All about pavers and hardscaping

Permeable pavers

Pavers are very well known across the hardscape market, as they have been dominating it for decades. The most recent generation of pavers, the permeable ones, has also been conquering the hearth of many homeowners. But how exactly do they work? Is there permeable sand for pavers?

This domination that pavers have over the market happens for a good reason, as no other element combines aesthetic appeal and structural strength so perfectly.

Permeable pavers double down of advantages by being the most environmental-friendly flooring option in the entire hardscape industry.

However, their installation is quite different from what a regular paver installation would be, which includes the entire bedding and the sand. So, why don’t we start by clarifying the differences between sand in a regular and a permeable installation?

Permeable Sand for Pavers: Regular x Permeable

In a regular paver installation, the bedding is created to prevent infiltration as much as possible. Proper drainage is a big part of installation, as well as the establishment of proper slope.

The road base used for the bedding is compacted many times to ensure a solid structure. On top of that, a layer of sand is added, in which the pavers will be placed upon.

Once the pavers are in place, polymeric sand is added to fill the joint between the pavers. Polymeric sand is a special kind of sand that becomes a powerful bonding agent when wet. The goal of the polymeric sand in an installation is precisely to keep water from infiltrating it.

Now, on permeable paver installation, things works quite different.

First of all, the goal is completely different. In a permeable paver installation, you actually the water to infiltrate it. The entire installation is built to take advantage of it.

So the bedding is completely different and much more complex, a simple road base won’t suffice. The bedding in a permeable installation is created by using different sizes of washed rock. Starting big and getting smaller as they reach the top.

Also, the excavation needs to be much deeper. Around 30% deeper, to be more precise. Since you’re working with rocks, there is much more compaction involved. In fact, it is recommended that you add the gravel in 2″ increments so you can compact it all the way.

Now for something that might be shocking: permeable paver installations don’t need sand.

That’s right. There is no such thing as permeable sand. Instead, ¼-10 gravel is used as the final layer in which the pavers will be placed.

As for the grout lines, they are filled with this exact same type of gravel, so the space between the pavers are slightly wider than a regular installation would.

There are some specific products in market that can simulate the polymeric sand for a permeable installation, but we recommend you talk to your contractor before buying anything.

Advantages of Permeable Pavers

Since the installation process is much more difficult, you might be wondering if it’s even worth it to go for a permeable paver installation. The answer is yes, absolutely.

Permeable installations can deal with the water flow in three different degrees:

Infiltration System
In that case, the installation will simply allow the water to pass through and be absorbed by the water table.

Attenuation System
In this system, the water is absorbed just the same. but instead of being absorbed by the water table, the water is redirected to a drainage system, where it can be safely disposed.

Collection System
This is the epitome of hardscape technology. With a collection system, you will be able to store the water that is absorbed by the installation. With a proper filtering system, it can even be used to water plants and wash cars. Is the most environmental friendly choice you can make in hardscape.

Permeable pavers

Professional Installation

For any of these systems to work properly, a professional installation is highly required. While a regular paver installation can be tackled from a DIY perspective without many risks, a permeable installation cannot. It is too complex for non-professionals in hardscape.

Here at S&S Pavers, over our 12 years of activity, we have worked on countless permeable installations, and we know how tricky things might get. Having a professional at your side is the best course of action you can take, and that’s why we always recommend finding one in your area you can trust.

If you happen to be around our area of activity, why not give us a call to help you? You can contact us any time for a free estimate on our services. Call us right now at 941-773-3098 or email us at We would be happy to hear from you.