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Current Tool Technology in Today’s Hardscapes



By Tom Schnetzler, Commercial Wall Specialist, Pavestone Company




The paver cart will not only save you time and money, it will also help reduce the risk of injuries on the job site. Some paver carts even include optional features such as a third wheel for even more stability on rough terrain or going up hills.
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Just as today’s hardscapes continue to improve, so does the technology in tools and accessories. It is the choice that you make—not the compromise—which will enhance your project for years to come.

Many tools and accessories are available to assist you in paver applications. Here are some examples of products and procedures that will not only help make you more profitable, but will keep your design looking just as your customer envisioned.

Layout

Beginning with the layout, I recommend using a String Along. This is a collar type tool that slides over a grade stake. It will allow you to remove and replace your string line at a set grade without resetting the lines. Just simply un-tie and re-tie the line back into the grove that you set your elevation to.

In setting the elevation, be sure to use a laser level for a precise and timely layout. When you start to square your project up, you may want to consider using a folding paver square. These squares usually are 4-inches by 4-inches. This user-friendly tool also includes a square that has a 45-degree angle across the back giving you two squares in one.






The paver extractor is easy to use and will only remove one paver at a time. Adjust the tool to the length of the paver and tap the tapered teeth down between the joints. Then pull the two handles together, applying force to squeeze the teeth into the paver, allowing you enough of a grip to remove it.

Base Installation

Moving on to the base installation, you can use a geo-textile fabric over the sub-grade to eliminate the migration of the base into the soils of your sub grade. This will allow the base to stay compacted and provide adequate support for your pavers. As you are laying out your base, a base rake is a great tool to use. With its solid face, it will disperse the base evenly and much quicker than a traditional garden rake. In addition several tool choices are available for screeding your sand. For instance, you can use a titanium screed bar. This bar will not be susceptible to warping and will give you a nice level screed. A rake-type screed bar will allow you to screed while remaining standing, giving you the advantage of working while not bent over.

If space is an issue for getting machinery into a backyard or a narrow space, there are a few manufacturers that now have walk/ride behind machinery. They come with all the attachments that your full-size skid steers have including the power to do the job.






Adjustable paver scribes can be run off the outside edge of your edging to mark your pavers with a perfect inside radius. There are also flexible markers that will stay in place while you scribe out a random radius.


Getting Pavers to the Site

Moving pavers can be a difficult task. If you are still using a wheel barrow, not only can it cost you a lot of time, but you also risk damaging your pavers. Look into paver carts, which are both lightweight and are very stable. Some paver carts even include optional features such as a third wheel for even more stability on rough terrain or going up hills. Another option is a cart tray for transporting equipment back and forth to the project. The paver cart will not only save you time and money, it will also help reduce the risk of injuries on the job site. Check with your local manufacturer for paver packaging configurations to make sure its compatible with the paver cart.

Dealing With Existing Pavers

Another basic tool for hardscapes is the paver extractor. Most everyone will use a screwdriver when trying to remove pavers. Not only will this damage your screwdriver, it will increase the time it takes you to remove the paver and the surrounding pavers that will be pushed out of place. The paver extractor is easy to use and will only remove one paver at a time. You just adjust the tool to the length of the paver and tap the tapered teeth down between the joints. Then pull the two handles together, applying force to squeeze the teeth into the paver, allowing you enough grip to remove it. Please note paver extractors are shape dependent and cannot be used on all paver shapes.

The paver adjuster is another great tool to consider. In addition to saving you time and tool damage, it will help save your back by keeping you from bending over. It is simply a tapered tooth tool on the end of a bar with a T handle on top. It allows you to stand up and gives you the leverage to straighten several pavers at the same time.






Paver splitters have improved tremendously over the last several years. There are now specific splitters for pavers, walls, slabs and stone. Some are even hydraulic, which allow for an even more precise split in each application. A split of a wall will only take seconds versus sawing through a 4-inch to 8-inch thick wall block. With the amount of material you have in a wall block, you could go through saw blades rather quickly.


Marking and Cutting

When marking and cutting pavers, there are several options available. You have adjustable paver scribes that you can run off the outside edge of your edging to mark your pavers with a perfect inside radius. There are also flexible markers that will stay in place while you scribe out a random radius. You also can get a template that will fit over the paver, giving you quick and accurate marking of the paver.

After completing all of your marking, you now can start to cut or split your products. There are several table saws and cut-off saws that you can operate wet or dry. Saw cuts on pavers and retaining walls will give you a very clean, crisp cut. This will also be helpful for high profile jobs where cuts may be required. Paver splitters have improved tremendously over the last several years. There are now specific splitters for pavers, walls, slabs and stone. Some are even hydraulic, which allow for an even more precise split in each application.

In today’s market, we are seeing a large presence of tumbled pavers. With a tumbled paver you do not want a sharp saw-cut edge. A paver splitter will work great to give you this effect. In fact, there is a tumbling hammer available to rough up the edges of the paver, giving you a well-blended appearance with the rest of your pavers. Another advantage of pave splitters is that they are virtually maintenance free. As with all of your saws, you have costly diamond blade replacement and maintenance on the engines and other various parts.

Splitters can also save you production time. Retaining walls split well and will give you a clean break. Due to the amount of material, you have to saw, a splitter will save you a tremendous amount of time. A split of a wall will only take seconds versus sawing through a 4-inch to 8-inch thick wall block. With the amount of material you have in a wall block, you could go through saw blades rather quickly.

There are several pros and cons with a saw compared to a splitter. A splitter may not work for you in every application. But it is definitely worth having one around for the jobs that you can use it on.

Paver Bonding

Whether you are using a saw or splitter, you may need to glue your cut pieces into place. Today, special glues are available for paver and wall applications. The bonding in these product specific glues will out perform a standard adhesive.

When compacting your projects, you have a wide selection of equipment to choose from, ranging from gas to diesel powered, to 2,000 pound and up centrifugal force machines. A great attachment, which is new to the market, is a rubber mat that attaches to the bottom of the compactor. This will allow you to compact textured surface pavers without any scuffing.

Sand additives and polymeric sands are now a great resource to help solidify your paving project. When activated with water, a natural glue bond forms with the sand. This will prevent sand loss due to wind, movement and surface moisture. It will also reduce weed growth and is effective against ants. The sand will remain flexible and is environmentally safe.

Final Steps

In your final application, you may choose to clean and seal your hardscape project. Several types of cleaners are available, such as efflorescence, degreasing, stain and spot remover and a rust remover, too. The list of sealers is just as long. You may choose from gloss to a water based sealer.

With all of today’s modern technology it is worth spending some time researching what tools could benefit you. For information and literature, you may visit your local paver dealer.

Building Blocks

71.9: The percentage of respondents to the 2006 Landscape Contractor National annual survey who said their company performs hardscapes maintenance and/or installation duties. The percentage of respondents to this question in 2005 was 68.2.

46.8: The percentage of respondents to the 2006 Landscape Contractor National annual survey who said their company owns masonry equipment. The percentage of respondents to this question in 2005 was 68.2.

Source: Landscape Contractor National magazine

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November 22, 2019, 1:15 pm PDT

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