Paul Lucas Landscaping
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702 Zeletta Drive, Akron OH 44319   I   Phone: (330) 825.9900  I   Fax: (330) 825.9900  I   paullucaslandscape@gmail.com

Hardscape Links

Hardscaping with Pavers, Concrete and Wall Block

 

Modern Hardscape Construction

PL has been installing sidewalks before the exsitence of any type of engineered standard was instituted. Today, the annual training seminars that we attend take a more structural approach to the construction process. This has led to a higher quality installation as well as a much longer lasting one.

 

Construction Options/Methods For "Paved" Surfaces

PL Landscape installs 3 types of paved surfaces. These three types are:

 

1) Concrete Pavers installed on a compacted gravel & sand base (as per ICPI).

2) Concrete Pavers installed on a 3" concrete base and

3) Stamped Concrete

 

Before choosing a method you must first consider the challenges of building long lasting paving surfaces in Northeast Ohio. Extreme freeze thaw, abrasive road salts, snow plow abuse, steep terrain and water drainage are all important considerations for the design of these surfaces. Read over the descriptions below to educate yourself on the basic construction of each.

 

Concrete Pavers installed on a gravel and sand base.

ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute) teaches and preaches this method. However, there are some important considerations to look at before you choose to do it this way. All of the nice glossy paver books will show you a neat little construction drawing that specifies a landscape fabric layer, 4" of compacted gravel, bedding sand, and then the pavers restrained by some sort of edging. What that little drawing doesn't consider is the condition of the subsoils. If you build a walkway or patio just like the book says...ontop of loamy, loose topsoil, the job is going to look terrible after a few freeze thaw cycles.

 

IT IS CRITICAL to excavate down to solid clay and then fill whatever amount of gravel it takes to build up a solid footing. In some cases I have seen jobs that have deep topsoil beds...or soft soils that go down as much as 24". This can DRASTICALLY effect footing material quantities and pricing. If we need to excavate out 1-2' of topsoil to hit clay, we would then need to "fill" again with structural compacted gravel to build up our solid footer. This can result in MASSIVE amounts of gravel if done properly.

 

Concrete Pavers installed on top of a 3" concrete base.

PL Landscaping started installing patios and pavers utilizing this method ten years ago. Depending on the situation, it generally costs a little more but offers the best structural integrity of any method here. This method addresses the subsoil stability concern stated above. In this method the paver area is excavated up to a foot deep with consideration of drainage (how will water escape from beneath the surface area?). Drainage gravel is installed and compacted to build a solid base on which concrete will be poured. Forms are set and the concrete is poured atop the gravel base. Pavers are then laid directly on top of that concrete surface. Border pavers are "glued down" to lock everything into place. Special water tight poly sands are used in the joints to provide a surface that sheds water rather than absorbing it. The concrete beneath will enevitably crack over time but will not effect its job of providing a solid base for the pavers. This method prevents ANY future settling and is a wonderful method if you want a long lasting install past 20 years.

 

Stamped Concrete

We have yet to see any concrete pad more than 15 years old that has not cracked in some way or another...no matter how little the cracks may be. When hairline cracks develop, water/moisture will undoubtedly enter and freeze thaw slowly starts to deteriorate the surface of the concrete. It may be 10 years, 20 years, or even 30 years....but one thing is certain...it will start to crack eventually.

 

The biggest difference between concrete pavers and poured concrete is the PSI (pounds per square inch) rating. This is a measurement of the strength of the concrete. Poured concrete from a local manufacturer is typically rated between 3,000 and 4,000 psi. Quality pavers such as Unilock Brand are constructed from concrete mixtures rated to 15,000 psi. The small paver can be up to 3 times stonger than that poured slab. When you factor in chipping, scratching, etc. The paver is going to be 3 times more durable if installed properly.

 

Another limitation of stamped concrete is mixed colors. The current trend in paving is to mix material patterns and color ranges to create intricate inlays and border treatments. Stamped concrete can not achieve the same level of color and pattern variation you get with pavers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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