5 EXPERT TIPS FOR COMPACTING BASE MATERIAL
We recently shared 5 Expert Tips For Compacting Native Soil. Now we’re moving along to Phase II … compacting the base material. Mike Huber, Technical Support Manager, provides five expert insights for successfully completing this step of your hardscape project.
1. Make sure you plan for enough base.
ICPI guidelines recommend a minimum of 4" of base for walkways and patios and 6" for driveways. It’s important to note that these recommendations are for ideal circumstances in non-freeze-thaw climates. Many site conditions can require 6" for walkways and 10-12" for driveways or even more!
2. Buy suitable base material.
Base material should contain a variety of sizes of pieces and particles (but not too many fine pieces). Too much fine material (passing 200 sieve) can lead to compaction issues and cause your base to fail over time. Ask your supplier for a sieve analysis and make sure that less than 3% passes the 200 sieve.
3. Mind your lifts.
A lift refers to the thickness of a layer of base material installed at one time. The amount of compaction force varies widely between different sizes and types of compactors. A small forward plate compactor might only be able to handle 2" lifts while a large reversible compactor may handle 6" lifts or even more. Be sure to install the appropriate thickness according to the equipment you’re using.
4. Check the moisture content.
Base material needs to have sufficient moisture content in order to obtain maximum compaction. Water lubricates particles and helps them slide into place when the vibratory plate passes to obtain maximum compaction.
5. Consider a nuclear density test.
Industry guidelines recommend obtaining 98% Proctor Density. On your next project, consider hiring an engineer to test and see just how close you are getting to optimum compaction!
Compaction is a key determinant of the ultimate success of your hardscape project. Follow these expert tips when working with your base material and your project will be that much more resilient and far less prone to future failures.
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