Tag Archives: Paving Projects

pathway of pavers bordered by lawn

Do Pavers Add Value to Your Home?

People undertake home improvement projects keeping the long-term benefits in mind. Homeowners carefully choose renovations and additions that improve the functionality and also add value to the property. Kitchen and bathroom renovation, repainting, window replacement, and adopting ways to improve energy efficiency are a few ways to increase the value of a home. Potential home buyers look for the overall appeal of the house, including both interiors and exteriors.

Homeowners looking to update their exterior spaces often wonder whether adding pavers to the landscaping will increase their home value. Indeed, pavers can help improve the outdoor appearance and add to a house’s curb appeal. However, factors like the location, size, and condition of the house and how and where the pavers are installed are equally essential in determining a home’s value.

Pavers or paving stones are incredibly popular, and when designed beautifully, provide an excellent way to improve a home’s exterior appearance. There are several applications of paving stones in outdoor hardscaped areas, including patios, pool decks, walkways, driveways, and outdoor kitchens. Pavers are made using a variety of materials like concrete, brick, and natural stone.

How can pavers increase home value?

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5 Steps to Repaving After a Structural Repair

This article is a guest post, courtesy of Apex Waterproofing Inc. in Arlington, Virginia.

structural repair

Example of a Slab Installation

Home foundation repair is one of the biggest things so few of us are really mindful of. Who thinks about the foundation of their home failing? It’s a little bit like a sinkhole just opening up and swallowing you while you’re walking down the street. We all believe our foundation will be fine … until it’s not.

When an incident happens, the thought can be to just fix your home at whatever cost. Totally ignoring a lingering problem is a bad idea; so is just running around with a spigot full of money to fix problems you may not need to.

There are three important questions you should ask yourself first:

  • Is home foundation repair something that is covered in one of my insurance policies?
  • How deep am I going to need to go in order to ensure that this repair is effective?
  • Is this repair something small enough that I could do it myself?

Of course these and so many more questions are likely swirling around your brain. Don’t fret, though: Here are 5 steps to remember when you’re thinking of repaving and making an earnest structural repair in your home.

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PA Bluestone Flagstone – Shape & Textures

If you are considering PA bluestone flagstone as the material for your patio or other outdoor living project, you have several additional decisions to make: Shape, texture, color, thickness, and quality. This article discusses the options for shape and texture.  The range of shape and texture options is far greater than you might expect.Pattern Full Color - Shape

Two basic shapes are available:  irregular and pattern.  A piece of irregular flagstone is generally two to three feet wide by three to four feet long with a completely random amoeba-like shape.  Irregular flagstone is packaged in a pallet vertically or standing up which is why it is often called “stand-up” flagstone.  Pattern flagstone is cut at the quarry into squares and rectangles in a large selection of sizes.  Standard sizes (in inches) are 12×12 up to 24×36 in six inch increments (i.e., 12×12, 12×18, 12×24, 12×30, 12×36, 18×18, 18×24, 18×30, 18×36, 24×24, 24×30, 24×36).  Because of the range of measured sizes, pattern is also referred to as “dimensional” flagstone.  Larger pattern sizes are less readily available. Smaller patterns sizes are re-cut from broken pattern and used for tumbling only.

Flagstone - Thermal - TextureThree textures characterize flagstone: Natural clef, thermal, and tumbled.  Natural clef is the irregular somewhat wavy surface that is created by nature when flagstone separates or splits along natural fault lines.  Thermal refers to the effect created when flagstone is cut and then flamed to remove any irregularities.  Thermal is completely flat but has a slightly bubbly surface (almost like a manufactured non-slip finish) created by the flaming process.   Tumbled flagstone is literally tumbled in a machine similar to a large drier.  The tumbling process smooths the top and bottom of the flagstone and breaks off sharp edges leaving a soft rounded edge.

Both irregular and pattern are available natural clef, thermal, and tumbled.  Perhaps obviously, these combinations of shape and texture result in a huge range of options.  And, options can be combined, e.g., natural clef pattern patio with irregular natural clef sidewalk.  Be sure to see samples of the textures and shapes of PA Bluestone Flagstone you are considering before making your final decision.

Pennsylvania Bluestone Flagstone – The Basics

With the amazing proliferation of manufactured paver and imported stone options, it is easy to overlook local flagstone for your patio project.  Flagstone is a generic term for flat stone usually used for paving applications such as patios and walkways. In Pennsylvania, we use the term, flagstone, to refer to Pennsylvania Bluestone.  This layered stone is found only in eastern Pennsylvania and parts of northern New Jersey and southern New York.    Pennsylvania Bluestone Flagstone

Bluestone quarries produce a rich variety of stone which results from the variety in the stone as various depths in the quarry.

The upper crust of a quarry becomes Colonial wall stone used for dry-stacked or mortared stone walls.  In the next layer, the pieces of broken stone become increasingly larger resulting in what is commonly called garden path, or stepping stones.  As these pieces become larger and thicker, they are referred to as slabs, generally used for large natural steps or water features.

Once past these top layers, the most popular bluestone layers emerge.  First, irregular or stand up flagstone – large irregular pieces 1-3” thick.  These pieces are dense enough for paver applications but not yet dense enough to be cut into large rectangles.  Next, the stone becomes dense enough to be cut into huge cubes which separate naturally as they dry.  This is pattern flagstone, pieces cut into squares and rectangles usually from 12” x 12” up to 24” x 36”.  This natural clef flagstone is the most common patio product.  Pattern flagstone is sorted into 1” (which is really ½” – 1 ¼” thick) and 1 ½” (which is at least 1 ¼” but can be much thicker).

Pennsylvania Bluestone Flagstone PatioBut, there is still denser stone in the quarry.  These final layers are cut into thermal pattern, treads, and steps.  In these densest products, a saw cuts the exact thickness desired producing near perfect thickness versus the variety caused by natural clef separation.

Pennsylvania bluestone is not always blue.  Depending on the minerals in the stone, bluestone may be true blue, lilac, or, most common, variegated or full color.  Full color flagstone offers a huge range of beautiful colors, each piece unique: blue, green, taupe, lilac, brown, and rust.  It is this beauty which generally draws homeowners to this amazing stone.

Irregular, pattern, thermal bluestone can all be used for patios, sidewalks, and other outdoor paving applications.  Even driveways are possible with the thickest densest stone.  Flagstone projects may be wet laid, i.e., set in mortar on a concrete base, or dry set (most common), set in screenings or stone dust in a process very similar to manufactured pavers.

The Appeal of Travertine Natural Stone

Travertine is a beautiful natural stone in the limestone family. It is formed from geothermal springs or geothermally-heated alkaline waters. Although travertine exists throughout the world, the best known sources of patio-grade travertine are southeastern Europe (e.g., Italy and Turkey), western South American (Peru), and Southeast Asia (e.g., China).

Travertine Walkway

Travertine Walkway

Initially, travertine found wide use as an indoor tile. Its marble-like appearance created its initial appeal. Travertine use moved outdoors to become a compelling pool deck material when it was observed that travertine remains cool even in intense heat. And, when wet, travertine grips rather than slips. From pool decks, travertine expanded into patios and sidewalks, making it the perfect stone for patios.

Another appeal of travertine is coloring. The color of travertine is tied to whatever minerals happen to be washing through the water that the limestone is filtering when travertine is formed – generally light cream, gold, beige, pale grays. Shopping for travertine requires a high degree of flexibility. You will need to select a color family and then investigate what is currently available looking for the best match between your vision and what is currently in stock. If ordering material not yet removed from a quarry, you will be looking at 8-12 weeks lead time. However, most suppliers warehouse a good supply of beautiful material if you are flexible in your color choice.

Travertine Pool Deck

Travertine Pool Deck

The downside to travertine is that it is very porous. The tiny holes that riddle travertine contribute to its cool characteristic but also make travertine highly susceptible to cracking. Small cracks along color veins are normal and part of the beauty of the stone for patios; but, travertine can also display serious damage if not properly screened and shipped. The higher quality travertine is carefully screened and packaged at the mining site prior to overseas shipping. It is cost of sorting and shipping high quality travertine that makes it one of the more expensive outdoor project materials. Note: Even the highest quality travertine is only suitable for foot traffic applications…no driveways!

One final observation: As beautiful as travertine is in its natural form, sealing travertine makes it even more beautiful. Sealing will explode the color veins revealing even more of the marble-like drama of the stone. Make sure you select a sealer that is not film forming. With travertine, the sealer bonds to the stone and soaks in, it does not coat the stone.

For ideas, take a look at a few pictures of travertine projects.

Sealing Your Paver Patio

To seal or not to seal your paver patio is a key decision affecting both the look and the maintenance of your outdoor living space.

How to seal your paver patio

Note the distinct difference between sealed – unsealed patio pavers.

In terms of “look,” the range of options for sealing pavers has grown dramatically over the last two years. You can choose a “wet look,” a “color enhancing look,” an “invisible look.” Paver sealers can be water or solvent based. The look can be matte or gloss. Some sealers for pavers look great after one coat; some explicitly require a second application. There are pavers sealers that stabilize the sand in the joints of the pavers at the same time as enhancing the finish. Most dealers have displays or samples to show you what look each paver sealer will produce. There are no wrong answers here, pick what you like!

However, once you have committed to sealing your patio, sidewalk, pool deck or other outdoor paver area, you are also making a commitment to ongoing maintenance. A sealed surface can look great and require no re-sealing for several years. But the longevity of a sealed paver look can vary dramatically. How long the sealer will last depends on the use and the environment. Intense sun, salt water, heavy traffic, even damaging foliage can degrade the sealed look and force a shorter timeframe between re-sealing.

Some helpful hints (reminders) to consider when you choose to seal your pavers:

• Never seal pavers that still have visible efflorescence. This film is a natural occurrence which is part of the curing process for concrete pavers. If you seal before efflorescence has either worn off or been cleaned off, you are locking it into your pavers forever.

• Make sure you know how the sealer should be applied. There are a variety of application techniques. Some require very expensive, specialized equipment. If doing this yourself, pick something designed for DIY not something that requires a significant investment in application tools.

• Read the instructions. Check temperature requirements and check the weather forecast. Sealers do not apply correctly if it is too hot or cold or if they get wet too soon.

Hardscaping Projects: Understanding Patio Materials

The first segmental paving projects were roadways built by the Minoans in 5000 BC from (of course) natural stone. Today, similar dry-set segmental techniques create beautiful outdoor surfaces including driveways, patios, sidewalks, pool decks, and any other project one can imagine. Unusual PaversNatural stone options include materials both locally quarried and imported from around the world. Manufactured options have dramatically evolved over the last decade to both recreate the look and feel of natural stone as well as introduce entirely different colors, textures and shapes.

Today, you face a vast selection of materials from which to build your new outdoor living project. Manufactured products come in shapes as traditional as a 4×8 brick, as complex as simulated irregular flagstone. Colors range from solids to blends to tri-colors in shades designed to complement the natural outdoor environment. Textures include smooth, dimpled, rippled, weathered, wavy, non-slip, and simulated stone. The options are sometimes overwhelming.

Travertine PatioDue to the weight of concrete-based materials and the resulting cost of transportation, manufacturers serve a regional geography based on the location of their manufacturing plants. Consequently, the manufacturers we are familiar with in Eastern Pennsylvania / New Jersey / New York / Delaware will most likely be unknown in, for example, the Midwest. Locally, major brands include EP Henry, Techo-Bloc, and CST.

It is hard to imagine that you could not find a manufactured product that you would love. But, remember, there is still, centuries later, natural stone. Each geographical area has its unique natural stone options. In the Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania bluestone, also known as flagstone, is most common and popular. A flagstone quarry produces different types of material as the quarry becomes deeper and denser. The layers of a flagstone quarry produce wall stone, garden path, irregular flagstone, natural clef pattern flagstone, gauged thermal flagstone, tread stock, and steps. Colors vary from quarry to quarry; color veins that run through Pennsylvania bluestone include classic blue gray but even more popular is “full color” which includes greens, browns, taupe, rust and lilac.

Although beautiful, flagstone is more difficult to implement than manufactured products and can become quite hot in direct sunlight. A beautiful Flagstonealternative to local flagstone is travertine. A marble-like product, travertine is formed from water with high mineral content running through sand and limestone. It is not native to the United States but is imported from countries such as Turkey and Peru. Inexpensive in its native country, travertine is relatively expensive in the U.S. Its compelling features include a natural marbled color patterns, and consistently cool surface.

Other natural stone alternatives include granite, cobblestone, sandstone, and a huge variety of imported materials.

The key factors in selecting your patio material include: color, texture, shape, cost, availability, ease of installation, and, of course, your taste!

*Woodward Landscape Supply is an Authorized Dealer for: EP Henry Company, Techo-Bloc Corporation, Versa-Lok, Kennedy Concrete, CST Pavers.  Visit our website for more information on Hardscaping materials we offer for your Hardscape Design Landscaping.