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CONTRACTOR’S CORNER: Hardscape Installation Labor Saving Ideas

September 23, 2019

Across the nation, labor shortages are affecting the hardscape contractor industry, making it more important than ever to make efficient use of crew time. Even if the labor shortage isn’t impacting your market, crew efficiencies are a crucial part of profitability. These tips can help contractors turn jobs faster, reduce the length of disruption for homeowners, and maximize business potential.

Take advantage of wall construction innovations.

Often, extensive cutting is involved when building a freestanding wall, especially when needing to create curves or include channels for utilities. By using a wall product that offers a back-to-back installation platform, like Belair Wall® 2.0 or Diamond® 9D 2.0, significant time can be saved on installation. Belgard also offers the innovative U Start Base Block, which allows the base course to be installed 63% faster than with standard wall construction techniques.

2.0 wall installation compared side-by-side with a traditional wall system.
Get a head start on wall construction with U Start Base Blocks.

Invest in paver-placing tools.

Hardscape Paver Installation Labor Saving Ideas
AIRLIFT® tool by PaveTech®

Clamps, vacs, cups and other lifting equipment options have exploded in recent years. Not only will they save labor, they will also increase efficiency and reduce the chance for injury or fatigue. With larger format pavers continuing to grow in popularity, these tools will become essential to every hardscape crew. Companies like Probst®, Mquip® and PaveTech® offer a variety of paver placing equipment that can save valuable hours on the jobsite. For a special Belgard discount offer on paver-placing tools, click here.

Install modular outdoor living units instead of custom builds.

The Belgard Elements™ line includes three different series of modular outdoor living units that are not only beautiful, but engineered in a controlled setting, have a warranty, are shipped in pre-built sections and can be installed on a gravel base or slab within hours versus days or weeks. Typically, when an Elements product is sold, they are part of a larger outdoor living installation. Elements are a great way to add incremental value, increase the size of your projects and flip projects much more quickly.

Install a fireplace with 8 man-hours versus 80.

Save installation time on fire features by using prepackaged kits.

Hardscape Paver Installation Tips
Weston Stone® Linear Fire Pit Kit

Unlike the Elements products, fire pit and fireplace kits are completely constructed on the jobsite. The benefit is that they come prepackaged with all the blocks and hardware needed for the installation. This simplifies ordering, minimizes waste and cuts, and speeds installation by eliminating the guesswork. Kits that can be installed within hours include the Belgard Weston Stone® line of fireplaces and fire pits and the Eagle Bay® Dublin™ Traditional Fireplace Kit. Belgard also offers smaller hardscape fire pit kits through Lowe’s, like the Ashland Fire Pit Kit.

Consider machine-laid pavers for larger jobs.

Hardscape Paver Installation Tips Ideas
Lay multiple pavers at a time.

Machine-laid pavers have typically been reserved for commercial projects. However, with the labor shortage, they are something that should be considering for medium and large-scale residential projects as well. It doesn’t take long to recoup the cost of a paver-laying machine when you consider the average costs of a laborer, complete with Workman’s Comp, health insurance, vacation time, gear and other costs.

Use larger format and modular pavers.

Hardscape Paver Installation
Lafitt® Rustic Slab

Modular design and the use of large-format pavers are two outdoor living design trends that continue to grow in popularity. Due to fewer cuts and easier laying patterns, both trends present an opportunity to install large outdoor living spaces with a fraction of the labor that a classic small-format paver or curvilinear design would take. 

Overlay concrete instead of removing it.

Paver overlays present a tremendous opportunity to provide an updated look without all the expense of a complete renovation. It’s critical, however, to make sure the concrete is in good shape prior – as the quality of the base will impact the final product. Techniseal® dry mudset is a great product to use for overlays and can be used for 30, 60 or 80mm pavers. Once the base is cleaned, simply screed a thin layer (3/8”) of dry mudset, place and cut the pavers, and then flood them with water to activate the mudset. Typical driveways, for example, can be overlaid in a day or two with almost no mess or disposal. 

Choose pavers and wall products with false joints over natural stone.

Homeowners still love the look of natural stone. However, natural stone can be time-consuming to work with. Many Belgard paver and wall products offer the look of natural stone with natural textures and false joints that mimic multiple pieces within a single piece. These systems can be installed in a fraction of the time with less expensive labor rates as compared to masonry. Products that offer false joints include Mega-Arbel® pavers, Diamond® 9D Virtual Joint wall and the Tandem® Wall System.  

Get the contractor’s point-of-view on installing the new Tandem Modular Block system.

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