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How does polymeric sand even work and why we use it?

As time progresses technology improves everything, even something as seemingly simple as sand. When a patio is laid down there are always spaces between the brick. These spaces for many years were filled with basic brick sand to help prevent shifting of the pavers. As well as debris and weeds from invading the spaces and ruining the look of your patio. The problem with basic brick sand is that it doesn’t do as good of a job as it should. It doesn’t bind to the pavers to help prevent shifting, it does not prevent weeds very well. It will have no effect on stopping ants from getting under your patio, digging up your base and causing pavers to sink. It also washes out easily, especially around the edges or in a swale where water is getting directed to from other areas of the patio. The introduction of polymeric sand really revolutionized the installation of patios and increased the value of the product.

Polymeric sand was invented in 1999 by Techniseal . It gets its name from its chemical reaction with water. A polymer is a group of molecules joined together that is mainly comprised of carbon and hydrogen. Fine sand is mixed with polymer additives (chemicals that will allow the reaction with water to occur) in polymeric sand to allow it to bind with itself and other surfaces once water is added. Once the reaction has taken place the sand binds to itself and the pavers locking the patio together. This will greatly reduce shifting in comparison with brick sand as there is a real bond between the sand and the bricks and not just filling the spaces. It also prevents water from flowing in between the pavers, ants from digging through and weeds from pocking through much more effectively.

Are there any downsides to using polymeric sand in your patio? Of course, nothing is ever perfect and this product is no different. The main downsides to polymeric sand are that when it starts to lose its effectiveness 5 or so years down the road it can be difficult to remove the sand from the joints as it binds very well. Making the second application a challenge to get it right. It will take much longer to pressure wash the joints of polymeric sand for a complete second application than it would for regular brick sand. The other main downside is though it does stop most weeds and insects from entering it won’t stop them all. If someone has an old patio with brick sand and thinks applying polymeric will stop their bug or weed problem this won’t be the case. The sand takes 24 hours to set and most ants will dig through well before that time is up. Also, plants and ants can force there way through especially from underneath where the sand will be softer. The sand is most effective at stopping or deterring entry from above, as it is nearly as challenging of a surface to dig through as the pavers around it.

So why do we choose to use polymeric sand? We here at Birk’s believe it is a far superior product than brick sand, and the advantages far outweigh the negatives. We have seen many examples of what the two look like years down the road and feel far more comfortable with the final product with polymeric than with brick sand. We have seen many patios that have polymeric sand that require re-sanding less often than 5 years. And seen and fixed many older patios that were constructed with brick sand as their sand joint choice. For us we really think the choice is a no brainer.

Daniel Hogenbirk

Landscape Foreman

Birk’s Landscaping Inc.

(905) 404-0602

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