Thursday, April 30, 2015
I laid my first patio over 30 years ago. My father paid me 1 cent per brick laid and I hauled them 10 at a time in my radio flyer wagon. I thought building a patio was the coolest thing a 10-year-old could do and I spent the entire summer doing it. By August, I'm pretty certain I didn't think it was that cool anymore. Naturally, the bricks were 4" x 8" Holland Pavers as this was the only option for nearly the next 15 years. There is an astounding variety of colors, we could purchase red, brown, or black. The next summer I was provided with gloves and a spray bottle and tasked with ant patrol and weed removal. Thinking back, I have no idea what was in the bottle, but it certainly didn't work. By the end of the summer, most of it looked more like a garden and the ants had turned it into a large encampment. When I was 13 Dad threw in the towel and once again paid me 1 cent per brick to dust of the radio flyer, take the patio apart, and stack them in the back woods. Between this and mowing our 3 acre lawn with a push mower, I was told I would be "building character instead of a patio". At the time, I wasn't sure what he meant by that. I certainly didn't refer to the giant brick stacks in the woods as a character? I came home after baseball one day and a new poured concrete patio had arrived. Dad was pretty happy the following summer and so was I. There were no weeds to pull and no ants to be found. That didn't last long as we had 3 sections repoured and several of the steps mud jacked through my high school years. As the saying goes, "There are only two kinds of poured concrete; brand new and all cracked up."
Thankfully, I didn't have to call my sons to arms with the same patio battle. With the introduction of polymeric sand, ants and weeds growing through the patio is ancient history. New glues allow us to provide bonding even stronger than mortar and paver colors, shapes, and patterns have evolved to allow us incredible design options. Professional grade pavers today can have a compressive strength up to 4 times that of conventional poured concrete. Mudjacking is not in my boys future either as repairing a paver patio is as simple as pulling up a few pavers, adjusting the base, and simply relaying them. Borders, accents and inlays allow us to include intricate details that move not only the eyes but assist in defining space and controlling traffic flow. In future posts, I'll discuss each of these topics and we haven't even mentioned permeable pavers, seat walls, fire pits, or outdoor kitchens yet!