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There are many choices when it comes to hard surfaces in your outdoor living space. Decks, poured concrete (think a driveway), stamped concrete (like a driveway, imprinted with designs), and our personal favorite; interlocking pavers.
Concrete and other hardsurfaces are classified as "Hardscaping". This encompases things such as concrete pads, brick paver walkways, retaining walls and more. Any good "hardscaper" has his/her personal favorite product or techinique to install. And while we can break down pro's and con's of any of them, we will just go over our personal pick! However....we do like a good deck, we do those too!
Brick pavers are a pressed concrete product. While many manufacturers use different processes, the science is all relatively the same. Brick pavers take regular concrete (and other goodies), and are injected into pressurized molds, creating a product stronger than normal poured concrete.
Pavers may be a bit more costly compared to other products; the benefits however outway that downside again and again. Colors, warranties, varieties and strength are just to name a few.
Take a driveway for example; usually rated at 4000 PSI, or pounds per square inch. Interlocking pavers usually have a PSI of 6500 to 8000! This strength becomes inhanced when installed together in specific patterns where they are allowed to "interlock" with each other, which transfer weight between pavers!
A common question we get is do they sink, or what about weeds between the joints. These ideas come from a long line of poor craftsmanship and antiquated installation techinques. There is actually an accredited institute to follow when it comes to hardscaping, called the International Concrete Pavement Institute, that highlights proper installation guidelines that most manufacturers reccomend as well! The answer to those questions is simple: when installed properly, they do not experience those issues. While some settling may happen on new construction properites, concrete can suffer the same fate. The only saving grace with pavers is, that concrete cracks, pavers can be re-leveled!
Patios can range from ground level to multi tiered raised spaces!
We start with removing the old, whether it's a deck, old concrete pad or bare dirt! Proper excavation is key. Most ground level patios are installed with 8 to 12" of base gravel.
This is a critical step. Bare dirt must be compacted before continuing to construct the base.
This fabric separates the dirt from the base material
At this point we bury all down spouts under the patio surface, install any drainage required for the patio.
We use either 3/4 Clean Limestone (16AA) or 3/4 Limestone with Dust (21AA) depending on the application. This is compacted in 1-2" lifts while building the base up.
If the patio is elevated (meaning not ground level) This is when we would start to build walls, as well as any stair cases for the patio
Pavers are palletized material and brought in on skids by heavy equipment
This is a polymer webbing that distributes weight throughout the base of the patio to help evenly distribute weight.
This is a small sand or chip material used as the top layer of base to get the pitch and level for the pavers.
Now we are ready to lay pavers! There are many styles and patterns to choose from, so how this is done will vary!
There are two styles of edge restraints we use for pavers that are ground level - hand mixed accrylic concrete with fiberglass mesh, or polymer edging. We typically use the concrete with mesh, as it tends to withstand the freeze/thaw cycle of climates like Michigans.
This is the last step in a successful interlocking paver install. The polymeric sand fills the joints, binds the pavers and seals the joints from intrusions. This is NOT a sealer; think of it like grout in a tile floor. We also DO NOT reccommend sealing your pavers.
While this is just a snippit of what it really takes to install your outdoor living space; it's a great overview of what goes into it. It is much more than installing a patio, it's pure craftsmanship and we love every bit of it, and why it is our number one passion!
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