When I first started installing hardscape projects in the 1980s there were very few product choices from which to choose. These basic products provided the groundwork for what has quickly become a booming outdoor living industry. As the years have gone by, hardscaping has become a household term. A good deal of the major paver manufacturers have come out with many new and different choices, textures, sizes, & styles of pavers from which to choose. Many of these looks have come from European influences. For many years Europe had been way ahead of the North American hardscape curve, but now we are catching up!
There are now three main types of pavers. Continue reading this article to learn more about each type so you can make the most informed decision for your own landscape design!
Before you decide which pavers you want for your project, take some time learn about each type of paver that is available to you. We want all of our customers to feel confident about their decision before we even begin digging!
First up: slabs. Slabs are often (not always) thinner in thickness, but larger in scale than your standard paver. They can either have a smooth or textured finish, depending on each customers' preference. Slabs can resemble the following:
Wooden board used in decking
The possibilities are endless! Slabs are generally made by a process called “wetcasting,” which is a special process used by the different paver manufacturers.
The next paver type is standard pavers. Standard pavers now vary in many different shapes and sizes, but are typically smaller in scale and thicker when compared to most slab types. Standard pavers are 2 ⅜” thick, but some are thicker than that.
You can use most standard pavers on any driveway or roadway application. High quality pavers will hold up much longer than poured concrete or asphalt. These poured materials are rigid and unable to “flex” with the environmental elements like pavers can. Techo-Bloc, arguably the leading manufacturer of most hardscape products in strength and quality, guarantees their pavers against the use of rock salt. This is a huge deal especially in the Northeast where winters can be very harsh. Their materials were developed to withstand the harsh Canadian winters and exceed the strict standards set forth by the ICPI (the group that sets the bar for standards in the paver industry). Techo-Bloc has now expanded into the United States and has many manufacturing plants here-including one in our own backyard of Stowe, Pennsylvania as well.
Finally, we have permeable pavers. Permeable pavers are a pavement system that allows water to pass through its base and can assist rain water to be harvested for home use.This is a rapidly growing trend in our industry because of the need for water management and the benefits this system provides. There are also many different styles of pavers from which to achieve this process.There is a specific process to install permeable pavers that is different from a standard paver or slab install.
The best pavers will all have color throughout instead of just a top layer. The latest industry improvement is a weather protecting seal or finish in place on the paver from the factory. This further protects the material and prolongs its finish from the hot sun, driving rains, ice, snow, and, often relentless, winds.
Our area in Southeastern PA is widely known as one of the worst regions for freeze/thaw cycles in the country in most given winters. This means that during the winter months, the temperatures will change drastically from cold to warm and vice versa in a matter of 24 hours-and sometimes much quicker than that. This results in the clay-like soil we have reacting harshly to the frequently changing conditions throughout the winter. Clay holds moisture well, so the water rapidly freezes or expands. Once it thaws, it contracts or shrinks. This is all extremely manageable with the correct maintenance and care. Therefore, it is imperative that the base be done properly to prevent any settling or failure from this expansion and contraction.
We will be happy to share our process which includes a sturdy, permeable base that negates the freeze thaw cycles. It is imperative to choose a hardscape installer who stands by their work and provides warranties and referrals from past jobs. Solid Rock Landscaping is proud to offer a 5 Year Warranty on all of our hardscape projects. We hope you will choose us for our knowledge, experience, attention to detail and the old fashioned (but never out of style) hometown care that we strive to give every one of our clients.