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Patios and Walkways
 
A nice brick patio or walkway will add beauty and value to your home and will probably outlast your home.  There are many types and styles to choose from, most of which are virtually maintenance free.  
 
New, self healing joint compounds between pavers reduce brick maintenance by making it very difficult for weedsto germinate and antsto nest.
  
 

 

    
 
As a quick comparison of a wood deck verses a brick patio over the course of 10 years.  Initial installation cost may be 10-20 percent higher for brick.  Brick requires little maintenance to ensure a safe walking area, while the deck should be cleaned and sealed every 3 years to keep it from becoming slippery especially in shady, moist areas.  If you hire that cleaning and sealing out, how much would that cost?  If you did it yourself during your vacation from work, how much time would you spend on it?
 
On one hand many homeowners shy away from brick patios because they see so many that have been installed incorrectly.  I have too, and it makes me sick to my stomach.  In fact, my first walkway was a disaster and a good example of what not to do.  When I look back at that job I could tell you several things I would have done differently.  But, I learned from that installation and now I'm putting out near flawless patios and walkways. 
 
Settling of patios, walks, and retaining walls is our number one enemy.  It's unavoidable in any installation, the key is too know how it settles and by how much, if you know this, you can plan for it.  A typical patio or walk with a 4-6 inch base will settle 0.5 - 0.75 inches with-in two years.  A retaining wall will settle at half that rate.  So, if your installing a patio / retaining wall combination you will need to adjust for this.  The initial installation will appear slightly off compared to the finished product two years from now.
 
Another big enemy of patios, walks, and walls is the lack of virgin soil.  Virgin soil is ground that has been undisturbed for at least 50 years or more.  Time is the only true settler of soil, you can compact the piss out of it and it will still wreck havoc on your project with-in a few years.  If you've just built a new home or addition and have just backfilled it, you best wait at least 2 years before installing a patio, this way the majority of settling will have occurred and future settling should be minute.  Also keep in mind other areas that have been excavated or where trees use to be, existing root systems will rot away leaving you a sunken area in your patio, walk, or wall.