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Old 07-03-2007, 10:23 AM
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site-made polymeric sand fill

Hi, my first post. I'm wondering if anyone has tried or heard of what I'm hoping to do; this to save money and achieve a better solution - mixing mortar sand with portland cement for a paver joint fill. Depending upon the ratio, I think it could be superior to polymeric sand re. price and application/performance. Truly, Paul, Fine Design Build, Toronto, ON.
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Old 07-03-2007, 11:42 AM
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As it turns out there are several polymeric sands out there that have portland as part of their recipe, so this wouldn't be much of a stretch mixing on site. Part of what you pay for with bagged polymeric sand is the convenience of ready-made material in easy-to-handle quantities. Saves on labor. But if you think you can achieve savings by mixing on site, more power to you. I'm not sure the product would be superior, but I'm also not sure it would be much inferior to the pre-made stuff.

For our operations I like the consistency and ease of use and end result of bagged polymeric sand.


This discussion has been included in the site beginner's polymeric sand page.

Last edited by Stonehenge; 08-22-2007 at 12:05 PM..
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Old 07-03-2007, 01:34 PM
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Thanks, let's figure cost savings and application/performance (based on particular jobs) benefits vis a vis limited commonly marketed mixes. It all comes down to the ratios. The marketeers can never profitably produce, package, brand and distribute (through their channels) from distributing numerous pre-packaged mixes. Let's save the guy's doing the work - contractors - the profits, ease and HEALTH. Paul.
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Old 07-03-2007, 03:36 PM
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Savings, and possibly application ease, would be huge. All it comes down to is ratios. Let's experiment.
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Old 07-03-2007, 03:58 PM
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As for labour costs, I''m sure it costs more - in labour - to deal with a bag of cube foot ( x 1000 ) - than a truck full. Get rid of the unnecessary plastic-bagging. Let's work on the ratios so we can "save the planet" and pay ourselves.
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Old 07-03-2007, 04:01 PM
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You think so?

I'm thinking that bulk sand is always going to be moist, meaning it's never really going to sit down in the joints very well. And for an average project of say 500 sqft, I'm paying about $75 for the poly sand (5 bags @ $15). A bag of portland is probably $5-10, and bulk sand for that same volume would probably be $3-4. Let's say the mixing and added difficulty of spreading moist sand adds 1 hour of labor to the project. That's an opportunity cost of $50. That puts the difference at about $10-15 per project - for me personally, my preference is still the bagged material.

And the savings may be greater than the quick numbers I put out here. But to me it's still preferable to get in, get the job done, and get on to the next project.

My $.02, anyway.
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Old 07-03-2007, 04:03 PM
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Save the planet? I think I missed how mixing on site is going to save the planet.
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Old 07-03-2007, 04:28 PM
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Stonehenge, with all due respect, You'll get more moisture content in something bagged than bulk ( unless it's sitting in the rain) . Condenscation.
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Old 07-03-2007, 04:31 PM
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Sorry, "save the planet" referred to getting rid of plastic bags. MAYBE ok for weekenders, but contractors?
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Old 07-03-2007, 04:43 PM
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I remember the days before polymeric when we used to wet sweep in the jointing sand. Why wet sweep? Because the bulk sand was always to moist to sweep in. So it was wet sweep or wait until the sand spread on pavers dried in the sun.

I love the bagged poly sand. You never have too much or to little because you can always open another bag when needed. Bulk sand you always end up with too much. Handling a few bags of poly sand is just much easier than bulk sand. And who cares if it costs a couple of bucks more. The client pays for it.

Save the planet? All the bags that I use are paper
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Old 07-03-2007, 05:15 PM
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We digress so much. I don't see paper bags - I realize here in T.O. the cost differences between the ton verus a bag. I will go forward playing with mix, and hopefully others follow and report. I will always charge the customer for "everything" (according to my accountant) except inflated material costs. I suspect, based on "everything" I've read that bagged polymeric is a scam (harsh).
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Old 07-03-2007, 06:51 PM
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Let's go back to the issue of bulk sand being damp. How do you sweep the slightly damp mixture into the joints without leaving a residue on the surface of the pavers? The poly sand that we buy is totally dry and it gets completely removed from the surface of the patio before we introduce any water. If any poly sand is left on the surface, it's a slow chore to remove. Are you going to put any polymer into the mixture?
p.s. One brand here arrives in plastic bags and the other brand is in paper bags. With a bag of product per 100 sq. ft. of pavers, it is a small amount of packaging. Do you also object to your pavers arriving with plastic shrink wrapping?
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Old 07-03-2007, 07:33 PM
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D/B, what happens to all the excess material you'll have when you're done with a project (and you will have excess material)? The portland will absorb the moisture from the sand and harden the whole works, making it: 1) useless, and 2) a landfill problem. Now, instead of a few empty paper bags, you have a few hundred pounds of something you have to pay to dispose of that takes up more landfill space. Not much of a planet saver, it appears.

Not to mention the film the Lanelle mentions, which will occur when the moist portland/sand mix sits atop those pavers while you sweep it in/wait for it to dry.

I'm not sure why you think polymeric sand is a scam - it does what it advertises.

This is sounding like it's coming from someone with an axe to grind.
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Old 07-03-2007, 10:15 PM
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Maybe I should re-word somehow - I hope the only axes I have to grind are for something positive. Just limited to GTX forums, I've seen many cases against polymeric including residue. Mixing a 2-part (sand & cement) on-site is simple and controlled. Of course paper-wrapping/bagging something will control moisture by being an absorbent. I wish to be convinced that there is an advantage to polymeric, but I can't see it cost-wise (including labour) or health-wise - who knows what's in polymeric and how it affects us whereas I've inhaled cement for many years, perhaps explaining my less- than-logical moments. Also, I want to getaway from picking one of the 2 extremes (lesser of evils?) being sand or polymeric. I'm fooling with a light 9:1 ratio hoping to get some advantage. Respectfully, Paul.
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Old 07-03-2007, 10:29 PM
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Lanelle, my objections are pretty mild - I just don't want to be unnecessarily wasteful (disposal/clean-up costs $ too). Given that we mix paper-sacked (= dry, the only way it could be useful) cement and RELATIVELY dry sand, can there be more application limitations than using polymeric? Who would argue that sand is more fickle than poly?
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