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June 05, 2019 • Mike Huber

5 Things To Know About Foam Base Paver Installations

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The use of foam base is quickly becoming a popular option for paver installations in North America. Case in point: there’s over 3.5 million square feet of our Gator Base product already in the ground! In today’s post, we’re going to share five things you should know about using foam base as a paver installation method.


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1. Foam base can seriously speed up your installation process.
We wanted to see just how much faster using Gator Base was in comparison to installing pavers the traditional way. So we set-up an apples-to-apples, side-by-side comparison test! You can watch the time-lapse video of it here but long story short: the Gator Base project was installed 57% faster than the traditional project.

17 Gator Base 57 Percent Faster

By the time the Gator Base project was finished, the following items were still yet to be completed in the traditional project:

  • Installation of bedding sand
  • Installation of pavers
  • Installation of edging
  • Compaction of pavers
  • First sweeping of polymeric sand
  • Re-compaction of pavers
  • Second installation of polymeric sand
  • Removal of excess sand
  • Watering

2. Foam base can make the impossible possible.
Our Gator Base product can be used in a number of application settings that would be next to impossible to tackle without it. Let’s take a look at some scenarios.

Limited access: Gator Base is a perfect option for job sites that are tucked behind a fence, masonry wall, or gate that can’t be taken down. It's also perfect for a site that is up or down a steep hill or requires access through a neighbor’s property.

Limited storage: On some job sites, there just isn’t a spot to store the excavation spoils and/or the stone base that’s needed for a traditional job. Gator Base completely eliminates the need for deep excavation and saves six inches of compacted crushed stone!

Root zones: Roots will often be an issue on a job site that has mature trees. With Gator Base, you’ll only have to dig about four inches down … so you won’t have to worry about entering the root zone of the trees!

Underground utilities: Have a job site where underground utilities might compete with your excavation? Gator Base is the answer.

3. Foam base offers a significant savings.
While the cost of our Gator Base product will be more than the six inches of crushed stone it will replace, the real savings comes in the form of time and labor. Here’s some food for thought:

How much does the excavation in a traditional job cost you? Or, better yet, how much is over excavating costing you? Remember, with Gator Base, you’re replacing six inches of crushed stone, that will also need to be compacted!

  • How much is the double handling of the excavated material costing you? (Getting it curbside + hauling it off = money you don’t have to spend on a Gator Base job!)
  • What does your stone base cost?
  • What does the installation of the stone base cost? Think about all the labor it takes to lay it out in lifts, compact it, and then repeat the process!

Again, all of this labor is saved on a Gator Base project. Not only will you save on excavation and base prep, but you will also be able to install your pavers faster!

4. Foam base is NOT for every job.
While there are many applications in which Gator Base will be a great fit, there are some cases in which it wouldn’t. Here are some examples:

  • Vehicular applications (Gator Base is only approved for pedestrian traffic at this point in time)
  • Designs that feature circular or serpentine shapes which would result in excessive waste
  • Projects that involve raised patios or significant grade changes

5. Foam base does require excavation.
One of the key benefits of Gator Base is that it saves you from having to excavate the extra six inches you would normally fill with crushed stone. However, if you fail to excavate properly and evenly, your project can be prone to settling in the future.

To calculate the optimal amount of excavation needed, add together the depths of the following four elements:

  • Geotextile fabric (Gator Fabric)
  • Final height of the compacted bedding sand (½”)
  • Gator Base (¾”)
  • Height of the pavers

The total excavation width should be six inches wider on each side than the final paved area, have the same slope as the finished paver surface, and be within ⅜ inches of desired grade.

Read about one of the very first Gator Base jobs installed in the US by downloading a copy of our case study!

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