To compact or not to compact, that is the question

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by White Gardens, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    So, I know it's a recommendation to compact your pavers after you've put in the poly sand.

    A few other scapers I've talked to say that they could go either way on whether to compact or not.

    My only concern is that I don't want my pavers too tight, as I remember the post about cracking paver sidewalks.

    So, what are your guy's thoughts on this aspect of a paver install ?? What is your view point and why?

    Thanks for all the help, the project is going smoothly.
  2. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    Yes on the compacting. If you dont work that sand down in there good it might just remain on the surface joint and work out much sooner. As far as the cracked pavers, IMO that isnt the norm as much as unique situations involving moisture contents and freezing. I've always compacted before and after on new installs and havent had any problems.
  3. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Yes, compact. It's not a question.
  4. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    Pavers yes...but with some stone work it depends on what it is...

    Why? it locks the pavers to the bed and edging and stabilizes the sand bed. The sand bed is for drainage, when the pavers are compacted over it the sand stabilizes so it can drain without displacement remember it is just screeded not compacted, the last compacting also will reveal a low paver that would/could go unnoticed and cause a call back for a low paver.

    If you are pargeing the walks with concrete instead of snap edging do not compact afterwords compact before.

    If you are using snap edging compact afterwords. If the pavers are light in color use strips of cardboard to protect the pavers from compactor scuffs or have ample enough poly to protect the paver, also don't be one of the guys that rush to water the poly in take a little extra time ensuring that their is absolutely no loose poly where it is not supposed to be. Remember the last compacting is on very low idle
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Thanks for the replies.

    I figured that compacting was the way to go, but wanted to get other opinions about the process.

    I'm not sure why others wouldn't do it, but logic tells me to do it. Stillwater brought up the best point, and that is to compact in order to get my bedding sand to tighten up. The HO was curious about the sand and was trying to tell me to use a little as possible. (somewhere around an 1/8th of an inch). I tried to explain to him that even with the most properly laid base that it wasn't possible to use that minimal of an amount.

    The plan is to use 1/2 to 3/4 inch conduit rails to screed off my sand. I figure that will give me a + or - 1/4 inch of bedding sand when installed.
    Luckily I took the time to make my base as smooth as possible so I might actually be looking at + or - 1/8th of an inch for the sand.

    Yesterday before I was done, I took my level and threw it around on random sections of my base and I really couldn't believe that I was able to lay the base as flat as I did without any major hills or valleys in the base.
  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    With all due respect,

    No, the *bedding sand* ABSOLUTELY IS NOT for "drainage". It has NOTHING to do with "drainage".

    The 'bedding sand' is just that - it for *bedding* the pavers.

    Any drainage is up to the competency / wisdom of the contractor. Achieved via sloping the pavement, routing water away, etc.

    As far as compacting.....well, we've been a full time, full fledged paver installer for 13 years, now. No, we're not a yard cutting company that squeezes in a few pavers here and there. We have Hundreds of patios, walks, pool decks, driveways - under our belt. In the last 13 years, I'd guess that we have only ever compacted joint sand into place maybe 2, maybe 3 times. We build a superior product, and no problems. Ta each his own, we're an established, small company, I'm hands on, we have repeat clients, and to this day I have not seen anything that necissitates the need to do otherwise.

    Most paver installers come and go, barely lasting 4-5 years. You can read alotta labels and take alotta ICPI courses, but 4-5 years isn't enough time for a contractor to acquire 1st hand knowledge and or wisdom :)

    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
  7. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Try this next time you doubt compacting as a proven method:

    1. walk on the freshly pavers and twist your feet as you walk, you should notice a slight movement in the pavers as they are flowing on top of the sand.

    2. Compact following industry guidelines.

    3. Walk on them again trying to move or scuff them. BIG DIFFERENCE! no movement, almost solid concrete feeling. I sometimes have homeowners do this test, and even they can notice it.

    (notice I am talking about running a compactor over freshly laid pavers that have 1" of angular concrete sand below, and poly sand on top to settle in. I run the compactor over many times, sweeping and sanding. I protect the surface with an old dump truck flap which is wired to the bottom of the compactor.

    If you are not compacting now, you should. Vibrations cause the sand to flow up like a fluid between the pavers to cause interlock. Each sand grain moves up the sides of the pavers thus increases the number of sand grains imposing a frictional force on each paver.
  8. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    Over the years I've seen some pretty interesting paver installs by others where all one can do is shake their head in disbelief.

    We do not compact the joint sand, and yes - our pavers are as firmly in place as possible. Could be a result from compacting the pavers in cross directions?

    Like I said, ta each his own. Seriously though, we're not talking a special science. Cobblestone roads have been around long before the invention of the automobile, and now suddenly there's amazing ways to perfect the art of the 2nd or 3rd oldest profession! We're talking bone dry sand being dumped between dry pavers......
  9. asalow

    asalow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    we do it some. it does make the sand fall in the cracks better. to say it is a neccesity, not sure. i have done it both ways, both work. the only reason i like doing it is because of those seemingly never ending holes that seem like they take forever to fill or the gaps that look like they are full but as you walk around the sand falls in. compacting cures these. was at a conference where a "professional" was brought in to show us how to do it. yay! he built a small patio while we watched. he ran the packer over the patio with out a skid plate or anything, it was leaving scrapes and broke a few bricks. he improved it and took that as a chance to show us how to replace bricks if that happens. some of our product we use is like a 1 7/8" i never touch that with a packer, to delicate.
    try it both ways, do what you are comfortable with and works for you
  10. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    Normally I would ignore a post like this and not dignify it with a response. But your tone is egotistical. Apparently 13 years is not long enough for you to know and understand the entire function of a paver bed system. now since you are tossing out numbers and you have no idea who I am, I have been in business since 1978 creating extreme landscapes that is most likely is longer than you have been alive so unless you have a time machine you might not want to compare your projects or number of completed projects with mine I have no clue why you would be quoting 4-5 years. It is starkly obvious your post has more to do with benefiting your ego than to contribute to a quality discussion on paver installation. knowing that Paver joints are not entirely water tight I would like to ask you what happens to that water- yes limited as it may be that does migrate through the joints where does it go? but your statement on bed sand having no roll in drainage what so ever disqualifies you from further discourse so please going forward just ignore my posts. Some take this more seriously than others.

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