Concrete pavers are typically set in sand to create a stable and durable surface. However, not all sand is the same, and only one type will give homeowners superior performance for their driveway. Here is why we use polymeric sand to build durable driveways in each property’s landscape design in Lewis Center, OH.
What Is Polymeric Sand?
Polymeric sand—also called polymeric jointing compound—is a mixture of fine sand particles and polymer additives. As these polymers are mixed with water, they create a very strong binding agent that locks sand particles together, which helps secure the pavers and prevent them from shifting. When set, polymeric sand is a stronger binding agent than traditional hardscape mortar, and can be considered a permanent jointing compound that does not need to be replaced for the life of the pavers. It is commonly used for filling joints between concrete pavers, brick pavers, and natural stone pavers.
Benefits of Polymeric Sand
Aside from preventing pavers from shifting, polymeric sand also:
- Doesn’t wash out after heavy rains; this can happen with regular sand. That’s why it is suitable for use in areas with high humidity, sloping terrain, or the stresses of high vehicle traffic.
- Deters weeds from establishing themselves between pavers. Plants don’t like polymers, and although polymeric sand doesn’t guarantee a weed-free surface, it doesn’t create a hospitable environment for roots.
- Discourages ants from establishing their colonies between pavers.
- Reduces water absorption between pavers, to prevent “frost heaves” due to the freeze/thaw cycle. This characteristic does require the hardscape surface to be slightly sloped to allow for drainage.
- Comes in different colors for greater design options. For a dramatic look, choose a sand color that contrasts the pavers. For a more uniform and less busy look, choose a sand color that is the same or similar to the pavers.
- Polymeric sand allows the hardscape surface (patio, driveway, etc.) to flex with normal ground movement, unlike mortar, which is prone to cracking.
Challenges with Polymeric Sand
A drawback to polymeric sand is that it can cause a whitish residue to stain the pavers (efflorescence); if applied over wet pavers, polymeric sand can stick to pavers, and require scrubbing to remove, which can damage the pavers.
Efflorescence can be remedied. Generally it will naturally wear off in about two to three weeks, and any remaining efflorescence can be removed with a vinegar scrub. Pavers can also sealed before installation to help prevent efflorescence.
Polymeric sand must be installed in dry weather. Installing polymeric sand on wet pavers can cause the sand to stick to the pavers. Because of its high adhesion, it will then be extremely difficult to remove. Therefore, polymeric sand is best applied by professionals as they will carefully sweep the sand into place and closely monitor the amount of water used to set the sand.
How Fast Does Polymeric Sand Set?
Pavers set in polymeric sand will set within 12 hours if protected from rain. The paver surface will be ready to withstand foot traffic after 24 hours, and vehicular traffic after 48 hours.