Paving Sand – When Should I Use It?

When installing a new driveway, you want to make sure that the structure is stable, reliable and will last for many years to come. One of the biggest problems with certain types of driveway is that the structure will begin to move around, shift and even sink. Of course, this isn’t what you want so finding a viable way to stabilise the area is essential. Paving sand is an option but a lot of people aren’t sure when to use it. 

Kiln dried sand is the most common material for the job and is mainly used when laying a block paved driveway. The sand locks each block to its neighbour and keeps the entire structure secure and stable. 

That said, you can’t just go out and grab any old sand, throw it between your pavers and hope for the best. There are certain intricacies involved in getting the job done right; if you want your driveway to be strong. 

What Is Kiln Dried Sand?

You may refer to kiln dried sand by a variety of different names. While it is commonly called paving sand, various companies will use different names including silica sand, silver sand, jointing sand and dry aggregate sand. 

In any case, they are all one of the same. These sands come in various colours although you wouldn’t typically have a choice in this and would normally go with what your supplier has in stock. But it isn’t the aesthetic of the sand that makes it so effective for block paving, but rather the texture. 

Kiln dried sand contains no moisture at all and is dried in a kiln to ensure that none remains. This, along with its very fine texture makes it ideal for packing between paving slabs and block paving blocks to keep the structure stable and strong. Moreover, being dry means that it will more easily penetrate down between the blocks rather than clumping together as wet sand would. When present, your driveway is far less likely to move.

When Should I Use Kiln Dried Sand?

Kiln dried sand is the best option for when you are working with block paving or paving slabs. You would use this when initially laying your block paving but would also need to reapply after you have cleaned your driveway. Doing this will help to replace any sand that got washed away during cleaning and will also prevent water from seeping down into the structure.

If water is allowed to get underneath the driveway, this can cause it to sink so it is important to ensure that you use the correct sand and the correct method of application (which we will look at in more detail a little later on.)

With all of that in mind, if you have a permeable driveway then paving sand would not be required as water won’t be an issue. Instead, you would use a fine gravel chipping with stones that are anywhere up to 6mm.

The main advantage of using paving sand, or kiln dried sand, is that when placed between the blocks, it creates a lock that holds each part of the structure together. In doing this, you are improving the strength and stability of the driveway and preventing it from shifting. Generally, using a wacker plate or compactor plate will deliver the best results. 

The clue is in the name; kiln dried sand, and when attempting to strengthen your block paving, you must never use wet sand. If you do, the paving blocks will not be able to compact together and the strength and stability you are looking for will be lost. The dry sand should completely fill all of the gaps between paving blocks for maximum strength. 

How Should I Use Kiln Dried Sand?

Before you start working on your driveway, you will need to think about how much kiln dried sand you need. This material is generally sold in 25kg bags and how many of these you require will largely depend on the size of your driveway. As a rule of thumb, one 25kg bag should cover an area up to 30m². You should also consider that the sand should fill up to a depth of around 5-10mm if you are reapplying after a clean. In initial installation of the drive, with block pavers that measure 50mm, you would need to ensure full coverage between each block. 

When you are cleaning your driveway, you will likely be using a pressure washer. These appliances offer a quick and easy method of stain removal and will bring your driveway back to the standard of when it was first installed. However, you should be careful since it is possible that you may blast away a lot of the sand from between the pavers. 

After you complete the clean, you should not attempt to reapply kiln dried sand until the area has dried completely. For this reason, we would suggest cleaning the drive when you know the weather will remain dry for a couple of days since it will take this long for the area to be fully ready. If you try to apply the sand while there is still moisture present, it will clump and stick to the sides of the blocks rather than penetrating down between them. 

You can tip an amount of sand onto the driveway and work it around the area using a broom. It is important to be thorough and ensure that the sand effectively gets between each paver. When you’re happy with the result, you can brush away and discard the remaining sand. It is perfectly viable to pack this sand back into the bag for next time but do remember to keep it somewhere dry. 

Do You Need To Use A Sealer With Paving Sand?

Sealing your driveway is important since it will protect it from the elements and provide the structure with a little extra strength. There are a lot of debates littering the internet about whether there is any need to seal block paving but if you want to prevent any sand loss, it is a crucial step.

Sealers are often used on other types of driveway such as imprinted concrete as a way of preventing cracking, especially when the surface will be freezing and thawing. However, block paving is generally much more durable and won’t be as susceptible to cracks. On the other hand, applying a sealer isn’t going to do any harm.

That said, some people simply do not want to use a sealer but the good news is that there is an alternative. Sand stabilisers are a great way to set the sand in place without sealing the entire surface of the drive. Whether you are using a sealer or a stabiliser, both will need to be reapplied over the course of time. A stabiliser may last anywhere between 2 and 3 years whereas a sealer could last up to five years.  

Conclusion

If you want your beautiful new block paved driveway to stand the test of time, it is important to do the job correctly. One of the most basic things you can do is to apply kiln-dried sand, commonly known as paving sand which will lock the blocks together and provide much greater stability for the drive.