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Old 08-20-2007, 10:59 AM
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envirosand washing out

Our patio was completed 6 days ago. Contractor used envirosand
between pavers which is washing out, granules all over.
He used the color "granite" which from what I read
was designed for
darker pavers and our are limestone/sandstone.
Rain for three days and it appears that some pavers are
already sinking.
We designed our home without gutters
so on the sides the rain falls directly onto to the pavers.
Called once about the washout and was told to give it a
week, the excess will wash away and the remainder will
harden. The patio does not get a lot of sun.
Should I insist he remove envirosand and use a polymeric
sand? The contractor told me once towards the end of the job that nothing
he could do would make me happy. This patio cost
$30,000. and I felt entitled to happiness.
I want to be informed before contacting him again.
Any advice is appreciated!
I am attaching photos. Thank you.
Attached Thumbnails
envirosand washing out-paver-issues-wince-.jpg  
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:35 PM
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Why do I feel my lawyer's eyes on me at this moment?
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Old 08-20-2007, 02:31 PM
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What does that mean? I posted this question to receive
advice not sarcasm.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:13 PM
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Hi Phyllis, I think Greensmith is commenting on how your setup seems to have lawsuit written all over it - it wasn't a personal attack. Please bear in mind that this site was originally built for landscape contractors.

Now, to the question at hand - at first I thought you'd said the patio was built six years ago, and I was thinking - sheez, it looks like only one paver moved in six years, that's pretty good performance.

But six days is something different.

I'm not a fan of Envirobond sand for the very reason you are witnessing - when it's thoroughly wet, it's about as soft as beach sand. When it dries, it dries up hard, but often times there are weed seeds sitting in those joints, and when that water gets in and softens that sand, those seeds germinate and grow. This would also apply to any other sand with an organic binder.

I don't know anything about your contractor and their experience with organic and synthetic binder sands, so I'll say this: when I first installed a project with Enivrobond sand, I was led to beleive that once it got hard, it stayed hard, and the softening during subsequent rains was minimal. I confidently said the same thing to the client, and later had quite a bit of egg on my face when they had more grass growing between their pavers than they did in their lawn. I was very embarrassed and angry, and that experience has affected my product choice, as one might expect.

Your contractor may be in the same boat, and have little experience with sands using organic binders, and may not be aware that washout can be a real issue with that sand. So I'm not here to pass judgement on whether what your contractor did was right or not.

From the picture you posted, I can only see a single paver that appears to be sitting below the rest - that issue may be more pervasive than that, but that's all I can see. With that, I'm left to wonder if the paver (or pavers) themselves weren't made within ideal specs - we use one mfg in my market sparingly because their pavers and block can vary +/- 1/8". Put one from each end of the spectrum next to each other and you have a 1/4" difference. That's pretty big and noticeable. Without being there to see the project, it would be very difficult to be sure if that was the case or not.

But no matter what, I believe you have 2 separate issues here, one concerning the different elevations of different pavers (caused either by variations in paver thickness or inadequate base prep), and one concerning the joint sand. Washing out of joint sand would not cause pavers to settle. If the rains were torrential for three solid days and the base prep included a course of bedding sand, then maybe. But it's very unlikely.

To fix the joint sand washout issue, my recommendation would be to wash out the organic binder sand, allow everything to dry completely, then install polymeric sand.

Hope that helps.


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

Last edited by Stonehenge; 08-22-2007 at 12:06 PM..
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Old 08-20-2007, 04:54 PM
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Thank you for your answer. I do believe the contractor thought
he was applying the correct product for our patio. We live on
a lake and there is pressure from the ice against the seawall in
the winter and the envirobond is advertised to adjust for
shifting. Now he said he will replace it with Unilock polymeric
sand but when I asked his wife/secretary if he was going to power wash the remainder of the envirosand she said no,
he would scrape it out and top it with the Unilock product.
I have read enough to now know that is not the way it should
be applied so what, in your opinion, should I say to him?
Doesn't the Unilock polymeric sand have to go down about
1 1/2" to be effective? Ideally, should he powerwash the old
stuff out then return the next day or two and apply the
polymeric sand?
Polymeric sand was not in my vocabulary before today....
Appreciate your input!
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:08 PM
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Unfortunately omy role here really isn't that of client advocate, so I'm not sure I want to give you advice on what you should or shouldn't say to your contractor. However, I believe the input I gave in my previous post is accurate, including the recommendation of how to remedy the sand problem. How that's communicated to your contractor is up to you. Good luck with your situation, and I hope it ends with all parties being satisfied.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:48 AM
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Maybe the contractor doesn't have a power washing machine or maybe he has done it like that before with good results.
Why not offer to him to pay for the rental of the power washer.
I don't know all the facts of this but sometimes we do certain things for customers with no charge cause we consider then small and at the end of the job they find a little detail which we had no control over and customer expects that to be fixed 100% our cost and that makes me feel they're trying to take advantage, but if the customers just propose or is willing to work something up the whole issue changes.

Last edited by AZTLANLC; 08-21-2007 at 11:54 AM..
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Old 08-21-2007, 12:53 PM
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What we decided is that we will wait until spring by which time
the envirstone may be washed out completely or by some
miracle, cured.
I have been working with the contractor, I liked him from the start and have paid him during the job when he didn't even ask
for payment merely because his crew was there for many days.
I gave his crew thank you cards with money for their
hard work. I made fast food runs and served sandwiches and
bottled water.
The entire job took about a month and I offered payment as
we went along so I am not a crummy consumer nor am I
complaining about a minor issue.
I thank everyone who took the time to write but I think the
issue is resolved.
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Old 08-21-2007, 02:35 PM
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Sorry for my response Phyllis, you sound like a reasonable customer.

I do have a question, you mentioned a gutterless house. Is a large sq Ft of the roof draining directly onto the pavers? Is it coming down hard onto this surface?
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Old 08-21-2007, 04:49 PM
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There is not a large area falling directly onto the pavers,
on both sides of the house is an area of pea gravel with
drain tiles running underneath so the water splashes and
is drained. Maybe twenty feet on either side of the patio
the rain will fall directly onto to the pavers. Until I found this
site it never occured to me to talk about the lack of gutters
to our contractor. The last time it rained I walked out to
see where the water was landing and fortunately it was
coming down not on the joints but in the center of the pavers
so that made me feel better. We have a "walk around" on
the side of the house as we have 8 sliding doors in the sunroom
so the sides of the patio come out about 4 feet only and
extend to twenty feet in the front facing the lake.
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Old 08-21-2007, 07:44 PM
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Water off a roof will pretty much wash any poly sand away, even if it isn't hitting the joints directly. Much like a flood will wash a house away.

I want to clarify one thing and want to make sure the impression that poly sand 'bonds' the pavers together is not correct. I know that I've done jobs where we pulled pavers up with poly and have had 3-4 of them glued together, but in no way am I under the impression that poly sand makes pavers stronger because it glues them together. I got the impression this was kind of being implied here.

Also, if the sea wall is moving, poly sand will adjust itself in the sense that it is flexibe, and unlike materails such as mortar, won't crack itself.......It is not going to stop the pavers themselves from moving and adjusting . Its just not going to crack out of the joints as easily as something like mortared joints would. If the sea wall is moving, the pavers are going to move with it, regardless of what is in the joints.

I never realized how confusing some of this stuff can be and must say that it is misleading, and am glad places like this site exist so that people can be educated on what things do. I think there are just as many contractors as their are homeowners who are left in the dark on subjects like this.

Does anyone ever think that maybe, just maybe, good old sand did have a value in paver joints?????? Is poly really solving all the problems that it was meant to cure??????? I still wonder if the problems we are solving aren't being cancelled out by the problems we are creatiing.

Last edited by PSUscaper; 08-21-2007 at 07:49 PM..
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Old 08-21-2007, 09:13 PM
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The sand we use is a poly sand; that is to say there is not an organic binder in it (which would then preclude it from being "polymeric"). Organic binder sands are the ones that "heal" themselves when they are re-wetted, polymeric sands do not.

I was re-reading this thread and couldn't find where there was an indication that any sand does the job of holding pavers together. Any sand improves interlock versus nothing at all, but no sand can prevent the movement of what is in engineering terms a 'flexible pavement'.

I would tend to agree on the water falling directly on the pavers - it doesn't need to hit the joints directly to erode the sand - falling water is not what carved out the Grand Canyon. But without being there to see exactly what is going on, suggesting a remedy for that issue is probably beyond the scope of this thread.
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Old 08-27-2007, 02:56 AM
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are you paying the contractor for the extra work?
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:32 PM
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Extra work? My patio was completed 2 weeks ago and I have
sand all over the patio and we can't utilize the patio without
my husband first using the leaf blower to clear the patio then
the next time it rains it's the same thing. I can't walk out there
barefoot or wear the same shoes inside the house and I
placed a rug by the sliding door to absorb some of the grit so
it doesn't get ground into our wood floors. My dog doesn't
want to sit on the patio as the granules irritate his paws
and in some areas it's entirely washed out (lots of rain these
past few days) so I thought that perhaps the contractor
would redo it for no charge seeing as the warranty shouldn't
expire when the guys leave the driveway.
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:03 PM
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you are here asking for help.
you will not get any from me.
you might have if you would have been a lot less defensive.
yes or no would have been sufficient.
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