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Pros and Cons of Polymeric Sand for Pavers – Should You Use?

Polymeric sand is a hot topic among UK homeowners. Some people swear by it, while others think it’s a waste of money. Here we’ll explore the pros and cons of polymeric sand for pavers so you can make up your mind for yourself.

What Is Polymeric Sand?

Polymeric sand is a mixture of fine sands and a binding agent that, when mixed with a little water, set to form a strong seal around the paver joints. The binding agent when installing polymeric sand provides an incredibly strong seal that prevents weed growth and ants from causing holes in paver joints, making it an ideal option for many garden patios and paver projects.

Polymeric Sand vs Regular Sand for Concrete Pavers

There are many important factors to consider when installing pavers.

  • How will the paver surface be used?
  • Where will the paving stones be laid?

Walkways and driveways, for example, will have different needs than garden patios or decorative displays, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners become stressed when deciding on the best joint filler for the job.

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of polymeric sand compared to regular paver sand and help you decide which is suitable for your paver project.

1. Pros of polymeric sand

The advantages of using polymeric sand for paving mostly revolve around its strength and durability as a joint filler. If applied properly, the binding agent in the sand will harden in the joints and completely prevent weeds and ants from causing cracks in the surface.

Unlike regular sand, polymeric sand is impervious to water once set, so gaps filled with this paver sand won’t suffer erosion from power washing or rainfall in the same way that regular sand will. The binding agents allow the sand to stick firmly to the pavers and joints and help the pavers stay in place even in heavy traffic areas like walkways and driveways.

Typically, polymeric sand will be installed in a rigid set paver project that uses a cement mortar bedding. If used the way, polymeric sand will provide more strength and durability than regular sand by creating a solid bond between the paving stones in your project.

2. Cons of polymeric sand

Because polymeric sand contains binding agents and other additives not present in regular paver sand, there are certain procedures to follow during its installation that can make the process a little time-consuming.

The joints and gaps in your patio must be wet before filling, but you must ensure that only the joints are wet and not the surface of your patio. The surface must be completely dry to avoid any misplaced polymeric sand setting on the paving stones and proving hard to wash away.

To add to the cons of using polymeric sand, the bond it forms between each paver is incredibly rigid. This is ideal in a rigid paving system, but if your paver project has been set in a flexible system, using this sand can cause cracks and holes to form within the joints when the surface experiences heavy weights.

It can also be hard to add more sand once your initial application has set. Regular jointing sand can be re-applied and brushed in with a push broom when necessary, but polymeric sand becomes a solid surface once set between the pavers.

3. What is polymeric sand made of?

Fine Sand Particles – Polymeric sand primarily consists of incredibly fine sand particles that take up the volume of space when filling the gaps and joints in paver projects.

For projects with gaps larger than half an inch, there is also polymeric joint filler made from stone dust; this material is even finer than polymeric sand and can produce an even and solid seal in joints as wide as 6 inches.

The Binding Agent – The key ingredient in polymeric sand is the other additives that work to bind the sand particles together and form a durable seal around your brick pavers or paving stones.

Commonly the binder used in these joint fillers is silica for its reactive ability with water that provides a durable seal around your pavers.

4. How does polymeric sand differ from other types?

The primary difference between polymeric sand and regular sand is that the binder additives allow the material to form a solid seal when exposed to water. Regular building sand, or kiln dried sand, is swept into the space between the pavers with a push broom while the surface and sand are completely dry.

Regular sand for paving is prone to erosion, damage from weeds and can make your pavers hard to wash without risking the loss of any jointing sand between the stones. Using polymeric sand, however, prevents weeds from taking root and holds pavers firmly in place thanks to the durability of its seal.

5. What should you use polymeric sand for?

We recommend that you use polymeric sand set in a non-flexible, rigid system that is likely to see heavy use and cleaning. A patio or walkway set with this sand will be far less likely to suffer damage from weeds, insects or erosion, and can be washed with relative ease when compared to building sands or other alternatives.

Travertine pavers will benefit from polymeric sand as their natural resistance to temperature change results in an incredibly durable patio or walkway when coupled with a polymeric seal.

Travertine pavers are also resistant to discolouration, so this type of walkway installation can be incredibly easy to care for when coupled with strong polymeric sand.

This article has 5 things you may not know about Travertine pavers

6. Cost comparison to other sands

When filling the space between the pavers, intelligent polymeric sand generally costs more than using other paver stone sand available on the market. The added expense comes from the addition of binding materials, but the seal’s durability can be cost-effective in the long run.

Other building sands and brush-in fillers will often need to be re-sanded or repaired due to sand loss and weed growth, whilst polymeric sand can last around 10 years if installed correctly.

The initial expense can seem off-putting at first, but if extra attention is given to the installation, this polymer sand can offset its expense over time.

We recommend applying polymeric sand for brick pavers and paving stone projects if you want low maintenance and a durable finish. There are many different colours available to suit any project and the slightly higher expense is often worth the easy maintenance.

Last Word

Polymeric sand is a phenomenal product for many reasons, but it does have some drawbacks. With the correct application and use of polymeric sand in your landscaping or construction projects, you can achieve an excellent result that will last for years to come.