When it comes to beautiful hardscape projects like patios and walkways, it’s hard to beat the high-end look of pavers. Over time, however, water can get underneath the pavers, and weeds and grass can grow through the cracks. This can leave your carefully laid pavers looking messy and uneven. To keep pavers in place, you need polymeric sand.
Polymeric sand is a material used to fill the paver joints, which are the empty spaces between each paver. It’s sometimes called jointing sand, paver sand, or hardscape sand. Coated with a water-activated polymer, the grains of polymeric sand stick together when dampened, producing a seal that looks like grout and makes a stronger joint than standard filler sand. The result is a longer-lasting paver installation.
Below, find picks for the best polymeric sand in a range of categories.
- BEST OVERALL: Black Diamond Coatings Dominator Polymeric Sand
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Techniseal EZ Sand Paver Sand
- UPGRADE PICK: Alliance Gator Maxx G2 Intelligent Polymeric Sand
- ALSO CONSIDER: BuddingCo Polymeric Sand
How We Chose the Best Polymeric Sands
To provide a comprehensive list of poly sand options for shoppers to choose from, we reached out to professionals who use polymeric sand in thousands of projects every year.
One such expert with hands-on experience is Roger Van Alst, the owner and president of Black Diamond Paver Stones & Landscape, with locations throughout California, who recommends shoppers choose a product based on its intended use. “Just make sure you are picking the correct sand for the application,” he says. “The bags and manufacturers do a good job of indicating the proper uses for each type.” With this in mind, our top picks include options suitable for varying gap sizes as well as different paver types, such as porcelain or flagstone.
We also made sure to focus on quality of materials, area coverage, drying time, temperature, and consistency of color. Several of our options offer various colors to help shoppers find a polymeric sand that best complements their paver style.
All of our recommendations are made from high-quality materials with impressive minimum working temperatures, which gives users more flexibility in choosing when to start this type of project (most of our top picks can even be poured in 32 degree Fahrenheit weather). Lastly, we made sure to include a range of container sizes to limit product waste and allow shoppers to purchase only the amount they need, which helps keep spending low.
Our Top Picks
Here are picks for some of the best polymeric sands in a range of categories. Read on for in-depth shopping considerations.
Whether shoppers are working on a patio, driveway, or walkway, Black Diamond Coatings’ joint stabilizing polymeric sand is worth a look. This product comes in 10- or 40-pound options to suit both small or large projects. Coverage will depend on the width and depth of the joints, and the manufacturer includes a calculator tool on its website to help shoppers determine how much they will likely need for their space. The Dominator poly sand comes in several colors including midnight black, camel brown, charcoal gray, gray beige, natural ivory, and titanium gray.
Dominator polymeric sand features the company’s Solid-Flex formula, made from fine sand and free of cement. This allows the sand to flex while remaining durable and water-resistant. Should any cracks appear throughout a winter, Solid-Flex self-heals, keeping ants, grass, weeds, and other paver busters from taking advantage.
- Container size: 10 or 40 pounds
- Working temperature: 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above
- Colors: Midnight black, camel brown, charcoal gray, gray beige, natural ivory, and titanium gray
- Multiple sand colors to choose from
- Available in 10- or 40-pound containers
- Self-healing, keeping insects and weeds away
- Color match between bags can vary
Get the Black Diamond Coatings polymeric sand at Amazon or Black Diamond Coatings.
Paver projects can be pricey. For those looking to save a bit of money on the sand to lock them in place, Techniseal’s EZ sand might be the product to go with. This 40-pound bucket of sand provides up to 55 square feet of coverage for joints up to ½ inch wide on common interlocking pavers. Once installed, it can also help inhibit weed growth and deter ants and other insects.
While more affordable compared to higher-performance polymeric sands, shoppers will want to keep in mind that the Techniseal EZ sand is designed for lighter-duty residential environments and may not stand up to heavy traffic in commercial settings.
- Container size: 40 pounds
- Working temperature: 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above
- Color: Gray
- Resists erosion, insects, and weeds
- Affordable compared to higher performance options
- Very easy to use and produces little to no hazing when used correctly
- Not suited for heavily trafficked areas
Get the Techniseal polymeric sand at The Home Depot.
Alliance Gator Maxx G2 intelligent polymeric sand is a brand pros trust, but with its easy installation process, it works just as well for DIYers. This 50-pound bag of polymeric sand covers up to 85 square feet. It works on tight joints as well as joints as wide as 4 inches. This polymeric sand comes in beige, slate gray, ivory, and black diamond.
The G2 intelligent polymeric sand features a no-dust, haze-free formula that’s strong, durable, and easy to install. The formula is also rain-safe in as little as 15 minutes, allowing you to apply it to a patio, walkway, or driveway on less-than-ideal days.
- Container size: 50 pounds
- Working temperature: 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above
- Colors: Beige, slate gray, ivory, and black diamond
- Widely used by professionals; provides excellent results
- Suitable for use with all paver surfaces
- Easy to use for DIYers and does not cause any hazing issues
- Only available in large 50-pound bags; may be too much for small projects
Get the Alliance polymeric sand at Amazon, Walmart, or Newegg.
BuddingCo’s polymeric sand is worth considering for any paver installation, including patios, walkways, driveways, pathways, and parking spaces. One bucket of this polymeric sand can offer up to 40 square feet of coverage, depending on the joint width.
BuddingCo’s formula is suitable for joints up to 1 inch, which is about average for polymeric sand. However, it’s able to set in temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows users to get a jump on some of their outdoor projects in the early seasons or seal driveways in the winter.
- Container size: 18 pounds
- Working temperature: 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above
- Color: Gray
- Can be set in lower temperatures; ideal for colder climates
- Offers decent coverage of up to 40 square feet
- Easy to apply with a sweeper or poured
- Can wash out with heavy rainfall
Get the BuddingCo polymeric paver sand at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Polymeric Sand
Polymeric sand can take a paver project’s look from amateur to professional. Here’s what you need to know when shopping for the best polymeric sand.
Before starting a patio paver project, understand that polymeric sand is used for joints (the spaces between pavers) that are 1 inch or smaller. The polymeric sand drops into these cracks easily and provides the protection necessary to resist water, grass, weeds, and insects.
For paver projects or fieldstone patios with larger joints, polymeric dust might be the way to go. While it might seem strange that a finer material would be better for a larger gap, the dust creates a stronger barrier once it settles and does a better job of sealing out the elements.
Polymer or Adhesive
Polymeric sand is coated with an additive that makes the grains stick together when it gets wet.
The most common adhesive, or polymer, used in polymeric sand is silica. The silica forms a flexible hold between the individual grains of sand and the pavers. When the ground shifts due to water or weed roots, the silica flexes and keeps pavers in place. Depending on the manufacturer, polymeric sand can be a blend of chemical binders and glues as well as silica.
Some polymeric sand manufacturers mix Portland cement into their sand recipes. While these sands are still high-quality and durable, they sometimes create hazing around the pavers. Hazing is a white or light gray film that can form around the joints. The haze left by cement isn’t just an aesthetic concern; it can affect the quality of paver sealers.
Mark Olivito, owner of PaverArt in Lindenwold, New Jersey, says that hazing can be a common occurrence when using poly sand, but it’s simple to avoid. “Ensure that all poly sand is thoroughly removed from the surface of the paver before activating it with water,” he advises. “A strong leaf blower usually does the trick after the sand is swept into the joints.”
Polymeric sand comes in different colors that will match or complement your pavers. Dry pigments are mixed into the sand to produce greens, whites, browns, blacks, tans, and grays. This added touch can go a long way toward making a basic patio or walkway stand out more than dull old beige sand or gray concrete. Just as colored grout can make tile pop inside, colored polymeric sand can add a designer touch to your paver project outside. Choose the color that goes best with your pavers.
Another benefit of polymeric sand is it dries for foot and vehicle traffic quickly. Unlike concrete and cement, life can go back to normal soon after applying sand to the joints of a paver project. Most polymeric sands are ready for foot traffic after 24 hours. If it’s a driveway, wait 48 hours before parking a vehicle on it. Note, these drying times assume you’ve got sunny weather. Check the forecast before installing polymeric sand; if it rains before the polymeric sand dries, it will wash out to the top of the pavers, and you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Regardless of the brand or manufacturer, the process for applying polymeric sand is similar. The steps for application are:
- Ensure all pavers are in place. Use a hand or plate tamper to compact them so they’re stable and even.
- Work in small areas, pouring out a bag of polymeric sand over 16 square feet.
- Using a wide push broom, spread the polymeric sand out until it fills the joints around the pavers evenly. The sand should come to within ⅛ inch of the top of the paver. If the pavers have beveled edges, fill to the bottom of the bevel.
- Using a hand or plate tamper, tamp the sand into place. Look over the joints again to ensure there’s adequate sand between each joint. Add sand where needed.
- Remove excess sand from the surface.
- Set a garden hose nozzle to “shower” and soak the surface. Only add as much water as will soak into the sand. This activates the adhesives that bond the grains. Be careful not to add too much water, as it can separate the adhesive and cause a milky haze.
- Allow the surface to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Still have questions about polymeric sand? Here are answers to commonly asked questions.
Q. What is the difference between jointing sand and polymeric sand?
Both sands lock pavers in place, but polymeric sand has water-activated additives and adhesives that create a stronger bond.
Q. How does polymeric sand work?
Polymeric sand is a mixture of sand, adhesive, and sometimes Portland cement. Once pushed into the joints, water activates the adhesive, making the grains of sand bond together, as well as to the pavers, to create a durable surface.
Q. Can water drain through a polymeric sand?
Polymeric sand will allow a small amount of water to drain, but most water will run off a properly installed paver surface with polymeric sand.
Q. How long does polymeric sand last?
Polymeric sand can last up to 10 years before replacement is necessary. However, certain manufacturers claim some products can last up to 15 years.
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