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Selecting the right paving contractor

Quality paving installation comes at a premium. Since 1995 we have seen many paving installations and problems on sites. The installation of paving is a skill and it costs money to do it properly. Herewith some common questions to ask a contractor in order to assess if you will get what you expect.

The questions below guides you in identifying what aspects a contractor should adhere to in order to ensure a structurally sound paving installation.

Further, we have also put together a table to help you identify the difference between a good and a bad paving contractor. This should guide you in selecting a contractor that won’t give you endless headaches.

How do you compact the sub base?

We use a vibrating roller”.
Installers who comply with international standards of installation will make use of a vibrating roller

“We use a plate compactor”.
Although Bosun doesn’t recommend the use of a plate compactor for earthworks, at least ensure it is a heavy compactor, weighing around 150kg’s.

“We use hand stampers or a small compactor”.
Opportunistic installers don’t generally have the correct equipment. They won’t compact the sub base sufficiently. Please refer to common paving installation faults for more details of what could happen.  

Are the layer works designed by an engineer?

“Yes, but it will cost more”.
For commercial paving sites especially,  it is essential to consult an engineer.

“I’ve been in the game for many years, trust me”.
Do this at your own peril.

Will the sub base be special imported material?

“As with the building of a good road, we will use an imported G5 or G7 sub base.”
Installers who comply with the international standards will always encourage the use of a sub base. This will however cost more.

“An imported sub-base is not needed for residential driveways”
This happens only in South Africa and there is risk involved not to have a special sub base. If you decide against it, at least discuss your soil conditions with the contractor. Better contractors will be knowledgeable. See our gallery of common paving problems.

Opportunistic installers will generally make no reference to soil conditions as they don’t know much about the subject.

Will the sub base be stabalised to specification?

“A good installer will make reference to the sub base and be able to discuss the stabilisation requirements in detail.
A stabilized base or subbase  may be used to provide support for pavements.

Although Bosun strongly recommends stabilisation, at least discuss it with the contractor. If he doesn’t know what it is, don’t use him.

Avoid any installer that is unaware of what sub base stabilisation is.

How will the paving drain?

A good contractor will discuss the full drainage plan with you in detail. 

“We’ll determine it as we’re installing. I’ve been in the game for many years”.

What type of edge restraints will be used?

A good contractor will discuss the different options that are available. Kerbs and pavers set in concrete are good examples of edge restraints.
Durable edge restraints are the building blocks for paving. Without them the paving will fail. These are however, more expensive.

“We will use troweled concrete edges”.
Troweled concrete edges will fail within a year. This is the cheaper and easier option that a contractor will try follow.

What bedding will be used for the pavers?

Better contractors will use moist, good quality, washed river sand, which is at least 25mm thick when screeded. Quality bedding sand will be more expensive.

The use of too little or too dry bedding sand is the most common mistake when bedding pavers. Using the wrong type of bedding sand will also lead to site failure.

How will you move pavers on site?

The ideal way to move pavers is with a paving cart.
A paving cart id the best way to ensure that the pavers don’t get damaged. Alternatively, if the contractor has a padded wheelbarrow this will also work. 

Although Bosun does not recommend wheelbarrows, if they are handled carefully (without throwing or dumping) this is an alternative. Be aware that careful handling is more time consuming and will therefore be more expensive.

Careless handling of pavers such as throwing and dumping into front end loaders and wheel barrows will damage and scuff them.

How will the pavers be cut?

Ideally, block cutters should be used.
This is general practice for installers who comply with the international standard of installation for commercial and residential paving.

Another tool that is commonly used is an angle grinder. If this is the case, ensure diamond tipped blades are used.

Opportunistic installers will make use of bolsters and cheap blades. This is not recommended.

Will the pavers be levelled prior to grouting?

The international standard is to level out the pavers prior to grouting, then again whilst grouting. This ensures levelled pavers.
The best tools to make use of to achieve flat paving are either a plate compactor or a large mallet.

It is common practice in South Africa to only level the pavers once. The end result will be uneven paving.

“Hiring a plate compactor is expensive.”
It is in your best interest to avoid such installers. They will implement the cheapest option for most procedures.

Attention to detail?

Regularly adjusting paving guidelines to keep pavers straight. Ensuring leveled pavers throughout installation. Checking that gaps between pavers are even.
These are a few things that one should look out for to determine whether or not the installer has a keen eye for detail. 

Bad installers will not pay much attention to paving lines therefore leaving the paved surface crooked and uneven.

What grouting should be used?

The international norm is to use sand.

Most residential contractors will use cement grouting. Although Bosun does not recommend it, at least ensure that the contractor has a method of combating cement staining.

Grouting is critical when laying pavers. If the contractor doesn’t adhere to the international or residential norms, paving will fail.

Will you re-grout after laying the pavers?

The standard procedure for re-grouting is 7 days, then again after 3 months.
Grouting is essential as without it, paving will fail. Poor grouting leads to pavers becoming unsteady, which ultimately causes a ripple effect amongst the entire paved area. 

Contractors use cement grouting so they don’t have to come back and re-grout. This is contrary to the principles of segmented block paving.

As is the case with opportunistic installers, you will never see them again.

Is there supervision on site?

Contractors who are at the top of their game will constantly supervise their workers.
This ensures a premium installation and assures you peace of mind. 

“Supervision costs money.”

Contact Us

Head Office
Cnr Cresset and Musket Roads
Midrand Industrial Park
Phone: 011 310 1176
Email: info@bosun.co.za