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There may come a time in the life cycle of your interlocking concrete pavement where the sand between the pavers needs to be replaced. This can be due to environmental wear-and-tear on the pavement surface itself or it could be due to poor installation practices from the base material up to the installation of the jointing material. That being said, jointing compounds have come a long way since their inception and using best practices in your interlock installation you can ensure a long life span of your jointing compound. This article highlights how you can replace the sand between your pavers.
How to Re-Sand Pavers
Replacing the sand between pavers starts with identifying first what sand was used. There are several jointing compounds available on the market that can be installed from regular jointing sand to polymeric sand to resin-based compounds. However, more than likely based on the prominence in the market what has been installed is either a polymeric sand or a jointing sand. The difference between the two in appearance is that polymeric sand hardens whereas jointing sand is basically a loose sand. Each of these materials come with similar removal processes, but with some minor differences that do need to be considered. For the purpose of this article, we will discuss the removal of polymeric sand as this can also be applied to jointing sand.
Prior to deciding to re-sand your pavers, it is important to inspect whether or not it is the best course of action. Use these points below to decide whether or not it is the best course of action for your project.
- Weed Growth
- Moss or Mold
- Polymeric Sand not Hardening
If the joints are overrun with weeds, following these steps that are highlighted below will not fix your weed problem. In this case, it may be best to lift and re-lay the pavers removing and replacing the bedding layer that has become overrun with weeds. This will take much more labor, but in the long run it will take care of your weed problem.
If moss or mold is your problem, typically that will not be fixed by re-sanding your pavers. This is caused due to either poor surface drainage of the pavers (slope is not great enough) or it is a damp area that does not get enough sunlight. In this case, proper maintenance including surface pressure washing without blowing out the joints may be required.
If your polymeric sand has not set properly from the time it was installed and you are considering following these steps to re-install it, you may have a drainage problem. If water is not able to penetrate through the bedding layer of your installation, it will cause the failure of your polymeric sand. Re-installing the polymeric sand will just repeat the same problems. This is typically, but not always, caused by the use of stone dust in the bedding layer as it prevents the drainage of water.
If any of these situations does not explain the problem you are experiencing, then perhaps it is time to replace the sand in your joints. The problems you may be having may be caused by improper installation of the sand in the first place causing it to not set properly. In that case, when you are reinstalling the sand you should ensure to follow the steps correctly and if installing polymeric sand consulting with the manufacturer on the activation and time allowable for install prior to rainfall. Other problems with regular jointing sand may be washout, weed growth, or insects. In this case, removing the sand and opting for a different jointing compound may be helpful in preventing this in the future. However, with weed growth and insect problems you may need to opt for a lift and re-lay if it has gotten out of hand. You may also want to opt for a lift and re-lay if the surface of your pavement has some irregularities. This would be the time to consider this as an option.
Removing Polymeric Sand
For the removal of polymeric sand, you will need:
- Pressure Washer (hot water preferred for polymeric sand removal) with a minimum PSI of around 2,000 or greater
- Optional Surface Cleaner Attachment
- Thin tool to scrap out joints
If your polymeric sand never hardened, it was likely improperly activated or you have a drainage problem. In this case, removing the polymeric sand does not necessarily require a hot water pressure washer. Though hot water will aid in the cleaning of your pavers. If your polymeric sand did harden or at least somewhat hardened, you will want to use a hot water pressure washer. The hot water will re-activate the polymers in the sand and will help in the polymeric sand removal. This is especially helpful if you are wondering how to remove polymeric sand from pavers. If it is stuck on the surface of the paver you can heat up some water in a pot and pour it on the surface of the stone and scrub the sand that has hardened. For a larger area, using a hot water pressure is ideal.
NOTE: Some paver manufacturers void their warranty if pressure washed. Consult with the manufacturer or a professional during this phase of the project.
- If the surface of the pavers do not require cleaning (you are only focused on removing the joint sand), you do not require the surface cleaner attachment and can use the oscillating turbo nozzle with your pressure washer to focus on the pressure washing of the joints. The oscillating turbo nozzle or the surface cleaner rotates the water from the pressure washer ensuring that you are not focusing on a specific area on the pavers for too long of a period which would cause damage to the surface of the paving stones.
- When pressure washing the joint material, it is important to not focus on a joint for too long as it will cause the bedding material to blow out as well which would cause future problems. Typically for polymeric sand, you require a minimum of an inch of polymeric sand installed into the joint of the pavers (consult with the manufacturer for this information). But the closer you can get to that bedding layer, the better. Concrete sand bedding layers will blow out easier than High Performance Bedding or a 1/4″ angular clean chip will.
- Start from the top of the slope and work your way down the project. The joint material will work its way down with the water flow to the bottom of your slope where you can collect it and dispose of it. This will also prevent the removed material from working its way back into a paver joint that has already been blown out. Take your time working your way through the project, as one pass with this is beneficial to preventing blowing out your bedding layer or filling up joints with washout out sand on a second pass.
- Once you have completed this, you can work your way through the project to ensure you have the right depth using a thin tool to scrap any areas of the joints free of sand. This sand will be scrapped out and land on the surface of the pavers where it will dry and you can blow it or shop vacuum it off the surface later ensuring it does not settle back into the joint of your pavers.
- You can then allow the surface and joints of the pavers to dry and continue with the re-installation of your chosen jointing compound. If you are installing polymeric sand or jointing sand, you can consult our step-by-step sanding guide. There is more to installing jointing sand than just sweeping and letting it be. Improper installation with lead to eventual failure of the jointing material and will cause you to have to repeat these same steps to re-install.
This is a messy and wet job to accomplish. It is important to read the beginning of this article to decide whether or not following through with this will achieve what your intended results are to be. Understanding the problem you are having is important in the re-installation process to ensure you do not end up with the same results after the time and cost of material is used up.