aj mccormack and son

Other Pavings - Page 02
The Brew Cabin
other pavings


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Forum Question Grass paving on Driveway - Luise - 27 Feb 2002
I have a vehicular right of way across my garden. This was laid with reinforced grass, as it was only used occasionally. However, it is now used almost daily (sometimes twice a day), and the grass has turned to mud (it wasn't given sufficient time to 'take').

We would like another grass alternative, but don't know of any that can take regular use. Could you suggest some alternatives please? I have a vehicular right of way across my garden. This was laid with reinforced grass, as it was only used occasionally. However, it is now used almost daily (sometimes twice a day), and the grass has turned to mud (it wasn't given sufficient time to 'take').

We would like another grass alternative, but don't know of any that can take regular use. Could you suggest some alternatives please?


forum answer Tony McCormack - 27 Feb 2002
Hi Luise,

Grass Paving isn't intended to take regular trafficing. It will always struggle if not given 'rest' periods of a week or so between trafficking.

With twice daily traffic, I would not recommend Grass Paving for your situation - you need something more substantial. Is the increase in traffic a temporary phenomenon or is it likely to be permanent?

One of the concrete block grass pavers might stand a better chance of survival, but I'd still be hesitant. Which system/product do you have at the moment?

27 Feb 2002
Thank you for replying so quickly.

We currently have the Tensar mat reinforced grass. We're unsure whether the increase in traffic will be permament - our neighbours are not being very neighbourly about this!!!

What solutions would you recommend?

Tony McCormack
27 Feb 2002
Hi again,

the Tensar mat is usually pretty reliable, with the usual proviso "as long as it's been properly laid". If your's is cutting-up already and isn't being trafficked more than 2 or 3 times a day, it could be one of the following...

1 - poor installation
2 - poor/unsuitable soil medium
3 - inadequate drainage provision

Have you reported the problem to the original contractor? Did they give you any form of guarantee? If the mat has been properly installed they would be able to call out Tensar Tech Dept to inspect the work and have them identify the problem.

However, if that isn't going to happen, you may need to consider a more robust form of grass paving, such as Grassblock by GC Group or a grass-free alternative, such as block paving.

Without being familiar with your site, it's not really possible for me to recommend one product rather than another but I would certainly contact the original contractor and/or Tensar Tech Dept and see if they have a rememdy to offer before spending any further money.

Let me know how you get on.

Forum Question Gravel for Garden Path - Rod Molyneux - 28 Feb 2002
I am trying to decide which type of gravel to use on my new garden path. I want to use something big enough to keep the cats off but still be reasonably compact and easy to walk on. I have tried marine gravel of about 20mm to 30mm but this is far too "mushy". Would I be right in thinking that this "mushiness" is exaggerated by virtue of the fact that each individual piece of gravel has been smoothed and rounded by the sea and therefore tends to behave like lots of ball bearings  rather than "locking together" at all. Would a quarried gravel of the same size with sharp angular faces be more stable than the marine version or do I just need smaller gravel?

Rod Molyneux

forum answer Tony McCormack - 28 Feb 2002
Hi Rod,

an angular gravel (quarried) would indeed provide better interlock than a rounded (marine or fluvial) gravel, but I think you're using too large a size - try a 10-20mm size range. While that won't deter the cats that are hell bent on defouling your paths, it will keep most of them away, and be a damn sight easier to walk upon.

Forum Question Gravel Driveway - Alan Goldsack - 28 Feb 2002
Hi Tony
Hope you are well.I've got to do a quote for someone who wants a largeish gravel drive/parking area (about 130m²). The ground is clay soil. What depth of sub-base would you reccomend? What depth of gravel would you reccomend?

I will need to install some kind of drainage for the driveway, can I use perf. landrain pipe just under the sub-base? Keep up the good work.

Regards Alan Goldsack

forum answer Tony McCormack - 28 Feb 2002
Hi again, Alan

What depth of sub-base would you reccomend?

100mm minimum - reckon on 100-150mm for cars, 150-225mm for vans or large vehicles.

What depth of gravel would you reccomend?


Can I use perf.landrain pipe just under the sub-base?

Not really, as it will collapse under the loading, unless you use clayware and make sure it's at least 600mm deep. If you want to avoid bigging that deep, you could consider a drainage composite.
However, a strategically positioned linear drain will usually deal with surface water long before it becomes a problem.
Forum Question Laying concrete after rain - Cat McDonald - Feb 28, 2002
We live in Atlanta,Ga where our soil is red clay. the driveway contractor began to pull up our old driveway and was halfway through when it began to rain. it rained for a day and a half continuously. After it stopped they pulled up the rest of the driveway and tried to take off the mud that had formed. They plan on putting down crushed concrete base tomorrow and then lay the cement the day after.†It is winter and has been in the 40's and overcast, so the ground is not getting a very good dry. Tomorrow and the following day it is supposed to be approximately 60 degrees and sunny. I do not know what the effects are of laying the driveway after the rain and in these conditions.

Could someone please advise? Someone else told me it is not good because the water will percolate up the cement and in about a year i will notice scaling off the top. is this true? and if i should wait, then how long?†it is supposed to rain again next week.


forum answer Tony McCormack - Feb 28, 2002
Hi Cat,

I've no experience of concrete work in North America; I know it's done differently than here in the UK, but I'll help if I can.

Rain shouldn't have any impact on the concrete pour, as long as it's protected from very heavy rain, and as long as the temperature is above 4C, that won't be a problem. However, the sub-base layer over which the concrete will be poured, needs to be free of any mud or standing water.

Over here, we'd put down a layer of crushed rock as a sub-base, level and compact that, then place a damp proof membrane over the sub-base and pour the concrete, levelling and finishing it before covering it over for 24-48 hours while the initial cure takes place. We wouldn't pour concrete onto a muddy sub-base base, or into standing water, unless there were special circumstances.

You may be able to find a more local source of information on the US-based concrete network at ConcreteNetwork] - that seems to be where all the American concreters hang out. smiley

Forum Question Gravel for Sloping Path - Archive - Feb 28, 2002
Hi Tony,
What would you say would be the maximum fall or slope in a back garden on which it would acceptable practice to construct a standard gravel path going directly down the fall line without the need for steps or pads. My back garden is about 50m long and has a uniform slope dropping approximately 8m over the total length. So it is about a 1m fall for every 6.25m of garden.It looks sort of borderline to me but I would prefer to do without steps if I can.

What do you think?

forum answer Tony McCormack - Feb 28, 2002
Gravel is a right bugger for migrating down even the gentlest of gradients, Rod. Anything steeper than 1 in 20 will be problematic, so your 1 in 6 is going to be a nightmare. I honestly think you are going to need benches - elongated steps - if you want to avoid a pile of gravel appearing at the bottom of the slope the next time it lashes down with rain!

Assuming you introduce a 175mm step into the line, and then allow for 75mm of fall between consecutive steps, that gives a rise of 250mm per step, and therefore you'd need 32 benches, each about 1.5m in length to accommodate your 8m drop. You might be able to 'stretch' that to 25 steps with 2m benches, depending on the sub-base or sub-grade and the type of gravel you choose, but I don't think it's feasible as a flat bone (ie, no steps).

Forum Question Gravel path - Tony Mottram - Feb 28, 2002
How do I go about laying a metre wide brick edged path in a lawn on clay soil? How deep does the gravel need to be and how do i secure the bricks?

Tony Mottram

forum answer Tony McCormack
This is fairly well illustrated on the Gravels page, Tony. Excavate for your path 150mm deep and allowing an extra 100-150mm to each side. Lay your edging bricks on a bed of concrete 100mm deep (see Edgings page) and haunch the back with concrete. Once the concrete has set (say 24 hours) fill the path with DTp1 sub-base material to about 25mm below the top of the edgings, and then consolidate it with a wacker plate. Finally, top dress that sub-base with your chosen gravel, but no more than about 35mm in depth.

How's that? †smiley

Forum Question What seal to use on internal brick floor? - John Cridge - Feb 28, 2002
What a great site! thanks in advance.

What sealer could I use on an internal brick floor? We want a matt/satin finish rather than a very shiny wax finish that will need constant buffing. The idea is to 'protect' the floor from stains and to bring out/maintain a deep and fresh appearance although, in fact the bricks/pavers are all at least 200 years old - this 'service' part of the house having been added around 1680.

Originally the bricks were laid direct on earth with consequent problems of damp and detrioration.

The bricks were lifted and the site excavated followed by laying of hardcore + blind sand + dpm + insulation + concrete + bricks grouted with pure cement slurry. The floor has now been cleaned twice with acid cleaner and now awaits a coat/coats of sealer.

So, the question is 'what to use?' - would Thompson's paving sealer be suitable or is there something better/more appropriate?

John Cridge

forum answer Tony McCormack - Feb 28, 2002
Hi John,

read Craig Amor's comments on the Sealants page. He is probably the UK's leading expert in sealants, so he knows what he's talking about. smiley

John Cridge Thanks for that suggestion - finally, after searching the Index, I found 'Sealants' and the Craig Amor quote plus the link to Resiblok who have ansewered my query. Unfortunately here is the advice from the realm of 'expert' Craig Amor........

"Thank you for your email. Unfortunately we would not recommend the use of our sealers on old bricks such as yours.


Oh well, it's back to B&Q...........

John Cridge

Tony McCormack Did he say why, or was that it?

If you're going to use Water Seal, I'd test a small patch beforehand, or better still, email Ronseal (who own Thomsons) to make sure before you commit yourself. The trouble with sealants is that they can be un-applied, as it were.

Have a look on the Sealants Links page and get the contact details for Ronseal/Thomsons. I'd be interested to hear their comments.

John Cridge Had already e-mailed Ronseal/Thompsons but no response so far.

I have now requested to receive a sealer recommended by the restoration builders who laid the floor - will test then, if OK, will apply.

As your site seems to lack this info I will post the result and product.

Tony McCormack
Please do, John - internal floors constructed from reclaimed brick are not really my field of expertise, but new info is always welcome. smiley
John Cridge The product selected and now used is HG (Hagesan) golvpolish - satin polish, it is water based. The HG range of products is extensive with cleaners, sealants, polishes for many types of surface. Two coats of HG golvpolish brushed or wiped on, 45 minutes betwen coats, has produced an 'older' look with only a subtle sheen.

Great site Tony!

Forum Question Sealant for a PIC driveway - Archive
About five years ago we had a pattern imprinted concrete driveway and path laid to the front of our property. It looks great and we have been very pleased with it but it now needs to be re-sealed. The company that laid it are not trading anymore, however, when they sealed the driveway originally we copied the details of the sealant that they used from the original tin. The details are:
High Solids Acrylic Sealant No.3
For Pattern Imprinted Concrete Paving
Ref: R289881

Does anybody out there know where we can buy this sealant from so that we can re-seal the driveway ourselves?

forum answer Tony McCormack
Why doesn't it surprise me that the original contractor is no longer trading? Or am I too cynical about the PIC trade and its ephemeral nature?  ;)

Take a look at what's on offer from either Resiblock or Creative Impressions - they will have something suitable.

Good luck!

14 Apr 2002
We have recently (yesterday) had a pattern imprinted concrete patio laid and the final look having had the sealant applied is very glossy - despite us having requsted a matt (natural) look.

The sealant used was:
Pattern Imprinted Concrete Supplies Ltd
High Solids Sealer
Product code CM40

Is this suitable for achieving a matt finish?

Also, we were advised to apply the same sealant to some existing stone paving slabs we have and the effect has been to give an exceptionally high gloss and very slippery surface - how can we remove this sealant from our slabs?

Thanks in advance for any advice,

Tony McCormack
14 Apr 2002
Xtraseal is either a satin or a gloss finish, depending on how they market it. IMHO, it's gloss, but I've seen it sold as 'wet look', 'soft-sheen' as well as 'satin'. I'm not sure how PICS Ltd would feel about some of these terms that are freely applied by contractors desperate to make a sale. sulk

The bad news is that you cannot chemically remove this sealant from your stone flags (or from your PIC). There is no solvent that can be applied to remove it, once it's 'set'. You're stuck with it, I'm afraid.

The only way it can be removed from stone paving is by surface grinding, which is phenomenally expensive in small, residential projects and it would be cheaper to replace the stone with new reclaimed, IYKWIM. Surface grinding is not an option with your PIC - if you grind the surface, you take off the colour and the pattern, leaving you with plain, boring, naturally-coloured concrete, which you could have had for about a third of the cost of PIC.

Time for a serious chat with your contractor, by the sound of it. sulk

Colin S
3 Sep 2002
Having just moved house to a place blessed with a PIC drive and pathway that needs some TLC I am in the lucky situation of having some of the orignal surface hardener still in the garage. My question simply what is the best way of prepping the worn areas and then applying it? Is a power hose to clean + paint brush application going to do the job OK?
Tony McCormack
3 Sep 2002
Blessed? Mmmm...not a term I'd use for PIC, normally! wink

And surface hardener? Are you sure it says 'Surface hardener"? That isn't a sealant: it's the colouring and a setting accelerator used on the original concrete. Have you had a look at it? Is it a clear-ish liquid and what quantity have you? How big is your blessed PIC driveway?

Colin S
4 Sep 2002
Thanks for the reply. I have both the surface hardener (which would be skimmed into the cement to colour and harden when originally laid I would imagine) and the sealant which is as you say a clearish liquid.

The drive (and pathway around the house and pathway to the front door - i.e. a pretty large area in all >>100sq metres) is PIC but is faded in places and has not probably been re-sealed for some time. I had planned to touch up the colour where necessary (using the coloured surface hardener?) and then put on a new coat of sealant.

Is there a better way of touching up the colour than using the coloured surface hardener in a water suspension + paint brush???

Tony McCormack
5 Sep 2002
This is one of the facets of PIC not mentioned by the slick salesbods when they're cajoling you into signing up for Stamped Concrete and eating all your Gypsy Creams - once the surface is damaged, there is NO invisible way of repairing it. It's damaged for ever, and the only remedy is to cut out the damaged area and have it done again. Of course, it won't match the original, but if you want a less noticeable repair, then the same salesbods will be only to pleased for you to have the whole pavement replaced!

You cannot mix the colour hardener with water and 'paint' it over the damaged or exposed area. CH reacts with plastic (ie, fresh ) concrete to actively bond to the surface. Your notion of painting on a repair will last about 24 hours, on a good day. The first time it's trafficked, or if there's a shower of rain, it will crumble and return to dust, I'm afraid. sulk

There are some concrete 'paints' that can be applied to cured concrete, but they will not match what you currently have, and so, to avoid the 'sore thumb' look, you'd need to treat the entire surface. Touching-up is simply not an option.

A decent sealant would possibly improve the overall appearance of the PIC, but without seeing the pavement for myself, I couldn't say what would work best, Have you thought about asking one of the local PIC Contractors to take a look and offer their advice?

Colin S
5 Sep 2002
Thanks again for the useful info. Taking on-board your advice I 'll get it looked at - I can't help feeling that a good clean and reseal is probably the best way forward and I can live with a the colour variation!!!


Forum Question Fake Cobbles - Nettie - 1 Mar 2002
I have seen fake cobbles laid in a street. A mould was used which formed cobble shapes in an area about 3 ft x 3 ft. This was repeated to fill a whole street. I presume the material used was tarmac, but it had a grey look about it. Anybody got any idea what this is or how I can go about getting it done on my drive.

Please help it is driving me mad!!

forum answer Tony McCormack - 1 Mar 2002
That would be either Pattern Imprinted Concrete (PIC) or Pattern Imprinted Bitmac. Take a look at the Decorative Concrete pages for more info. There will be PIC copntractors in your area, but be very, very careful if you go ahead with this type of paving.

Pattern Imprinted Bitmac is a highly specialist trade, normally reserved for streetworks and commercial applications. I know of only 2 firms in the UK that undertake residential driveways - if this is what you mean, email me and I'll send you the contact details.

16 Sep 2002
Who are the 2 contractors - do they do patterned driveways?
Tony McCormack
16 Sep 2002
Forum Question Is slate great? - Navier - 18 Mar 2002
First off, thanks for a fantastic web site. There isn't much about on construction tips and it's refreshing to see such detail and authority well focused on a particular subject without recourse to Flash. I just visted a skip hire site and was greeted with a talking bin and a spinning skip for God's sake! Congratulations and keep up the good work.

We have a two year old daughter and a very soggy lawn. We're looking for a suitable surface for running around on. Ideally we'd like something clean (not bark), with a little 'give' for trips and stumbles and not too gravelly to avoid scabby knees and elbows (takes me back....)

The current thinking is strip off the turf and drop 50mm of slate chippings over a geotextile. Any better suggestions? Budget is a strong concern by the way and slate seems a bit expensive.

Thanks in anticipation.

forum answer Tony McCormack - 18 Mar 2002

your mention of the spinning skip etc made me smile - I know exactly the sort of site you mean - a triumph of technology over content. There's a certain paving site that's similar: Lovely Flash gimmickry, but no bloody phone number to enable potential customers to give them a call! sulk

Anyway, back to your play area. I'd be very cautious with slate, as it can have sharp edges, even the tumbled stuff. You say you don't want bark, which is fair enough, so that leaves either sand, gravel or play surfacing. Sand would need to be kept covered over when not in use or it will be full of cat crap in next to no time, which is even worse than scabby knees!

A play surface is relatively expensive, but you might be able to get some crumb rubber from a local recycling facility if you're lucky. Again, keep it covered, and order an extra 100kg or so as it does gets blown away by the wind.

But I reckon the best vaule-for-money solution is a rounded gravel. As long as it's from a marine source and well-rounded, it's quite kind to knees and a 10-18mm mix keeps the worst of the cats out, but it's still worth covering it over, just to be extra safe.

If you have a local sand & gravel quarry, you might be able to pick it up at a reasonable price (ie, 20 quid per tonne max) but if you have to buy in via Bretts or Supamix, it can be a bit more expensive, but no dearer than what you would pay for tumbled slate (unless you happen to live in N.Wales where it's a waste product!)

Hope that helps. †smile

18 Mar 2002
Thanks for the fast response. I was a bit concerned about the sharp edges but I figured the slate was more likely to stay in place than the gravel. On balance though I suspect you're right (I bow to your experience!) and will look for a local supplier.

I notice you're in Culcheth. We're in Boothstown just up the East Lancs. Any tips on someone local who can supply?

Tony McCormack
19 Mar 2002
Boothstown - home of the legendary wobble! wink

There used to be a quarry here in Culcheth that did a bloody wonderful river gravel and would sell it to DIYers by the trailer load for 6 quid per Tonne. It was owned by the Love Bros, who have the egg farm in Boothstown.

However, it's now a private landfill, which is a major loss to us all.

Cooper Clarke at Farnworth or at Swinton should have something suitable, or you could try Travis Perkins in Leigh, but they usually only have the limestone chippings. Offerton Sand & Gravel do a great 10mm gravel, if you can take a 16T load(!) or if you have a trailer and JF Lord at Cadishead (now Builder Center) should be able to get you a suitable gravel to order, if you want at least 5 Tonnes.

Try Cooper Clarke first - they're probably the best bet.

Forum Question Options for new drive - John Golds - 24 Mar 2002
As many have said, great site!

I have had quotes for new drive. gravel, tarmac and block. Original drive is concrete and then at some point tarmac on top, its on clay and is now badly in need of repair/replacement. Drive is 100m², quotes range from £4000 to £9000, with gravel at the lower end but only marginally cheaper. All include excavation and new subbase etc.

Three questions, I have no idea how to judge these quotes 9k seems high but is 4k reasonable?. If subbase is ok do I really need whole site excavating or just tarmac and concrete taken up? Drainage is a problem, if I do it myself will I need to incorporate line drainage or if on gravel will this act as suitable drainage (please excuse my ignorance if this is a stupid question)

forum answer Tony McCormack - 24 Mar 2002
John asked...."9k seems high but is 4k reasonable?.

£40 per m² is dear for gravel and £90 is dear for standard block paving. I'd expect somewehere around £50-60 per m² for standard block paving, given the concrete that has to be broken out and dumped.

If subbase is ok do I really need whole site excavating or just tarmac and concrete taken up?

If you have a good sub-base, there's no need to replace it. It may require re-grading and/or regulating, but there's no sense in ripping out a well compacted sub-base that has given umpteen years of trouble-free service to replace it with something new.

However, if it's of questionable thickness, or too high etc, then it's as well to rip it out and start from fresh, so that you can be certain the new paving will be sound. It's not worth 'risking it' and ruining your new paving to save a couple of hundred quid.

If in doubt, rip it out. smiley

If I do it myself will I need to incorporate line drainage?

Possibly - it all depends on the layout. You definitely need some drainage, whether it's a linear drain, gullies or fin drains at the edges.

If on gravel will this act as suitable drainage?

Probably not. Again, don't take a risk - install proper drainage before constructing the driveway. It's 3 or 4 times as expensive to install it as an afterthought.

Does that help at all?

John Golds
25 Mar 2002
Thanks for such a prompt reply. Yes it does help, I suspected the price for the drive was a bit steep.

Interestingly only one company mentioned drainage with out me asking. The rest added it is an extra starting at £1500 on top of the drive. One included a soakway which I now realise, due to your site and advice,†is probably unnecessary. One also just suggested a resurface which even I suspected might not last long given the state of the existing drive.

Incidently do you know of any good "drive" people in West Sussex?

Tony McCormack
25 Mar 2002
I know one company working Sussex (I don't know which bit - it's all Sussex to me!) but they only do block paving. I'll send you their contact details by email. smiley
Forum Question Football pitch! - Neil Lawson - 15 Apr 2002
I'm impressed with this site - good job.

We have a garden plan which we are working to that has a loose surface over an area of about 10 sqm.†Trouble is my son is mad on football and I want a surface that is informal like gravel or hoggin but which won't move too much or be too dangerous.

Looking at other posts, it sounds like quarried angular gravel 10-20mm is best to prevent movement but it will be sharp. What about hoggin as a surface? Does that move about? Does it get waterlogged in heavy rain? Any ideas on these or other materials gratefully received.

forum answer Tony McCormack - 15 Apr 2002
Any loose surfacing will get scattered here, there and everywhere if used for footie practice. sulk

Gravel is not bad, but the ball will not bounce true and it will be slippy/skiddy for your lad. Same with bark.

Hoggin binds itself over time, but can be sticky or claggy when wet.

Have you considered a safety play surface or an astro-turf from one of the Playground Equipment Companies? Failing that, you can't beat a sports turf. It won't last (just look at any footie pitch in regular use) but it's cheap and you could probably afford to replace it each spring.

Neil Lawson
15 Apr 2002
Thanks for the fast response. Hmm, some things to think about there.

Whatever we use will be pretty wet since we are on clay and I can't afford to lay serious drainage in the area.
What about a slightly sloping surface using hoggin with a thin layer of angular gravel compacted into the surface to have the look of gravel?

Sports turf sounds interesting. Any idea of suppliers in the South East?

Tony McCormack
15 Apr 2002
You could try the hoggin/gravel mix, but I still reckon it would end up everywhere!

Sports Turf is just a hard-wearing turf - lots of rye grass and other tough grasses. You should be able to get it at any decent turf supplier. I'm not familiar with the SE, so I can't name suppliers, other than CB Winter (see Links Page for contact details), but Turfland is the biggest supplier up here in t'north. smiley

As you're on heavy clay, mix plenty of coarse grit sand (NOT Building sand) in with the soil before laying the turf. It will make it easier for the sod to root and will help with drainage.

Forum Question Gravel rolled into tarmac surface - Ben Hilder - 19 Apr 2002
Do you know if there is proper name and/or specification for the kind of surface finish that looks like a loose decorative gravel or grit rolled into a tarmac surface? Does this involve a 'tack coat'? We are trying to specify a cheaper and more rustic finish to a footpath (some loose stones at the edges but most on them sticking to the surface beneath) than resin bound gravel produces and one that is not as unstable as hoggin or loose gravel. Please can you help? Fantastic site by the way.
forum answer Tony McCormack - 19 Apr 2002
I think the stuff you need, Ben, is "Surface Dressing", which is a bit of a loose term, as it applies to a technique, rather than a specific product. Basically, some form of binder, usually a bitumen or modified bitumen polymer, is spray applied to an existing base, usually bitmac, but sometimes concrete, and then a grit, coloured chipping or small gravel is scattered over the surface and rolled in before the binder sets.

It's a popular treatement with Local Authorities looking to revamp their footpaths at a minimal cost, and there are specialist contractors dotted about the country that do this type of work.

It's a bit unusual in a residential setting, as the 'set up' costs for a surface dressing team often costs more than a whole new driveway!

Forum Question Tarmac & drain covers - Steve Nash - 30 Apr 2002
Is it possible to use a recessed block paving cover filled with tarmac over the top of a drain manhole (600 x 450)? If not, what else can you suggest instead of the usual steel covers?

Great site, which has inspired me to do all the work on a 100m² tarmac driveway (except the tarmac, of course !).

forum answer Tony McCormack - 30 Apr 2002
Yep! No problem.

Fill with base course to the top, then compact - you'll need to use a punnel as a roller won't fit! wink

...and then top it off with the wearing course.

In the past, we've done this by taking the tray out of the frame and setting it on a hard surface while it's filled with the blacktop and compacted, as most of these trays tend to 'flex' under a load and you can't get proper compaction. Also, a little wacker plate is damned handy for getting a good finish, if you do it this way.

Steve Nash
2 May 2002
Thanks for the reply, it is much appreciated. I am suprised that you suggest using a wacker plate on tarmac, as I had assumed that it could only be rolled.
Tony McCormack
2 May 2002
It's a better finish when rolled, but a wacker plate is used in awkward areas for footpath or driveway work. Water is continually appplied to the plate to prevent the blacktop sticking to the sole of the plate.

It's one of those 'Tricks of the Trade' you hear about. smiley

Forum Question Wheelchair-friendly surface for car park - Bryan Heiser - 6 May 2002
I use a wheelchair and I'm looking for a surface for our rustic carpark. We've tried hoggin, which looks great in the summer, but turns into a bit of a quagmire in the winter. We think that tarmac would look too urban; gravel is hell to push on. Is there a recommended surface? Can we treat the hoggin to bond it? Can tarmac be surfaced to look rustic?
forum answer Tony McCormack - 6 May 2002
Tarmac is the cheapest and best non-elemental option, I'm afraid, Brian.

Of the non-bound surfacings, Hoggin is, as you say, a bloody nightmare when wet, and gravel is a trap for wheelchairs, and should be avoided at all costs. Hoggin is, allegedly' a bound gravel - it's "Sunday" name is self-binding gravel. It could be cement bound, much like a concrete, but, if you're going to follow that route, you might as well have a decent concrete, rather than an inferior cement-bound hoggin.

A concrete could be used, and you could opt for an exposed aggregate finish to avoid it looking like plain, boring concrete, but that pushes up the cost. The same with resin-bound aggregates - very pretty and rusticky, if you want, but much more expensive than plain grey/black tarmac.

So, that's the bound and unbound surfaces, which leave sthe elemental surfaces, which are, in layman's terms, flags/slabs or block paving. There's sopme great rustic looking block pavers available, but we come back to the cost factor. You have to reckon on even simple, everyday, bottom of the range block paving costing around 1.5 times the cost of tarmac for a car park, and, if you go for a more decorative block, that soon reaches twice the cost or more.

So, your basic choice is between bitmac and concrete. neither are stunningly attractive, but they are low maintenance and wheelchair frindly. If you want aesthetics, you have to be prepared to pay!

Forum Question Concrete classifications - Bungypea - 9 May 2002
Could you let me know a good place to find about concrete classifications i.e.C15, lean mix etc and what is the best mix for say fenceposts compared to footpath foundations.

Is there a good publication at all that includes this other than the NBS Specifications?

Many thanks

forum answer Tony McCormack - 10 May 2002
You could try The Concrete Society for their list of recommended books on the absolutely fascinating subject of concrete classification - they have an online 'bookshop' that is a handy resource for students and professionals alike....

The Concrete Society

Best mix for fencepost is a lean-mix, such as a C7.5. there's no need to use a concrete that is going to cure rock-hard: the purpose of haunching around fence posts is to fill the space between the posts and the ground. If the concrete is a high-strength mix, there's no real advantage, as the ground itself is unlikely to be as strong.

For footpath work, hoever, you need a concrete that can handle the traffic, carry its own weight etc, and so a higher grade is normally used. C20 for residential footpaths, patios and driveways and a C30 for public highways would be typical examples.

Forum Question What's Best for an Ugly Concrete Patio? - debsquinn - 14 May 2002
I have an L-shaped patio garden that has a really ugly concrete surface which is cracked and discoloured.†I want to know if it would be suitable to cover it completely with gravel (easy for me!), or could I lay some flags straight over it for a small patio area and cover the rest with gravel.†If so how? I am a complete novice so any help would be appreciated.
forum answer Tony McCormack - 15 May 2002

gravel over concrete won't stay put - it will be scattered everywhere. Think of ball-bearings on a solid floor!!

You could overlay with flags or think blocks, but given that using even the thinnest flags on the market and a minimal bed, it will elevate the level of the patio by at least 50mm, you have to be conscious of breaching the damp proof course. Have a read of the 'Laying over an Existing Base' page in the block paving section. The same principles apply to flags as to blocks in this type of situation.

Possibly the easiest solution is to re-cover the ugly concrete with a granolithic screed. It's simple, it's cheap, you can add colour or patterning and it's extremely hard-wearing. Grano is discussed further on the Mortars page.

15 May 2002
Many thanks for your suggestion. I'll look at the grano. If not I will have no problem with flags as my patio is about a foot below the DPC
Tony McCormack
15 May 2002
If you've that much to play with below dpc, then you could easily use flag or block paving over the concrete.

Best to bed the flags on a 'just damp' bed of 10:1 grit sand and cement, and make sure they have adequate fall to drain them properly. With block paving, you need to follow the advice on the 'Laying over a Base' page and provide drainage holes through the concrete, or some other way of preventing the bedding (which should be unbound sand) from becoming saturated. Aletrnatively, you could consider rigid block paving, if your budget stratches that far.

Good luck!

Forum Question Compacting a sub-base - Steve Nash - 15 May 2002
I'm after some advise on the best way to compact a 100mm sub base for a tarmac drive. Your sub bases page states that the crusher run should be compacted with either a vibrating plate compactor or vibrating roller. First question - which one gives the best results?

Secondly, the plate compactor that I have been using at the moment is 50kg with a surface area of 0.14m², which gives a force of 357kg/m² - this gives rise to my second question - why is this so much less than the range of between 1400kg/m² to 2100kg/m² stated on the sub base page, is it really too small for the job?

forum answer Tony McCormack - 15 May 2002
I reckon a roller is better for compacting sub-bases and it's definitely better for compacting tarmac. Wacker plates are ok for small areas, but a roller is my first choice every time.

The force or a wacker plate is a bit of a funny issue, as it's not quite as simple as weight:plate area - it's the force generated by the plate when it's running.
I had this explained to me by a field engineer at Wacker's workshop in Warrington (before it was closed down) but it's not the sort of thing mere mortals such as me and thee can fathom out for ourselves.

There's supposed to be an info plate affixed to all kit declaring the compaction force, but many vib-plates we've hired in have had no such info attached, although the hire co will find out for you, if you ask.

Generally speaking, all known vib-plates provide adequate compaction for 100mm of sub-base on a residential driveway or patio. It's only when you get onto the larger, commercial or civil schemes that compaction force really becomes an issue.

Forum Question Maximum slope for tarmac - Steve Nash - 20 May 2002
I am busy laying a sub base for my proposed tarmac drive and am a bit stumped because the final 2 metres that meet the main road has a slope of between 13 - 15 degrees. My question is; can I expect the tarmac to stay where it is put or will it eventually migrate to the bottom of the slope. Helpful passers by have suggested that I will need a threshold strip where the slope starts !
Or should I play safe and set block pavers in concrete for this final 2 metres?
forum answer Tony McCormack - 20 May 2002
15 degrees is nowt, Steve! As long as the roller can cope with the gradient, the bitmac will be fine. It won't migrate, or not so as you'd notice. smiley

15 degrees over 20 metres is more of a challenge, but 2 metres is just a ramp. If you can reduce it in any way, you should, but if you've no choice, don't worry about it.

What do you mean by a "threshold strip"? I know what I understand to be a 'thereshold strip' but I can't see how that could help a tarmac drive laid to a 15 degree (1 in 4, roughly)

Steve Nash
21 May 2002
Tony, thanks for the swift reply. I am understanding a 'threshold strip' to be a line of blocks or setts, that seperate the gradient (or change in gradient) at regular well spaced intervals, this is so that the tarmac is held back or restrained. Maybe my terminology is a little off skew, but a 'threshold strip' seems to describe the situation adequately!
Tony McCormack
21 May 2002
Yep - that's a threshold strip, but I can't see how it helps with either the gradient or in holding back any paving or surfacing. It's a delineation feature and nowt more!

You sometimes see these threahold strips used to delineate private driveways from public footpaths, but they usually have no structural purpose. If the Threshold Strip was omitted, the paving or surfacing would be held in position by whatever paving, surfacing or retainer was there in the first place, even on a gradient.

What's on the public side of the proposed Threshold Strip, Steve? More bitmac?

Forum Question DIY Tarmac Path - Jonny - 22 May 2002

I need to make good a path down the side of my house. Originally it was tarmac, one end is still ok but the other end this was taken up for some building work. Now it's just a mix of uneven concrete and hardcore sub base.

There are also two manholes along the length of the path. Given that the area that needs re-surfacing is about 5m², could I tarmac this myself or does it need professionals? I know you can get buckets of tarmac for patching but am not sure if this would be economic for 5m².

forum answer Tony McCormack - 22 May 2002
You've a problem in that a contractor would charge a small fortune to patch repair 5m² and the pre-packs of bitmac are pretty bloody useless.

Your best bet is to find a tarmac gang working locally and cross their palms with beer vouchers to bring their kit around with a couple or three barrows of wearing course to patch in your path. If you 'phone a local driveway co that does tarmac work, they might be able to add you on to the end of another local job for a more realistic fee, but you could end up waiting 12 months or more for such a job to come their way!

So, if you go with the pre-pack option, you're going to need 15-20 bags (25Kg) minimum, and they need to be spread and levelled (which is easier said than done with that stuff!) and then compacted. You could compact with a punnel or a wacker plate, but the damned stuff sticks to everything, including the soles of your boots for the next 6 months!

You can reduce the tackiness of the pre-pack cut-back material by scattering dry sand over the surface when you've finished compacting, but it will remain soft (compared to real bitmac) for the next few weeks, so don't be wearing your stilleto heels! †wink

Try the local companies first, Jonny, and, if they can't guarantee you a visit within, say, the next couple of months, then price up the pre-pack option, but it really is worth hanging on for the proper stuff, if you possibly can, or looking at an alternative surfacing.

22 May 2002
Cheers for the advice Tony,

I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the path. Like I said, one end of the path joins via a 2m stretch of good tarmac to my block paved drive at the front of the house. The rest of the path which is currently dug up runs up against flagstone paving slabs at the back of the house. I guess I could dig up the remaining tarmac and run a new surface from the block paving at the front to the flagstone slabs at the back. Any suggestions as to what I could use that I could easily install myself? Ideally we would like a smooth surface rather than loose gravel for barrows/pushchairs etc.

Thanks again

Tony McCormack
22 May 2002
I'd extend the block paving. It's simple, the materials are readily available, you can work at a pace to suit yourself and it looks good.

I never like more than 2 surface types on a property, and with your flags, the block paving and the small amount of tarmac, you've one too many. Get shut of the tarmac and extend the block paving - you know it makes sense. smiley

24 May 2002
I like the idea of extending the block paving, but it will mean breaking up a load of solid concrete which was used as the sub base for the original 10mm blacktop wearing layer.

I reckon it's time to get the pros in !!!

Forum Question Resin-bonded Driveways - Dickie - 28 May 2002
I have recently been "entertained" by a company's salesman who offered to build me a resin-bonded drive (i.e. gravel mixed with araldite) at £49 per sq.m. He said it would need a 100mm concrete slab as a sub-base, at ²20 sq.m. (on top of clay). Does anyone have any experience of this technology and is the sub-base adequate??
forum answer Tony McCormack - 28 May 2002
It's a bit more than 'Araldite' Dickie, but that's not a bad analogy. wink

You need at least a 100mm concrete slab, and 20 quid per m² is pretty cheap - does that include excavation and cart away, damp proof membrane, jointing, formwork, vat and all other sundries? Because I doubt it can be done for that price. If a sub-base is needed, it definitely can't be done for that sort of money!

The other alternative is a bitmac base layer, which would need to be at least 50mm thick, over a 100mm sub-base, and would be even more expensive.

The price for the resin-bound aggs is there or thereabouts, depending on total area and type of gravel selected, but what sort of guarantee/warranty comes with it? Can you see previous work? How long have they been in business? Have they given you a written spec?

If you're keen on resin bound aggs, then I'd strongly recommend you get at least 2 other prices, just for your own peace of mind. I get the feeling this could be one of those, "Oh dear, we'll have to charge extra for...." jobs, and what was originally 70 quid per m² suddenly becomes 100 quid per m².

Caveat emptor, as my Latin master used to say when he was selling ciggies to us. †wink

30 May 2002
Thanks. You have confirmed my worries. The company has been in business for >10years, but they only offer a 1 year guarantee. The contract denies liability for "movement,expansion or contraction of subsoil or base due to changes in temperature, water or tree roots ....and no guarantee is given against cracking caused by these or related factors." !! That lets them off the hook for just about everything, I guess. I am interested 'cos the price is comparable to block paving, quotes have ranged from £85 to £140 (!) per m2. That's all-in, excavation, muck-away, etc.

I haven't come across any other co. offering resin-bonded paving in my area, so comparisons are difficult. I will have to tread very carefully with this one ( I need to on that sort of sub-base!)

PS - A great site, 10/10.

Tony McCormack
31 May 2002
A 1 year guarante isn't worth owt! Most block paving is now 'guaranteed' for 10 years, and is backed by an insurance policy that protects the client in case the contractor goes bust or ceases trading.

Be careful, Dickie!

David Callan
1 Jul 2002
I was looking into a resin bonded driveway as well bt was worried aboout shrinkage. how can i be sure this won't occur? And what other precautions must be in place to prevent cracking.
Tony McCormack
1 Jul 2002
It's all down to the quality of installation, David, and the use of top-notch materials. Resin doesn't actually shrink, or, at least, it shouldn't - there's summat seriously wrong if it does!

Cracking is usually symptomatic of bad preparation or shoddy materials. If you choose a good contractor (easier said than done, I know) then you minimise the risk. Thorough, meticulous preparation is essential. The substrate must be sound, free from any contaminants. There should be no cracks in the substrate that could propagate through to the resin-bound surfacing, and movement joints should be installed, if required.

Check out your contractor. Check previous work, talk to previous clients, make sure you get an insurance-backed written guarantee, and don't jump at the lowest price. You have to live with the surfacing for a long time, so an extra few days of sussing out should not be passed over.


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