Fresh air and natural, healthy surroundings can be a powerful motivator. Months of pandemic-related self-quarantining and work-from-home routine have ushered in tremendous interest in improving home environments—particularly those that let homeowners enjoy their outdoor spaces. At the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI), what we see now is a sharp increase in demand for outdoor living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and more. It is all about converting unused outdoor spaces into comfortable living and entertainment spaces. The goals for most of these projects, both small and large, are familiar.
Enjoy The Environment
An easy and elegant way to bring a home up to date and expand the outdoor living area is with the many options that colorful, durable concrete pavers provide. Professionally designed and installed hardscapes can improve quality of life now and curb appeal later when the time comes to sell a home. Wherever pavers are installed, real estate experts say, it can be easy to recoup the cost when a home is being sold. Many homeowners and prospective homeowners consider pavers a much more attractive option than other pavement systems. Pavers are also easier to maintain and last longer without needing to be repaired.
There are many ways outdoor living spaces can be created using hardscape elements. These include concrete pavers, segmental retaining walls, kitchen and fireplace components, built-in seating, and water features. Pavers also provide a safe, slip-resistant surface in various colors, shapes, and textures, as well as blends with flashed tones to harmonize with a home’s exterior cladding. And, pavers can be arranged in patterns that complement the architectural style of virtually any home and landscape.
Protect The Environment
Practical comfort and beautification are just part of the story. Another influence in the steady growth of hardscapes is found in the role that permeable interlocking concrete pavers (PICP) can play in protecting the environment. PICP pavements look like popular concrete paving stones but work differently. PICPs feature a small space between the pavers. This space is filled with tiny rocks that allow runoff to filter down between the pavers. The water filters down further to stone layers that then store the water. Finally, the water will penetrate the soil, reducing stormwater runoff and pollution.
While homeowners can choose PICPs to make a positive impact on their environment through improvements that lower pollution, these pavers are also aesthetically pleasing. Customers can even select a lighter, reflective color and reduce the heat island effect created by existing asphalt pavements.
PICPs are made the same way concrete paving stones are manufactured to result in high strength precast concrete. And, PICPs have been proven effective in winter because they can reduce icy build up. When the snow melts, it drains into the spaces between the pavers and does not have the opportunity to refreeze into ice. Snow removal is handled the same way as with any other pavement.
Think Beyond Residential
Many of the same hardscape attributes popular with homeowners are winning over commercial properties and municipalities. Concrete pavers can offer an attractive solution to maintenance and drainage problems—and at a low life cycle cost compared to alternative pavements. Perhaps this is why pavers have become familiar construction elements in public gathering places.
Developers are often challenged to meet stringent environmental requirements, including the limitation of potentially polluting stormwater runoff. In an effort to meet these challenges, concrete pavements in the form of paver grids and permeable pavers are increasingly relied upon in parking areas, walkways, courtyards, and more. This approach permits water to drain beneath permeable pavers and filter out pollutants through a low-cost system on site.
Maintenance is another demand driver for concrete pavers in commercial, industrial, and transportation applications. The cost and duration of repairs or modifications to utilities beneath pavements can be significantly reduced by being able to remove the necessary pavers for repairs and replacing them after completion.
Prepare For Success
The design of a hardscape project does not need not be complicated—just well thought out from the start. The assistance of knowledgeable design and installation professionals can eliminate missteps to ensure a successful outcome. Designing the proper base for paver installation, for instance, will be vital to ensuring durability and the adequate functioning of permeable pavers.
While some homeowners choose to design and install hardscape projects themselves, for larger or more complex projects, the selection of a knowledgeable and well-experienced installation professional is highly recommended.
ICPI offers many resources for design professionals and contractors in PICP design, specification, construction, and maintenance. Also, ICPI resources include installer certifications to help demonstrate that professional installers understand industry standards and best practices. And, the credentials of ICPI certified installers are routinely checked from the ICPI website.
Hawkins is director of marketing & membership at the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI). For more information or to learn more about ICPI certification, visit www.icpi.org.
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