A beautiful patio can increase the appeal of any home exponentially. It is the perfect place to appreciate some serenity, marvel at the sight of beautiful nature or engage in a lively conversation with your loved ones. That is why we all want our patios to look flawless throughout the year.
One of the most important steps to maintain the beauty of patios is to treat them with the right filler material at regular intervals. Usually, the standard option for this is polymeric sand. It brings in many conveniences for the patio owner like durability, weed prevention and drainage management.
But what if you have run out of polymeric sand and need to use it soon? Here we present you some polymeric sand alternatives so that you can continue taking care of your charming patio without losing a beat!
What Is Polymeric Sand?
Polymeric sand is the first choice of every patio owner. It can keep your newly installed paver patio free from weeds and insects for a long time. Especially during a rainy season, layers of polymeric sand between the pavers will help to enhance your outdoors aesthetic.
Even though this product sounds like a complex scientific object, it is actually just a specialized kind of sand which delivers much better performance than its contemporaries. Fine sand particles are blended with helpful additives like silica and other polymers to ensure maximum security for the joint.
Polymeric Sand Alternatives
The pavers sharing this bond are secured in their position since the cement works almost exactly like a glue. It connects all the surrounding adjacent units and holds them together in place.
If you are using cement for establishing the base of your pavers, you will need to acquire a concrete slab with the thickness of around 4 to 6 inches. We recommend this since you can easily place it on the wet concrete layer. Laying it directly this way will ensure proper placement and stability once everything dries.
For those of you who have old pavers and only want to use the cement for joint spaces, you can adopt a different method. Firstly, get ready-mix concrete in as many bags as you need. If you don’t know the amount, you can consider 8 bags to fill up a space of 4x4 feet where a 4-inch thickness is necessary.
Then just make and pour one single splash block that suits your patio’s or paver’s shape and size. This is one of the most affordable and efficient solutions for polymeric sand substitutes.
2. Builder’s Sand
This is the most common polymeric sand replacement for many because of its easy accessibility. You can get this sand almost anywhere since it is used heavily in construction projects.
Builder’s sand is quite coarse in nature and has been applied to paver joints for years. Since it comes at affordable price points, you should not face problems while replacing polymeric sand with this one.
One potential problem with this kind of sand is that it tends to get eroded after a while. This can happen due to rainfall or strong winds.
An effective solution to prevent it from happening is using mechanical compactors on them. You can rent one of these machines and then press the sand with it. Doing so will settle the sand more strongly along the joint paver surfaces. So when a strong wind or heavy rain comes its way, the sand can stay put in its place.
Another common issue with it is the weed seeds landing on this sand as a result of those natural forces. If you let it go unnoticed, you may soon notice sprouts of those weeds climbing up the pavers and making the entire area a little messy. Ants can also join and carry away the sand.
3. Stone Dust
Stone dust is what you get in the process of crusher run - where stones are run through a crusher machine. This byproduct itself can be of great use to create the bedding layer of paver projects. You can think of stone dust as a rougher variation of sand. It is also known as rock dust, quarry dust or quarry screenings.
Even though people initially thought of it as a waste product, stone dust has become somewhat of a standalone star! Along with using for patio, it also helps with landscaping, construction and agriculture. You can use it for paving driveways and pathways as well.
This dust is easy for laying down on the ground in smooth flat layers that maintain evenness in paving. If your home has someone with OCD, they will surely appreciate the even surfaces.
Using it as fillers between paving stones can prevent weeds from growing in those areas. As a result, you can enjoy the view of a neat and tidy patio throughout the year!
Since the material of stone dust is non-porous in nature, it can prevent the water of rainfall to seep into the base materials below the stones. So you don’t have to worry about shifting or similar damage done to them.
It is also very affordable. So if you are running on a tight budget and need a cheaper replacement to polymeric sand, stone dust can be a good choice.
Tips On Opting and Using Polymeric Sand Alternatives
It is a good idea to use the same type of sand for both making the foundation of your pavers and filling up the gap between them. For instance, if the base one is made of irregular grainy sand which has sharp edges, you need to maintain the same texture for the fillers as well. Otherwise, it may not end up being smooth.
If you do observe weeds growing in between your patio, make a quick mix of water and salt in a 3:1 ratio. Pour it into a spray bottle and apply sprinkles of this mixture over the joint spaces. When it dries up, cover the areas of heavy weeds with dry salt.
As you can see, there are several ways you can go for picking alternatives to polymeric sand. They all come with their own set of pros and cons.
Appearance and sustainability are the two things you should keep when choosing the substitute. So, make sure to take your time before reaching the final decision. Give back your patio the beauty it deserves!