One of the benefits of having a paver project is that if anything happens where you need to remove a paver in order to replace it or re-level a small area, you can do this without major disruption of the pavement surface. With other pavement alternatives such as concrete or asphalt, if you need to lift a section then you are re-installing that section and it may stick out like a sore thumb. It is much easier to do this with specific tools that allow you to extract the pavers with some ease.
Paver Extractor Tool
Pavers sometimes need to be lifted to access and repair certain structures. This may happen in the case of a pool patio to access pool equipment or sometimes even pavers are lifted by the city to access a water shut-off valve in a driveway. The benefits of having pavers installed in these cases are that they can be lifted and re-laid with minimal damage. However, a concrete pool patio or an asphalt driveway would need to be torn out and patched.
Additionally if there is any settlement in a small area of a paver project over time, those pavers can be lifted and re-laid. Alternatively, a paver is cracked or chipped and needs to be replaced. In all of these cases, getting the first paver out especially if it is not near the sides of the project can be extremely difficult. Best case scenario, it is along the edge of the project and is easily removed. Worst case scenario, it is in the middle of the project and is extremely difficult to remove requiring you to use a tool in order to be able to lift a paver.
There are tools that make this easier depending on the joint width. If the joint widths are thin (less than 1/8″ in width), then removing the pavers regardless of using a tool or not is going to be difficult and may require some extra work or even breaking one of the pavers to be able to remove it. In this case, and in any of these cases, it is important to know which pavers you have extra of so you can start with lifting that specific size so if anything gets chipped or breaks, you will have the replacement piece handy. This is also why we leave our clients with at least one piece of each size paver we installed for them. Unfortunately pavers and color blends frequently become discontinued, so ensuring our clients have additional pavers is important.
Here are some recommended tools that we have in our toolbox for removing pavers and slabs that are on the medium to larger size:
This is a tool that is actually meant for lifting wall units or slabs, but has come in handy with its thinner teeth to squeeze into thin joints when needed.
This tool provides a little more height to it with tongs that are slightly thicker and meant for pavers with slightly wider joints.
Whether you are installing slabs regularly or removing slabs, this unit can come in handy when needing to remove slabs. However, in our business we have found that a two man vacuum lifting unit works well not only for installing slabs, but also removing them if needed.
These paver extractor hand tools are the most cost effective tools to use to remove pavers. We have used vacuum lifting equipment on some projects with some luck to remove pavers. This only worked because we were removing large slabs with the jointing compound completely removed. The vacuum lifter was able to create a solid seal on the paver and we were able to remove the slab. However, this has not always been the case and a hand tool will work best, especially on smaller pavers.
- Remove the Jointing Compound Around the Paver
- Use Your Paver Lifting Tool
- Replace Pavers
You will need a thin tool, depending on the thickness of the paver joint, to be able to scrape out the jointing compound that surrounds the paver. Once one paver is removed, it is easy to remove other around it. So choose the one paver that perhaps has the jointing material already eroded away from it or is a good size for the tools you have to be able to lift.
The above tools that were recommended are the easiest to use to remove pavers. The teeth of these tools are placed into the joints of the paver. You may need to use a rubber mallet to get the teeth deeper into the joints depending on the width of them and the width of the teeth on the lifting tool. You also may need to adjust the size of the tool itself to the size of the paver that you are removing. Once the teeth are in place and at a sufficient depth to grasp the paver, you will need to lift and wiggle the paver side-to-side while lift to get the paver out of its place.
However, if the joint size of the pavers are tight (less than 1/8″) it may be difficult to get the teeth of these tools into the joints of the pavers. If this is the case, you may need to break a paver in order to begin to remove further pavers. To do this, use a hammer and chisel to remove a paver that you know you can replace with a spare paver.
Once one paver is out, you may be able to continue removing the remainder pavers by hand. Though you may need to continue to use the block paver removal tool to extract one or two more pavers before continuing with the ease of hand removal.
Once whatever the goal was to removing the pavers has been accomplished, you can replace the pavers and re-install the jointing compound. Prior to this, you should have some replacement pavers on hand just in case a paver is chipped or broken in the process. Knowing what pavers you have access to prior to removing and replacing pavers will help you decide which paver you should remove just in case it breaks and needs to be replaced.
Pavers can be extremely difficult to remove, which is also what makes them such a strong interlocking pavement surface to install. These tools are always handy to have around. They are not going to be used every day, but whenever they are needed we are happy to have them. Alternatively if you know that you have plenty of pavers to replace broken pieces, you can break one paver in order to lift it out and continue lifting as many as needed once that one is out. This is not always something we are able to do.