A contractor picks himself up from the ground where he has spent the past four hours laboring. He walks over to a nearby tree, reaches for his rag to wipe the sweat from his brow.
He turns back to look at his work and thinks, “I’m not one to brag, but that’s a good-looking patio.”
His satisfaction soon leaves however, as the thought of completing the project takes center stage.
“I’ve got to shore up these edges so these pavers don’t move around on me.”
There is a point during every paver project when the contractor must make a decision: Do you lock in the pavers using preformed edging or build a traditional concrete berm?
To make that decision you must consider the pros and cons of both materials, the installation requirements and the cost of each option.
The two most popular materials for securing a concrete paver installation are a pre-formed edging, such as Snap-Edge, and concrete. Let’s take a look at the key factors in choosing your edging material.
Using Snap-Edge or Preformed Edging
Snap-Edge is an injection molded plastic that is fairly simple to use while also providing a strong border capable of handling vehicular traffic as well as foot traffic.
- One-piece system that can do it all—straight lines, curves or even a complete radius.
- Installation is easy with common 8-inch or 12-inch landscape spikes.
- Can be installed before or after the pavers have been laid.
- Patented joints snap together and are spiked into the ground for a secure connection and added support.
- Has an open-base design allowing grass growth along the edge for aesthetically pleasing borders.
- Each piece is 8 feet long, allowing for easy handling and transportation to the jobsite.
- Can be taken up without a ton of effort if the patio needs to be removed.
Using Concrete Paver Borders
A concrete paver border consists of a small concrete berm or concrete toe, and has some advantages as well.
Concrete Border Benefits
- Creates a strong and solid border that can be set around any angle or curve.
- Usually more cost-effective than other materials.
- If done properly, this method will allow turf to grow right up next to the paver edge.
- The border can be completely hidden from view once backfill dirt has been positioned.
Considering the Cons: Snap-Edge and Concrete Border Disadvantages
Snap-Edge requires some additional tools, a hand saw or some type of cutters to snip the material in order to bend it to shape. It also typically costs more than concrete per linear foot.
Concrete edging requires a wheel barrel, shovel, water and bags of concrete mix. Concrete must be mixed on site, given time to cure once installed, and any excess concrete must be properly disposed of. Concrete also requires a more labor-intensive process to install and is more labor-intensive to remove if that ever needs to happen.
Picking Your Paver Edging
So how do you decide? Ask yourself these questions:
How much time can I commit to setting up the border?
The Snap-Edge will be a faster install, but it will be more expensive.
How close am I to going over budget?
Concrete will certainly be cheaper per square foot to install but requires time and some extra tools to make it happen.
How permanent do I want to make this border?
Snap-Edge will offer an easier excavation if necessary but may also be more likely to give under excess pressure. Concrete is a tougher excavation but will certainly hold its position even under heavy, heavy pressure.
Each project will present various challenges and situations, and each contractor has to make the best decision for what materials to use based on their best judgment. Regardless of which method you decide to go with, you’ll surely have a finished product that can satisfy you and your client.