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Brick Paver: A Step By Step Guide

Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Brick Paver Project a Success

Brick pavers can serve a wide variety of purposes and be used in a number of diverse locations. Their versatility and durability help them to remain one of the most sought after materials for landscaping and hardscape projects around the midwest including the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. When installed properly, generations to come will be able to enjoy the timeless beauty and function of brick pavers.

Whether a private driveway or a large, centralized community patio— brick pavers can be used to create unforgettable memories and create a new outdoor space your family, friends, and loved ones will enjoy.

Unfortunately, paving bricks have gotten a somewhat bad reputation over the years, due mostly to poor installation, causing property owners to look for alternative landscaping solutions. However, when installed professionally, brick pavers are actually incredibly durable and easy to maintain. Creating an outdoor hardscape project with brick pavers might be just the solution you’ve been looking for with your hardscape project.

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Chapter 1:

Why Does Brick Paver Landscaping Get a Bad Rap?

When looking at pictures of professionally landscaped brick patios and sidewalks, it’s easy to see why people love them. The clean lines, dimension, and color variations that brick pavers add to any property are stunning. However, when looking at a property with brick pavers that are unkempt and in disrepair, the hesitation towards their inclusion in a future project can be understandable.

Brick Paver Patio Design

Many people fear that adding a brick patio or sidewalk will simply just not look good after completion. Will the patio last for years to come, or will the ground underneath collapse, creating a safety hazard and hardscaping eyesore that must be repaired? Are brick pavers really worth the investment?

The reason that so many brick sidewalks or patios look bad is because of improper installation. Many people will claim that they are experienced in laying brick pavers, but most of these contractors don’t actually have the equipment, skill, or in-depth knowledge to get the job done right, the first time. When it comes to brick pavers, installation is key. A bad installation job will be detrimental to the life of your brick sidewalk or patio in the future.

Need Landscaping Ideas For Your Brick Paver Project?

Use this guide to plan your next brick paver landscaping design project with the utmost confidence.

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Chapter 2:

Different Types of Brick Pavers

When you build a house in an environment with harsh winters, you make sure to slope the roof for snow runoff. When you change the oil on your car, you check your antifreeze levels to ensure against a hard freeze or extreme weather. You buy warm coats and gloves, and make sure you have a powerful enough heater to keep you warm. Cold weather requires extra consideration and the right equipment, and that’s no different for your patio.

Types of Pavers

Not all pavers are created equal. Some pavers are best to use in cold climates because they withstand freezing cold, expansion, and seasonal thawing too.

  • Slate stays in one piece – this hard and nonporous material resists splitting and absorbs little water, keeping it in one piece despite frozen ice expansion. Available in hues of green, gray, and blue.
  • Travertine is easy to replace – this whitish limestone can work in cold climates when properly sealed, but use stone dust instead of finishing sand. If cracked, it’s fast and affordable to replace a paver as needed.
  • Porcelain is highly customizable – the non-permeability of this fired ceramic is why it’s also used in showers. For exterior use, choose the color of your choice and look for textured patterns to prevent slips and falls.
  • Stamped concrete is the new faux brick – with all the benefits of traditional concrete durability and affordability, stamped concrete adds a faux look and texture. This older standby is a favorite of many, but some people dislike it for its ability to crack under pressures.
  • Paving bricks stand the test of time – as seen in many historic locations, the lasting power of brick is unparalleled. Standard red paving bricks are easy to maintain, although the color will fade over time.
  • Terra cotta tiles provide a unique and beautiful look – while highly durable to cold temperatures and water, these pavers will require resealing and maintenance every few years.

Your choice of paver should match your taste, your budget, and most importantly – your location. Make sure you choose cold weather rated pavers to withstand the harsh Michigan winters. To learn more, check with your local experts at Twin Oaks Landscape.

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Chapter 3:

Different Brick Paver Projects

If you’re looking for a patio contractor you can trust here in Ann Arbor, Twin Oaks Landscape has you covered. Don’t settle for just any paver contractors for your project. We go above and beyond other paver installation companies to handle all types of hardscape projects:

Paver Installation

Our paver installation service allows you to design beautiful garden paths that we bring to life for you. We offer a large assortment of colors, styles, shapes, and textures for you to choose from.

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Brick Patio Installation

Brick patios can give you a great space to relax in outside. Different types of pavers and walls can be combined to create any feel you imagine. Patios can be any size or shape that your space permits.

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Water Features

Ever thought about having a serene pond in your yard? Now you can. A brick paver border can help you make your pond safer and more stylish. A brick-lined fountain is another terrific option.

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Fire Pits and Fireplaces

Fire pits are the perfect centerpiece for a luau or an outdoor barbecue. It’s a brilliant focal point for your outdoor space. It also gives you warmth and gentle light so you can stay outside later.

Garden Walls

Protect and beautify your garden at the same time with brick garden walls. Many vines, flowers, and other plants will grow even better with walls to climb. Express your own sense of style!

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Outdoor Kitchens

The outdoor kitchen is the biggest new trend in landscaping. We can help you set up the perfect brick staging ground for all of your favorite outdoor kitchen amenities and appliances.

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When you search for “hardscape contractors near me,” you want the team that will give you world-class service. Our years of experience, outstanding customer service, and attention to detail, put Twin Oaks Landscape in a class above the rest.

For the best brick paver installation around the Ann Arbor, MI area contact Twin Oaks Landscape today.

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Chapter 4:

Common Brick Paver Installation Mistakes

Landscape worker leveling brick paver limestone basePoor Selection of Materials

Everything, from the type of base materials used to the type of brick pavers selected for construction, matters. You may not be aware that that there are different types of paver bricks to choose from, and that there are various sealing methods available, depending on the region in which you are located, to help your patio or sidewalk withstand the elements. These options will vary depending on weather and climate specifications.

For instance, property owners living in Arizona or Southwestern U.S. state live in extremely hot, dry climates with rocky soil. Brick pavers made of clay are best suited to withstand these extreme heat conditions. Clay paving bricks are also wise choices for any hardscape being constructed in the American Southeast, like Florida, for example. However, when installing brick hardscape in any region that sees freezing and thawing in colder temperatures, the smart choice is to utilize concrete pavers for construction. Areas like Michigan, for example, experience regular frost heave (note: we’ll explain frost heave later on in another section) due to extreme and frequent temperature changes. Concrete brick pavers are designed specifically to be longstanding against harsh winter weather conditions and ever-changing climates. Choosing the wrong brick type up front could be the root cause of significant problems in the years to follow.

Paver bricks isolatedIf the wrong type of base material is used (dirt or pea gravel instead of quality limestone), the ground can settle and shift underneath the bricks, causing them to move or crack. As you can see, material selection does matter.

Wrong Timing for Installation

Another mistake that is often made during construction that causes paver projects to fall into disrepair is the failure to consider the environmental conditions at the time of installation. Brick sidewalks, patios, and other hardscapes should never be installed during winter months when the ground is frozen, or after heavy rain when the ground is saturated.

Improper Installation of the Base Materials

When the base material isn’t installed properly— specifically, it’s all dumped all at once and filled to the top before compaction begins— it isn’t capable of providing the secure foundation that your patio or sidewalk requires. Effective compaction is a step-by-step process that happens in increments as the base materials are poured. A solid base must be given the proper amount of time to completely set after the installation as well. Many companies will overlook the importance of these materials, and may not include them at all. But in fact, high-quality base materials are absolutely vital to the stability of your brick paver project.

Beautiful stone paver patio with table and chairsImproper Construction

The improper installation of your brick pavers will doom a hardscape’s fate before anyone ever steps foot on it. Bricks should be installed tight, without any gaps. Proper construction of the patio or sidewalk edges is also of utmost importance. Structurally, the edges are the weakest parts of the walkway and are more susceptible to damage. Failure to line the brick walkway with the proper adhesives and sealants will cause the bricks to loosen or break off over time. Loose edges could, in turn, compromise the structural integrity of the rest of your patio or sidewalk.

Ultimately, if the wrong company is hired to install your brick paver hardscape, the “finished” product could be a costly mistake, causing property owners like you future headaches and costing extra money in reconstruction fees.

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Chapter 5:

Pros and Cons of Using Brick Pavers

Paver patios have become quite popular over the last few years, for a number of reasons. Not only for purely aesthetic reasons, but paver patios are also popular for ease of repair, low maintenance overall, and durability. However, they aren’t perfect for every patio situation.

Durability

One of the important pros that help many people opt for pavers is their overall durability. When installed by a professional paver contractor, such a patio can withstand years of foot traffic without showing any signs of wear or weakness. Creating an interlocking surface of pavers can result in a surface that is three to four times stronger than what the concrete foundation of your home may be.

Colored pavers also carry the pigments and aggregates throughout their structure, so a chip to the top of a paver isn’t as noticeable. By contrast, concrete can also have color added to it, or be painted. However, colored concrete loses its coloration quickly, and painted concrete can show signs of wear over time.

Climate Concerns

Another advantage to pavers is their ability to flex, expand and contract with Michigan’s wild weather changes. Shifting and moving ground due to hot and cold weather can lead to cracking of a concrete surface, but pavers can more easily shift and settle. If properly installed, you will see minimal shifting from a paver surface over the years.

Cost and Installation

The pros to paver installation are balanced by a few cons however, namely cost and installation time.

The initial cost to a paver patio is usually about 30 percent higher than the costs associated with a concrete patio. That cost differential may be outweighed over time by less maintenance. There’s a lot more material that goes into paver installation, including a gravel base, bedding sand, and a metal or PVC frame to keep the paver edge set.

Installation is also a consideration. Concrete patios can be poured in just a matter of hours, compared to days of installation for pavers. After one to three days, the concrete is ready to go.

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Chapter 6:

Required Brick Paver Maintenance

Using pavers in your outdoor space can help to greatly improve your property’s curb appeal. Pavers have a very distinct look that can compliment both your home’s design and your landscape. Of course, if you do have pavers or are planning to install pavers, you’ll need to do a little bit of maintenance, especially once winter ends and spring arrives. The following are a few paver maintenance tips you’ll want to keep in mind:

Clean Your Pavers

You should sweep your pavers regularly to remove dirt and debris. At least once a week, rinse your pavers off using a hose. Following winter, perform a pressure washing to get your pavers looking their best.

Replace Stained Pavers

After you pressure wash your pavers, you should check to see if any of them are stained. If pressure washing did not completely clean your pavers, any visual blemishes that remain are likely to be stains. You can simply replace these pavers with new ones.

Look For Creep

Creep is what occurs when the joints between stones get larger. This can happen as a result of the failure of the edge restraint, pressure caused by both foot traffic and vehicular traffic, or simply the stress of winter weather. Creep can end up causing joint sand washout and the loss of interlock. To fix this, you can add edge restraint or additional edge spikes.

Inspect For Dips and Bulges

There are a number of things that can cause dips and bulges, including the shifting of base sand, a ground shift, the erosion of joint sand, the erosion of gravel base, and root. Fortunately, dips and bulges can be easily repaired although it will require specific tools and materials.

Seal Your Pavers

Arguably the most effective way to protect your pavers against damage is by sealing them. Sealing your paver walkways, patio, and driveway can protect them from fading over time, enhance their color, stabilize their joint sand, and protect against stains.

Apply Joint Sand

Joint sand helps keep the pavers in place. Unfortunately, it does tend to wash out over time, which means you will need to replace it regularly. Consider using poly joint sand, which helps bind the sand in the joints to create an interlock.

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Chapter 7:

What to Look for When Searching for Paver Installation

Installing pavers is a great way to provide visual interest to your exterior space while also improving your curb appeal as a result. However, when installing pavers, it’s important that you find a brick paving contractor that you can trust. The following are a few questions you should be sure to ask when speaking with paver installation companies:

Brick paver backyard patio landscapeQ: How long have you been professionally installing brick pavers? Is this your primary business focus, or do you have other areas of expertise?

Not only do you want to make sure the company you’re working with knows what it’s doing when it comes to installing brick pavers, but a company that has a lot of years under its belt more likely enjoys a good reputation (companies with bad reputations won’t last very long before going out of business). Here at Twin Oaks Landscape, we have been providing not just paver installation services, but hardscaping and landscaping services in general since 1993.


Q: Do you offer a warranty, and if so, how long is it good for? Are there any conditions or stipulations that need to be considered?

A warranty not only helps protect your investment as well as provide peace of mind, but it also shows that the brick paver contractor believes in the quality of work they do. The longer the warranty is good for, the higher the quality the work tends to be.


Q: Do you offer information to your property owners about where the bricks come from or who the suppliers are?

A trustworthy contractor will have no problem letting you know exactly they get their bricks and who their supplier is. Be wary of any contractor that refuses to provide this information.


Q: Does your brick paving company carry the necessary insurances, including workman’s compensation?

Reputable contractors are fully insured–but you’ll want to ask either way. A good contractor should be able to provide proof of insurance. Here at Twin Oaks Landscape, we are fully licensed and insured to perform every service we offer. We are also accredited with the BBB.


Q: How well do you work within city codes and ordinances or Home Owners Associations? What is your process here?

One of the reasons you should hire a local contractor is because they will be aware of the city codes and ordinances, ensuring that the proper permits are obtained to install your pavers if needed. They will also know how to check HOA guidelines and obtain the proper permission from the HOA. We have been serving residents and businesses throughout Michigan since 1993 (specifically in Ann Arbor, Canton, and Saline as well as the surrounding areas) and are familiar with the city codes and ordinances from city to city.


Q: Start to finish, what can I expect the installation process to look like?

You will want to know exactly what to expect when it comes to installing your paver walkways, patio, or driveway. A good paver installation company will give you an overview of the process (how much prep work needs to be done, how many people will be working on your project, how long it will take, when they will be at your home, and when they will finish).

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Chapter 8:

ICPI Standards and Why You Should Dig Deeper With Your Landscaping Company

The landscaping industry, as a whole, follows recommendations set forth by the ICPI. The ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute) sets these brick installation guidelines by looking at specific variables from all across the nation. They use the information gathered to create universal recommendations that all reputable brick installers across the United States can follow. These standards also allow consumers to effectively compare various providers for quality, cost, and service.

What’s the Problem?

The Institute considers a variety of factors from every region across the United States to form these recommendations. Factors like heat/cold, annual precipitation, soil conditions, amount of sunlight, etc. will impact what type of bricks should be used and how they should be installed. These general guidelines may prove to be too overwhelming or underwhelming for some regions depending on how far these specifics deviate from the national average.

Before you sign any contract with a landscaping contractor or company, be sure to ask them how their installation specifications and practices measure up to the recommended ICPI standards.

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Chapter 9:

Why Choose Twin Oaks Landscape?

Twin Oaks Landscape proudly sets the stage as an industry leader, providing beautiful and functional landscape, hardscape, and drainage solutions for residential and commercial clients throughout Michigan since 1993. Backed by decades of education and experience, our licensed and insured contractors, engineers, architects, horticulturalists, and expertly trained staff design, build and maintain beautiful and effective landscape features through innovation and creativity.

With decades of experience in brick paver installation, Twin Oaks Landscape has perfected the process of sidewalk, patio, driveway and other hardscape installation, ensuring long-term satisfaction on every project.

We promise our clients:

  • Team’s credentials include ICPI Certifications. “For contractors involved in the residential and commercial installation of interlocking concrete pavements, the ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Certification is THE industry recognized program for the professionals committed to industry guidelines for segmental concrete pavement installation. It’s more than just a certificate on the wall – it’s a testament to your level of investment in your profession that demonstrates your knowledge and skills for interlocking concrete pavement installation best practices.” (Source: ICPI.org).

  • A 5-year warranty on our brick paver systems. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll need it, Twin Oaks Landscape backs up our work with a guarantee to prove that with a better process that offers you greater value in return.

  • Only the highest quality materials will be used throughout the installation of their brick paver application. Twin Oaks Landscape has two main suppliers for our brick pavers. Fendt pavers are made locally in Michigan and are well known as industry leaders marked by their innovative design, function, and elegance. Our second brick paver supplier is Unilock, well known throughout the continent for their expertly crafted brick pavers that are engineered for superior performance for a lifetime. The ICPI industry standard for crushed limestone is 21AA. Twin Oaks Landscape uses 6A ¾” Angular Limestone with no fines for every dig out, to ensure the brick pavers rest on a solid base at all times.
    BONUS: Limestone also acts as a natural deterrent for weeds.

  • Expert drainage solutions to reduce or eliminate the risk of water damage to your patio, sidewalk, or driveway. As an industry leader in commercial and residential drainage solutions, we specialize in services aimed at keeping water from pooling around or under your brick paving system. From simple drainage solutions like grading to more complex applications that include tile, peat gravel and other materials, we work hard to ensure that the stability of your brick paver system isn’t washed away due to excess water. You should never have to feel like your investment is ruined because of Mother Nature.

  • Expert installation that goes above and beyond the recommended industry standards. ICPI standards suggest that patios and sidewalks be installed with a 4” base digout. Twin Oaks Landscape utilizes an 8” base standard with every project to ensure a more stable end product. Compared to the industry standard recommendation of a 15” base for every driveway, Twin Oaks Landscape provides a 20” base standard for our customers. We exceed industry standards to ensure the strength and durability of our work every time. Because our installation process has gone above and beyond industry- recommended standards for more than a decade, our clients are seldom in need of paver repairs.

  • Maintenance programs. Including periodic sealing, sweep sand and polymeric sand (grout), to help keep your brick paver system non-permeable and looking and functioning in optimum condition.

  • Rejuvenation options. Restores life back into brick pavers not installed by Twin Oaks Landscape.

  • Experience, reliability, and adaptability. Qualities that can be trusted.

If you’re considering adding brick pavers to your outdoor landscape, call Twin Oaks Landscape today. Our expert designers will sit down to discuss your needs and vision to create the right solutions to meet your specific application.

Call 734-213-6911 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and get your landscape looking beautiful all year long.