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Pedestal Systems expand their footprint in both interior and exterior projects.

Pedestal systems 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.

A pedestal system lifts the paver up above the substrate

Here’s how they work with paver or paver tile projects. 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, in the outdoors, for drainage and access.  Other benefits, discussed in detail below, are time savings for installation, accessibility for both future changes/retrofitting and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing).

Limitations of pedestal systems

  • It is recommended that you have a flat plane (not necessarily level, but flat) substrate on which to install the pedestal system.
    • Outdoors, a concrete substrate is optimal.
    • For a rooftop, it should have a slight slope and have decent rain water drainage.  You can now put tables and chairs on an even tile or paver surface since the pedestals underneath, are adjusted to allow for the slope, taking away the rain water 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 pedestals?

  • There are many economic benefits with the application of pedestal systems, not to mention the green considerations i.e. carbon footprint.
    • In a dry-set installation, you use much less gravel, and often much less excavation, and the need to dispose of excavated soil.
    • In a “wet-set installation”, it has benefit in that it can’t really ever fail due to small 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.
    • Also, 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 in 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!

NOTE: A perfect, “save the day” application would be an old, ugly concrete patio, that is degraded somewhat, some cracking here and there—unsightly but basically in pretty good shape. You can make it new by laying pedestals over the concrete, place your pavers or tiles on top.  With a crew of three or four competent laborers you could probably install several thousand square feet in one day. 

  • As mentioned previously, it’s inappropriate to use small format/size, tile or pavers ie:  6″x6″ or 8” x8”.  Conversely, pedestals do work well (and very cost effectively) if you use large 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 recommendations. 

New uses and benefits of pedestals!

  • 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 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 lay the cables/pipe (etc.) and then replace 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 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 on 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 would 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. 
      • Also, you can do a quick and easy install by having 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!

2014-03-25

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