Stone pavers have a nice visual appeal and can transform your home and beautify your outdoor living space. However, if the installation is not done properly, stone pavers can be a nuisance to maintain. For one, weeds and moss tend to grow in the gaps between stones, thereby making the entire pavement look unkempt and shabby. Ants tend to infest these gaps as well. With time, the foundation created for the pavement erodes and the stone slabs become loose. Proper materials and installation techniques is critical when it comes to stone driveways, patios, and walkways.
It is important to understand that most of the problems with stone pavements is not because of the stone but the gaps in between the stone slabs. The sand that is exposed in these gaps tends to weaken standard installation of stone pavement over time.
So, is there a solution to this problem?
If you already have a stone pavement, short of redoing stone paver, the one thing you can do to prolong the life of your paver and preserve its beauty is to use weed control measures. You can either purchase herbicides or make organic solution at home to get rid of the weeds. Although these solutions are effective, the results they provide are not permanent. Within a few months, weeds will begin to grow back in the gaps.
A permanent solution to the most common problems associated with stone pavements is to use polymeric sand.
What is Polymeric Sand?
Simply said, polymeric sand is artificial or man-made sand. Typically, additives such as silica and different polymers are mixed with fine sand to create polymeric sand. When this mixture is combined with water, the additives form a binding agent that bind the fine sand particles together and create a strong base for laying stone pavement.
Since polymeric sand contains silica and other additives, weeds and moss do not grow in the gaps. It keeps the stone slabs bound strongly to the base and to each other. In addition to preventing weed growth, polymeric sand offers a lot of other benefits as well. These benefits have contributed immensely to the popularity of polymeric sand here in Canada.
When did the Usage of Polymeric Sand Begin?
Stone pavers were originally laid on compacted earth, granite or some other sort of filler materials. However, considering the high maintenance required by such a construction, there was a need for creating a product that could minimize the time and effort needed by the homeowner to preserve the paver.
The first solution to this problem was cement, a material that was already in existence in the market. However, usage of cement led to two problems. First, cement formed a white patina called hazing that made the pavement look very unsightly. Second, since cement becomes very rigid after drying, it did not provide adequate space for stone joint movement to properly withstand the freezing and thawing of the harsh Toronto winters.
Over time, the cement crumbled in several places on the paver. Since winters in Toronto are very severe, conventional cement failed to perform successfully for stone pavers.
Sand is another common alternative for pavement bases. Although cost effective and functional, the problem with sand is that the particles at the joints move excessively when water flows through them. The lack of binding causes the sand between the joints to erode and disappear over time and the stone tiles to shift.
Polymeric sand was first launched in the market in 1999 as a complete solution to stone paver problems. The product was invented by a company named Techniseal. It was meant to be an improvement over the cement pavement base used during those days. Polymeric sand revolutionised the market of concrete and stone paver installation.
Advantages of Polymeric Sand
Deterrent to weed growth – The biggest advantage of polymeric sand is that it discourages the growth of weeds, moss and other such plant species thereby making maintenance a breeze. Weeds are some of the most resistant species on earth. They grow just about anywhere and under any condition. So, it is really tough to stop the growth of weeds. Polymeric sand is extremely successful in deterring the growth of plants.
In addition to weeds, polymeric sand discourages ant invasions as well. Ants can be a real nuisance in stone pavements. They burrow in the sand or earth and make their home in those gaps. As a result, stone tiles or slabs used in pavements become loose. By using polymeric sand, you can overcome this problem.
Deterrent to erosion – Erosion is one of the common problems of stone pavements. With time, the earth or aggregates used as fillers in between the stone slabs get washed away due to rain and wind. They are also washed away when you pressure clean the stone pavement.
When you use polymeric sand, erosion is curtailed to a large extent because it binds the stone tightly. No matter how heavy the downpour, polymeric sand will withstand the test of time.
Resistant to environmental conditions – Polymeric sand adapts to environmental changes thus making it highly durable. The uniqueness of polymeric sand is that it hardens when it is dry and becomes flexible when it is wet. So, it provides space for stone joint movement. It is largely resistant to damage that could be caused by the harsh climates in Toronto.
Durability – Polymeric sand binds stone slabs very efficiently. Since this material is resistant to weed growth, ants and other insects, erosion and environment conditions, they tend to remain strong for a long time. By remaining intact, they also increase the durability of your stone pavement.
Visual appeal – Polymeric sand can be made in any colour. Manufacturers introduce a colour pigment in the sand during the manufacturing process to give it a specific hue. So, you can choose a colour that is suitable for your premises and create a beautifully artistic stone patio, stone driveway or walkway.
Choose a Landscaper Experienced in Using Polymeric Sand
Polymeric sand is the best choice for stone pavers because it offers numerous benefits. However, polymeric sand is more expensive and more complicated to install. The benefits are also largely restricted to brands that offer high quality polymeric sand which tend to be more expensive. This is the main reason why not all Toronto landscapers use quality polymeric sand. If the landscaper you choose end up using low quality polymeric sand or is unfamiliar with the process, you could face problems such as poor binding or interlocking, movement of stone slabs and failed stone joints.
These problems can be easily avoided by choosing the right professional landscaper. Contact GTA Landscaping today to enjoy the benefits of a stone paver patio, driveway and walkway that does not require a lot of maintenance and will withstand the test of time. We specialize in stone installations using polymeric sand to ensure your pavers are not just beautiful but functional and durable.