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Engraved Pavers

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By Gregory V. Harris, regional editor

The engraved bricks are placed after all of the plain bricks are placed on the walkway. A paver extractor is used to remove the plain bricks. After the engraved bricks are placed, the project is completed in a similar fashion to traditional paver installations.

An increasingly popular fundraising method for business and institutions nationwide is the selling of engraved pavers that are installed on walkways.

As part of a $20 million Alumni Center project, North Dakota State University officials are offering alumni, parents and friends of the Fargo-based university the opportunity to purchase stone tiles that are placed in the building’s “Walk of Pride.”

The Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee ordered 18,000 engraved clay pavers for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. These pavers were incorporated into the overall landscape architecture and hardscapes that the city used when it developed Gateway Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City. This feature was a prominent part of the pathways to shopping, restaurants, and connecting points to the Olympic venues.

The National War Museum in Harrisburg has two memorial brick programs, the Walk of Valor, which provides donors with the opportunity to remember those who served in the Civil War, and the Friends Walkway, designed to give museum visitors the opportunity to give back to the museum.

These Leave Your Mark engraved pavers are made using dark stone manufactured by Western Interlock, installed as part of a fundraising effort at the Jacksonville, Oregon Library. The pavers have a polyurethane protective coating.

A library project in Jacksonville, Oregon used commemorative pavers as a fundraiser to generate $125,000 toward construction of the building.

Materials used in these types of walkways include: clay brick and concrete aggregate pavers, tile, granite, granite and marble. Bricks and clay pavers are two of the more popular materials in use, and according to Matt Haak, the process to engrave these pavers is rather straightforward.

“We start out with the text or logos that will be engraved,” explained Haak, co-owner of Olde Mill Impressions. “The text is imported to the computer and then made into a stencil. The stencil is sandblasted onto the paver.”

Haak said after sandblasting, the paver is cleaned, then Lithochrome is applied to prevent weather damage and premature wear and tear. Smooth clay pavers and pavers using a hard facing are easier to engrave, he said, adding the larger concrete pavers can be tricky, especially if a piece of aggregate is struck during the engraving process.

Bricks and clay pavers are two of the more popular engraved stone produced by Olde Mill Impressions. These bricks were engraved using a technique in which stencils of the text are sandblasted onto the paver. Lithochrome is applied to the surface of the paver to prevent weather damage and premature wear and tear.

Haak said his company can produced one finished engraved paver in two to three days, with larger projects being completed in two to three weeks.

“Engraving the pavers is a fairly labor intensive process,” he admitted.

In addition to the engraved pavers for use as fundraising materials, engraved pavers are used on the residential landscape as custom street number of address signage and for decorative applications on private walkways.

Pavers can be engraved using a variety of processes. Companies such as Olde Mill Impressions and Profit Resources prefer to sandblast stencils on the pavers, while others use lasers to engrave the text and/or designs on the pavers, a process known as Vitralase.

Tom Bauer of Profit Resources said the sandblast method worked well for that company’s project to provide the large number of Whitacre Greer clay pavers for the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee. After engraving the pavers, Bauer said a Profit Resources applies a proprietary grout to the engraved infill to protect the engraving.

“We scheduled delivery of the product over a four to five month period, and it went well,” Bauer said.

The Oregon-based company Leave Your Mark approaches the engraved paver process in a slightly different manner. Rather than sandblasting or using a laser to engrave pavers, Leave Your Mark engraves text and logos onto a bronze plaque. The plaque is then placed onto the paver.

Profit Resources sandblasted the names of the many volunteers who assisted the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee in bringing the 2002 Winter Olympics to the city. The engravings have been filled with a proprietary grout to keep the pavers in excellent condition.

“We use pavers by Western Interlock and our products come in two sizes, a four-inch by eight-inch brick size, and an eight-inch by eight-inch paver,” said Peter Cislo of Leave Your Mark.

The rectangular plaques used for the engraving are silicon Herculean bronze that can hold up to 54 letters and three lines of text. Cislo said the pavers used for the Jacksonville library project were painted with polyurethane that is UV protected to help extend the life of the paver.

Although a variety of methods to engrave pavers and a large number of companies that specialize in these pavers are available, the installation of the paver into the walkways is similar. In fact, there is very little difference in the installation of engraved pavers to that of “plain” pavers.

In many walkway and driveway projects, four or five pavers are used for each square foot of property to be covered. Contractors typically use crushed rock or class 5 fill as a base, creating a layer four to 12 inches thick over the area to be paved. Construction fabric is used to help stabilize organic or recently disturbed soils and coarse sand is used to create a layer over the entire base area and to fill the space between individual pavers once the project is completed.

After this is done, contractors set the pavers on the sand in the desired pattern. The pavers are typically set tightly against one another, with bricks being set with 1/8-inch joint between them. Haak said as an example, a project that calls for a walkway that is 100 feet long by three feet wide, 200 engraved bricks can be installed at the same time.

More than 18,000 engraved pavers for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City were used as part of the Gateway Plaza in the downtown area. The pathways serve as the connecting point to the Olympic venues. Whitacre Greer clay pavers make up the pathways.

“Once all of the blank bricks are placed, you would use a paver extractor to take out the plain bricks that will be replaced by the engraved bricks,” he said. “Using a paver extractor is a must, because it makes the work so much easier.”

After all the pavers are in place, contractors spread sand over the entire area. Using a broom, they then sweep sand around until all the crevices between the pavers or bricks are filled. After this, a tamping machine is run over the surface of the pavers until the crevices are full of sand.

The ease of installation for the engraved brick pavers is an added bonus to those institutions that sell the bricks as part of a fundraising effort. Cislo said that rather than being locked in to a certain number of engraved pavers for a walkway, institutions could make as many pavers as requested available. Once an engraved paver is purchased, it can easily replace a plain paver in the walkway.

Haak said despite requiring lots of labor, engraving pavers is not too difficult, if the engraver is experienced.

“Once you do it enough, you can produce the finished product without too much difficulty,” he said. “Years of experience are required to get that magic touch.”


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October 17, 2019, 9:16 am PDT

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