Permeable Pavers Installation Guide: PRO Tips + Advice

Permeable Pavers

There are many reasons to consider pavers for your home.  They are a beautiful addition to your home that will increase curb appeal and value,  they will never crack or break and dollar for dollar offer the most bang for the buck over any other hardscape system on the market.

If you are currently facing the challenge of a cracked concrete or stamped concrete driveway, an old asphalt driveway,  gravel driveway or building a new home with which require a permeable driveway, then you might want to consider pavers for your future driveway or hardscape needs.

Some of the many reasons paver driveways are becoming the #1 choice for new driveway installs is due to their unique ability to be zipped and un-zipped.  Think of the pavers like legos; if you were to get a stain on your driveway, a crack, or needed to get access to underground utilities (i.e. drain-line, sewer, etc.), you can simply remove and replace.  Now that is peace of mind! Imagine spending thousands of dollars on a new concrete or stamped concrete driveway and how you will feel when you see your first crack or first stain?

Now consider that we are living in drought-plagued California and ever present watering restrictions. When we finally do get rain, we face challenges with water run-off.  When you are considering your hardscape patio or driveway needs there is another added feature to using a special type of paving stone system.  Whether you are just trying to be green or your city is requiring it, installing a permeable paver system is a great solution that offer the same “bullet proof” durability of a paver system with the added benefit of water management and contaminate retention.  

What Is A Permeable Paver System?  

First let us review a standard paving stone installation. A standard installation includes installing a layer of compacted Class 2 road base on top of your native soils, an inch of bedding sand and your desired paver. With this installation procedure, pavers are only 5% permeable.  Because of this,  we always focus on pitching water away from your home and toward a drain, drainage system or soft scape that may or may not include a drain.  We will never rely on the paving system to absorb rainfall as you would be guaranteed to incur puddling or maybe even flooding.  

Consider that most driveways follow a natural grade toward or away from your house so all of the water flow has to be managed away from your home.  Now consider that along the path of the water flow and your pavers,  the water can pick up leaked oil, antifreeze or other chemicals as it washes into the street or storm drainage system.  Water runoff from your home can pollute nearby waterways.  It is because of this runoff that many communities and cities are requiring a permeable paver system.

Permeable interlocking concrete pavers (PICP) are manufactured with a larger than normal space between the pavers beveled edge. Permeable pavers are manufactured thicker than a standard paver. For example, a standard pavers is 60mm thick and a permeable paver is 80mm thick (because of the larger spacing).  I will offer options for non-vehicular pavers that that are 60mm that can be used as a permeable paver. The permeable pavers are installed on top of an optional geotextile fabric and layers of compacted stone and aggregates.  The larger sized joint of the paver is then filled with a jointing material resembling small angular stones.  This is in contrast to a standard paver system that is sand jointed.

The layers and depth of demo and excavation will vary depending on your geographical area and soil conditions.  Your community, city or planning department may require soil testing which in turn will determine the depth of excavation and also determine the layers and sizes of stone required.  If you are in an area where soil testing is not required,  non-engineered guidelines can be followed to ensure a successful installation.  

Permeable Paver Installation

What Are The Benefits Of Permeable Pavers For A Homeowner?

  1. Reduce water demand by paving over grass areas
  2. Aid landscaping by reducing erosion that occurs when grass is dry or dead
  3. Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed
  4. Paving stones are more durable and longer lasting than concrete or asphalt
  5. Retains water on the property which will benefit plants

What Are The Benefits Of Permeable Pavers For A City or Community?

  1. Filter water back underground to recharge local groundwater supplies
  2. Maintain base flows in rivers to keep ecosystems self sustaining
  3. Minimize heat island effect when using highly reflective, light-colored pavers
  4. Reduce water use for landscaping
  5. Reduces stormwater contaminants that lead to our oceans, rivers and waterways
  6. Mimics the way natural land absorbs water allowing rainfall to wick back into the ground

How To Maintain A Permeable Paver Installation?

As we mentioned, installing permeable offers added curb appeal and long term durability, but they also offer a great solution for reclaiming water and keeping water on your property and away from surrounding waterways.  To keep the system functioning properly you may experience more maintenance than a non-permeable paving installation.  Because of the large spacer and space created for the joint of the paver and access point for water, leaves and debris may clog the joint of the paver.  Also,  some permeable pavements require frequent maintenance because grit or gravel can block the open pores.  Cleaning the paver joint is commonly done by industrial vacuums that suck up all the sediment.  If maintenance is not carried out on a regular basis, the porous pavements can begin to function more like impervious surfaces.  It is important to not to vacuum up the small stone jointing material and using a leaf blower may be an additional cleaning device.

Sealer is an added protection to any paving stone system and could help with your paver maintenance.  Sealer will add protection as a UV protector like sunscreen and also aid in reducing staining helping to keep your pavers clean.   For a permeable system is important to use a sealer that will not stabilize the joint of the paver.  This would cause the system to fail as it would bind and clog the permeable joint.

permeable pavers installation

How Much Do Permeable Pavers Cost To Install?

A permeable paver system will cost more than a standard paving stone installation because:

  1. There is more demo and disposal of native soils.
  2. The layers of stone and gravel cost significantly more than the Class 2 road base used on a non-permeable system.
  3. The pavers used are more expensive than a standard paver.
  4. An engineered plan may be needed.

Even with the added up front  cost of a permeable system, you will enjoy the added value of a paving stone installation:

  1. Added curb appeal.
  2. Added value to your home.
  3. Added long-term durability compared to asphalt and concrete installations.
  4. Added “peace of mind” knowing you will never deal with cracking or breaking.

Permeable Paver Options:

We work with and install all of the major paving stone manufacturers that produce permeable pavers.  

Orco Block,  Angelus Paving Stones,  Acker-Stone Industries and Belgard are a few of the popular permeable paver manufactures in Southern California

Orco makes a paver called Cascade and Aqua-Bric,  Angelus makes a Holland , SF Rima and Aqualina while Acker-Stone offers Aqua-Via.  Listed below are Belgard’s permeable paver options.  

Belgard has a permeable paver call Aqua Roc and Eco Dublin.  There are also pavers that can be used that are not technically permeable pavers.  What I mean by that is that when the pavers are installed to the specs of a permeable paver system, they will function a lot like a permeable system.  Belgard’s Mega-Arbel, Old World and Urbana offer a unique look and variety.  They would be best suited for a non-vehicular area.

Permeable Paving Stones

Proper Installation Methods Will Allow Water To Flow Through These Pavers:

Eco Dublin: The latest addition to our Environmental Collection, Eco Dublin combines the classic look of cut stone with contemporary materials.

Mega-Arbel: With a scale similar to flagstone, Mega-Arbel creates outdoor spaces that flow naturally into the surrounding landscapes.

Old World: Recalling the narrow, cobbled streets of Europe, Old World is crafted with a natural stone cleft finish for the look and feel of time-worn cut stone.

Urbana: Chiseled textures and contours combine its random shapes and patterns to recall the look and feel of vintage cut stone. Offered in a versatile, three-piece modular system.

Whether you are considering a standard paver installation or permeable interlocking concrete pavers (PICP) you will be amazed at your transformation and long term durability.