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May 25, 2017 • Mike Huber

The 5 Worst Mistakes You Can Make During A Gator Base Installation

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Gator Base was designed to save hardscape contractors from headaches like needless excavation, costly dumping fees, and having to maneuver large pieces of equipment in tight spaces. So with these typical hassles removed from the mix, there’s plenty of time to focus on perfecting the overall installation. In this blog post, we’re going to divulge the five worst mistakes we’ve seen made on Gator Base jobs and … most importantly … how to do things the right way!


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1. Improper Excavation
One of the key benefits of Gator Base is that it saves you from having to excavate the six inches you would normally fill with crushed stone (in a conventional paver installation). However, if you fail to excavate deep enough, your patio or walkway is bound to suffer substantial settling in the future.

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

  • Geotextile 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. You’ll also want to create a slope of at least one degree away from any structure, such as a house. (Note: Prior to excavating, be sure to check with your local utility company to ensure digging will not damage underground pipes or wires.)

Make sure you don’t over excavate either ... it’s easy to do when you’re used to a traditional installation!

2. Improper Compaction
In a Gator Base installation, both the native soil and the bedding sand needs to be prepared and compacted the same way you’d prepare and compact a traditional base installation. Again, failing to properly compact could lead to major settlement issues in the future.

  • Native Soil Use a plate compactor to compact the native soil. The area should be as smooth as possible to get rid of high or low spots within about ⅜”. Using a string level (stakes and a string line), tie the string to the stakes to establish what will be level according to where the final slope will be measured (a minimum of one degree to the desired final paver level). For more compacting advice, read this blog post: 5 Expert Tips For Compacting Native Soil.

  • Sand Bedding Layer After laying down your geotextile fabric to completely cover the excavated area, spread an even layer of sand to a depth of ¾” over it. Using a hand compactor and/or plate compactor, compact the ¾” of bedding sand until you obtain a final height of ½”.

    Trick of the trade! To obtain a perfect ¾” bedding layer, use two ¾” pipes with an equal distance of 4’ to 6’ over the geotextile fabric and fill the surrounding area with sand. Using a straight board, level the bedding sand to the pipes. When you’re finished, remove the pipes and fill in the empty gaps.

    For even more compacting advice, read this blog post: 5 Expert Tips For Compacting Base Material.

3. Improper Placement of Gator Base
In order to create a securely interlocked surface using Gator Base, the panels should be placed in a staggered pattern to ensure locking of the tongue and groove system. If improperly installed, the Gator Base system can become unstable and not function as intended. It’s also important to trim any visible curves or protruding angles using a utility knife so there is a six inch overhang of Gator Base beyond the edge of the project. Again, this will ensure stability of the Gator Base.

4. Improper Restraint of the Edges
Neglecting to properly install edging can cause the pavers to move and shift out of place over time. Gator Edging should be installed on the Gator Base, resting firmly against the pavers. Use Gator Base Screws in every second hole to maximize lateral support of the edging.

5. Improper Sand Installation
Gator Maxx G2 and Gator Maxx is the only sand that should be used on a Gator Base project. And proper installation of the sand is critical to the overall success of the project. When all is said and done, the pavers and the Gator Base are meant to perform as a single, interlocked floating unit. Proper installation of the Gator Maxx Polymeric Sand is the key to achieving this desired result. Our 10-Step Polymeric Sand Installation Guide provides detailed instructions on how to do this the right way!

Avoid making these five errors, and your Gator Base projects will go off without a hitch! If you’re still looking to learn a little more about Gator Base, be sure to check out these valuable resources:


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