The problems with Polymeric Sand for interlocking pavers – And the solution.

Posted by on Oct 28, 2012 in Featured, Installation | 0 comments

Thinking about using polymeric sand on your pavers? Read this before you do. We offer a step-by-step solution below that’s an alternative to polymeric sand.

Are interlocking pavers still interlocking pavers when polymeric sand is used in the joints. I’m not sold that’s the case. One of the most necessary aspects to achieve interlock in concrete pavers is forcing course particle sand into the joints. This should happen in two stages of an interlocking paver installation. The first is when the pavers are installed over top of a course concrete sand setting bed. When the pavers are compacted using a vibratory plate compactor, the pavers are pushed into the sand bed forcing and lodging the sand into the joint. The installer will then cover the pavers with the same or similar sand used for the sand bed and again run a vibratory plate compactor over the top of the pavers forcing the course particle sand into the top of the paver joint. You now have a paver joint that is filled with large particle sand that typically wouldn’t find it’s way into the narrow paver joint without force and interlock is achieved. The picture below shows pavers being lifted. Notice the whole surface lifts, not just one paver. The fact that the whole surface moves together demonstrates the sand holding the pavers together.

Pavers interlocked without polymeric sand

So what does all of that have to do with polymeric sand. Let me explain. In my opinion, I believe that polymeric sand was created for Do-It-Yourself installations where the installer lacked experience or proper equipment to get the proper size particle sand into the paver joint. Of course it was primarily created to prevent weeds growing in-between the pavers, but once that objective was accomplished I believe the next order of business for the manufacturer was to make the product easy to install. If polymeric sand was made with the same course joint sand that’s been recommended for years we might not be having this discussion. But that’s not the case.If you remove the ease of installation it would eliminate more than half of their market in my estimation. What exactly did the manufacturers do that makes polymeric sand so easy to install, they made the sand particle size as fine as they possibly could so that it easily falls down into the paver joints. As I discussed in my first paragraph, it’s imperative for large/course particle sand to get forced into the joint to achieve interlock. This is not what’s happening with polymeric sand. (In some rare instances, polymeric sand is a good solution. In these instances, our sister company offers polymeric sand installation in Dayton, Ohio).

Check out our guide for paver patio installation unlike any other guide out there.

But polymeric sand gets hard when you wet it. Sure it does, but the sand wasn’t forced into the joint. Instead it was placed into the joint and vibrated to fill the joint. When you wet polymeric sand, it doesn’t expand it just gets hard. So when the adhesion breaks down thats holding the sand into the joint (usually happens during freeze/thaw) you have an entire joint that can pop out. And it does.

problems with polymeric sand

Side Effects of Polymeric Sand

It’s been said that some of the polymeric sand manufacturers will add cement to their polymeric mix to cut down the cost of making the product. Cement will stain the pavers and cause a white/light gray film on the pavers and around the joint. The polymeric sand manufacturers blame the white haze on the pavers claiming it to be efflorescence.

Keep the weeds from coming back

If you’ve found this page because you’re trying to figure out how to keep the weeds from growing in your pavers, I’m sorry to tell you that polymeric sand is probably not the best solution. Over the past 10 years of installing pavers, we’ve developed a very reliable system for eliminating weed growth in our paver installs and it does not involve polymeric sand. Our solution is the result of a lot of trial and error – and finally we’ve perfected it.


If you’re interested in purchasing our step-by-step process for properly cleaning pavers and how we prevent weeds from growing in the joints without using messy polymeric sand, we’re currently selling this through Paypal. You can get it by clicking the Paypal button below. We’ve discounted the price to $20.00 during the winter months. We will adjust the pricing back to the normal price starting spring 2016.



To receive a copy of our instructions for removing weeds from pavers and how to prevent them form coming back, simply click the yellow ‘Buy Now’ button below. We process our payments through Paypal for security reasons, However, it does not require that you have a Paypal account. Once you make the payment, you’ll be sent to a private page that will allow you to download a PDF version of the instruction guide.


Our Process Before and After

before and after pavers restoration

2016-05-03 13.18.17

2016-05-05 15.22.52

Polymeric Sand Alternative


Hi Mark – we ordered your instructions on fixing and sealing our patio brick pavers. Our patio is 17 years old and needed some help. We just finished our project and although not professionals,  we can’t believe how great it looks. Our pavers sparkle in the sunlight and the sand in the seams is rock hard. Your process couldn’t be easier and even though contractors around here said we should us that other sand that hardens, we read too many bad reviews about it. Dont have a before picture but it truly wasn’t pretty – lots of gaps, moss and weeds from chipmunk damage.  Thanks so much for sharing your method. Here’s a picture.


Get Our DIY Guide To Weed Free Pavers The Professional Way

Have Questions? 

I'm not a professional, will I be able to follow your instructions?

Absolutely. We’ve written the instructions in a way that anyone can understand and follow regardless of experience level.

Will I need any tools?

You’ll more than likely have most of the necessary tools (there aren’t many required). Chances are that if you don’t, you’ll know someone who does. Like a neighbor. Any tools that you don’t have, you’ll be able to rent from your local Home Depot or tool rental facility and still save a bundle over hiring a company to do this for you.

My pavers are new, will this process still work?

For sure. In fact, it’s much easier for newer pavers (usually requires less cleaning)

My pavers are old, will this still work?

Although the instructions can be followed for new pavers, they’re written and intended for old, dirty pavers that have weeds that won’t stay away.

But polymeric sand makes the sand hard so that weeds can't grow and sand doesn't spread everywhere.

You’ll get the same results from our process that you will with polymeric sand. I.e. the sand hardens. However, our process will last much longer and has many other crucial benefits for not only keeping the weeds out but also keeping your pavers clean.

Does your process require that I purchase any products?

Yes it does, and we’ll tell you exactly what to buy. It will only cost you about $35 per 100 square feet of paver area. Again, you’ll still save hundreds over hiring this out.

How long will it take?

Of course it depends on how big your paver area is, but the average paver patio is about 300-400 sq feet. Based on the average patio size, expect to spend about 6-8 hours spread over two days. Probably less time than you spend every year cleaning and pulling weeds from your pavers now.

How/When will I receive the instructions?

We’ll email them to you within 24 hours after you make the payment, but in most cases you’ll have them in an hour or two during daytime hours. We’ll get your email during the checkout process.

My pavers are very dirty, is it worth it?

Our instructions will show you how to deep clean your pavers making them look amazing again.

Our DIY Guide Is For All Skill Levels


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Mark Rhodus (52 Posts)

I'm Mark, the owner of Two Brothers Brick Paving. Thanks for taking a second to read this article. I strongly feel that if I educate my customers about me, my company and hardscapes, in the end they will be a happier customer. I have three awesome boys named Wes, Greyson and Braxton. My wife Katie and my family are my motivation to be the best I can be and that shows in my work. I've been in this industry most of my life and prior to starting my own company I worked for one of the largest/best installers in the country (it was actually the first contractor to install an interlocking concrete paver). I can bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to your project.