The other day I did a brick paver repair estimate for a paver patio in Ann Arbor. I immediately knew that this brick paver patio was NOT installed by a brick paver specialist. It was no surprise the client informed me that the Landscaper they hired installed this paving stone patio.
The first an foremost sign that an inexperience brick paver contractor installed this sub par paver patio is the absence of a soldier course row around the perimeter of the paver installation. A soldier course row is usually the larger rectangular shape paving stones of the pattern, laid like a "row of soldiers", used to secure & frame the interlocking brick pavers.
The perimeter of most brick paver installations need a whole paving stone on the outside frame to better secure the diamond cut pieces of the pattern. Cut pieces will definitely sink or move if left on the outside edge of paving stones. Also, the paver edge restraint, whether plastic pvc or cement bead, will perform better.
The real advantage of "framing" your brick pavers patio, walk, driveway, etc.. is the improved design appearance of the finished edges. Look all around your home for finished edges, tops, or bottoms, like trim molding, door & window jams, mason soldiers & ledges, and more. Not only are these "finished edges" functional but also ascetically pleasing. Your interlocking brick paver installation must have the same!
The second sign of this paver patio installation being installed by an inexperience landscaper is the rolling down of the paving stones on the outside edges. All too often, landscaping crews do not prep far enough out from the outside edges of the interlocking brick pavers. Therefore, the outside edges will settle or "roll down" from the rest of the paving stones since the paver base material past the edges was not prepped or even installed.
For brick walkways, 4-5" minimum prep is needed past the edges of the interlocking pavers. Paver Patios minimum prep is 8"-10" and Paver Driveways 10-12" prep of base material past the edges of the paving stones. This will not only help prevent the ever noticeable edge "roll down" by inexperienced brick paver contractors but also give your paver edge restraint the proper base to be installed upon.
When getting estimates on your interlocking brick paver or retaining wall installations, make sure you do some research on the experience of the brick paver contractor you are hiring. Not all landscapers are inexperienced in installing paving stones, but a majority just add this service to their expanded repertoire. Brick paver specialists and experts will perform all the major detail work and prep that will insure a long-term success of performance & appearance.