What is Polymeric Sand and Does it Really Work?
Polymeric sand is a product made to fill the joints between pavers and flagstone. Its job is to help with the interlocking process, to resist weeds and give colour options for a cleaner appearance.
Many people have had bad experiences with old patios made with polymeric sand using previous technology, but the product has changed significantly over the past decade.
The Old Technology
About 10 years ago, most interlock jobs were completed with brick sand to stabilize the joints. Polymeric sand was invented because of the complaints from homeowners. The maintenance that brick sand cost the customers when weeds would enter their beautiful projects outweighed the costs that new polymeric sands cost during the installation process.
The first polymeric sands worked fairly well, but seemed to break down to the same consistency as brick sand in about 5 to 7 years. This is what most people remember as polymeric sand; because they grew up listening to their parents complain about paying a high cost to have the same problem return 5 years later.
What increased the problem in the last 5 years is the inability to spray round up to kill large areas of weeds. You can still get the pre-mix from your local box store, but it is usually very watered down, and it takes a lot of money to spray an entire laneway up to 5 times a year to control weeds. There are usually two solutions- get on your knees with a butter knife for hours and dig the complete depth of the brick, or lift and re-lay all of the product with new polymeric sand.
Many New Homeowners Have the Misconception that having Interlock is too Much Work
The failures of old polymeric sand technology has lead to a misconception of new homeowners being afraid of owning interlocking driveways or patios. “I don’t want a patio like the one my parents had, it is too much work”.
We often find that it takes a good education from our staff to explain why that is not a worry anymore in the interlock industry.
New polymeric sand is based on cement products that are added to the sand. New technology has made high-quality polymeric sands more resilient and self-healing. They even make high-performance sands for driveways and pool areas that have higher concentrations of cement to eliminate any chance of failure in high traffic areas.
The cement is the key, because it can crack and re-heal itself when it gets wet. When the old style sand cracked, it stayed that way. Soil was allowed to accumulate and weeds would start in these areas. Eventually the strength of the weeds would help break down the polymers, and your parents were left with unsightly weeds.
The other benefit of new polymeric sand is that it is strongest when it is soaking wet. This helps for those homeowners that like to clean their driveways or patios, because the new polymeric sand has no problem with standing the force of pressure washers.
Finally, for those who do not like maintenance, patios and driveways can be sealed for additional protection. Most homeowners are paying for a sealer on other concrete products anyway. Concrete companies make you do it to protect the concrete. Sealing interlock makes the cleaning of interlock a breeze, as there is less chance of staining and dirt and grime does not stick. Sealing protects the polymeric sand for even longer performance.
Most New Polymeric Sands are Guaranteed for Life
It is very important that you talk to a professional when you buy. The imitations may save you a couple of bucks now, but you already know the headaches your parents went through with that stuff. Keep your contractor honest & make them show you the guarantee on their products before you get stuck with the mess. If you have any questions about selecting the right materials for your project, contact us now.