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An important, but often skipped step, in the installation of a jointing compound for pavers is the compaction of the pavers. This proper installation of the jointing compound helps with the interlocking system that pavers provide, but when completed improperly it could mean the irreversible scuffing of pavers. To protect your pavers, you need to have some sort of protective pad or layer between your compactor and the paving surface.
Pad for Plate Compactor
Having a pad for your plate compactor will allow you to compact the pavement surface without scuffing or damaging the surface of the pavers. It is important before you do this to remove any debris from the pavement surface or from your compactor that may be stuck to the bottom of the plate or settled onto the plate compactor itself. This debris may loosen during the process and could scuff the pavers when you move over it. The pad that you use for your compactor needs to be made of a hard plastic based product to transfer the vibratory impact of the compactor to the pavement surface without softening it while also being non-scuffing or leaving marks behind as the plate compactor moves over the surface.
This paver pad is the most inexpensive and useful option I have found available. In the past I have tried several different options including using clamps and other plates to fasten a pad to my compactor. However, it was just easier in the end to purchase this pad and the clamps that come with it for the easiest use and to save my own time.
The benefits of this pad for your plate compactor in the process of compacting your pavers is that it is quite easy to install on the front of your compactor, it fits on most compactors as long as the lip of your compactor is not too thick for the clamps, and it does not reduce the vibratory impact of the compactor onto the pavement surface. The clamps work well to fasten the pad onto the front of the plate compactor when hand fastened, though it does take some time to accomplish this which eats into the efficiency of this process. With some alternatives to a compactor pad, the vibratory impact of the compactor can be cushioned. This reduces the effectiveness of consolidating the jointing compound into the joints of the pavers while also setting the pavers into the bedding material.
Plate Compactor Pad Alternative
There are a couple of compactor pad alternatives that you can use on a budget or to splurge on if you have the budget in your business and feel you will get enough use out of. There are pros and cons to each of these options that we highlight below.
- Compacting Pavers with Plywood or Carpet
- Paver Roller Compactor
Both of these options will work in a pinch. However, both have their drawbacks. Plywood is another fairly hard material that will allow the impact of the plate compactor to be transferred to the paving surface allowing proper consolidation of the joint material and bedding of the pavers into the bedding layer. Sometimes if the plywood is used often for other purposes, like a highway over the grass to a backyard patio, it can have gravel or mud on it that can loosen and land on the patio during the compaction process and then cause markings on the patio when you inevitably run it over with the compactor. The same thing can happen with material on your compactor if you do not properly clean it off before using it over your paving surface. Plywood also forces you to have to spend time leapfrogging the plywood one ahead of the other which can become tedious or require two people to do so.
Carpet on the other hand can cover a larger area or allow you to strap it to your plate compactor. Just make sure that it does not scuff your pavers in a small area before continuing. The drawback to carpet is that it will soften the blow from the compactor to your paving surface lessening the impact and vibratory compaction of the jointing material into the paver joints and the bedding of the pavers into the bedding layer. We had used a rubber pad for a compactor and had it strapped to it, but stopped using it for this reason.
This specialized piece of equipment is specifically used to consolidate jointing material and bed pavers without the need to have something protecting the pavers from being scuffed. Additionally, it does a better job of protecting the pavers or slabs that you are compacting from breaking under the vibratory compaction when compared to using a plate compactor and a protective pad. This is especially important when compacting 1″ thick material like square cut natural stone or larger slabs which can be costly to break and replace. It makes this step in the installation of pavers a complete breeze without having to install a pad on a plate compactor and clean it off or leapfrog plywood. The trade-off is the cost of the equipment in relation to how often it would be used, especially in a smaller hardscape company.
Whatever option you move towards, the important thing is that you do not skip this important step in the process of installing interlock and that you find something to protect the surface of the pavers themselves during this. There is nothing worse than realizing you have scuffed pavers during this process. When I worked for a paver supplier, I once had a customer come in and complain about this same thing happening throughout their entire new backyard patio. Each of the bundles of pavers leave the yard with a sticker on them saying that you need to use something to protect the plate compactor during this stage of the process. This is why. There are tumbled or aged pavers that you can get away without a pad for your compactor, but I still suggest a pad be used in order to reduce the number of pavers that may be chipped or cracked.