Jan 24, 2011

Brick Pavers Dirty Little Secret : Paver Joints

Paver Joints are the most important part of your Brick Pavers Installation

It amazes me every day when I am doing estimates on brick paver repair & restorations that homeowners had no idea they needed to keep paver joints filled with paver joint sand. More than the paving stones themselves, paver joints have the most important function of interlocking brick pavers Here are paver joints dirty little secrets.

Paver joints are the whole purpose for brick paver "lock-up".  Paver joints for interlocking paving stones allow for the bedding coarse to shoot up and lock the paving stones together during plate compaction.  As the plate compactor vibrates across several paving stones at once, the paving stones depress and force the bedding coarse sand or slag to "jet up" into the paver joints and lock up the paving stones laterally.

The next important step is to sweep in proper paver joint sand to completely fill the paver joints. Full paver joints will help prevent the paving stones from loosening, shifting, and unnecessarily settle from erosion.  What is so perplexing is that sweeping in paver joint sand is so easy and effortless and most homeowners will not perform this basic paver maintenance requirement. In Ann Arbor, sweeping is usually necessary each Spring as the Winter frost, snow & ice, and Spring rains wash away the top of the paver joints.  The upgraded use of Polymeric Sand will greatly reduce the amount of paver joint sweeping due to the strength of this bonding sand. Here are some paver repair projects that we used Polymeric Sand to help avoid future repairs.

Keeping paver joints filled with paver joint sand is important to help keep weed seeds from establishing .  If the joints are not filled with sand, this presents a perfect setting for weed seeds or dirt to settle in and promote growth.  Dirt, weeds, and grass inhibit the proper flow of water through the joints and does not allow for application of a paver sealant.

 Paver joints absorb the winter frost effects of heaving so the paving stones do not crack, grind, or chip. While protecting the structural integrity of interlocking pavers, paver joints will lose joint sand over time. Sweeping in new paver joint sand is a small price to pay for protecting the beauty, appearance, and performance of your brick paver patios,walkways,driveways, and more.

In frost states like Michigan, it is highly recommended not to fill the joints of high density concrete pavers with mortar.  I see many outdoor applications using mortared interlocking paving stones that will some day fail.  Mortared paver joints in a frost State does not stand up to the flexible heaving of base laid pavers. The other important factor is that high density concrete pavers are much stronger than mortar. As the paving stones expand slightly they will crack or break up the mortared joints. This will become and unsightly and costly future repair.

After years of neglect, paver patios without paver joint sand may require us to completely  re-sweep in new joint sand and re-compact the whole patio with a plate compactor. This will help re-lock the paving stones into the bedding coarse. We will then finish off the top of the paver joints with an approved joint sand.

Most homeowners believe that you must protect the paving stones with a sealer which is not true. Sealing brick pavers is an option and is mainly for aesthetic purposes.  The best way to protect your interlocking pavers is to keep the joints filled with paver joint sand. This is a simple and very cheap way to avoid costly and unnecessary paver repairs.