May 16, 2009

The Top Brick Paver Repairs

After 25 years of installing and repairing brick pavers in Ann Arbor, I have come up with a Top List of repairs that I have seen and done. Brick Paver repairs are not uncommon in States with continued frost damage but these particular repairs are the most common.


This particular interlocking brick paver repair is the most prevalent. This is the outside brick border that frames most brick paver patios, walkways, or driveways. It most cases, this row of "soldiers" settles or moves more frequently. The main cause is under prepping the base. Alot of installers only install the base to the exact width of the brick paver installation. When this is done, the edge restraint, plastic pvc or cement bead, is not properly installed on the same paver base material, thus this brick paver edge restraint fails and the concrete paver moves with it. It is also very important to cover the outside edge restraint with landscaping, such as, grass, ground cover, or mulch, to protect from long term erosion.
The most evident of this brick paver soldier course settling is the row of brick behind the caps of modular retaining walls and steps. Again, it is the under prepping of base behind these wall blocks. When you build up the base behind these modular blocks, you must compact carefully in 2-3" lifts. The most important step is to fill all voids or gaps with compactible base material, not sand. Over the last 8 years , the use of a geo-textile filter fabric is important to use behind these modular blocks to give added support to the base.


This brick paver repair is the easiest to avoid, but is seldom prevented. The lock up of interlocking brick pavers occurs when the plate compactor goes over the top of the pavers, thus embedding them down in the 1" bedding course (usually a course sand). What occurs at this point is the the bedding course sand "jets up" through the joints from below. This is much like sticking your hand down into sand and the sand comes up between your fingers. The final crucial step is to then sweep an approved joint sand into all joints of your brick paver walkway, patio, or driveway, run the brick paver compactor over the entire brick installation again to jiggle down any loose sand, and then finish off with a final sweep. The joint sand keeps the pavers from moving laterally and keeps them from coming loose. Keeping the joint sand filled in the brick paver joints also helps prevent dirt or weed seeds embedding into the joints.
I will go back to brick paver installations that where installed 5 years prior, and no joint sand will be in the joints. I can stick my finger in most joints and feel the bottom of the paver. When joints are not filled, the pavers can move laterally and come loose. The most damaging effect is that water will easily come of the paver surface, tunnel down through the joints unabated, and slowly erode the the base material below.
Just 15-20 minutes of your time and $10-15 worth of joint sand each Spring to sweep your paver patio will help you avoid 100's of dollars of brick paver repairs and frustrations of a unsightly patio.

Brick Paver Dips or Waves:

This repair is usually immediately evident if a poor paver installation is performed. Keep in mind that any & all repairs are NOT the result of poor installation. The whole premise of interlocking brick pavers is to withstand the effects of winter frost or ground settling, at a minimal cost of resetting or repair. The biggest cost savings is the ability of the paver repairs service to reuse the same products, thus reducing material costs.
A poor brick paver installation can begin with a poor base preparation. Often installers cut cost & time by not excavating deep enough to install a proper base depth. A basic base material depth for patios & walkways is 4-6" and driveways 10-12". Actual base material depths vary due to weight requirements and soil conditions to name a couple. If the base material depth is compromised, your brick paver patio may not drain properly and therefore have added stress during frost periods. It is also very, very, important to compact the subsoil (dirt) prior to installing the base material on top.
Another common mistake by brick paver installers is not compacting the base in "lifts". This means they should not dump more that 3-4" thick of base material at any given time with out spreading evenly and compacting. The common brick paver compactor can not properly compact more than 4" lifts at a time. I see many contractors filling raised brick paver patios or driveways with base material over 8" high, then raking and compacting the top only! This will have an extreme effect on the performance of the brick pavers!
Another faux pas of installing paver base is not spreading and compacting in level lifts. Some paving contractors rake out, compact, and then install bedding course over a "wavy" base installation. Keep in mind that the bedding course can not make up for the uneveness of the base material in terms of long term paver performance. What you observe with base material installation will mirror the brick pavers in the future!

This is just some of the top brick paver repairs that I have seen & performed over the many years that the brick paver industry has experienced here in North America. In the fuure, I will continue my list and requirements.