fill in paver cracks backyard patio

What to Use to Fill In Between Pavers?

In Lawn & Garden by Jamie

Do you have annoying weeds that are constantly growing in between the pavers? From unwanted vegetation to ant infestation, the space between in your pavers is a nuisance and it has to go.

To fill the space in between the pavers, you can use polymeric sand. This mixture of material creates a strong bonding agent when combined with water and it can help prevent all the aforementioned problems. It is the last step when installing new pavers but you can also add them if you’ve had pavers for a while now.

What Is Polymeric Sand?

Polymeric sand is used to fill paver joints, the spaces between pavers, tiles, and natural stone. It is occasionally referred to as hardscape sand, paver sand, or jointing sand.

Jointing sand is composed of fine grains that have been mixed with a variety of additive particles. When combined with water, this substance acts as an extremely strong bonding agent, strongly adhering concrete elements together.

Polymeric sand is preferred by paver installers due to the durable and even joints it produces. This eliminates the possibility of an ant infestation or weed growth, both of which can compromise the overall aesthetics and durability of paver projects.

How Much Polymeric Sand Do You Need?

13 Pound, Titanium Gray Joint Stabilizing for Pavers, DOMINATOR Polymeric Sand with Revolutionary Ceramic Flex Technology for Joints up to 4”, Professional Grade Results

Thankfully, there are online calculators that will give you a more precise estimate of how much polymeric sand you’ll need for the project at hand. Here are some general guidelines:

  • A 50-pound bag of polymeric sand is usually enough for small gaps. One bag is usually good for 75 to 100 square feet.
  • When dealing with wide gaps (those that measure between ¼ and ⅜ inches), a 50-pound bag can cover about 30 to 60 square feet.
  • Wider gaps (like those on a flagstone patio) might need a 50-pound bag for every eight to 10 square feet.

How to Apply Polymeric Sand In Between Pavers?

If you want to apply polymeric sand in between your pavers, you are going to need the following tools and materials:

  • Polymeric sand
  • Garden hose
  • Push broom
  • Leaf blower
  • Optional: vibratory tamper

Important: Polymeric sand application yields the best results when applied between dry pavers.

1. Spreading the Sand

Distribute several small piles of polymeric sand evenly throughout the driveway or patio. Avoid over-applying the sand, as excess will be difficult to remove. You can always add additional sand as necessary. You want to fill the gaps between the pavers without leaving too much sand on their surface.

2. Sweeping the Sand

Grab a push broom and push the sand from the pavers to make sure it infiltrates through the gaps. Don’t use the same motion; just go back and forth in opposite directions to make sure the sand gets inside all the cracks. You can also add more sand if you notice the cracks aren’t filled all the way through.

3. Tamping the Pavers

If you have a vibratory tamper, you can use it for better gap filling. Run it across the surface of the pavers to get the sand through all the cracks. Alternatively, you can tape the pavers using your broom’s handle.

4. Clearing the Surface

Before you proceed with adding water, you want the surface of the pavers to be clean. Failing to do so will cause the polymeric sand to harden on the surface of the pavers, causing unevenness and discoloration.

To make it easier to get the sand off the pavers, you can use a leaf blower. But be very careful when using the leaf blower to make sure you don’t blow the sand out of the space between the pavers.

Those of you who don’t have a leaf blower can also use a fine brush.

5. Misting the Pavers

Now is the time to add water to the equation. Tackle your gardening hose and spray a light mist over the pavers. The polymeric sand will activate its binding agents when coming in contact with water. Be really careful when using the garden hose, as too much pressure can wash the sand out of the cracks.

Allow the joints to dry completely for a couple of days. When dry, take another look at the cracks to make sure there aren’t any gaps.

6. Washing the Pavers

This is an additional step and it’s only required if there’s polymeric sand on the surface of the pavers (you will notice discoloring stains). To clean your pavers, simply spray white vinegar on them. Let the vinegar sit for an hour and wash the stains away with soap and water.

How Long Does Polymeric Sand Last?

It can last upwards of ten years before it needs to be replaced. Certain manufacturers, on the other hand, claim that certain products can last up to 15 years.

Can You Apply Polymeric Sand Over Polymeric Sand?

It is not advisable to add polymeric sand over another layer of polymeric sand. That’s because the original layer could be dirty, old, and in an unknown condition.

What you want to do is remove at least one inch of jointing material and proceed with installing the new layer of polymeric sand as described earlier.

Can You Remove Polymeric Sand from Pavers?

In order to remove the old polymeric sand, you can use a pressure washer to do so. The pressure from this machine will wash away any loose materials.

Additionally, if you got polymeric sand on the pavers and want to get rid of it, apply white vinegar, leave it for an hour, then wash the pavers with a mixture of soap and water.

3 Best Polymeric Sands for Pavers

1. DOMINATOR Polymeric Sand with Revolutionary Ceramic Flex Technology

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2. BuddingCo Polymeric Sand

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3. Gator Maxx G2 Intelligent Polymeric Sand

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What are Some Polymeric Sand Alternatives?

Silica Sand

Silica sand

Silica sand was used in the past before polymeric sand became popular. It has a functional and aesthetic role. If you seal it properly, it will keep pavers in place and create friction that helps hold everything together.

If you have concrete pavers, silicon sand is pretty easy to apply, and it helps create a smooth surface.

Stone Dust

It is all the minuscule components that do not make it into the finished product of gravel and other crushed stone. So, basically the dusty leftovers. This by-product is advantageous for paver projects because it is a coarser version of sand.

Apart from serving as a substitute for polymeric sand, stone dust can also be used for landscaping and driveway paving. It is a multi-purpose “waste product.”

Dust is a simple material to lay as a flat surface for pavers. Multiple layers can be applied to ensure that it lasts for an extended period of time. Additionally, you can use it as a filler between the stones to prevent weed growth in that area. It maintains the appearance of your patio with minimal effort on your part.

Additionally, it prevents water from seeping beneath the pavers, causing them to shift and slide. It is also non-porous, which means it will not absorb moisture. It will direct water away from the pavers and away from the area beneath the patio. This can help keep water away from your house.

Concrete and Sand Mix

If you’re looking for something that will stay put, cement may be a good option. Cement does not erode or deteriorate in any way. Once something is present, it is present. It’s a fashionable choice for anchoring just about anything, including pavers.

For those interested in using the cement to fill the gaps between the pavers, you can pour it between them. Doing it this way is slightly more time-consuming and requires a great deal of patience, but it is another viable option. Less cement is required because you don’t have much of a solid surface.

Builder’s sand is the most frequently used substitute for polymeric sand due to its ease of access and low cost. It is extensively used in construction projects, which gives it its name.

Due to the coarseness of this sand, you will need to use it frequently. You will need to reapply for several years while it settles. It’s quite inexpensive, so this shouldn’t cause you too much trouble.

This type of sand is extremely erosive. This occurs during periods of heavy rainfall or strong winds. It may require additional attention following these periods of disruption.

Related Questions

What Should You Use to Fill Large Gaps in Patio?

Polymeric sand is a good solution for filling small and medium-sized gaps between patio pavers. If you’re dealing with large gaps, concrete could also be a viable alternative.

What Is The Difference Between Jointing Sand & Polymeric Sand?

Jointing sand is basically another term used to describe polymeric sand. They are basically the same product.

Can I Use Caulking Between Pavers?

Yes. You can use outdoors sanded caulk to fill in the gaps between pavers.

Final Thoughts

Polymeric sand helps keep the pavers in place, ensuring a long-lasting and consistent finish. It’s very easy to apply and has multiple benefits, particularly a 10-year lifespan (even 15 with proper care). However, there are some viable alternatives to those who don’t want to use polymeric sand for this project, such as concrete or stone dust.

About the Author

Jamie

Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.