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Settle the Debate- are you poly or not?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Hayduke, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. Hayduke

    Hayduke LawnSite Senior Member
    from Oregon
    Messages: 411

    Poly sand that is. I used it for my first 3 or 4 patios ten years ago, but have long since abandoned it as an overpriced product that does its job for a year or two, but then basically just turns into inert dirt, since it is mostly extremely fine sand with a polymer that inevitably will wash out in a rainy climate. Once the polymer washes out, that stuff grows moss and weeds like plain old dirt. I use bagged silica sand or concrete sand during the dry season when I can get it bulk from the yard and it is dry....I think it stays in integrity much longer than poly sand, as it has larger granules.

    The problem with silica or concrete sand is that it is larger and in some cases, despite our best efforts, takes a few weeks to totally settle into the paver joint. While poly sand, because it is graded so fine, settles in immediately. The clients are usually most scrutinous in the first few weeks, which is why I think contractors still use poly sand....
    hort101 likes this.
  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,782

    As someone who started putting down pavers long before poly sand was ever thought of - I can tell you I’m not a believer.

    Before poly sand came along we used silica sand. Bone dry silica sand. We didn’t have any issues with applying silica sand. And as recent as last year I’ve been to some of our old jobs and I’ve seen great results 15+ years later.

    Something I don’t like about poly is that contractors will sell it as a weed controller. They will tell home owners that poly sand keeps vegetation from growing in the joints. That’s not accurate. Poly sand was never intended to be a weed inhibitor, it was intended to be joint stabilizer.
    hort101 likes this.
  3. hort101

    hort101 LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from S.E. New England
    Messages: 21,440

    Its sold as a "maintenance free " grout

    Ime like most other maintenance free gimmicks its positive features are exaggerated

    Just like weed fabric having weeds once it has them its worse then not:wall:
    Cam15 likes this.
  4. cotyledon

    cotyledon LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 716

    Not poly. Hate the stuff
    hort101 likes this.
  5. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 17,645

    weeds literally grow in rocks,
    poly sand has no organic content, therefor cannot support plant life, the soils are blowing in the wind, this is how weeds grow in rocks.
    There is no such thing as "no maintenance"
    You need to train your customers that they need to maintain their hardscape and stop calling you because they are lazy.
    Up sell them on maintenance.

    Weeds and moss aren't poly sands fault.

    I have installed poly sand on patios over 16 years ago that is still fine.
    You can install the poly sand and then also seal the pavers (for extra effect) and it seems to last a bit longer when it comes to erosion; but nothing is permanent.
    Ive seen aggressive weeds gone unmanaged bust up a concrete slab.
    In fact is you have skeptical customers google for pictures of the olympic city in Brazil, Those games werent even that long ago and that place looks like land of the lost.
    What the plant life has done to the hardscape is amazing.

    Everything needs maintenance.

    Customers get all cagey with you sometimes because you're telling them your product wont last?
    Thats not what youre saying, what youre saying is you use the same product any of the competition can buy too, theirs is not made from magic materials and if they are telling the customer otherwise, then rest assured they are telling tall stories just to make a sale.
    Why should they chose your product and service?
    Because your Shizz looks bad azz, thats why.

    I used poly sand in sloped areas because it lasts longer than just "sand" it comes in different colors than sand and has a more trick look.
    On flat (or mostly flat areas) where customers havent ransomed their first born for the trickest look, I use regular sand and its fine.

    If you want a trick, try mixing in dimension or casaron with your sand...its a weed preventer/killer.
    You need a pesticide license to use it, but you can reapply every year.
    Then your patios dont get weeds or moss.

    Its just one more upsell.

    Ultimately, Poly sand is just a tool. It sits there in your tool box until its the right time to use it.
    There's nothing "wrong" or "right" about it.
    If you dont want to use it, don't.

    The only time I say dont use it is when you have weather like Seattle and its constantly raining, that stuff is a bear and a half to put down if there is any moisture. (what a mess)
    Cam15 likes this.
  6. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,070

    Finally someone with common sense and knowledge about the product, I agree 100% with you TP
  7. OP

    Hayduke LawnSite Senior Member
    from Oregon
    Messages: 411

    TP said a lot there AztlanLC.

    I am wondering what points you agree with and what your experience has been. I am only trying to improve my products and services. And hoping to see this forum gain a little traction, as it seems a bit scarce. And I know it is something every hardscaper deals with on any dry set paver project, which is 99% of our hardscape work....poly or not
  8. Cam15

    Cam15 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,077

    I haven’t done much hardscaping at all, but I’d love to get into it. Correct me if I’m wrong but sand you can just brush more in the cracks as needed? Poly is a bit trickier to apply, but can you still just brush more into the cracks every couple years/as needed?
    Sorry if it’s a stupid question, just trying to better educate myself.
  9. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,070

    In my opinion, he hit all the important aspects to poly sand and I can tell based on experience not just coming from someone that installed once or twice and had bad results, I probably use it in 100,000 sqf of pavers or more for the 18 years I did hardscapes, I'm sure I tested at least 10 brands and my favorite was gator and technical and I had issues with both as well, with gator was the haze which they fixed couple of years after, with techniseal it was no properly hardening, it seemed that we went from very very slow misting to a heavier water spraying but once we figure out the best method and stick to it we had very good success and lasted 3-4 years, the problem I have seen many times some people put in charge of the sanding to the less talented crew or is the last thing they do and want to just go home, believe it or not that should be done by someone with common sense and understanding of what's expected.

    Poly sand has come a long way like many other things in hardscape I'd recommend calling your sales rep and have him stop by and teach your guys the proper way to install it.
    Cam15 likes this.
  10. Mac-s Lawn & Snow

    Mac-s Lawn & Snow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 604

    IMO it depends somewhat brick and installation. I like it for tumbled brick and brick with larger radius corners. Also like it for circle kits and soldier courses that aren't mitered-where there are gaps between the edge of bricks. In heavy clay with water where you are expect frost heaving-its a waste of money.
    Cam15 likes this.

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