Nov 28, 2010

Brick Pavers Edge Restraint Replacement: Common Paver Repair

Cement Bead versus Plastic Edge Restraint for Brick Pavers

One of the most common brick paver repairs that we perform each week is the resetting or replacement of plastic or aluminum brick pavers edge restraints.  About 12 years ago, brick paver manufacturers and suppliers were touting the use of plastic edge restraints for paver borders. This was a new specification to replace the old tried & true cement bead edge restraint that was widely used on pavers patios, walkways, driveways, etc.. .

About this time I had built a new home in Ann Arbor with a paver driveway, walkways, and multi level patios and I used all plastic edge restraints for my paver borders.  Within 3 years, I completely removed ALL plastic edge restraints and replaced with cement bead.

The plastic edge restraint was properly installed per manufacturer's specifications, but winter frost in Michigan had eventually heaved this edge restraint above the height of the paving stones. This caused an unsightly appearance and was damming water back and from flowing off the brick pavers. Also, I had to pound down  most of the spikes that had raised after the thaw each Spring.  This appearance is much like black landscape edging you see raised above the grass and flops around and gets cut by lawnmowers. It becomes unsightly and nonfunctional.

When properly installed by a brick paver contractor, the cement bead wedge method of a brick pavers edge restraint will perform admirably. See the guidelines below to insure edge restraint success:
  • The cement bead needs to be installed on top of the paver base material so it is crucial to remove the 1" bedding course outside of the paving stones. Remember this is why you prep for your pavers patios, walkways, driveways, etc.. a minimum of 4" outside the finished paver edges. This will insure the cement bead wedge grabs below the bottom of the paving stone and has the same drainage below as the brick pavers.
  • The cement bead wedge needs to be @4" wide and come withing 1-1.5" of the top of the paving stones.  This allows enough room to cover the cement bead with sod, mulch, or stone mulch.  
  • Properly trowel a good consistent and quality mix of concrete. Your concrete bead should not be runny and have a mud consistency.  Trowel your cement bead wedge with a 4" spatula and make smooth.
  •  Install your cement bead wedge prior to final plate compactor compaction. This will allow for final adhesion to outside paving stones &  paver joints.
  • Finish covering your cement bead with surrounding landscaping (i.e. sod, mulch, or stone mulch).  Preventing erosion around borders is crucial for all paver edge restraints.
I am not claiming that the cement bead method is the perfect brick pavers edge restraint solution. From my experience, it is the better of the 2 most popular and frequently used brick paver edge restraints. Does it crack? sure, but the cracks should not be visible if properly installed and covered. If an area fails, it can be easily removed & replaced. Landscaping is your ultimate paver edge restraint and the cement bead keeps your outside paving stones wedged in and help prevent creeping out of your brick pavers.

After 12 years since the introduction of plastic and aluminum brick paver edge restraints, I have concluded that the cement bead is the better performing of the 2 methods based on appearance, repair & replacement.