of tightly fitted paving units on a granular base is very
old. The first segmental roads were built in 5000 B.C. by
the Minoans. With free labor and military dominance, the Romans
built the first interstate system over 2000 years ago. Since
then almost every culture continues to use segmental pavements.
developed high efficiency machinery for the production of
concrete interlocking pavers in the 1960’s. Production technology
quickly spread to England, Europe, Australia, New Zealand,
and South Africa in the 1970’s.
Germany produces over one billion square feet (100 million
square meters). In the mid 1970’s interlocking paver technology
hit Canada and quickly spread to the United States. As of
1994, North American sales of interlocking pavers reached
160 million sq. ft. While this represents significant growth
over 20 years, it is small in comparison to the other 4 billion
sq. ft. sold globally.
pavements are flexible pavements. Flexible means that loads
are distributed through the base by point-to-point contact
and interlock between the aggregate. The base protects the
soil subgrade from deforming under loads the base moves slightly
when put under heavy load then returns to its original position.
This gives them a distinct advantage over rigid forms of pavement
such as poured concrete and asphalt, which tend to crack more
readily should the base move from loads or natural settlement
due to weather. Interlocking pavers are highly resistant to
abrasion, freeze - thaw cycles, deicing salts, chemicals and
spills of oil and gasoline, which can quite literally melt
asphalt. Interlocking concrete pavers are ready for immediate
use after installation, there is no need to wait for curing,
or dry of the surface and are quickly and easily repaired
without any special equipment or materials.
important component of any paving project is the area
that no one will ever see, this is the subbase. This is the
area below the layer of bedding sand that provides the structural
support for the paving surface. It has been compared to the
chassis of a car or the human skeleton, get the subbase wrong
and the whole pavement will soon fall apart. The thickness
and necessity of subbase will depend to a great degree on
the soil and environmental conditions and surface traffic
requirements. This material will vary in thickness from 2"
- 6" of 20mm minus gravel, with the thicker base required
for driveways or soft soil conditions and the thinner base
for walkways and patios. The subbase must also be free draining,
as standing water can create a myriad of problems. When compacting
the soils and base, it should be done in lifts or layers of
no more than 3" at a time. If the lift is too deep the
soil or base may never reach full compaction, therefore not
fully supporting the layers of paving above. If soil conditions
are extremely poor or traffic loads are to be severe, a geotextile
fabric may be required to further spread the load over a larger
area and reinforce the soils. All grading of the project should
be achieved through the subbase layer to attain proper surface
drainage. Under no circumstances should the sand layer be
used to pickup grade changes.
The subgrade should be well compacted by a vibratory plate
compactor or drum roller.
The subbase should then be laid in and compacted in 3"
sand layer can now be laid in a consistent layer of 1"
well-graded sharp sand, and screeded to form a perfectly
flat smooth surface on which to lay the pavers.
The pavers may now be laid, taking care not to disturb
the bedding sand layer. It is best to start your laying
of the pavers from a corner of your project, working out
on the diagonal. String lines are very helpful at this
point to keep your lines of pavers straight.
When you come to edges where cutting may be required,
simply leave gaps and continue laying all of your large
areas first, coming back to cut your pavers later.
After all of the pavers have been laid and cut, an edge
restraint must be applied to retain both the pavers and
the bedding sand layer.
Compaction of the pavers into the bedding sand layer comes
next. This done with a small plate compactor, compacting
the entire area several times in both directions. This
will create the lockup of the pavers, binding them together.
Well-graded fine dried sand is then spread over the surface
of the pavers and swept to fill the joints; with one more
pass of the compactor your project is complete and ready
fairly new to the market are ‘ PAVER LIGHTS’, these
can be installed anywhere regular pavers are installed. They
are used to guide you through pathways, driveways, and walkways;
around pools and patios or anywhere you may require an accent.
You can drive directly over them and as they are low voltage,
they are perfectly safe even around swimming pools. They can
be used in conjunction with other low voltage lights or can
run on their own transformer
of segmental paving must be restrained in some manner to hold
not only the pavers in position but also the bedding sand
layer. There are many ways to edge your pavers: pressure treated
wood, reinforced concrete curbs, PVC plastic paver edging
or an existing structure. The compacted subbase must extend
well past the rear face of these edge restraints to provide
pressure treated wood had been used however it can easily
swell up causing splitting and checking. It also can be very
hard to support curved areas.
concrete curbs can be a great solution, while being a bit
expensive and time consuming to put in, they provide superior
strength and flexibility while providing a nice accent around
the perimeter of the pavers.
edging such as ‘Edge Pro’, ‘Pave Edge’, ‘ Diamond Lok’ and
‘Snap Edge’ are specifically designed edge restraints for
the interlocking industry. They are low in cost, maintenance
free, flexible, and extremely strong and will not crack rot
or deteriorate. They are easily installed using 10" galvanized
spikes or special galvanized landscape stakes. They are installed
below the soil line so are completely hidden upon completion
of your project.
Styles and Shapes
are two main pavingstone manufacturers in British Columbia
Abbotsford Concrete provide high quality pavers using
a ‘face mix’ process. This consists of a backing mix of larger
aggregate combined with a smooth facing mix of very small
aggregate, providing a denser colour, superior wear surface
and stronger paver than most others in North America. While
the surface appears to be painted on it is actually approximately
3/8" thick. Face mix was first used in 1985 during the
construction of Expo 86, where over 1,000,000 square feet
were installed. Many of these areas remain today around B.C.
Place and throughout the Plaza of Nations area. Pavers also
provide the checkered Start/Finish line of the Vancouver Indy
are a myriad of shapes, textures and colours available from
both suppliers. Only your imagination can limit the possibilities
of design when it comes to pavers, circles, fishscale patterns,
mosaics, even large scale graphics can be inlaid in your project.
have problems with weed growth. Weeds and grasses rarely grow
from under the pavers, but rather weed spores and grass seed
can get caught in the crevices between the pavers, germinate
and root down the cracks.
is a white salty looking material which sometimes comes to
the surface of any coloured concrete surface, while it does
not effect the integrity of the paving project it can be rather
concrete pavers look so much nicer when they are wet, it brings
out the rich colour you saw in the brochure, colours can mellow
in time (that’s a fancy way of saying colours can fade over
solution to all of these problems can be found in clear acrylic
is rolled or sprayed over the pavers, providing a protective
coating which will bind the surface sand protecting from weed
growth, stop water absorption, preventing efflorescence migration
and give a wet look all the time enhancing colour.
Sum it all up
segmental pavers are properly installed, with the correct
subbase, compaction, edging and sealing they can enhance the
value of your home or property for decades to come.
Thomas owns Creative Bricks n Blocks Ltd. a landscape
supply store in North Vancouver and is a Certified Instructor
Pavingstone Institute, a international association dedicated
to the setting of high standards of paver manufacture and