Do you agree that a paved surface is more beautiful and appealing than one of plain tile or concrete? For many folks, pavers are the better option when it comes to backyard lounges, patios, and walkways.
When done correctly, pavers offer not only longevity of the flooring but also superior aesthetics. As a matter of fact, real estate companies install pavers when they want to boost the value of the property.
So why then do many homeowners avoid pavers?
The answer is simple – regular maintenance. Pavers have the tendency to loosen and separate, decreasing the aesthetic appeal. But there is an answer to this problem – polymeric sand. Forget the regular jointing sand.
Poly sand is a powerful binding agent that holds pavers and bricks with reliable strength. With the best polymeric sand, you’re able to keep the pavers packed together for years, hence reducing the maintenance task.
Before you go out there and get poly sand, realize that this is not a standard product. Hence, you can’t get any model from any brand and hope to enjoy quality. You have to select the right option from a sea of models.
The purpose of this article is to help you avoid confusion and get the right sand for your needs. Without any further delay, let’s jump in and see what poly sand fits your needs.
What Is Polymeric Sand and What Are the Benefits of Using It?
Polymeric sand is just graded sand, but with additives like silica. These additives are meant to introduce extra binding power. When the additives are exposed to water, they get activated and the sand hardens up with the strength such as the one of concrete.
Polymeric sand comes in a variety of colors depending on the brand you’re buying from.
Here are some of the advantages of using it over regular sand.
1. Superior Strength
The sand contains additives meant for enhancing the bond. The joint created is so strong that rains and winds don’t wash the sand away to expose the gaps.
2. Limits the Growth of Insects and Weeds
It is not a good sight to see weeds sprouting from the cracks in between the pavers. Another thing we don't like is the molehills that ants create. Thankfully, polymeric sand is designed to form bonds so strong and impenetrable that these things have no chance of thriving in the cracks.
3. Better Looks
It is given, poly sand is definitely better than regular sand when it comes to looks. Moreover, you can choose a color that goes with your pavers.
4. Easier to Apply
All you need is a broom or brush to push the sand into the gaps. It is advisable but not a must to use a compactor. What I find really convenient is that you don’t need to keep replacing the sand like you would need to with regular sand.
What is the difference between polymeric sand and regular sand?
Regular sand is often used for binding pavers. That might lead you to ask, “What is so special about poly sand that I’ll want to use it?”.
Perhaps the following head to head comparison will help you decide
Regular sand is just sand. It doesn't contain additives meant for binding. Polymeric sand, on the other hand, contains additives for enhancing the bonds.
Residue and stains on pavers
One of the challenges that come with poly sand is that if you activate it by wetting it while it is on the pavers, it will stain the pavers. These stains will usually not look so good. Regular sand, on the other hand, does not stain the pavers or bricks.
Durability-wise, polymeric sand is a lot better than regular sand. This is because it contains binding additives, which regular sand lacks.
Rain is a part of nature. If you install the sand outdoors, there’s the risk of the rain washing it away. But the degree of washing away depends on the kind of sand we’re talking about. Polymeric sand, with its stronger bonds, resists the rain very well.
Jointing sand, on the other hand, is not strong enough to withstand rain effectively.
3. Weed resistance
Plucking weeds from the space between pavers is not a very convenient thing. But when you have regular sand between the pavers, it’s an activity you usually have to get ready for. Regular sand is not very tight, so it does allow plants to germinate and grow.
Poly sand, on the other hand, is tightly packed, leaving no spaces for weeds to grow.
The same case applies to ants. The spaces in regular sand allow ants in, and there, they create their molehills and degrade the pavers. But once again, poly sand is too tight for the ants to get in.
They will eventually find their way in, but that will not be any time soon.
What to Consider before Purchasing the Best Polymeric Sand for Pavers?
Looking to purchase polymeric sand? That's a fantastic plan. With this building material, you will be able to seal your pavers reliably. You'll keep the weeds and insects away and your pavement will look better than if you'd used ordinary sand.
Nevertheless, before buying, there are a couple of things you have to think about, just to make sure you’re getting the best polymeric sand for your needs.
1. Grain size
Poly sand comes in a range of grain sizes. There is fine-grain, medium grain, and coarse, whose grains are larger. The choice you make will be determined by a couple of factors, the most important one being the size of the gaps.
If the gaps are very narrow, you’re better off with fine-grain sand. This will get in between the spaces more efficiently than medium grain or coarse sand. But you also have to keep in mind that the finer the grain, the higher the tendency of dusting and blowing away.
Try pouring it from a lower level, closer to the ground if you're using fine-grain poly sand.
The whole idea of using poly sand over the ordinary sand is that the product offers greater binding power. But the power varies with the brand you purchase from, as well as the specific model.
While one model can go for 3 years without washing away, there’s another model that can go for over 5 years. It’s all about the power of the binding agents used.
Wondering how to know the level of strength offered? Look at the price, for it is the most reliable indicator. Typically, the higher the price, the more the strength, and vice-versa.
In the polymeric sand reviews above, the last product is a lot more expensive than the rest. It offers unmatched binding power.
I take it you don’t want a color that crushes with your pavers’ color. For instance, if you have gray pavers, installing blue poly sand might not be the best idea.
Well, realize that poly sand comes in a variety of colors.
Choose the color you think is right for you décor.
4. Drying and curing time
How much time the sand takes to dry matters. Because just imagine, the sand takes three days to dry and cure. Then, before the three days are over, there are rains. The whole thing will be ruined.
Picture a second scenario, where you are a beginner with poly sand, but then you go for a product that dries almost immediately after activation with water.
But after activation, you realize certain mistakes need fixing, such as sand that was still on the pavers. Unfortunately, you realize that it is too late to correct the mistakes as the sand has already hardened.
Why Do You Think about the Drying and Cure Time?
These scenarios are the reasons why before you buy the product, you ought to look at the drying and cure time. If you’re a beginner, go for a product that takes longer to dry and cure, so you’re left with some room for fixing errors.
Then again, don’t go for a product that takes days to cure. 24 to 48 hours is the optimal curing time.
Our Top 9 Best Polymeric Sands Review
01. DOMINATOR Polymeric Sand
In the world of poly sand, Dominator is regarded by many as the first haze-free product. Haze-free means minimal cleaning is required afterward.
What makes this sand unique is that it features an innovative technology known as solid flex. This makes it exceptionally flexible so that it is able to move with the joint as it moves.
Super Fine Sand
Some of the cracks that are found between pavers are too little for regular sand. But the DOMINATOR Polymeric Sand is not regular sand. It is super fine sand that gets into the narrowest cracks, providing the much-needed seal.
What the users of this product love most about it is that it actually works. Once you activate it with water, the product hardens in about 24 hours.
The Typical Jointing Sand
Do you know how the rains come down and wash away the typical jointing sand? The water destroys the joints and causes the water to leak in, taking a toll on your pavements. Apart from that, the water that is seeping in creates a good environment for weeds to grow.
Ants and other crawling insects also get in.
The DOMINATOR sand, coming with superior binding strength, is here to prevent all that from happening. It is so tough and waterproof that the rains are not a problem.
When to Replace the Sand?
Okay, you will need to replace the sand after a while, but not as soon as you’d need to if you were using jointing sand. It will be at least a few years before you have to reapply the sand to maintain the joints.
This is good for reducing the cost and workload too.
Those that Use this Product Highlight a Few Issues.
First, some say it blows away too quickly like soil. That is true, given it is a super fine substance. But, it only blows away so quickly if you pour it from a position that’s too high, such as from the waistline up. Try pouring it from a lower position.
The 45-pound bucket covers an area of around 20 to 50 square feet depending on the size of the gaps. Also, there are several colors to choose from, including titanium, carmel, charcoal, and more.
02. Buddingco Polymeric Sand, Grey
If the concrete between your pavers has lifted, you might feel obliged to call in a mason. But that would lead to an expensive repair, which might be inconvenient based on your budget. Do you know what a good way out would be? Applying good polymeric sand.
If you’re looking for a grain size that is a little coarse, this is the best polymeric sand for pavers to use. It is more ideal for wider grooves and gaps than little orifices.
Because of the Grain Consistency,
it does not blow away as readily as the fine DOMINATOR sand that I have talked about above. For that application is much easier. All you need is a broom with a long handle to sweep the sand into place.
Coverage is one of the important considerations that people make before purchasing polymeric sand. And guess what? Good coverage is one of the factors that draws people back to this product. For instance, the 18-pound bucket is enough for up to 30 square feet.
What Makes Polymeric Sand Different from Regular Jointing Sand?
Its nature of having chemical binders infused. The Buddingco sand has some of the most powerful binding agents in it.
For that, it creates robust joints that can be depended upon to prevent the entry of water. Moreover, once the sand is dry, weeds and ants have no way in. This preserves the integrity of the joint, ensuring you do not need to keep replacing the sand.
The Only Issues that are Usually Expressed are,
first that the grey color is darker than it ought to be. And secondly, that the sand is not very flexible, so you might want to avoid using it is areas with extreme weather changes.
Other than that, the product works as expected. There are also a few other colors to choose from, including beige, ivory, and black diamond.
03. SAKRETE Paver Set Polymeric SAND
Traditionally, polymeric sand hardens when exposed to moisture. This presents lots of problems, especially for beginners. And if by chance it happens to rain, then you will have a disastrous situation at hand. Imagine the sand drying on the pavements.
But does that mean you cannot use the sand if you’re not experienced in applying it?
If you're only getting started, I would advise you to choose the SAKRETE Paver Set. This version takes longer to harden when exposed to water. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about water getting on sand that is still on the pavers.
But Don't Get Me Wrong.
I am not suggesting you don't need to take any precautions. Of course, you want to try as much as possible to remove the sand from the pavers, only leaving it in between the gaps.
What I am saying is that in the event that water accidentally gets on sand that is on the pavers, removal will not be impossible and your pavers will not be left with unsightly marks.
While this Product Works,
the performance is not very impressive, so I would recommend it only for those who are on a tight budget. Some parts of the application will not harden but remain loose, meaning reapplication will be necessary. Hence, coverage is not large.
Cure time is also not very convenient. In case it rains before 72 hours are over, the sand will get washed away.
Aside from These Hassles,
the sand is quite easy to apply. As it does not set immediately, it gives you room for correcting any mistakes.
When it comes to saving cash, almost nothing performs quite as good as the ConSandtrate Polymeric Sand Concentrate. As the name reads, this is not the normal polymeric sand we’ve been talking about. Rather, it is a concentrate.
Once you get it, you can mix the product with regular sand in a ratio of 1 (part of this product) to 10 parts (of the regular sand).
For instance, if you get the 10-pound option, you can mix that with 100 pounds of sand to make 110 pounds of polymeric sand.
As You Might Agree,
that is cheaper than purchasing a 100-pound bag of polymeric sand that you will not dilute. Isn’t it fantastic? It’s the reason why if you’re on a budget, the product is worth a shot.
You will particularly like how it blends with leveling sand. If you like the color of leveling sand and you’re looking for poly sand that will not change that look, then ConSandtrate is really what you need.
Are You Struggling with Insects?
Are you struggling with insects getting in between your pavers and bring along soil and other junk? The truth about regular sand is that it does nothing to stop them.
But this poly sand forms a bond so strong that the insects will have a hard time getting in.
What about Weed?
You put sand between the pavers but barely a year later, weeds are growing in the spaces. If you’re looking for sand that will not allow weeds to grow for a couple of years, this is the one.
The only thing I have to warn you about with regard to this sand is that it can cause discoloration on your pavers. That is if you don’t meticulously get it off the pavers before activation. That said, the discoloration is not unsightly.
Other than that, the sand is easy to activate with water and it dries quickly.
Ever received a bag of poly sand, only to find that part of it or even all of it was already hardened? Yes, that happens. How that occurs is that the bag is not watertight, and hence allows moisture to seep in, activating, and thus hardening the sand.
But that very rarely happens to the Alliance Gator Maxx G2. This product comes in some of the most airtight bags I have come across.
How Easy to Install?
Picture installing poly sand outdoors, then an hour afterward, it rains. It's a possibility even when you'd not forecasted it. There are poly sands out there that can be washed away or degraded in some way due to long curing durations.
The Gator Maxx G2, on the other hand, does not get affected. In less than one hour, the sand is so hard that not even heavy showers will erode it.
Why the Users are So Pleased?
One of the reasons why the users of this product are so pleased is the fact that it works easily. The sand seems to have an affinity for the gaps in that it sweeps right into place with little effort.
When sweeping poly sand into the gaps, people often complain about the dust and the aspect of blowing away. That happens with very fine grain.
But the G2, being medium grain, does not blow away.
Flexibility is an Important Aspect
Sand flexibility is an important aspect when dealing with paver gaps. When it freezes or when it is too hot like in summer, the gaps might get a little wider or narrower.
It gives some peace of mind to have a product like the G2 that is flexible enough to move with the changes and continue binding the gaps without cracking or stripping.
Polymeric sand is good, but when you find one that works in winter without any issues that compromise the bonds, that sand is not just good, it is great. And that’s the word I would use to describe the Alliance Gator Polymeric Super Sand.
This product is designed with great flexibility so that it moves with the gaps as they change in size through different temperatures. The sand is also designed to endure temperatures of as low as 0 degrees Celsius.
How large are your gaps?
If they are 1 inch wide or less than that, then you will find the sand useful. It is fine grain sand that gets into the littlest cracks, sealing them nicely.
Wondering what to do about the weeds that get in between paver cracks? You find them growing a few months after the application of leveling sand? Switch to Alliance Gator’s super sand and see the transformation.
This sand is enhanced with chemicals to keep weeds at bay. And not just weeds. The product also repels ants and other insects.
How to Use It?
I have only come across one negative feature in the product. The manufacturer doesn't include clear and precise directions on how to use it, particularly with regard to watering. However, there are plenty of useful guides on YouTube.
Aside from that,
it is a great product that is easy to apply. The best part is that it is quite cheap for a 50-pound bag. So, if your budget is tight and you need something inexpensive but high-quality, this one is worth a shot.
Do you have about 300 square feet of pavers that you want to lock in place? You might want to try the 50-pound bag of Lock-EM-Up Paver Sand. Yes, this sand’s coverage is quite good.
This product is what you’d call “good stuff”. It comes well packaged in a plastic bag. The packaging is so good that there’s almost no chance for moisture coming into contact with the sand during transportation. That means surprises like hardened sand out of the packaging are rare.
The colors look great. You can go for either grey or tan. They certainly look more elegant than the traditional look of plain sand.
Lock-EM-Up Paver Sand is Different from Others
Perhaps you have seen paver sand that cracks when there is a change in the temperatures. Such sand is not designed to withstand temperature changes. But the Lock-EM-Up Paver Sand is different in that it is designed to hold up to these changes.
Winds, heavy rains, and the thawing snow are some of the factors that affect the sand between pavers, eroding it, and leaving the gaps exposed. But that depends on the strength of the sand.
The Lock EM up, being a powerful product, forms solid bonds that are able to stand up to elements. You don’t have to worry about it getting washed off or blown away.
Before You Get this Product,
keep in mind this one challenge. The application will need periodic showers with a gap of around 3 hours throughout the day to make it harden. If you apply it and leave it and expect it to harden, you will get disappointed.
For the money, many buyers feel it is worth it. As long as you have the time to apply the showers, you shouldn’t experience any problems with the sand.
If you are on a tight budget, and you need some good polymeric sand, the Polymeric Sand Concentrate from ConSandtrate would be a good choice.
Unlike other products of its nature, this one comes in a concentrated form. That means you can mix it with regular dry sand to make more polymeric sand. The most surprising thing is that you can mix them in a ratio of 1:10. One part of this concentrate, and ten parts of the typical sand.
For example, this particular bag weighs in 25 pounds. Do you know what that means? You can mix it with 250 pounds of dry sand to make 275 pounds of polymeric sand to seal your pavement.
Because of this Functionality,
you get to save tremendous amounts of money without compromising the quality. There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving a shipment only to find out that the product is already damaged. But that happens often to those who shop for polymeric sand.
Thankfully, those shopping for this particular model from ConSandtrate seldom face a disappointing situation.
The sand comes well packaged in a watertight plastic bag. Moreover, the bag is placed in a box to provide further protection from elements.
One Major Hurdle Concern
I have noted one major hurdle concerning this product. When the rains come, it starts to wash away. That being said, there is a way to reduce the washing away. During application, use a compactor to make the sand firmer.
Apart from this problem, which is a bit fixable by the way, the sand is great, particularly in that it helps you save. You can get it in two colors – white and grey.
09. Polysweep Polymeric Joint Sand
The last product on this review is the Polysweep Polymeric Joint Sand. As you’ll see when you check the price, this one is much more expensive than the rest. Why is that, you wonder?
Because its quality is superior. If you’re looking for the best sand for paver joints, this one will more than just please you. You will be amazed. Everything from the ease of application to the integrity of the joint and the longevity is better than anything else out there.
Even when Using Polymeric Sand,
maintenance at least once per two years is required. That is how you keep the weeds and ants away while ensuring the joint keeps looking good. Well, things are different with Polysweep.
This sand is so high-quality that even if you don’t do any maintenance in 5 years, the joints will still look great and the weeds and ants will be nowhere to be seen. Such is the quality of this sand.
If you have used poly sand before, you might recognize that haze is one of the challenges people face. Perhaps you’re looking for a product that will not present this issue.
In that case, I’d encourage you to go for this sand. It does not set immediately, so you can remove it if it accidentally gets activated on the bricks or pavers.
The Threat for Sand is Heavy Rains and Winds
Heavy rains and winds pose the threat or sand erosion, leaving the gaps bare. Not if the sand is Ploysweep. Once it sets, this product looks as though it is glued to the gaps. For years, no amount of rain or wind washes away the sand.
Another awesome feature is that the sand seems to be a little flexible. It, in that regard, doesn’t crack.
The only complaint regarding this product is the price, which is not budget-friendly in the immediate sense. But it is in the long run as you don’t have to keep replacing it.
FAQs Regarding Polymeric Sands
Question: Is all poly sand the same?
Answer: Polymeric sand is not all the same. Different models offer varying degrees of strength. Some models are stronger while others are weaker.
The most reliable means of figuring out the strength is to look at the price. More expensive models offer greater power.
There are also other variations such as color and drying time.
Question: How do you activate poly sand?
Answer: Water is what you need to activate poly sand. Once you apply light showers to the sand, the hardening process kicks off.
While most models cannot be altered once the activation begins, there are some models that can be resoftened with water to correct imperfections.
Question: Is poly sand available in a variety of colors?
Answer: Yes, a good number of sellers offer two or more colors like slate grey, white, tan, and titanium to make sure you have the color to match your décor.
Question: Can polymeric sand harm humans?
Answer: There is an agent known as silica in poly sand. This silica is quite poisonous to humans. When you breathe it in, the silica dust can damage the lining of your respiratory system, giving you a condition called silicosis.
This causes difficulty in breathing and makes your lungs prone to infection. As you can see, it’s a pretty hostile situation. That is why you should avoid breathing the dust.
But don’t worry, as long as you have a mask on, it will protect you from the dust.
Question: Can I fill poly sand in gaps that already contain sand?
Answer: It is okay to fill polymeric sand in cracks that already contain sand. The bond will still be reliable. That said, it is better to fill it in gaps from the bottom top, in gaps that don't contain hardened sand.
The bond will be stronger.
Question: Is it okay to use poly sand near swimming pools?
Answer: One thing about poly sand is that during installation, exposure to water after activation and before curing can ruin the installation.
You can install the sand near swimming pools, but try ensuring the pool is not used at least before 48 hours are over.
Once the sand has cured, it should be waterproof and more resistant to washing than ordinary sand.
By now, you probably appreciate how important poly sand is for paving projects. You also likely understand what makes poly sand a better choice when compared with ordinary sand.
The superior binding strength makes all the difference.
The products we have discussed above are some of the best polymeric sand for pavers that you can find. While ConSandtrate offers you the best bang for your back, Polysweep provides the ultimate binding power.
Each of the rest has something to offer as well.