Pedestal pavers expand their exterior footprint

Pedestal pavers have been used for decades now, most familiarly for lightweight rooftop applications such as installing a patio utilizing the existing roof substrate.  Additionally, they are commonly used in computer rooms where access to electrical and telecommunication cables beneath the floor is necessary.

How pedestal paver systems work

Basically, a pedestal, typically made of plastic, raises up the four corners of a paver off the ground with small spacers in each corner. This leaves a small spacer (or tiny little gaps) on each side of the paver or tile, allowing the floor to breathe or, outdoors, for drainage and access.  Other benefits, discussed in detail below, are time savings for installation, accessibility for future changes, retrofitting, and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) requirements.

Requirements for pedestal pavers

It is recommended that you have a flat plane (not necessarily level, but flat) substrate on which to install the pedestal paver system.

  • Outdoors, a concrete substrate is optimal.
  • Rooftop, it should have a slight slope and have decent rainwater drainage.  You can now put tables and chairs on an even tile or paver surface since the pedestal’s underneath are adjusted to allow for the slope, taking away the rainwater underneath, and creating a flat surface on top.  The most important consideration is that you have a stable base or substrate.  
  • A limitation to be considered (and conversely; a benefit of using LARGE FORMAT PAVERS) is that the use of smaller pavers negatively impacts the efficiencies in both installation time and budget (the quantity of pedestals required could increase five-fold, or more).

Why should you consider pedestal pavers?

There are many economic benefits with the application of pedestal paver systems, not to mention the green and sustainable considerations i.e. carbon footprint.

  • In a dry-set installation, you use much less gravel, and often much less excavation, and no need to dispose of excavated soil!
  • In a “wet-set installation”, the benefit is that it can’t fail due to cracks in the substrate. You may have a paver or tile fail but if you have a solid substrate underneath, your broken piece can be easily replaced in a matter of minutes.  It’s a floating system, much like a dry-set installation; the pavers/tiles are not physically locked into the substrate.
  • Pedestals are a good application for retrofitting. If you can afford a little added height, it’s quick and easy and saves you lots of money on installation. You only need to methodically place your pedestals on your flat substrate and insert the pavers; a small patio can be done in time for “dinner al fresco” later that same day!

The Perfect Application

A perfect, “save the day” pedestal paver application would be an old, ugly concrete patio, which is degraded somewhat, some cracking here and there but basically in decent shape. You can make it new by laying pedestals over the concrete, placing your pavers or tiles on top. 

  • With a crew of three or four laborers, you could probably install several thousand square feet in one day. 
  • Pedestals work well (and very cost-effectively) if you use larger format tile or paver sizes such as 12”x12”, 16”x16” or up to and, including 24”x24”. 
  • Caution: you must use the correct material/product because it must be strong (appropriate flexural strength) otherwise the corners may break since there is no support in the center of the paver or tile.  See Gothicstone material recommendations.

New uses and benefits of pedestal pavers!

One of the big benefits of a pedestal system is the accessibility for future changes that may be desired.

Once installed, you can lift those large format pavers or paver tiles and have access to the MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) underneath it, whether you want to put in water lines for a new outdoor kitchen, gas lines for outdoor fire pit, stereo speaker wire, or electrical cables.

You can do all that just by lifting the necessary paver tiles/pavers and then laying the cables/pipe (etc.) and then replacing them on the pedestals.  Realizing a huge economy in time and expense and underscoring why they are commonly used in modern computer data centers. 

Green attributes – these installations use a lot less gravel compared to what may be five truckloads of gravel used in a typical backyard patio paver outdoor living environment.  This method is a lot less expensive and eliminates a big dent in the carbon footprint.

Ability to make changes later….

If a tile or paver piece breaks, gets stained or other reasons arise for making a change, or let’s say, you want to add an outdoor kitchen someday or enlarge the patio, you can easily move and interchange pieces by just lifting them up and replacing them. 

Let’s say you add a firepit area somewhere, about 100 sq. ft. and you get a new lot of stone in from the same quarry, that’s lighter or darker than the old lot.  With a pedestal system, you can blend the old pieces with the new.

So, you would take the bulk of the new lot, and pull up the equivalent amount in the old deck, mixing the two. For instance, if you have 25 pieces for the new lot, you will take 20 of those new pieces and randomly pull up 20 pieces from your existing (old) deck.  Take those 20 old pieces and put them aside.  Put the new pieces, randomly, into those spots where you pulled those pieces out to blend in a little bit.  Then you take the old pieces and mix them with the 5 new pieces in the new area and now your stone will match throughout. 

Quick and easy installation – have a concrete slab poured for a new installation and just use the pedestals.  It doesn’t matter if your new concrete slab develops small cracks after a few years (which almost all concrete slabs eventually do), your pedestals will keep it at the same level plane.

Want more on this topic, contact us for a free consultation about your project!

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