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February 16, 2017 • Mike Huber

4 Ways Weather Can Impact A Hardscape Project

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Mother Nature can drastically impact an outdoor paver project, wreaking havoc with your beautiful paver patio or driveway. And while you can’t control the weather, you can take proper precautions to minimize the impact on your project. In this post, we’ll discuss how factors such as rain or temperature changes can affect your hardscape surfaces … and what you can do to protect them.


“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” If only everyday could be like a day in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. But as we all know, there are a multitude of things that could put a damper on a good day … including the weather. Extreme heat is uncomfortable. Snow is a chore to clean up. And why is it that no one knows how to drive in the rain? While weather conditions can put us humans to the test, they can also do the same to outdoor hardscape surfaces. Here are four ways that weather can impact your hardscaping (and simple solutions to help minimize the damage).

Freeze/thaw cycles will take a toll on hardscape surfaces. When the ground freezes, it expands. When temperatures warm up again, it contracts. This constant expansion and contraction can shift pavers out of place (and also lead to cracking within the joints). As pavers move after a freeze/thaw cycle, differential settlement can occur, leading to an uneven surface.

Gator Base is a great option for hardscape surfaces that will be subject to freeze/thaw cycles. This product not only eliminates the need for the typical 6” of crushed stone base material as a foundation, but it also serves as a thermal blanket beneath the surface. According to a study performed by the Université de Québec, Gator Base is actually three times more effective than crushed stone as an insulator and significantly reduces the effects of freeze and thaw cycles. Read the full technical report here.

Discover how Gator Base withstands the harsh winters of upstate NY in this recently published case study!

Erosion is the process of a material breaking down due to wind, water, or other natural agents. When it comes to outdoor pavers, proper installation and the utilization of high quality materials will provide significant help to protect your project from erosion.

(This would also be a good time to note the importance of cleaning your gutters to ensure there is no water flow directly off a roof, deck, or downspout onto your hardscape surface!)

We recently put together the ultimate outline to help you ensure your hardscape surface can withstand the elements: A Surefire Plan To Protect Against Paver Sand Erosion. In this plan, we talk about our Gator brand polymeric sands and how they’re specifically formulated to stand up against erosion. 

Joint Failure
Time and time again we see weather playing a role in joint failure on hardscape projects. Rain and extreme temperature are the two main culprits in causing polymeric sand to not set-up properly after initial installation.

Our best piece of advice … check the weather prior to your installation. For Gator polymeric sands, we recommend installing at a temperature of 32 degrees or above. There also shouldn’t be any rain in the forecast within one hour of installation on a drainage base and within 24 hours of installation on a non-drainage base. You need to use Gator Maxx if installing on a non drainage base such as a concrete overlay! Excessive humidity and moisture can devastate a project so schedule your work during dry weather!

For more info on avoiding polymeric sand mishaps, read our blog post, Top 5 Reasons For Polymeric Sand Epic Fails.

If there are pre-existing cracks or joints that are growing ever wider on a hardscape surface, the winter will most likely cause them to get bigger. Repairing cracks ahead of time will help protect pavers from experiencing further damage. It may be necessary to determine and correct the cause of paver movement (such as edge restraint failure) before replacing the polymeric sand in the joints. (For more cold weather hardscape advice, read 5 Winter Preparation Tips To Save Your Hardscaping.)

By taking the proper precautions, you can protect your hardscape surface from the effects of weather and add years to its overall lifespan. Follow the correct procedures for installation. Use top quality hardscape materials and accessories. Give some TLC after the fact by cleaning and sealing as necessary. All of that equates to a beautiful day in the neighborhood!


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