Interlocking pavers are tiles made of concrete that simulate cobblestone paths. The individual interlocking pavers fit together to cover a deck, patio, walkway, driveway, or anywhere you might consider placing concrete or bricks. Since they use no mortar or grout, interlocking pavers are simple to install yourself and even easier to maintain.
Their beauty may initially attract a designer or homeowner to interlocking pavers, but this versatile building material has a lot more to offer. The pavers are constructed from poured concrete, so they are durable and resilient. The manufacturers add color to give the pavers the look of natural stone, like granite or slate. Yet concrete is far less expensive than shaped stone.
Interlocking pavers are available in a wide range of shapes, so you aren't bound to using different sized squares that mimic European cobblestone. For instance, a diagonal arrangement of rectangular tiles might create a herringbone pattern. Hexagons fit tightly together, as well. Some companies even customize pavers to whatever design you envision.
Installing pavers requires some time and effort if it is to be done properly. First, the area must be carefully mapped out, so that a pattern can be devised. Then, the ground has to be cut, leveled, and compacted so that the pavers will rest on a flat surface. Failure to do this can result in subsidence, causing the pavers to buckle or sink. Next, the pavers are carefully arranged in the desired patten and compacted so that they sit evenly. Finally, sand or another packing material is forced between the cracks in the pavers to discourage weed growth and to keep the pavers even and stable.
The only special tool needed for installing interlocking pavers is a tamping machine called a vibrator. This actually vibrates the tiny spheres of sand until they are at their most compact. The sand doesn't easily wash out with rain or garden hose water. You can opt for an additional sealer, but many interlocking pavers come pre-sealed. A driveway would especially benefit from a sealer, as you won't want oil and tire marks to stain.
Pavers are hard blocks which are used to create smooth, hard surfaces outdoors. Patios, outdoor steps, pathways, and driveways can all be constructed with pavers, and some people also use pavers to construct retaining walls and other landscaping features. Many home supply stores carry an assortment of pavers for people to choose from, and they can also be ordered directly from the manufacturer, or made at home. For people who do not want to install their own pavers, some contractors and landscapers will happily perform this service.
Cast concrete, glass, clay tile, brick, cut stone, and even plastic can all be used for pavers. A variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures are usually available, allowing people to select the best choice for a particular environment. Multicolored brick, for example, might work well in the driveway of a Mediterranean-style home, while irregular cobblestones might be suitable for a pathway in a storybook garden.
A retaining wall is a stabilizing structure used to hold sloping ground in place and to prevent the erosion and the movement of soil. A retaining wall must be substantial and sturdy in structure in order to accommodate and redistribute lateral pressure caused by sloping. It is normally designed with seepage holes, which allow collected ground water to escape. This releases the additional pressure created by accumulated water and helps keep the retaining wall stable.
Several different materials can be used to construct a retaining wall. Stone and concrete are often used, and there are special retaining wall blocks crafted from aggregate materials and light concrete which are designed for this purpose. Some styles interlock, making assembly simpler, less costly and less time consuming, because each block fits securely with the next. Because the fit of these blocks is secure, they do not require the addition of mortar.
A retaining wall can be a series of "steps" or tiers, which allows for a more attractive design as well as more efficient erosion control. The design can include different types of plantings, flowers or materials in each tier to bring more texture, color and interest to the area. Aside from the aesthetic value, a tiered design also provides better erosion control by breaking down the amount of soil, and therefore pressure, held by each division of the retaining wall.
Driveway surfaces can add to the value of a property and improve the overall aesthetics. If incorporated as part of the landscaping, the driveway should be unobtrusive and blend in with the surrounding environment.
Concrete driveway surfaces are poured in a solid slab with joints spaced several feet apart. The joints are to allow for expansion and prevent cracking. The least expensive option is usually traditional gray, which does not have any tint added. For a more decorative concrete, colors can be added to the mix before the slab is poured or decorative patterns are stamped into the concrete once it is poured but while it is still wet.
Pavers driveway surfaces and can be made of concrete, brick, or natural stone. Concrete pavers are often the least expensive paver option and are available in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Brick pavers are a traditional choice and are still seen in many historic towns as street pavers. Natural stone is usually the most expensive option and can be either cobblestone or slate paving. Due to the expense, this option is often used for front walkways or patios instead of entire driveway surfaces.