Sunday, February 7, 2010

Adding Curb Appeal to Your Home with Brick Pavers

Many older homes throughout America have an aging asphalt or concrete driveway that probably needs replacement.  If you are looking for an aesthetic change, or to replace broken asphalt or concrete, brick pavers offer an excellent alternative.

There are so many options that one should consider when replacing their driveway.  There are the old stand-bys of asphalt and concrete, which are the most often selected and economical choices.  Concrete can be installed with different textures, but if not properly installed concrete can eventually crack.  Repairing these cracks is extremely difficult, and often unsightly.

Brick pavers, whether clay or concrete brick pavers, are excellent alternatives to asphalt and poured concrete surfaces.  The brick paver option available today seem endless; it is becoming easier to match color, texture, and style of brick to any design of home.  If careful design choices are selected, a brick paver driveway can really increase the look, style, and value of a home.

Brick pavers distribute energy and pressure laterally, which means less pressure per square inch.  Brick pavers are great because they are manufactured with a greater psi (pounds per square inch) than say a concrete slab.  Concrete often has a psi of 3,000-3,500, whereas brick pavers often have a standard of  8,000-9,000 psi per brick.  Brick pavers have a long-standing history, and have been utilized as paving for roads for as many as 2,000 years throughout Europe with great success.

Another wonderful feature of brick pavers is their ability to breathe during seasonal temperature changes; asphalt and concrete do not have the ability to expand or contract which is why cracks will appear after a year or two in cold climates.  If there is damage to an area, brick pavers can simply be lifted and re-installed with minimal work or cost.  Repairs to asphalt or concrete often look like patchwork and can be very costly.

Installation of brick pavers is often more expensive than asphalt or poured concrete.  Although, if the brick pavers are installed correctly the first time, their investment will pay off over the long run.  Pavers are in place forever.  Brick pavers usually have an estimated life cycle of 40+ years.  During the lifetime of an average brick paver project, it is possible you will have to re-pave asphalt or re-pour concrete two or more times to maintain the neat appearance.

Another paver option that has been around since the early 1970's is "Permeable Pavers."  Although this brick paving system has been around for over 3 decades, because of LEED building guidelines and the sustainable environmental movement, permeable brick pavers are enjoying a belated acknowledgement and recognition, and starting to gain in popularity throughout Europe and the United States for their sustainable attributes.

The design of permeable pavers allows water to pass through the permeable brick pavers and permeate down into a specially designed bed of drainage stone.  This permable system allows the rainwater to re-charge the natural groundwater and is considered a sustainable practice.  We are starting to see permeable pavers used more and more in cities who are having problems with an overabundance of stormwater that is washing contaminants and pollutants into our lakes, rivers, streams, oceans and watersheds.
Permeable pavers are being used for driveways, patios, additional parking areas, parking lots, streets, sidewalks, alleys, etc.  Millions of square feet of permeable brick pavers have been installed throughout the United States alone.  Permeable brick pavers have been most widely used in commercial projects, but are starting to be utilized by homeowners as an excellent alternative for driveways.  We urge you to research and become an informed  consumer with the various paving options available to today's homeowner.

The pictures that you see accompanying this post are pictures of one of our completed driveways that was installed with Belgard's 'Subterra' Permeable Pavers.  If you are considering brick pavers for your driveway replacement or you are installing a new driveway, Landscape Labor Solutions representatives would love to introduce and educate you on the various options available today by todays manufacturers.  Call (517) 646-8990 to schedule your brick paver consultation today.  Landscapes Labor Solutions is a company committed to installing sustainable landscapes whenever possible.  You may also view other pictures of this completed sustainable project at

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reapiring and Recoloring a Faux Bubbler Stone (Post #1)

This weeks project is repairing a faux Bubbler Rock/Water Feature.  The faux rock made out of foam was starting to show some chipping and discoloration, as well as the faux concrete coloring was starting to flake off of the stone.  I brought it back to our shop in late November when we cleaned up the homeowner's garden.  This faux rock was originally designed to be just that, a fake rock to cover up something.  We decided one day approximately 8 years ago to turn it into a water feature and a focal point outside the homeowners bedroom window.  We drilled (2) holes and ran the plumbing, as well as faux finished the entire fake rock with concrete and then faux finished the fake stone with concrete colorant to make it appear more natural.  This will actually be the 2nd time that I have completed this process.

This was back in the day before the water feature/fountain manufacturers had created the fountain basin or reservoir that we now have today.  We created the fountain basin out of a 33 gallon pickle barrel cut in half, the one that we selected was very thick plastic and would never break if water froze in it.  One of the first things we did was take and create a metal mesh system to act as re-enforcement and help stabilize the plumbing to keep it from moving during normal maintenance of the bubbler water feature.  We cut into the stryrofoam side of the fountain with an angle grinder with a metal blade.  This allowed the pieces of metal mesh to slide right in to the foam side of the faux stone.  The metal mesh was then filled with foam and allowed to cure.

Next, we took and used a metal brush and cleaned off all of the loose debris-concrete, algae, sealer, etc.
We then blew off the outside and inside of the faux rock with an air compressor.  We then took and vaccummed all of the surfaces, inside and outside of the faux stone.  This would make sure all dust and debris was cleaned from the surface so that on the inside we did not have a bond breaker for the foam.  The outside of the stone was also vacuumed so that we did not have a bond breaker on the outside for the concrete.  Next we took and mixed a high strength concrete and mixed it a little wet.  I then took a cheap china bristle paint brush and stippled the entire faux rock with concrete.  A stippling technique was used so as not to show brush marks, but still allowed us to get concrete into every nook, cranny and crevice and still maintain a textured, authentic rock look and feel.  This completed our first day of the faux stone water feature rehabilitation.