remember to give yourself a break every few hours or so that you can last through the day and for the entire project. Have plenty of fluids like water and snacks close by so you grab them when you need them.

To start reading about Part 2 of installing interlocking pavers, go here