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Paving Stone Sand Replacement DIY

June 20 2013

Paving Stone Sand Replacement – A DIY Project


At Handyman Supply we don’t just sell tools for handymen.  We use them too.  If you are a homeowner that has weeds protruding through the sand joints of patio paving stones or you’ve ever faced a client with similar problems read on to see what we did about our own backyard patio. 


At our house our paving stone sand was slowly washing away with yearly rains and we wanted a solution that would last.  For years my wife and I struggled every summer with weeds peeking through our beautiful paving stones around our pool.  We pulled weeds, sprayed weed killer and still those pesky weeds and grass kept reappearing.  When you think about a perfect breeding ground for weeds and grass, a moist sandy soil is ideal.  But sand is cheap and easy to install and often used with paving stones.  For our re-do we opted to remove the sand and replace with polymeric sand.  Polymeric sand is available at many home centers and landscape yards and come in a variety of colors.  I like to describe polymeric sand as the "grout” for your pavers.


This is a great DIY project that will save you money in the long run and requires a few tools you have or that are readily available at your local rental yard if you opt not to buy your own from us!  Read below to get started on making your paving stones trouble free.  Below I will detail the step by step process I used to replace regular paving stone sand with polymeric sand that will keep weeds out and not wash away even in the hardest of rainfalls. 


Step 1:  Pressure Washing.  Pressure wash the sand out of the paving stone joints down to the base the paving stones rest upon.  Be careful to not blast the paving stone base away as you do not want to disturb the paving stones.  A 2700 psi pressure washer http://bit.ly/19luRuv with a red 0 degree nozzle http://bit.ly/1axC1xl works best as this directs a fine blast of water to the joint. Note: take precautions such as a face shield or safety glasses http://bit.ly/16Q1zDt since the sand is coming out of the joint at a high rate of speed.  This is the dirtiest part of the project as you will get wet and sand accumulates on your body.  I opted for a face shield to help keep the sand out of my hair and had to hose myself down before I headed to the shower after the patio wash!


Step 2:  Surface preparation.  Now is the perfect time to level paving stones that have settled since installation.  Adding polymeric sand with uneven stones isn’t going to leave you a beautiful patio.  "Sunk” paving stones are easy to remove as they rest on a bed of sand or paving stone base.  If you have a few stones that need to be leveled I recommend paving stone base as opposed to sand because it will make the leveling process easier.  This is available at any home center that carries landscaping stones and products.  You may need to take out a few stones if several have sunk and sprinkle the paving stone base on top of the existing sand.  Make sure to tamp the base before resetting the stones.  I have found a scrap piece of a 4x4 works well if your area is not too large.  If you have a large area many rental centers have an 8”x8” or 10”x10” tampers available.


Step 3:  Polymeric sand install.  Use a medium bristle broom to "sweep’ the polymeric sand into the joints and broom in several different directions to get uniform coverage.  To ensure the sand is dispensed evenly throughout the joint use a vibratory plate compactor http://bit.ly/1973gkh and go over the entire surface (vibratory plates are available at your local rental store.)   Repeat this process one more time and sweep any excess sand off the surface.  If you have a gas or electric handheld blower this is a great way to get the last of the sand residue off the paving stones.  As a final inspection the sand should be approximately 1/8” below the surface after the final sweeping and blowing.


Step 4:  Water application.  Using a garden spray nozzle attached to a hose and from approximately 4 feet above the paving stone, apply a light mist of water over the entire surface.  This mist begins to activate the polymers in the sand and as the sand dries out it hardens like a grout.  Do note that rain will soften the sand but as the sand dries out it will harden like grout again.  After 3-4 minutes apply another mist of water to rinse any residue off the surface.  Hold the nozzle approximately 2 feet above the paving stones during this step.  You may repeat this step one more time but avoid pooling water on the pavers.


Step 5:  Final stage:  After the sand has been misted and rinsed the final time, use the handheld blower to blow any residue sand into the paver joints.  Do not let this residue dry on top of the pavers.


You are now complete and ready to enjoy your pavers with minimal future maintenance.  We sure are!








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