Outdoor living projects sound like a lot of fun mainly because most of our holidays involve a day off from work and grilling a slab of meat in the great outdoors. A few years ago my wife and I decided to hire a designer to create an outdoor eating area and living room space. We were looking to expand our current small patio that was started and completed by yours truly the day before my daughter was born. (What a mistake that was!)
There are not enough pages in this magazine to list the problems we encountered with my hasty design and construction. I followed an emotional father-to-be nesting instinct because I wanted a place for my daughter and her mother to hang out and get some fresh air.
A few months passed and I started to see the flaws show up in different shapes and forms. One morning, while enjoying my new family and drinking a cup of coffee, I looked down to check out my handiwork and noticed the sand I used to fill the joints was missing. Upon closer inspection I realized that most of the sand had compacted and I needed more material to finish the project. So off to the store I went to purchase more sand.
Summer was approaching, nature was in full swing and she did not spare my patio. The early morning sunlight revealed how she could grow grass, weeds and all types of green plants in the brick joints of my patio. I knew I had to up my efforts if I was to do battle with Mother Nature, so I did what most people do. I made a beeline for the store and purchased an industrial size bottle of Round Up. Of course I got yelled at for squirting toxic chemicals all over the patio.
The stories mounted and the patio continued to plague us with problems. As time went by and our family grew, we decided to hire a professional landscape mason to design and build our outdoor project. I told him about the issues we were having with plants and ants destroying my joints. I was curious to hear what he would recommend.
He said, “Techniseal polymeric jointing sand for pavers is a high-tech mix of graded sand and binder, specially formulated for the filling of joints when installing pavers or slabs, or when replacing existing joints. Unlike conventional sand, it stays in place and remains stable.” He sounded just like a website and he was right. Check it out at techniseal.com.
He explained to us that when planning an outdoor living space the devil is always in the details. Most outdoor living spaces are designed to look as natural as possible, giving the feeling of being one with nature. Choose natural materials that are long-lasting, less reflective and remember that nature lives under your newly laid masonry outdoor substrate surface.
Concrete pavers, flagstone tiles or slabs of bluestone require the use of material to fill in the hundreds of joints once the material has been installed. Concrete is permanent. Sand or stone dust washes out and allows insects and plants to live between the joints.
What I like about the product we chose is if you have a problem with pavers that might need to be relaid, you can easily remove the joint material with a hose and reset the pavers with little to no pain.
For the past three years we have been enjoying our living space in the great outdoors, and I am happy to report our patio and driveways are performing well in New England’s harsh winters and summers. Choosing the right materials for the right conditions will provide long-lasting results. Remember, it’s not nice to try to fool Mother Nature!