Installing the Proper Base for Concrete or Porcelain Paver Projects

As the saying goes, if you want something to last, be sure to start with a solid foundation. This definitely holds true for paver patios, walkways and driveways. We’ve all seen paver installations that are uneven and cracking. In most cases, the fault lies with an improperly installed base. Although soil conditions can certainly be a factor, the information below can help those do-it-yourselfers looking for insight on installing concrete or porcelain paver installations that can remain beautiful for years to come.

Standard Concrete Paver Base Installation

Step 1 – Excavation:  Excavate all the topsoil off the area where the project will be installed.  It’s imperative to dig down to the clay or subsoil.  If the subsoil in your project area has recently been filled (i.e. as a result of new construction), it’s a good idea to compact it with a large walk-behind compactor before adding the gravel.  Otherwise, if it hasn’t recently been filled or disturbed, you can begin adding the aggregate layer. When calculating the depth of the excavation, you will need to add the thickness of the paver itself, 1” of bedding sand, and the necessary gravel recommended for the type of project you are installing.

Step 2 – Aggregate Layer:  Typically, this layer consists of crushed gravel that will vary in size from  3/4” down to dust. For walkways and patios, you will need to add 4-6” of this material. For driveways, you will add 8-12”.  If you have heavy clay subsoil, it’s also a good idea to add a geotextile underlayment. This woven layer of fabric will prevent aggregate from mixing with the soil below. This is especially important in driveway applications. In colder climates, it may be necessary to add more aggregate base material to allow for the freeze/thaw conditions present there. It doesn’t hurt to add more base material if you are unsure. Once the material has been placed, you will want to rake it off evenly.  It’s critical at this phase that the gravel be pitched away from the house to allow for water runoff.  Typically that slope will be between 1/8” and 1/4” of drop per linear foot (or more for driveways, depending on the location).

Step 3 – Compaction:  For this, you will need to rent a plate compactor with a minimum of 5,000 lbs. of force.  Most local rental companies will carry this piece of equipment.  Ideally you will want to compact in lifts (layers of gravel) no greater than 4”-6” at a time.  Doing more than that will result in an improperly compacted base.

Step 4 – Bedding Layer:  Next, you will add and level 1” of bedding sand.  The easiest way to level the sand is to purchase two pieces of 1” metal or plastic electrical pipe conduit.  Place the two pieces of conduit down, and using a 2 x 4 board, screed the sand smooth.  Keep moving the tubes down as you go, making sure to fill the voids where the tubes were by smoothing the surface with a trowel.  You are now ready to lay the pavers.

For additional or site-specific design, consult your local Belgard representative or a civil/geotechnical engineer experienced with flexible segmental pavement design.

 

Overlays – Installing Pavers over Existing Concrete

Thin concrete pavers or Belgard Porcelain Pavers may be placed over an existing concrete slab or a new concrete slab (4,000 psi  and 4” thickness minimum) on a sand or DriBond setting bed. DriBond will actually adhere the pavers directly to the concrete slab, similar to how thinset adhesive works for tile. It goes on as a thin dry powder (3/8” thick max). Once the pavers are installed, simply soak the pavers with water to activate it. If just using sand, you will want to install an edging restraint as shown in the above diagram.  Prior to installation, verify that the distance from the top of slab to the doorsill will accommodate the proposed paver and setting bed thickness. If the concrete won’t allow for the thickness of the new overlay material, many rental companies will rent small grinding equipment. As long as you are left with a minimum of 4”, you can remove some of the top layer of the existing concrete. The other option would be to cut and remove the concrete near the transition and re-pour it at a lower height. If the site is located in a freeze-thaw zone, consider any heave movement in your height calculation. Thickness of the concrete slab should be 4”-6” with consideration given to heavier loading (RV, travel trailers, trucks, etc.) to determine the correct depth of concrete base and any internal reinforcement.

For additional or site-specific design, consult your local Belgard representative or a civil/geotechnical engineer experienced with rigid segmental pavement design.

Optional Bases for Porcelain Pavers

Porcelain pavers have the option to be installed over a standard base, permeable base, sand, grass, concrete or pedestals. For additional information on installation of porcelain pavers on these various bases, and for special instructions regarding accommodating vehicular loads, download the Belgard Porcelain Paver Installation Guide.

Building Patios for Disabled Veterans

The Tunnel to Towers foundation honors both firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on September 11th, and our nation’s military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country. One of the organization’s programs, Building for America’s Bravest, builds single-family housing for disabled veterans across the country.

Belgard has partnered with Tunnel to Towers and Building for America’s Bravest by providing all materials and installation of backyard patios on the 12-15 homes scheduled for construction this year.

“Belgard is incredibly honored to lend our backyard living expertise to the men and women who have given back so much for our country, so they can fully enjoy their new homes,” stated Wade Ficklin, President APG West/Canada and Tunnel to Towers project coordinator.

The first patio was completed in Virginia in March, with pavers donated by Anchor South, an Oldcastle company, and installed by a group of Belgard representatives with assistance from contractor Chris Ianndrelli with All Seasons Landscaping and Irrigation, who installed the base. The 425 square foot patio was constructed with Lafitt® pavers (Bella color) installed in a running bond pattern and bordered with Old York™ pavers (Charcoal color). The design for the patio was created by the Belgard Design Studio, who made recommendations on the products and installation pattern and provided design renderings and materials estimates to help facilitate and expedite the project.

A Belgard team member wets the patio with a hose to activate the polymeric jointing sand, the finishing touch for the first Building for America’s Bravest patio.

“I was proud of how everyone pulled the project together on such a short turnaround,” said Sam Bond, who coordinated the volunteer effort on behalf of Belgard.

Paver installation was led by Ben Hulvey and Brandon Ford of the Belgard sales team for Anchor South, along with additional volunteers from Anchor South and the Belgard retail team.

The group installed their second patio this month, this time for a newly constructed home in Sumerduck, Virginia, with the project led by Belgard sales team members Ben Hulvey and Todd Stiffler. Assistance on this project was provided by Marc Salafia of The Stone Center of Fredericksburg, who provided all of the base materials, and Jim Mauro of M&M Hardscaping who assisted with hardscape installation.

“Jim Mauro was especially excited to have the opportunity to be part of this charity installation because he has a brother who is a firefighter and other family members who are servicemen,” said Hulvey.

This second patio also included a retaining wall to control the slope of the backyard. The project included 940 square feet of pavers:  Lafitt® Grana Slab (Bella color) trimmed with Old York™ Pavers (Charcoal color). Bordering the project is an attractive 272 square foot Celtik® Wall (Bella color).

The second Virginia patio includes a covered area, shaded by an overhead balcony, and a multi-tiered retaining wall.

This same group plans to install three more Building for America’s Bravest patios in the Maryland and Virginia area this year. The remainder of the projects will be installed by other Belgard teams in various locations across the country. The Belgard Design Studio will continue to work with each group to provide designs and materials needs.

The next patio installation is currently in progress in Pompey, New York, with two additional patios currently in the design phase in Texas. Additional locations planned through the end of the year include sites in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Maryland, Florida, Boston, Upstate New York and Southern California.

Belgard Hits it Out of the Park at Stadiums Across the Country

Take me out to the ballgame! While football may have surpassed baseball as the nation’s most watched sport, there’s still something special about enjoying a bag of peanuts and a chili cheese dog on a breezy spring day while watching what was long considered “America’s favorite pastime.” But whether you’re planning on heading to the ballpark this weekend or in the process of renewing your season football tickets for the fall, there’s a chance you’ll be walking across Belgard pavers to get to your favorite stadium this season. Belgard is proud to have installations at multiple ballparks and stadiums across the country. Here are just a few.

University of Tennessee Neyland Stadium

Product: Aqua-Bric
Product: Aqua-Bric® permeable pavers

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Nashville Sounds First Tennessee Park

Product: Aqualine™ permeable pavers
Product: Aqualine™ permeable pavers

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Pan Am Plaza (Indianapolis)

Product: Moduline™ pavers
Product: Moduline™ pavers

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NRG Stadium (Houston)

Product: Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers
Product: Eco Dublin® permeable pavers

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US Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)

Product: Moduline™ pavers
Product: Moduline™ pavers

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Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park

Product: Mega-Bergerac® pavers (during installation)
Product: Mega-Bergerac® pavers (during installation)

Pool Deck and Patio Trends

Modern pool design has become somewhat of an artform. There was a time when all backyard pools looked basically the same, but that time is gone. Today’s pools incorporate a variety of materials and design techniques to make each creation as unique as each homeowner. If you’re planning to build a pool, here are some inspirational ideas based on some of this year’s most popular pool and patio design trends.

Vanishing edge: The latest craze in pool design is the vanishing edge (sometimes called an infinity edge or negative edge), which produces the visual effect of water extending to the horizon.

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Pool deck: Mirage® Quartziti porcelain pavers.

Fire features: There’s just something ethereal about combining the elements of fire and water that appeals to many people on a deep level. Fire bowls, fireplaces and fire pits make an excellent addition to a poolscape, both from visual and practical standpoints, as a fire feature provides a way to enjoy your pool deck during months when it’s too cold to swim.

Pool deck: Dublin Cobble. Fire pit: Countryside.
Pool deck: Dublin Cobble® pavers. Fire pit: Countryside Fire Pit Kit.

Water features: Water features come in a variety of styles, including waterfalls, fountains, spillways and more. The image below incorporates two different types of waterfalls: a natural stone waterfall and a spa waterfall.

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Pool deck: Mega Bergerac® pavers

Back to nature: Many homeowners choose a design that looks like it was carved out of nature. This can be achieved by incorporating natural stone, or as in the design below, concrete pavers that emulate the look at natural stone. There are a number of added benefits to choosing pavers over natural stone, including decreased materials costs, decreased installation costs and non-slip surfacing.

Pool deck: Mega-Arbel® pavers
Pool deck: Mega-Arbel® pavers

“Green” options: Eco-friendly design strategies are one of the top-growing trends in outdoor living. With a pool design, this can be achieve through the use of a geothermal or solar heater, as well as permeable paver decking. Permeable pavers allow rainwater to filter through the joints instead of running off into ditches and storm drains. A permeable system can even be designed to harvest and recycle rainwater.

Pool deck: Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers.
Pool deck: Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers. Patio terrace: Belair Wall®

Mixed materials: Eclectic designs are quite popular, achieved by mixing a variety of materials and styles together. The design below incorporates multiple styles of pavers, tiles and natural stone. Wood grained porcelain pavers also add the look of natural wood to the design, but offer added benefits that can’t be achieved with natural wood: durability, slip-resistance, fade-resistance and stain-resistance.

Pool deck: Catalina Stone pavers and Mirage® Sundeck porcelain pavers.
Pool deck: Catalina™ Stone pavers and Mirage® Sundeck (wood look) porcelain pavers.

Multiple elevations: Retaining walls can help control erosion, convert sloped terrain into usable space, and in the case of poolscape design below, build multi-level terraces for seating, gardens, dining areas, water features and more.

Pool deck: Mega-Lafitt® pavers. Walls and terraces: Country Manor retaining wall.
Pool deck: Mega-Lafitt® pavers. Garden walls and terraces: Country Manor® Wall.

Decorative edging: There was a time when your choices were limited to brick or bullnose coping. Keep in mind that both of those options are still popular choices. But now, creative  designs and alternate edging materials are becoming increasingly popular, as well.

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Edging: Aquastyl® coping. Decorative border: Dublin Cobble® pavers. Pool deck: Lafitt® Rustic Slab

Extended outdoor living areas: Modern poolscape design tends to expand beyond the water’s edge and into extended outdoor living areas, which are often designed and decorated to look like an outdoor version of an indoor space.

Outdoor fireplace: Bristol Belgard Elements. Pool deck and patio: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.
Outdoor fireplace: Belgard Elements Bristol Series. Pool deck: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.

Less is more: While some are drawn to expansive poolscapes, others are opting for a contemporary minimalist look. The design below evokes the timeless look of a classic pool with the contemporary twist of an additional modular stepping stone patio.

Pool deck and stepping stones: Mirage® Stones 2.0 porcelain pavers.
Pool deck and stepping stones: Mirage® Stones 2.0 porcelain pavers.

Lighting: One simple way to add ambiance of a pool design is to incorporate interesting lighting. This can be done throughout the landscaping and in the interior of pools and spas.

Pool deck: Dublin Cobble® pavers.
Pool deck: Dublin Cobble® pavers.

New Exclusive Belgard Line to Launch Nationally at Lowe’s

For more than 20 years, the Belgard name has been synonymous with stunning, durable pavers and retaining walls that professional landscapers and designers can trust. Now, Belgard has partnered with Lowe’s® Home Improvement stores to make beautiful outdoor living even more accessible to homeowners by bringing these professional grade products to over 1,100 locations nationwide with a new do-it-yourself collection sold exclusively at Lowe’s.

The new product line includes three featured paver systems and a wall system that are all a reflection of the premium Belgard offerings that have historically only been available to contractors and dealers.

Providence™ Paver

The three-piece Providence™ Paver system offers the antiqued, rustic look of tumbled stone.
The three-piece Providence™ Paver system offers the antiqued, rustic look of tumbled stone. In the installation above, all three pieces were laid in an ashlar pattern to create a random look. The square piece was used alone to create a border.

Trinity™ Paver

The modular three-piece Trinity™ Paver system boasts clean, modern lines and a smooth surface.
The modular three-piece Trinity™ Paver system boasts clean, modern lines and a smooth surface with larger scale pieces to create a contemporary look.

Portland™ Stone

Portland™ Stone is a single unit that incorporates false-joint technology to simulate the look and feel of random flagstone.

Palmer™ Wall

The two-piece Palmer™ Wall system features crunch technology™ and has the textured look and feel of natural quarried stone. Constructed walls can be topped with Palmer™ Wall Cap to add a finished look, as pictured in the above installation.

The above featured lines will be in-stock items available nationwide*. In addition to these featured product lines, there will also be a variety of special-order Belgard pavers and wall products available online for in-store pickup. Each of the featured and special-order product lines come in multiple color options that will vary by location due to localized manufacturing, which utilizes local aggregates.

For more information on the partnership between Belgard and Lowe’s, visit www.lowes.com/belgard.

*Stores that are unable to stock the featured product lines will offer in-store pickup for online orders.

 

Color and Tone Considerations When Choosing Hardscapes

When selecting hardscapes, it’s important to spend some time considering the options. Belgard hardscapes are warrantied to last the life of the home, which means your new outdoor living space will become an extension of the home itself.

Hardscape Color Options

Belgard pavers and retaining walls are manufactured at multiple facilities across the nation using local natural materials and aggregates. Because of this, the exact colors available will vary by region, so it’s best to ask your contractor or dealer to show you samples. That way, you can get a better idea of the exact color palette and see how the colors look when paired with the exterior of your home and any permanent structures or existing outdoor living features, such as a pool.

Cool Versus Warm Colors

In general, cool colors are considered to be calming and include blues, greens, and deep purples. Whereas, warm colors are associated with excitement and energy and include reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Neutral colors (like beige and gray), can lean to either warm or cool, depending upon the color blend. In terms of hardscape selection, the choice to go with warm or cool color blends is typically a personal preference; however, you should choose a color scheme that is complementary to that of existing structures.

Fun with Paver Colors and Patterns

You can also take advantage of color options to create interesting and unique paver designs, like laying out pavers to create the look of a faux rug or integrating bold color choices to create intricate designs. Belgard also has a variety of Porcelain Paver options that emulate the look of wood and other natural materials.

Tone Considerations

Tone refers to the darkness or lightness of a color. Again, choosing lighter or darker tones are mostly a matter of personal preference; however, there are some additional considerations. Darker tones can make a space seem smaller or more cozy, and lighter tones can make a space seem more open and bright. Another consideration when choosing hardscapes is that lighter tones will reflect more of the light and absorb less heat, whereas darker tones (especially really deep tones) will absorb more light and heat.

Continuing the Design Beyond the Hardscapes

After the hardscapes have been installed, you’ll need to continue making color choices in terms of furniture, area rugs, cushions, throws, light fixtures, umbrellas, accessories and landscaping. Keep in mind that bigger spaces allow for bolder design choices, and bold colors and patterns are becoming increasingly popular. According to the leading interior and exterior design experts at Pantone, popular color choices this season will be oranges, pinks, golds and rich floral hues. Although it’s often wise to use bright colors sparingly indoors, outdoor settings can handle more color without feeling cramped. Even if the majority of your outdoor design is muted or monochromatic, adding a few accents of turquoise, mango, lime or some other bright, cheerful color will make a statement and brighten your outdoor space. Pantone is also predicting a resurgence of black and white designs, as well as an increase in unexpected color combination and pixilated, digitized patterns for fabrics and rugs.

Design scheme examples

Red pillows and pink flowers add pops of color to complement the warm color scheme of the Urbana Stone® and Bergerac® pavers.
The cool muted color scheme softens the look of the Castle Manor™ seat wall and Weston Stone® fire pit to create a relaxing environment.
Vibrant cool tones and patterns contrast with the warm hues of the Lafitt® pavers and Brighton Elements fireplace to create an eclectic design.