Oct 16, 2010

Brick Paver Joint Sand: Change in my Recommendation

#1 Brick Paver Maintenance Requirement

For years now I have preached to my clients, "Do NOT sweep play sand into your brick paver joints!".  Well, I have a slight change in my recommendation for this yearly brick pavers maintenance requirement.  Play Sand generally is a fluffy yellow sand with very little granular substance to assist in bonding. In Ann Arbor, this type of sand graduation will splash or blow out of brick paver joints and make your experience with interlocking pavers frustrating. Silica Sand also does not perform well as a paver joint sand.

As mentioned in early posts, keeping your paver joints filled with joint sand is a crucial yearly requirement for the long-term performance of paver patios, walkways, driveways, porches, etc.. . Paver joint sand is essential in keeping proper lock-up of the paving stones and help deter the effects of erosion, settling, and weed growth.

Most brick paver manufacturers distribute an approved paver joint sand that is either privately labeled or from a national supplier.  Obviously these products are an approved paver joint sand to use for your interlocking pavers project but usually carry an unnecessary cost and not readily available to you geographically.

For the last 10 years I have been recommending and using Quikcrete's "all purpose sand" for paver joint sweeping. This all purpose sand had a similar sand graduation (sieve rate) as the more costly paver manufacturer's joint sand and is also screened, washed, and dried.  These processes are important to remove unwanted substances like dirt, weed seeds, and silt.

This past Spring I started to notice that  Quikcrete's "all purpose sand" was beginning to have a larger sand graduation (sieve rate) which was allowing larger pebbles to be present in the mix. These larger pebbles of sand either do not sweep into the paver joints or lodge themselves in the joint, thus not allowing proper filling of the paver joints.  We found ourselves having to discard about of 1/3rd of each bag. This was not only inconvenient but eliminated any cost savings.

I did some further investigation and discovered that Quikcrete's "Premium" play sand had a similar sand graduation (sieve rate) to the paver manufacturer's paver joint sand. It also is screened, washed, and dried. Unlike cheap or the original fluffy play sand, this "premium" play sand has a granular mix to assist in bonding & lock-up. It also has enough sand fines to allow for easy and successful filling of paver joints

I do want to say that I am not recommending "all" play sands. My investigation at this point has only concluded that Quikcrete's "Premium" play sand is an acceptable joint sand for your brick paver joints.

At Lowe's and Home Depot, this play sand runs @ $3.50 per bag. This is a considerable savings from the $7.50-$8 / bag for paver manufacturer joint sand bags. I understand that there is a cost for private labels and convenience, but this is an unnecessary cost for clients who can easily obtain an acceptable replacement at a local hardware store.