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tumbled versa-lok - comments?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by steveair, Jul 13, 2001.

  1. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073


    Am finishing up a job that I used tumbled versa-lok on, and must say that I am not completely happy with the product.

    Very unfriendly to use. I am a person who likes things nice and square, all the block sitting solid on each other, and being able to have a solid to surface to glue on. The tumbled versa-lok seem to have failed me in many of these aspects.

    Was wondering what you guys think about them:

    My biggest complaints are these:

    1. A lot of blocks are TOO beat up - Some have such huge hunks taken out of them that they can't be used at all. You expect some blocks to be unusuable, but you would have to chuck 1/3 of each pallet if you only used the decent ones.

    2. DIRTY - Due to the tumbling process, they are just covered with dust......dust that can't be removed by sweeping or blowing. I glued cap to to them, but am going to keep an eye on how they hold up. It seemed impossible to get the block clean.

    3. Large gaps - again, due to the tumbling, I see some huge holes in the wall.....am wondering if dirt/sediment will be forever leaking out of the wall. Also, make it very difficult for construction of such things as stairs and stoops. Will not recommend using again for projects that requre structural intergrity.

    4. Cap doesn't match - why they haven't figure it out, I don't know, but why don't they make a tumbled wall cap to go along with there tumbled wall block.....would make sense, right?

    I actually found a good combination for this though.....used versa lok tumbled in hickory color and found that Techo-blok sandlewood color matched almost perfectly...... I used techo's cap instead.................MUCH nicer than that versa cap, and easier to work with.

    5. Cap doesn't sit right - even after trying to use the 'bad block' elsewhere for cuts and what not, I was forced to use some of the battered blocks on the top row. Some spots hard little surface area to fasten the cap to because 1/3 of the block was missing.

    Those are my main complaints. For my next projects, I will try not to use tumbled versa lok unless I have too. I think, for large walls that are in a distance (not seen close) and what not, they are alright, but for more detailed work, they are just too hard to work with and have no where near the possibilities of the other brands of manufactured 'antiqued' wall stone.

    Wondering if anyone else has anything to add to this.


    PS.. I know that tumbled versa lok is not meant to be 'structural' and meant for 'decorative' walls, but they are just a poor attempt of versa lok trying to get into the 'antiqued' market without coming out with a new line of block and using what they have already.
  2. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 1,277

    The color comment is an interesting one. Versa-Lok sells the specs (and maybe the dies) for it's block to mfgs all over the country, and it's up to those mfgs to make whatever colors they think will sell. I have two suppliers here that both make Versa-Lok, and they both make very different color schemes. But the caps DO match the standard units. So if your caps don't match, the local mfg is dropping the ball.

    As for using the block, alas, I haven't been able to get anyone to bite on the additional charge for those block. That's worthwhile info you're giving, though. I was really trying to get someone to sign up for a wall out of the tumbled, so I could work with it a bit and see how it behaved. I have noticed even in the mfg displays the dust issue. Several colors look virtually identical after tumbling, and the office staff at one place noticed it too and even washed some of the pavers, but it didn't matter.

    Steveair - was it standard units or their Mosaic?

    There are 2 similar systems I'd love to try out - Keystone has a tumbled, multiple size wall system that looks really nice, and Unilock has the Brussels Dimensional Stone.
  3. diginahole

    diginahole LawnSite Member
    Posts: 249

    Unilock also makes Roman pisa, the tumbled version of Pisa II. I have found it to be just as easy to work with as regular pisa II. While the wall units do have some heavly damaged pieces, most can be used for cuts. The coping however does leave alot to be desired, we use the regular coping in most cases. Brushing off the dust before glueing seems to be good enough to make them stick, but if it is sunny enough to let them dry we will rinse with the hose first. Last year Unilock started to add more color to tumbled walls so they look muck richer when first installed. I find that with time the dust does wash off so the color really show through. Without fail the customer will say the same thing as they do about the tumbled pavers, "That one has a chip in it",, and I must respond "You know, you paid extra for that".
  4. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073



    the problem I have with the versa-lok cap is not color related, even though they do look 'new' compared to the tumbled wall block which remains dusty for quite some time. my complaint is the cap looks out of place on top of the tumbled block being that it is not tumbled. I suppose you could take a hammer and rough up the edges, but it still doesn't look quite right.

    The techo-blok cap looks good, as it is formed 'antiqued', and not tumbled 'antiqued'. A much nicer product.

    As for price, this is what happend. I changed a few things on the project, which initially was for all techo blok walls. I added another 100 face feet, and wanted to make the numbers work for the people. Techo, which runs in the neighborhood of 12 and change a face ft, was just too much for them. Thats why I went with the versa-lok at 9 and change a face foot. It was all add on work so they didn't want to spend the extra loot on the techo and were happy with the look of versa anyways.

    When compared to other antiqued block, the versa is actually quite cheaper, which is a good selling point.

    Oh, and it was regular versa, not the mosaic system. I too am interested in that, and also interested in Belgards multi-size system. Just having trouble talking the client's into the extra money at this point and don't have a lot of experience with it to feel comfortable bidding a larger job out with it. Will have to 'play' with it on a small job some where to get a feel for it first.

    And diginahole, that made me laugh about the client complaining about chips in there 'already chipped' pavers......go figure! I how that one works too.

  5. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,361

    Just wondering who is your Versa-lok manufacturer? Our factory rep came down last week from PA to show the Mosaic wall. He says that the caps break in the tumbler so that's why they don't offer them. He recommended using a hammer on them to rough them up. The Celtic system from Belgard is nice, but expensive and can't accept geo-grid. For low, residential walls it works well.
  6. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073


    I use CST (concrete stone and tile) up in N. Jersey. I don't believe that they are producing mosaic wall stone yet, at least to my knowledge, in any kind of quantity. I don't think they even have a display set up yet, just some pics in their brochure.

    And yes, celtic is expensive, but with the trend these days, people seem to not mind the money. I've had good luck talking people into the extra expense of techo, so I believe I can sell the celtic also. Belgard just needs to get a few more distributors that are local to me first before I go jumping on that boat.

  7. Andrew Hardscape

    Andrew Hardscape LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    I have never used Versa-Lok's tumbled wall products.

    However I do know that Belgard's Celtik wall is vey easy to use and very consistant in size, which makes leveling a breeze.

    Lanelle, Belgard is in the process of engineering the Celtik wall so it can be used with Geo-grid, to build higher walls. At least thats what the reps from Balcon told us in Feb. at the meeting!
  8. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073


    figured I follow up an old thread with a few pictures of the job I was discussing.

    Again, this was the tumbled versa-lok with a Techo Blok cap unit.



  9. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073

    One more.....

  10. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    Thats some nice looking work! You ready to come out here? Have a job waiting for you:)

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