The question about using stone dust versus sand between patio pavers has plagued homeowners for years. There are pros and cons to using both materials and it’s important to review all aspects before choosing the best material for your patio project.
Using Sand Between Patio Pavers
Sand between pavers will compact to a degree, yet still remain porous enough for good drainage. Typically concrete sand is used as a base layer and leveling medium for patios and walkways made of concrete paving stones. Once applied between the pavers, the excess is easy to sweep away. If the patio receives pounding rain or is subject to overhead irrigation systems, it’s not likely to move much, since it’s a heavy material. Sand is comfortable for bare feet and manufactured sand has been screened for uniformity, so it’s not likely to have larger particles that could hurt bare feet.
Using Stone Dust Between Patio Pavers
Stone dust is a byproduct of crushing stone for other purposes. At one time, it was considered a waste material, but it’s now being used in agricultural applications to increase soil fertility and change the pH level of the soil. Its use as a base material for patios has fallen out of favor among some landscaping companies because the dust can be fine enough to hold water, which can damage paving materials during the freeze and thaw cycle.
Using it between patio pavers is less likely to cause damage to the patio’s surface. Since stone dust can form a strong, non-porous surface, it not only protects the base of the area from moisture, it also keeps weeds and grass from growing up between the pavers. Stone dust provides an efficient final base layer and these aspects are what make it a great material to go under patios.
Unlike sand, the stone dust will have small particles mixed in with larger particles. It’s possible for some of the particles to scatter across the patio pavers, making them somewhat uncomfortable for barefoot walking or for toddlers who tumble frequently onto the hard surface of the patio.
- Cost is an additional factor when deciding to use sand or stone dust, for both the short and the long term life of the project. Comparing the cost of stone dust to sand and estimating the likelihood of cracking will help you decide which to use.
- The color and texture of the product may drive your decision as well. Since stone dust and sand come from rocks, you may find that the wider range of color variation these products offer could be a factor in your decision.
Should I Use Stone Dust or Sand Between Patio Pavers?
The freeze and thaw cycle does affect patios, and there’s no shortage of this phenomenon in New Jersey. If your personal preference for the look and feel of the dust outweighs the stability of the sand, then choosing the stone dust is probably your best decision. If the color or texture isn’t a factor, then sand may be the material for you.