Paver Installations

Paver FAQ's


Q: How to know when the installation is being done right?

A: As a conscientious owner, you want assurance that the contractor you hire will do a quality job. Asking questions can help. Several are listed below for your convenience. It is important that you take time to ask questions about all aspects of your project with a qualified contractor. An experienced and qualified contractor will always take the time to explain each step of the construction process and answer any questions you may have.


Q: How do I know what product, color, shape or size to choose for my project?

A: An experienced and qualified contractor will be able to show you a portfolio of previously completed jobs, provide you with product samples, manufacturers' catalogs and make recommendations based on their previous experience with projects similar to yours.


Q: I spoke to several different contractors and each one has a different method of installation. How do I know which method is right?

A: There are three basic types of installations; RCA or crushed stone, Concrete and Dry pack, which is a mixture of sand and Portland cement. However there is only one method approved by all paver manufacturers and that's the RCA (crushed stone) method. Pavers are designed to be installed as a "Flexible" system which allows them to expand and contract as a system during freeze thaw cycles. Placing pavers on a ridged base does not allow the pavers to expand and contract properly during freeze thaw cycles and may cause the pavement to fail prematurely. So when a contractor claims that he has been installing pavers on a ridged system (concrete or dry pack) for 30 years and has NEVER had any problems, think about the condition of the concrete or asphalt system that you are replacing and ask yourself if you want that type of system under your new paver project. The old ridged system didn't survive 30 years of freeze thaw cycles, do you think it will survive the next 30-20 or even 10 years without heaving or cracking, causing your new pavement to fail. Pavers installed on a RCA base actually have a higher load bearing capacity than concrete or asphalt because they spread the load over a greater surface area.


Q: Are there any specific guidelines to follow when installing pavers?

A: Yes Industry guidelines have been created by an organization known as ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute). ICPI guidelines were created to protect the consumer by leveling the playing field from one contractor to the next. The best way to understand the value of this is to make a comparison, for example; Do you hire any plumber or do you hire a "Licensed plumber? An ICPI "Certified" installer should always be used. ICPI set the Industry standards for the proper installation of Interlocking Concrete Pavers. All paver manufacturers require that their products be installed in accordance with ICPI standards and guidelines by an ICPI certified installer to qualify for their Lifetime warranties.


Q: I have an in-ground sprinkler system or would like to install a new sprinkler system is that ok?

A: Having or installing an in-ground sprinkler system is fine, however a good contractor should relocate an existing system or install a new system in such a way that they system does not saturate the paved area. Excess amounts of water are detrimental to any type of pavement, they can cause an over-saturation of the bedding sand or base material and potentially cause a joint sand washout. Obviously nothing can be done about the amount of rain water your pavers will receive but a conscientious contractor can control the water from a sprinkler system by diverting the spray nozzles away from any paved areas thus prevent any over-saturation of the area and prevent any potential water damage.


Q: I had one contractor tell me that it was a good idea to relocate the roof downspouts. Is this true?

A: Yes, any excess water should be diverted away from the surface and edges of any paved area to prevent any over-saturation problems that may occur. The relocation of roof downspouts will also keep your pavers cleaner, because any debris or roofing material that are washed down the spouts will also be diverted away from the paved area, thus reducing maintenance.


Q: Will the excavated area be a minimum of 6" (150 mm) wider than the actual paved area?

A: Yes, when the aggregate base is placed in the excavated area, the extra width will help ensure stability of the base at the edges, and provide space for the required edge restraints.


Q: How will the contractor grade the paver installation for drainage?

A: By sloping the paved area away from the house at a minimum of a 1/8 pitch.


Q: Will a Geo-textile soil reinforcement fabric be used?

A: Yes, a woven Geo-synthetic is used to separate the sub-grade material from the installed base material. This adds strength and durability to the new pavement.


Q: Will the aggregate base absorb or hold water?

A: No, when compacted properly, its density will minimize deformation and/or heaving of the paved surface during freezing or thawing.


Q: Will the base be aggregate, ranging in size from approximately 3/4" to sand?

A: Yes, this facilitates compaction to a required density while allowing proper water drainage.


Q: How will the aggregate base be compacted?

A: In 2-4" (200 mm) layers to achieve the maximum density and load bearing capacity. Each layer will require several passes of a compactor to achieve this.


Q: Will the bedding sand be loosely screeded to a depth of 1", but no thicker than 1 1/2" thick?

A: Yes, the loosely placed, even layer of washed, coarse sand provides a setting bed for the pavers. When the pavers are placed on the sand and compacted, the sand moves up into the joints. This causes the pavers to interlock and become level after compaction. Note: limestone screenings and stone dust should not be used for bedding sand.


Q: How will the contractor assure an even color mix of the pavers?

A: By taking pavers from several bundles or pallets at a time.


Q: Will an edge restraint be installed?

A: Yes, PVC edge restraints staked with 10" steel spikes around the perimeter of the pavers are essential for eliminating horizontal creeping of the pavers and loss of bedding sand. The PVC edging will outlast any type of concrete edging and will never crack. The PVC edging will also allow grass to grow right up to the pavers edge.


Q: Are the joints filled between the pavers?

A: Yes, with clean, fine sand or Polymeric sand. The sand should be dry sand so it will flow freely into the joints. Polymeric sand increases rotational interlock and also helps to prevent ant infestation, weed germination, wind and water erosion.


Q: What does "Interlocking Paving" mean?

A: Interlocking paving is a misleading term. What actually constitutes interlocking is really a dynamic function containing three different components. They are "rotational interlock" (resistance to tipping) "horizontal interlock" (resistance to spreading) "vertical interlock (resistance to sinking)".


Q: Should there be an inspection of the pavers after their compaction?

A: Yes, the contractor should inspect and replace any damaged or defective pavers.


Q: Should I seal the pavers?

A: Yes , even though pavers are extremely durable, it is highly recommended, but not required. Sealing, will enhance the color and prevent staining. Most manufacturers recommend that you allow a minimum of 60-90 days after completion of the installation before sealing or until there are no more signs of efflorescence. A more realistic time frame is closer to one year. Weather conditions and the amount of calcium hydroxide in the material will determine how long you will have to wait before all signs of efflorescence are gone and the pavers can be safely sealed. Also if the pavers are placed on a concrete or dry-pack base there will be a substantial increase in efflorescence. The additional calcium hydroxide trapped in the concrete or dry-pack must pass through the paver to the surface and then be removed either naturally or chemically. This additional process can increase the waiting period before the pavers may be sealed by 2 to 3 years before all signs of efflorescence are gone and the pavers can be safely sealed.


Q: How long do concrete pavers last?

A: Interlocking concrete pavers create a beautiful and durable pavement which should last a minimum of 30 - 40 years when installed correctly. Other pavements such as asphalt or poured concrete experience a much shorter life span.


Q: Can broken or damaged pavers be replaced?

A: Yes, you can be assured of replacement pavers by keeping extras from the initial job. When replacing a paver, scrape or wash out the sand around the paver to be removed. Use two screwdrivers to wiggle it out. Insert the new paver, replace the joint sand, compact the paver back into place with a rubber mallet.


Q: Will freezing and thawing damage pavers?

A: No, damage from ice is virtually non-existent. The joints allow the pavers to move without cracking in freeze and thaw cycles.


Q: If pavers need to be removed for below grade repairs, can I replace them afterwards?

A: Yes, unlike other pavements, concrete pavers can be easily removed and reinstated without any visual or functional changes.


Q: What about trees? I have many large trees on my property will the roots lift my pavers?

A: Yes. Tree roots will lift any type of pavement. One of the benefits of pavers is they can easily be removed, the tree roots removed and the paver reinstated at minimal cost without leaving any unsightly repairs.


Q: Will pavers be slippery?

A: No, their surface texture is ideal for obtaining safe traction in pedestrian, vehicular, and pool applications.


Q: How can I minimize sand washing out of the joints and also minimize weed growth?

A: There are several types of joint sand stabilizers available on the market today. The best method to prevent wash out and minimize weed growth is the application of Polymeric joint sand. There are also liquid sealers that also act as joint sand stabilizers that can be applied directly over a typical joint sand application. The best alternative should be determined by the contractor, considering application method, experience, manufacturer's recommendations, job conditions and budget.


Q: How do you go about laying paver next to a new foundation? Do you need a special fill? Do you need to wait a certain period?

A: Installing any new pavement next to a new foundation can always be tricky. Typically, new foundations are not back filled in layers and rarely compacted throughout. As a result, these areas are prone to settlement. A paver contractor needs to evaluate every situation on a case by case scenario. To encourage settlement of the soil before construction, some contractors will attach a pipe with a high pressure nozzle to the end of a hose and stick it in the ground at regular intervals around the foundation. This is then followed by compaction with a vibratory plate compactor. Geo-textile fabric should also be used to ensure a durable and long lasting pavement. Never start laying pavers until the sub grade and base are compacted to ICPI standards.


Q: Why are screening and stone dust not recommended for the bedding layer?

A: Screenings have excessive amounts of fines (passing the No. 200 screen), which compromises the ability to bear and distribute loads. These small particles hold excessive amounts of water, causing the bedding layer to become saturated. This liquefied layer then becomes unstable and can even pump out of the joints. Properly graded course multi grained sands conforming to ASTM C33 and CSA A23.1 will perform better over time. This type of sand is readily available from your local supplier. Most suppliers may refer to this product as washed concrete sand. Ask your supplier for confirmation from the quarry that this material complies with the ASTM or CSA, specification especially regarding the amount passing the number 200 sieve. It is recommended that the maximum amount passing this sieve is 1%.


Q: Can bedding sand be used for joint sand?

A: Yes, however a contractor needs to remember that washed concrete sand meeting the gradation requirements of ASTM C33 and CSA A23.1 is the only material the ICPI recommends for the setting bed. This being the case, some of the largest particles in the sand may be more difficult to sweep and compact into the joints. Still, some contractors prefer to use the bedding sand material for their jointing material since it means having one less material to control on a job site and they also feel that they achieve better interlock between the pavers.
There are some alternatives to consider. ASTM C-144 and CSA 179 graded masons sand contains more fine particles and tend to fill the joints faster, making final compaction less time consuming. Both materials are approved alternatives by ICPI. Using masons sand makes sense if the time saved sweeping and compacting the sand into the joints outweighs the costs and inconvenience of having two kinds of sand at the job site. If not, then consider using bedding sand. Some contractors feel that finer sands create tighter, less permeable joints.
A third alternative is prepackaged Polymeric sand. When activated with water according to manufacturers instructions, this sand will harden, inhibiting weed growth, insect infestation, and sand run off from the joints. Generally, Polymeric joint sands tend to cost more than C-33 washed concrete sand and masons sand, and requires extra steps and time, so this should also be estimated into the project costs accordingly.
Whatever the final decision may be, the ICPI does NOT recommend using stone dust, limestone screenings or other materials that do not conform to either C-33 or C-144 gradation specifications. For more information on joint sands, refer to ICPI Tech Spec Number 2, Construction of Interlocking Concrete Pavements.


Q: Don't concrete pavers cost more than ready mix concrete or asphalt?

A: The initial costs of segmental pavements over concrete or asphalt may be more, but it has been shown that the life cycle cost of an interlocking concrete pavement system over a 40 year period is actually less. This is because pavers make up a maintenance free pavement. Because of the system of sand filled joints, unlike concrete or asphalt pavements, an interlocking concrete pavement will not crack. If there is maintenance that needs to be performed underneath the pavement, pavers can be easily unzipped then reinstated when the work is done- as opposed to noisy and messy demolition, disposal and replacement of concrete or asphalt. Stains are easily treated as most pavers can either be cleaned with special cleaners or easily replaced. Even in the short run, there are many advantages to using concrete pavers. Unlike asphalt or concrete, which need time to dry or cure once laid, pavers can be enjoyed as soon as they are installed. Finally, adding in the benefits of many more color and design choices available, it is easy to see why pavers offer the best value.


Q: What are the differences between American and Canadian standards for pavers?

A: There are two sets of standards commonly used for pavers manufactured in North America: in the United States, it's referred to as ASTM-936, and the Canadian version is listed as CSA-A231.2. While all the differences are too numerous to list here, there are two very important ones worth noting.
First is freeze-thaw durability testing. ASTM-936 requires that units shall have no breakage or more than 1% dry mass loss after 50 freeze-thaw cycles in water as tested per ASTM C-67. With some exceptions the Canadian test is similar but with one important addition: the pavers are freeze-thawed in 3% saline solution to resemble the deterioration caused by de-icing salts.
A second difference is ASTM-936 requires that the compressive test strength of the test specimens to be at least 8000 psi. and that no sample test under 7200 psi. The Canadian standard allows for the average compressive strength psi. of the samples to be 50 Mpa. (7250 psi.), with no unit below 45 Mpa. (6525 psi.). The difference is that the Canadians test using a 1:1:1 dimensioned cube that saw cut out of the paver itself; while the ASTM standard allows for full or one-half units to be tested (minor variations are made for non-rectangular/square pavers). Many of the remaining differences involve the number of samples used, the frequency of the tests, and other details in the execution of both tests. To learn more about both ASTM-936 and CSA-A231.2-95, please contact the ICPI.


Q: What is the difference between "Clay Pavers & Concrete Pavers"?

A: Clay pavers are made with real clay that is mixed, extruded and baked in a kiln at very high temperatures and concrete pavers are made with a special blend of concrete and coloring that is compacted at very high pressures in a special machine.


Q: In order to prevent scuffing, is it necessary to protect the surface of concrete pavers from a plate compactor?

A: Depending on the type of paver used, some contractors use sand or geo-textile as a protective layer between the plate and the surface of the pavers. Protective mats for plate compactors are also available and have proven to be the best method. There is no specific guideline from the ICPI for this, please contact the paver manufacturer for specific recommendations for their product.


Q: Can Geo-textile be used in lieu of base?

A: No. Geo-textiles are designed to retain the intended load bearing capacity of a pavement and should not be used to decrease the thickness of the base. As a separation fabric, Geo-textiles prevent contamination of the base from the sub-grade and are especially helpful over silt or clay soils.


Q: I recently removed old pavement, and there is already stone underneath. If properly compacted, can I lay pavers over it?

A: This is not usually recommended. If the existing pavement is rutted, deformed, uneven or severely damaged, the base or sub-grade underneath the original installation is likely inadequate. Remember that the sub-grade and base are the most important part of an interlocking concrete pavement. Interlocking concrete pavers are designed to be installed as a flexible pavement, and as such, rely on load distribution in the base and adequate support from the soil sub-grade. Sometimes the stresses on the pavement are from below, especially in freeze thaw areas of the country, so even residential patios and sidewalks need to have a proper base. ICPI recommends a minimum base thickness of 4 inches (100 mm) for residential patios and walkways and 6 inches (150 mm) for driveways in non freeze thaw areas. In colder climates these base thickness are increased and most contractors will use 6 and 10 inches (150 mm and 250 mm) respectively. Gradation is another factor. The ICPI only recommends the use of base material meeting gradation requirements of ASTM-D2940 with 6 to 12% passing the no. 200 (80 micron) sieve. Remember the base installation is the most important segment of the entire installation process, use of the proper materials and installation practices are essential to achieving the most durable and longest lasting pavement available.


Q: What about snow removal and the use of De-icing salts on pavers?

A: Snow can be removed from the surface of pavers using plows, snow blowers, shovels and de-icing salts. All paver manufacturers highly recommended that you use a calcium chloride based de-icing salt; they do not recommend the use of "rock salt" de-icing agents on their pavers. The use of plastic shovels is also recommended to prevent any potential scuffing of the paver surface.


Q: What is that white haze on the surface of the paver?

A: Efflorescence, it's a naturally occurring condition in all concrete products and is usually more pronounced with darker colors. All concrete products contain cement which produces Lime or water soluble calcium oxide. Lime can also be in the bedding sand, aggregate base materials, or soil. Although concrete pavers are solid, strong, and very dense, they contain millions of microscopic capillaries that run from the interior to the surface. Moisture from rain, sprinkler systems, underground sources, poor site drainage, or dew enters these microscopic capillaries. Calcium oxide inside the paver reacts with the water in the capillaries and forms calcium hydroxide. This rises to the surface, reacts with the carbon dioxide in the air, and forms a white haze of calcium carbonate. When moisture on the surface of the pavers evaporates, the white haze of efflorescence becomes visible. Efflorescence will go away naturally over time when the supply of calcium hydroxide in the concrete paver is exhausted. Typically efflorescence will stop developing in approximately 12-24 months depending on moisture and weather conditions.


Q: Can efflorescence be removed without the wait?

A: Most paver manufacturers put chemical additives into the concrete mixture to reduce the likelihood of efflorescence. In most cases, they do the job. Completely eliminating the chance of efflorescence, however, isn't possible because it's a natural byproduct of hardened concrete. Efflorescence may be cleaned with commercially available cleaners specially formulated specifically for concrete pavers. Cleaning should be performed as soon as the efflorescence has appeared. It may reappear if any calcium hydroxide is still available in the concrete paver. The chemicals only remove the efflorescence from the surface of the paver, any remaining calcium hydroxide contained inside the paver will need to come to the surface and additional applications of the chemical cleaner may be required.
Note: pavers should not be sealed until all evidence of efflorescence is gone. Sealing prior to this will cause the efflorescence to be trapped under the sealer and the surface of the paver will turn white.
For more information on efflorescence, refer to ICPI Tech Spec Number 5 at their web site: http://www.icpi.org/techspecs/index.cfm?id=19&tech=05


Q: How hard is it to maintain pavers?

A: Pavers are designed to be almost maintenance free. The additional use of Polymeric sand in the paver joints will also greatly reduce the possibility of weeds, insect infestation and sand washout making the installation virtually maintenance free.


Q: What about cleaning? Can I pressure wash my pavers?

A: Pressure washing can be done but is not recommended to clean pavers for a few reasons; pavers can be damaged or marked if too much pressure is applied. An excessive amount of water pressure can actually embed dirt particles into the pavers surface, remove joint sand and increase efflorescence. The preferred method is to chemically clean the pavers. Different cleaners are available for all types of stains including oil, rust, paint tar rubber and efflorescence.


Q: Will my pavers fade? I don't want to see those little rocks in the surface.

A: No. Due to many technological advances in the manufacturing process, pavers that are made today will not wear and fade like the ones made just a few years ago. Most manufacturers have designed a special process that integrates a 3/8" special layer of very fine aggregate and pigmentation into the face of the paver. This facing will not fade as it wears and does not require sealing.


Q: Off the record, just using a ballpark, what is the going rate per square foot for installing pavers in my area?

A: While tempting, bidding projects by the square foot (sometimes even before seeing the project!) is a recipe for disaster for contractors. Every job is different, and so is every contractor. A successful contractor bids their company's price for a specific job, using labor hours for each job function and their own markups for overhead and profit. They do not quote square foot pricing simply based on competitive rates.


Q: How long does it take to install pavers?

A: Every installation is different and needs to be evaluated by an experienced contractor. There are a lot of factors to consider when determining how long a project may take such as: the size and scope of the project, placement of required materials, access for machinery, work flow, parking for construction vehicles as well as unpredictable weather conditions. All of these factors contribute to the length of the project and need to be determined on a per job basis. Due to unforeseen circumstances exact times for start dates, duration and completion dates cannot be given, these are usually estimated.


Q: How long after installation do I have to wait before I can start enjoying my new pavers?

A: When properly installed, you may begin to use your new pavers immediately, unlike other products such as: concrete and asphalt which may have an extended drying or curing periods, requiring you to wait days, sometimes weeks depending on certain conditions before they may be used..


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Perfect Pavers Inc.
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