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Part of the final steps in finishing a paver driveway, walkway, or patio just before the joint fill is installing a paver edge restraint. Since the inception of paver installations in North America, there has been a lot of innovation in the industry. This innovation has also been in solving the problem of creating the perfect edge restraint system to prevent the lateral movement of interlocking stone.
Especially in the past five years, the development of edge restraint to meet certain applications has improved with more restraint systems entering the market to solve specific problems. There are good options for different base systems that will withhold the lateral movement of pavers that we will focus on in this post.
Use of Paver Restraint Edging
If you are looking for the best choice of block paving edge restraint for your patio, driveway, or walkway, there really is not any. For us, it really depends on the application. There is a restraint system that we use in our business for most applications that we will discuss further, but ultimately we look at the pros and cons of each system and choose the right fit for our application.
A paver edge restraint is installed once the pavers have all been installed and the cuts have all been completed. With this process completed, the edge restraint is then installed prior to the joint fill installation. It is important that the restraint is in place and secure prior to the joint fill installation because the pavers will in most cases need to be compacted during this stage of the process. Without a proper restraint in place, the paving stones may move out of place.
An edge restraint provides an edge that prevents the lateral movement of pavers during freeze-thaw cycles or most importantly traffic. There have been numerous improvements of these systems throughout the years, but they have not been without their problems. Typically in the market what you will see is a plastic edge restraint that is fastened with a 10″ spike. With the emergence of new methods of base preparation, these plastic edge restraints are not as functional as they once were.
Tools and Equipment Needed
There are not many tools that are required when installing an edge restraint depending on the system that you are using below. In most cases, you can get away with just a hammer. However, if you are doing many installations that require the hammering of spikes through the edge restraint and into the base, you may want to invest in hammer drill with an attachment that allows for the easier hammering of these spikes and a faster rate. This improves efficiency and the effort required to hammer all of the nails into the edge restraint. If you are installing a concrete edge restraint, besides the materials to mix the concrete you will want to have a trowel available.
Choosing Paver Edge Restraints
Problems arise with a poorly installed edge restraint or an edge restraint that was meant for an entirely different application which makes choosing the right edge restraint for your base more important than ever. When choosing an edge restraint system, you need to consider your base. When preparing a base, it should extend past the pavers the same depth as your base. If your base is 6″ deep, then your base should extend 6″ past your paavers. You should also know that you do not need to install an edge restraint against hard surfaces, only soft surfaces. That means pavers up against foundations, existing driveways, or any hard surface that can contain those pavers will not need an edge restraint installed.
Wall or Edge Stone Paver Edge Restraint
Plastic Paver Edge Restraint
Metal Paver Edge Restraint
Concrete Paver Edge Restraint
Having said that you do not need to install an edge restraint along any hard surfaces that can contain pavers, you can opt to install a wall, curb, or edging stone along the soft surfaces of your project to contain your pavers and prevent lateral movement. This, in our opinion, is the best way to contain your project. It is the most aesthetically pleasing while also remaining extremely functional. A properly constructed wall will work wonders for containment. The weight of a curb installed along the border of your project will do just as good. Or the proper choice of an edge stone that has a spike install.
Alternatively, a stone edge can be adhered to your base through a concrete mix and can provide some much needed strength to contain those pavers. In this case, we are also covering another edge restraint system that will be covered later in this post. To be able to install this properly, you will want to scrap away the 1″ bedding layer of your paver installation and have some mixed concrete to install in place of this. You will then have your stone edge units that have been soaked in a bucket of water placed into this concrete. These are wet placed so that they do not dry out the concrete that you are setting them into and in this case it provides a strong bond between stone and concrete. With the edging stone in place, you can then apply a concrete edge restraint behind the stone edge with steel or fiber reinforcement. This will be discussed in greater detail later in this post.
This is a great edge restraint system for a permeable or open graded base system as it adheres to the clear stone base, the stone edging units, and creates a further edge restraint beyond the stone edging units that will contain your pavers.
Alternatively with your edging stone, you can install any of these edge restraint systems below to retain both the edging stones and pavers as this concrete system would.
Plastic paver edge restraints remain one of the most popular option on the market in terms of a paver edge restraint system. You will notice these everywhere, which is actually part of the problem with them. The fact that you notice them means that there has been movement of the pavers in the installation, the base, or the edge restraint and spikes themselves. With the freeze-thaw cycles in northern climates, these edge restraints have the tendency to be pushed upward and exposing themselves. Alternatively, if a base was not compacted properly, the sinking of paving stones will also result in the exposure of the plastic edging. Additionally, if the edge restraint was installed too high without clearing away some of the bedding layer to allow the edge restraint to sit lower, it may already be exposed and is not the most welcome sight along a newly built project.
The Snap Edge paver restraint is a popular plastic edge restraint on the market for its design and ease of installation. The main features of this product are the buttressed supports along the back end to support the edge when a steel spike is applied to one of the holes. The back end supports a straight installation or you can cut the supports easily with a pair of snips and bend the plastic for curved installations. Each piece easily snaps on to the other creating a continuous unit. It is designed for pavers that are at least 2″ to a maximum of 3 1/8″ in height. It is installed so that half of the height of the paver is being supported by the edge restraint. This generally means that a portion of the bedding layer is scraped away to allow the unit to sit at the proper height. Many installations skip this step causing this restraint system to be installed too high and be noticeable immediately after installation. A 10″ non-galvanized spike is nailed into these every 12″ for straight runs, as well as every 6″ for curved applications and driveway applications.
The spike is meant to corrode and secure itself on to the fines of the base creating a strong bond to the base and preventing that spike from being pushed up through the plastic restraint. This makes it an ideal restraint for a traditional base preparation that includes fines in the base material, but not for an open graded application where the base is prepared with a clear stone that has no fines. Unfortunately this system is not without its problems as was already stated. However, it has been and still is a very popular choice for an edge restraint on top of a base that has fines because it is strong. With every piece clipping together and the proper amount of steel spikes that will corrode and grasp that base, this system creates a strong bond and restraint for the proper paving application.
There is another plastic edge restraint on the market similar to Snap Edge called PermEdge. This product has an incorporated mesh-like system called geogrid and is designed for permeable application such as an open graded base system that has no fines in the base. This product is installed just as the previous product would be, but the geogrid would roll out on top of the bedding layer or directly below it before the pavers around the edge are installed (this edge system is installed prior to paver installation. There are no spikes in this installation as a permeable base does not have the fines in it to attach on to the spikes. In this case, the support is provided by the downward pressure of the pavers on the geogrid which in-turn holds the edge restraint in place.
The concept is a great idea and the installation of geogrid combined with a paving edge can be adapted into other restraint systems. However, it is not our choice for an open graded system. Both of these plastic edge restraint systems are not the most inexpensive option to install for an edge restraint.
If you prefer a paver edge system that is not plastic but works similar to the plastic edge restraint system, there is an aluminum version that allows you to bend around corners making it truly one unit throughout the entirety of the installation. This will be a more expensive option to the plastic edge restraint and useful in a base with fines in it.
There is also a metal paver edge available for open graded bases and bases with fines in it. It also provides a solution to the problem of the spikes being lifted out of the edge restraint, pushing the edge restraint up through freeze-thaw cycles. This is the Quick-E-Hybrid edge restraint system. It is installed similarly to that of the plastic edge restraint described above. The major difference is that for a base with fines in it where you would install a 10″ non-galvanized spike, the holes in this edge restraint are designed so that the spikes criss cross with one another at a 60 degree angle. With any upwards pressure, those spikes will not be pushed out of the edge restraint unit.
In a permeable or open graded installation of this product where there are no fines that create a bond to the corrosion of the spike, a larger V-shaped spike spike is hammered into the edge restraint through a separate slot. This holds the pavers in place by providing a larger surface area of reinforcement in the base so that lateral movement is prevented through the support that the spike provides.
Everything considered, this is a great solution to the problems that may be experienced with a plastic edge restraint or installing a restraint on top of a permeable or open graded system, but it is a very expensive system to implement. In our opinion, our favorite option for an edge restraint is a concrete restraint.
The final option for an edge restraint is a concrete toe that encapsulates your project. This is an inexpensive option that has no drawbacks in terms of spikes being pushed up through freeze-thaw cycles. It also provides adhesion to the base material and the pavers themselves. However, the main problem with concrete is that it cracks which will reduce its ability to prevent lateral movement over time. That is why it is always recommended that this is steel reinforced with rebar or fibers are added to the concrete mixture. With these additions, the concrete collar will be reinforced to prevent cracking and eventual separation.
An alternative option to this that is on the market is called Perma-Edge. This is a great option, but more costly than the concrete alternative, for your edge restraint. The benefits of this compared to concrete mixed on site is that it already contains fibers and their proprietary mixture allows for water to permeate through it rather than soaking up water like concrete does which leads to eventual failure.
Similar to that of a concrete edge restraint installation, Perma-Edge is mixed at a rate of 1 gallon of water to 5 gallons of Perma-Edge, the bedding layer of the install is scraped away, and the product is hand troweled to cover up to 1/2″ from the bottom of the paver and extends out at a 36 degree pitch away from the project.
Best Paver Edge Restraint
With all of these options available to you for a system in installing a paver edge restraint, there really is not one choice that fits all applications. It all depends on the application and how comfortable the installer is with the product. Though in our business we traditionally stuck with a plastic edge restraint, we have transitioned towards a concrete toe to retain our paver installations.
The reason why we have converted towards this paver edge restraint is because we have also transitioned most of our bases towards an open graded base. Within these bases there are no fines to allow the spikes that fasten the plastic edge restraint into the ground through corrosion. These bases are a clear 3/4″ stone, so using a concrete toe as a paver edge restraint, it is able to bond to the base material while also creating a bond to the outer paver edge. This is our choice of a paver edge in our business for this base preparation method. However, we also do installations of synthetic bases where our best option for an edge restraint is a plastic edge with a fastening screw that is provided by the manufacturer for that install.
Ultimately, you will choose the paver edge restraint that works for your application and what works for your business.