In this tutorial, we're going to show you how we installed permeable pavers at ideabox® in Salem, Oregon, in the form of a stone parking lot extension.
What is polymeric sand?
A quick Google search will tell you that “Polymeric sand is a fine sand that is combined with additives that form a binding agent when exposed to water. Silica is such an additive and is often used to help lock the fine sand particles together.”
As we mentioned before, polymeric sand is a different product than the sand you would get from your backyard sandbox or the sand from the beach. Polymeric sand adheres to itself better than regular sand does, which is important from the varying elements a patio or hardscape will see over it’s long life.
When it comes to sands, there are a few options to choose from, such as a natural fine dry sweeping sand or a synthetic sand blend. However, polymeric sand is unique because it will allow the joints to expand and contract with the elements like hot sun during the summer and below-freezing temperatures in the winter. It will also bond your pavers together so weeds and insects don’t make their home between each slab or stone.
Let’s explore more about polymeric sand and what some of the benefits and drawbacks might be for your hardscape project.
5 benefits of polymeric sand
Why should you use polymeric sand to finish your paver project? There are several important reasons.
1. Polymeric sand improves the overall durability of the hardscape you install
Durability is a major selling point for pavers, and employing polymeric sand will just extend the lifespan and stability and resilience of your project.
2. Unlike regular sand, polymeric sand will not be washed away by heavy rain
This is especially crucial if you live in one of the regions of the Pacific Northwest that experiences a high amount of rainfall. Regular sand is much more likely to slowly trickle out of the joints, leaving your pavers looking sloppy.
3. Polymeric sand is a weed deterrent
Pesky moss cannot grow, grass and dandelions cannot take root in polymeric sand. It helps keep weeds from living as an eyesore in between the otherwise beautiful paving stones.
4. Polymeric sand is a insect deterrent
Most of us have childhood memories of poking around in paver joints and concrete cracks to disturb an ant nest… and getting attacked by an angry family of red ants. Polymeric sand is an ant deterrent! The little creatures cannot burrow down in the cracks. This will leave your pavers clean and free from pests.
5. Polymeric sand comes in a variety of different colors
You can have the freedom to pick the color that best complements the aesthetic of your hardscape, and not have to worry about the joints in your pavers looking boring or not matching the rest of the outdoor space. Standard colors come in Gray, Tan, and Black, along with some unique blends of those same colors.
The drawbacks of polymeric sand
Are there any drawbacks to polymeric sand? The benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks, but it is important to know what you are dealing with when you are implementing the polymeric sand into your paver joints.
1. Polymeric sand hardens quickly
This can be a benefit—you don’t have to worry about it creating a mess that you can’t get rid of, and it makes the finishing process simple. However, you should NEVER install polymeric sand when it is raining! Rain activates the polymers before the sand is in the joints which will ruin your hardscape by producing a haze and adhering sand grains to the surface of the pavers.
2. Polymeric sand, when installed improperly, will ruin your hardscape
Let’s state that again. When installed improperly, polymeric sand will ruin your hardscape. Polymeric Sand has many benefits, however, the biggest drawback is that it can be easy to mess up, especially if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid the common mistakes by following the manufacturer’s instructions and educating yourself on the best process to use.
So, is it worth it to use polymeric sand?
If in doubt about which product to use, try sweeping sand! It is simple to use a push broom to push sweeping sand down into the joints between your pavers and fill in the cracks, preventing those annoying ants and stray weeds from making themselves at home.
The combined benefits of durability, lasting strength, and pest deterrent makes it clear that it is worth it to go with the option of buying and implementing polymeric sand instead of sand from your backyard sandbox. It is key that you take necessary precautions to make sure the sand is installed correctly, but it will be worth it in the long term to use a product that is known for being better quality, long lasting, and an eye catching finish to your hardscape.
Plan your perfect paver project
If you’re ready to start the process of installing pavers, consider using polymeric sand. When you buy paving stones from Western Interlock, you can easily add it to your order when you purchase your pavers..
The next step is to take our Paver Finder quiz to find the perfect paver for your project. If you would like additional help and inspiration for your hardscape installation, learn everything you need to know about installing your own paving stones with our DIY video tutorials.