For uninitiated homeowners undertaking a new outdoor living project, their prime motivation and interest in a particular material tend to relate to appearance. This is understandably common. They want their new driveway or patio to look so beautiful and inviting that they will enjoy it for years to come. Being sure to choose durable, quality pavers that will mature beautifully becomes a high priority for meeting their long-term expectations. But they may not realize that some pavers have an additional benefit that could greatly add to the investment they’re making in their home — permeable pavers help keep surfaces clear of ice in the cold seasons, work to manage water runoff, and can even play a critical role in supplying water for the irrigation of landscapes.
Increased concerns over the environment has brought more attention to permeable interlocking pavers and leads smart homeowners to explore the debate of whether they should invest in a greener solution or opt for what’s considered more traditional (or non-permeable) concrete pavers.
Permeable Pavers’ Rise in Popularity
In the past, there was a perception that installation of permeable pavers was more involved and that the choice of styles was much more limited. This is no longer true. Unilock offers an extensive line of permeable pavers. Already renowned for beautiful paver choices, Unilock solves the selection concern directly — many colors, textures, and styles are available now as permeable options.
The ever-widening selection has played a large role in taking permeable pavers more mainstream, and even preferred, for residential and commercial projects. Environmentally conscious and informed homeowners opt for them across the country. For property owners in coastal regions, where storm drains run straight to the ocean, permeable pavers minimize unfiltered runoff that can occur under the use of traditional pavers.
With permeable pavers, small gaps between each paver enable water to pass through to the base material. Water then seeps through a permeable system of open graded aggregates and eventually back into the subsoil, rather than running over the top and taking impurities along with it into stormwater management systems.
But there’s much more to permeable pavers than their environmental impact. Permeable pavers have a unique look all their own, and their selection can be as much about aesthetics as engineering. They offer greater resilience against shifting terrain and frost-thaw cycles that can crack and shift some of their non-permeable cousins.
Permeable pavers are also sometimes the solution for tricky drainage issues. Homeward sloping driveways, for instance, present a challenge that permeable pavers can ease through their inherent drainage system.
Permeable Vs. Traditional Paver Installation
The installation process of permeable pavers requires some additional calculations and forethought. For one, permeable pavers are typically thicker. Pavers in driveways, for example, are 3 1/8 inches thick while a matching non-permeable paver may be just 2 3/8 inches thick.
The initial excavation will need to accommodate the thicker paver, sufficient base bedding thickness depending on drainage, and space needed for any underground water collection systems if being used. Aside from physical support, the role of the base and bedding layers here is to help retain water long enough to allow it to permeate the sub-base soil. That retention requirement relates to the anticipated rainfall and the absorption rate of the soil.
Similarly, the bedding requires the right materials, laid in the right thickness of each layer. The profile of permeable pavers is higher than their water-locked cousins, so bedding height, and thus trench depth, is adjusted accordingly.
It’s important to prevent subsoil from slowly infiltrating the coarse-grained rock bedding layers. That means that prior to adding bedding, the sub-grade must be covered with a geo-grid or geotextile sheeting to prevent infiltration of the base soil. Adjacent sheets should overlap generously — a good 2 feet at a minimum.
The Interlocking Concrete Paving Institute offers landscape contractors an online calculator for coming up with the proper measurement. Moreover, Unilock is available every step of the way for any questions regarding the application of our products, whether permeable pavers are chosen or more traditional pavers are the preferred choice. We offer professional training and direct support to the reputable contractors we vet through the Unilock Authorized Contractor program.
Both traditional and permeable pavers are built to last and undergo the same quality-driven manufacturing process to result in the durability and beauty you would expect from Unilock. A leader in our industry for over 45 years, Unilock has created beautiful pavers for spaces like yours in mind.