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April 11, 2022 • Mike Huber

4 Key Gator Base Efficiencies That Will Gain You 1 Whole Work Day

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In this post, we’re breaking down the specific savings you’ll be afforded with Gator Base. For instance, did you know you could save an entire day of labor using Gator Base? Let us explain how! Get ready to become a firm believer in foam base. We’ll give you the complete rundown on how you can increase your profit margin with Gator Base. We’ll also share some valuable tips for expediting each Gator Base installation you do … because time is money!


Using Gator Base drastically reduces the amount of physical labor needed to complete a paver installation. So much so, it’s possible to save an entire day … or maybe even 2 days … on a job! Before digging in on the specific efficiencies gained with Gator Base, let’s recap what this product actually is.


What is Gator Base?

Gator Base is a polypropylene foam panel that’s designed to replace the 6” of crushed stone that’s typically used in a traditional paver installation. Each Gator Base panel measures 23.5″ by 35.5″ (or 5.79 square feet) and only weighs 1.32 lb. The panels are very rigid, strong and dense, yet incredibly flexible at the same time. (Fact: 1 Gator Base panel = 288 lb. of fill) Millions of square feet of Gator Base have been successfully installed throughout North America to-date.


How does Gator Base work?

Each Gator Base panel features channels for water evacuation along a 1 degree slope, as well as 5 drainage holes per 16 square inches. This helps water to drain effectively away from the paver system and down into the ground. The panels also come equipped with tongue-and-groove edging. This not only helps stabilize each panel during the installation process, but it also creates an interlocked base for the pavers to rest on. This ultimately helps with load transfer and protects the entire paved surface from the negative effects of freeze and thaw cycles.

Gator Base also works as an insulator. With an R-Value of 3.6, the panels act as a thermal blanket beneath the pavers, again helping to drastically reduce the impact of freeze and thaw cycles. 


What types of projects are best suited for Gator Base?

Gator Base can be used for a variety of pedestrian applications. However, the benefits of Gator Base are most realized on job sites that are tough to access. Projects that would involve having to bring equipment through tight or fenced-off entry ways would be an example of this. We recommend Gator Base for the following types of pedestrian projects:

  • Patios, sidewalks, walkways, paths and pool surrounds
  • 18″ seat walls and/or fire pits
  • Concrete pavers, natural or wet cast stones
  • Porcelain tiles and slabs


How Gator Base Will Save You An Entire Work Day (Or More!)

The biggest benefit brought to a paver installation by using Gator Base is efficiency … and each efficiency added up can equate to saving yourself an entire work day. Let’s take a look at each efficiency gained through the use of Gator Base.


1. Easier excavation

Remember, Gator Base is meant to replace the 6” of crushed stone used in a traditional paver installation. This alone will mean less digging, less removal of excavated material, and less machine hours. Potential utility hazards are also avoided by using Gator Base. Utility lines or irrigation lines that would typically need to be re-routed won’t be an issue since a Gator Base job only requires 4” of excavation.

2. Faster foundation preparation

The amount of labor it takes to prepare the base foundation for a Gator Base job is far less than what’s required on a traditional job. There’s less movement of stone, less raking, and less compacting. There are financial gains when it comes to preparing a Gator Base foundation as well. Since Gator Base ultimately replaces 6” of crushed stone, there’s a savings on the cost of that stone plus the delivery of it.


Gain 1 Whole Day On Demand


3. Expedited paver installation

One of the biggest benefits that contractors see in Gator Base is the ability to slide pavers across the tops of the panels. This is especially helpful on job sites where large format, heavy pavers are being installed. The pavers can simply be staged on top of the Gator Base and then slid into place (and easily readjusted if needed, too!). This alone drastically expedites the installation process. Also, the setting bed becomes protected from weather, footprints, or anything else that can potentially disrupt it as soon as the Gator Base panels are placed down. Not only can you walk on the Gator Base panels right away, you can also stage your pavers right on top of them.


4. Less Clean-up

Think about the clean-up that’s usually required at the end of a traditional paver installation. The surrounding lawn might need to be re-sodded after being trampled by equipment. The removal of all that excavated material needs to be dealt with. Fencing that needed to be taken down might need to be reconstructed. Gator Base alleviates all of this. The reduction in equipment usage and wheelbarrow traffic equates to far less destruction of the job site. 


Now that we’ve covered the 5 main efficiencies that can gain you an extra work day (or more), let’s end with a quick Q&A to help determine what situations Gator Base can work for.


How deep of a setting bed do I need to create for Gator Base?

The setting bed would be the same depth you would create for a traditional paver installation, which is about ¾-1.” The key with the setting bed is making sure it’s uniform! Also, it’s important to note that a free-draining material is used for the setting bed. Do NOT use stone dust as it holds water and will cause problems down the road. 


What’s the best practice for placing the Gator Base panels down?

Each Gator Base panel features the Alliance Gator logo on them. The faces of the gator should all be lined up in the same orientation. This will ensure the lock-and-groove edging is lined up properly for interlock. 


I’m using natural stone. Can I put a layer of sand on top of the Gator Base to level out the stones?

Yes! Sand can absolutely be used on top of the Gator Base panels when working with irregularly shaped natural stones. 


Can I use radiant heat with Gator Base?

Yes. The radiant heat should be installed above the Gator Base. It will keep the heat directed into the pavers and the system overall will work more efficiently. 


Can I build a seat wall on top of Gator Base?

Yes. Gator Base is approved for the installation of 18” seat walls. Keep in mind, the Gator Base should extend 12” past the perimeter of the wall and be secured with Gator Edging and Gator Screws. This will ensure optimal load transfer and integrity of the project. 


Can I build a fire pit on top of Gator Base?

Yes. Fire pits can be installed right on top of the pavers or right on top of the Gator Base. However, you’ll need to protect the foam panels from the heat. 


Can I use Gator Base in a vehicular application?

No. Vehicular loads are incredible compared to pedestrian loads. Gator Base isn’t designed to accommodate the various loads that a residential driveway might experience. For optimal performance, Gator Base should be used for pedestrian applications only. 


Visit our comprehensive Gator Base page for complete product specs, installation techniques, videos, and more.