Polymeric sand is a useful material that acts as a filler.
One of the most common uses is for paver joints.
Knowing when to replace polymeric sand is important for the durability of pavers.
Here’s what you need to know.
How Long Does Polymeric Sand Last?
Polymeric sand lasts for 10 years.
High-quality polymeric sand can last for 15 years.
Installing polymeric sand the right way ensures that it lasts for a decade.
Problems during the curing process can decrease its lifespan.
How Does Polymeric Sand Work?
Polymeric sand consists of fine sand that has adhesive agents added to it.
Those agents react to water and form a tight bond that hardens when it dries.
The sand bonds to the pavers around it as well.
Once it dries, the result is a smooth seam of sand that holds the pavers together.
They’re locked in place and unable to twist or skid away.
Incorrect application of polymeric sand can decrease its lifespan.
It’s important to know what to look for to get the most out of the polymeric sand.
Factors That Can Decrease The Lifespan Of Your Polymeric Sand
There are a few factors that can decrease the lifespan of your polymeric sand.
When it works, polymeric sand hardens.
When it goes wrong, only small parts of the sand will harden, or none of it will.
Here are a few factors that may cause the polymeric sand to fail.
1. It Rained
It’s always a good idea to check the weather before installing polymeric sand.
While you need water at first to start the curing process, you don’t want it later.
The initial drying of polymeric sand is crucial to its longevity later.
Rain can seep to the bottom of the sand and keep it moist.
This makes it impossible for the polymeric sand to dry for an extended time.
It also means certain layers of the sand may cure where other layers don’t.
The surface of the sand will cure and harden first.
The problem is that if it hardens first, then it can be difficult for the moist bottom to cure.
2. Installation In The Shade
Installing polymeric sand in the shade can also cause problems.
Standard polymeric sand cures in an hour.
That time may increase if it’s drying in a shaded area.
Without sunlight, the drying process takes longer.
Shaded areas are moister than other areas, too.
The bottom of the sand may be wetter than the surface of the sand even before anyone adds water.
3. The Patio Is Incorrectly Pitched
It’s important that your pavers are completely level if you plan on using polymeric sand.
There can’t be any different pitches. If the pavers pitch towards one side, then water will collect in that area.
The sand in those areas will have a harder time drying than in other areas.
The polymeric sand may cure well in some areas, but because it didn’t cure in that one area, the entire project fails.
4. Failure To Compact Pavers And Sand
Many homeowners believe that because they compacted their pavers, they don’t need to compact the sand.
This isn’t true.
Once the polymeric sand is in place, it needs compacting.
This step ensures that the sand holds moisture evenly.
Sand that doesn’t go through this process is fluffier.
It holds water more.
That makes curing impossible.
Compacting the sand also removes air bubbles.
These bubbles can make the sand deteriorate over time.
Any of these factors can decrease the lifespan of your polymeric sand.
Installing it the right way ensures you receive 10 years of use out of your polymeric sand.
What’s The Best Way To Use Polymeric Sand?
Polymeric sand is best for pavers and walkways.
However, the paver joints need to be no greater than 1/4 to 1.5 inches wide.
Anything wider than that won’t perform well.
Large gaps are better suited for polymeric dust.
Can You Add Cement To Polymeric Sand?
Yes, you can add cement to polymeric sand.
Some manufacturers include cement in their sand already.
It holds the pavers together tighter and longer.
The problem with using polymeric sand with cement is that it can create hazing.
Hazing refers to a powdery film that coats the paver.
It can block the color and looks unprofessional.
Using polymeric sand without cement is the best way to avoid hazing.
However, you can also find products that can help remove the haze from the pavers.
Hazing does not affect the lifespan of the polymeric sand.
It may annoy you enough to remove the paver and sand with it, though.
Are There Different Colors Of Polymeric Sand?
Yes, there are different colors of polymeric sand.
Some of the most common colors include the following:
Colors can blend well with the pavers, or you can choose to highlight the sand by using contrasting colors.
The use of manufactured color polymeric sand does not decrease its lifespan.
Can You Add Color To Existing Polymeric Sand?
No, you should not add color pigments to existing polymeric sand.
If you choose to add color to the polymeric sand that isn’t colored, then it could impede the curing process.
Most pigments on the market are water-based.
When you add them to polymeric sand, then you’re adding water to it.
It’ll start the curing process even if you’re not ready for it to harden.
You need to use dry pigments.
You’ll also need the right kind of equipment to mix the dry pigment with the sand.
The entire time, you’re at risk of decreasing the lifespan of the polymeric sand.
If you want a color, then you should choose polymeric sand that is already colored.
How Long Does It Take For Polymeric Sand To Dry?
It takes at least 24 hours for polymeric sand to dry.
In most cases, after an hour of drying, the sand is able to interact with rain.
No one should touch or move the pavers while the sand is drying.
Disturbing the pavers can disrupt the sand from its location.
It may add moisture to it and make the curing process fail.
Shaded areas need more time to dry and cure.
What’s The Difference Between Polymeric Sand And Jointing Sand?
The two terms are often used interchangeably.
They’re similar in that they both contain silica and become hard after water exposure.
Jointing sand is different in that it’s sometimes made of grains.
The bonding process is the same.
The result is also the same.
Does Polymeric Sand Drain Water?
Polymeric sand drains water at first.
During installation, water seeps through the sand to the bottom.
Then it hardens as it dries.
If it’s cured, then water will find it difficult to seep through it again.
Some water will pass through it regardless.
The problem occurs when the polymeric sand didn’t cure correctly.
If this occurs, then water will drain through it and settle at the bottom.
This can cause the pavers to move as moisture softens the ground beneath them.
You can maintain the lifespan of your polymeric sand by only adding the amount of water it needs to cure.
Then keep it dry for as long as possible before using it.
Will Polymeric Sand Block Weeds And Grass?
Yes, polymeric sand can block weeds and grass.
One of the reasons homeowners use polymeric sand for their pavers is to keep grass and weeds from growing.
The grass and weeds stick out between the pavers.
It makes them look unkempt and unprofessional.
Polymeric sand blocks them from growing.
If it is cured, then the growth of weeds and grass won’t decrease the lifespan of the polymeric sand.
If it didn’t cure, then the growth of grass and weeds may make it deteriorate faster.
The shoots can push through the sand and further disrupt its adhesive bonds.
Letting the polymeric sand cure can ensure weeds and grass don’t decrease its lifespan.
Does Deicing Pavers Lower The Lifespan Of Polymeric Sand?
No, deicing agents will not lower the lifespan of polymeric sand.
Deicers come in salt forms and chemical forms.
Neither of them interferes with the lifespan of polymeric sand.
They are useful to remove snow and ice on walkways and driveways.
Since they only melt ice into water, they don’t disrupt the adhesive bond in the sand.
Will Saltwater From The Pool Lower The Lifespan Of Polymeric Sand?
Saltwater from the pool will not decrease the lifespan of polymeric sand.
Salt doesn’t interfere with the adhesive bonds in polymeric sand.
You can install the sand in your pavers around your saltwater pool without worry.
The biggest threat to your polymeric sand is the water from the pool.
The entire area should be empty while the sand cures.
Splashing water onto it can keep it from curing.
How Long Will Improperly Cured Polymeric Sand Last?
If the polymeric sand didn’t cure right, then it won’t last 10 years.
Partial curing may earn you a few years of use.
If it didn’t cure at all, then the project should be redone.
Leaving the uncured polymeric sand alone will cause the rest of the sand to fail.
It will allow the pavers to move out of position.
The adhesive bonds in polymeric sand aren’t strong enough to hold it in place due to movement.
You can re-do your installation of polymeric sand by cutting out the paver.
Then wash away the sand with water.
You may need to leave it under the water for several hours.
Then let the paver completely dry.
Attempting another installation with wet pavers will lead to another failure.
The sand will start the curing process immediately rather than when it’s all inserted.
Will Using A Power Washer On The Pavers Affect The Lifespan Of Polymeric Sand?
Using a power washer on pavers can cause some damage to the polymeric sand.
It’s the power of the blast rather than the water that causes the damage.
If the stream hits the polymeric sand directly, then it can force it out of the joint.
The moisture that’s left behind can then cause further damage.
While you can top off the sand with a new coat, you’ll need to wait until the pavers are dry.
Meanwhile, the existing sand is already damaged.
If you must use a power washer to clean your pavers, then aim for the pavers only.
Otherwise, you can find other means of cleaning them without damaging the polymeric sand.
If mold is the problem, then there are mold killers that are safe for use on polymeric sand.
Using a power washer can decrease the length of polymeric sand’s utility.