Best Pavers and Paver Patterns for Driveways

Chuck Taylor, Belgard National Hardscapes Advisor, is one of the nation’s foremost experts on pavement systems. He joins us on the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog this week with advice for planning paver driveways.

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A paver driveway will boost your curb appeal and improve the value of your home. But as with any other home-improvement project, there are multiple considerations including paver style, color, laying pattern and overall design. The ultimate goal, of course, is to create a beautiful entrance to your home that is durable enough to withstand the burden of vehicular use without shifting or cracking.

Driveway Paver Styles

Aqualine™ Series Permeable Driveway Pavers
Aqualine™ Series permeable pavers.

The first choice is to decide whether the driveway will be permeable or impervious. A traditional paver driveway would be impervious, but there are multiple benefits to installing a permeable paver driveway. Water will never pool on the surface and a heating system can even be installed beneath the pavers to keep snow from accumulating. Also, some states and municipalities offer grants or tax incentives for installing permeable driveway pavers because the system reduces the burden on local stormwater collection systems and helps remove pollutants to improve local water quality.

Several Belgard pavers can be installed as either permeable or impervious, including Urbana Stone®, Mega-Lafitt®, Mega-Arbel® and Bergerac®. Belgard also offers multiple permeable pavers that were designed specifically for permeable installations.

The second choice is whether to go with a traditional, contemporary or stone-textured look. Belgard offers multiple paver styles in each category. Porcelain pavers can also be used to create an ultra-contemporary look, but will require a concrete base to support vehicular loads.

Driveway Paver Laying Pattern Options

The strongest and most traditional option is a herringbone pattern set at a 45-degree angle to the garage. This laying pattern provides the best interlock to prevent the pavers from shifting, especially for higher traffic areas.

Gaining in popularity, an ashlar pattern can also be effective for both residential and heavier traffic and provides a more contemporary look.

A running bond or basketweave pattern can work for standard residential driveways, but it is recommended to avoid these types of long, straight lines for heavier traffic areas, such as commercial driveways or subdivision common areas.

For permeable paver installations, it’s best to stick with ashlar or herringbone patterns due to the larger joints, which create an increased opportunity for shifting when used with running bond or basketweave patterns.

Driveway Paver Thickness and Base

Traditionally, driveways have been constructed using 80mm (3 inch) pavers with a standard 6″ base. However, it is becoming more common practice to use a lighter 60mm (2-3/8 inch) paver with a thicker base. In rainier climates, the required base depth can be up to 12 inches because of absorbent clays that can cause soils to shift when wet. With these types of site conditions, a thin base puts pavers in danger of separating or cracking from soil shifts. A layer of geo-fabric between the soil and the aggregate layer can add extra protection from this type of shifting, but a thicker base is still recommended. In arid climates, 60mm pavers can be successfully used for driveways with only a 4 to 6 inch base, as shifting clays are not a factor.

A sound residential concrete slab driveway without foundation cracks can be overlayed with 30mm thin pavers. In many cases, DriBond™ advanced mudset can be used to facilitate the entire overlay. Another option would be to DriBond the perimeter and sand-set the primary paver field, if there’s a possibility of shifting soils. Keep in mind that an overlay will add 2.5 to 3 inches of elevation to the existing slab, which could affect transitions to the garage, home, street or walkways.

Paver Color and Border Options

This Mega-Bergerac® driveway ties in with the color tones of the roof. A border was created by using only the large stones of this 4-piece system.

Current trends lean towards choosing driveway paver colors that tie in with the roof color of the home, either in the primary paver field or in a border. Borders can be easily created by using the same paver in either a different color or different laying pattern.

Another option is to choose a contrasting paver shape, texture, color and/or style for the border. You can also create double borders or work with your contractor to develop other creative design ideas.

Paver Driveway Embellishments

Focal points can be created using pattern embellishments. Typical focal points include the driveway entrance, the garage apron, or what’s called a “carriage drop,” or the spot where someone would be dropped off adjacent to the home’s formal entrance.

Adding character to paver driveways, a circle kit creates a classic focal point for more traditional driveway. Contemporary focal points can be created using squares or rectangles. For a Romanesque look, circle kits can be used to create a fan or a fishtail design.

 

Project Profile:
Heated Permeable Pavers

In colder climates, it’s not uncommon for driveways, walkways or patios to be installed with either a heated pavement system or a permeable pavement system to help control ice buildup. This homeowner, however, chose to combine the two systems into one to create the ultimate ice-management pavement system.

The heated permeable paver driveway immediately melts and drains snow and ice. A heating coil is hidden beneath Belgard Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers, which are laid at a 45-degree angle to the house to add visual interest to the elegant design. Decorative poured concrete curbing coordinates with the charcoal paver accents and sits atop edge restraints, adding both stability and a finished look to the pavement system. Matching curbing also lines the landscape beds throughout the property.

Benefits of a Combined Heated/Permeable Pavement System

With a heated pavement system, snow and ice melt immediately to prevent accumulation, but if the surface is not graded properly, or if the pavement settles or degrades over time, there can be pooling or other issues. In comparison, a permeable system allows melting snow to drain into the joints and down into the subsurface rather than remaining on the surface and refreezing into ice. Typically, a plow clears the bulk of the snow, ice melt is applied, and the water goes away. However, with a combined heated permeable pavement system, no plowing or ice melt is needed. All snow or freezing rain that hits the surface melts and drains immediately. Plus, concrete pavers are more durable than poured concrete or asphalt, ensuring increased longevity of a properly working system. After two winters, the homeowners report that the system is performing beautifully, with no water or snow accumulation whatsoever.

How Does It Work?

Heating cables are laid out in the bedding layer, beneath the pavers. Two heat/moisture sensors, each about the size of a tennis ball, are installed in the pavement to automatically turn the heating cables on when there is both precipitation and a below-freezing temperature. When the system is on, it takes a lot of electricity to heat the 4,300 SF drive and walkway, necessitating the addition of a 400-amp pedestal to operate the system. However, because the sensors require both moisture and freezing temperatures, the system is rarely on.

A layer of sand prevents the pavers from having direct contact with the heating cable, which is laid out in the bedding layer. With direct contact, potential movement by the pavers over time could wear through the cable’s protective coating and short out the entire installation. This is especially important in a vehicular application.

Installing the System

Although, the system was planned to include only 18” of excavation, abnormal site conditions required 36” of excavation. A variable base of aggregate was then installed – 27” of #2 stone, 4” of #57, and 2” of #9. A heating cable was installed within the #9 stone layer. In order to maximize the amount of heat transferred from the heating cable to the pavers, the stone separating the cable and pavers needs as much contact with both as possible. Crushed stone with fines transfers the most heat, but doesn’t drain, so it isn’t used in a permeable installation. Instead, the heating cable manufacturer, Warmzone Radiant, recommended smaller drainage stone (#9) because it has more contact with the cable and transfers more heat than larger stone. A layer of sand was then installed over the aggregate to create a cushion between the heating cable and the pavers. This was done to prevent potential paver movement from wearing through the cable’s protective coating over time, which could short out the entire system. The crew also took extra care during the handling and installation of the cable to safeguard the protective coating and ensure long-term functionality of the system.

walkway
A heated permeable paver walkway coordinates with the driveway to create a dramatic entrance to the front of the home. The heated Eco-Dublin pavers provide a safe environment for guests and eliminate the need for snow shoveling and deicing agents.

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2014 HNA Project Award Winner – Residential Concrete Permeable Pavers

Design/build Contractor: Grindstone Hardscapes, Josh & Kristen Graczyk, Owners
Location: Grand Island, Nebraska