What Is Polymeric Sand? How to Use It for Paver Installation

Polymeric sand is a special type of sand used to fill the joints between pavers to create a strong, interlocking paving surface. Unlike regular sand, polymeric sand contains a binding polymer that activates when wet, locking the sand particles together and creating a durable, solid joint that resists weed growth and insect infestation.

Using polymeric sand is an essential step for successful paver installation. It creates a smooth, firm surface and prevents shifting or sinking of the pavers over time. When installed correctly, polymeric sand will provide many years of stability in any paver project.

Benefits of Using Polymeric Sand

Polymeric sand offers some key advantages over regular sand:

  • Forms a solid joint – When wet, the polymers bind the sand into a hard joint, sealing the pavers together. This prevents weeds and ants from burrowing in the joints.
  • Provides stability – The solid joints prevent the pavers from shifting, sinking, or becoming uneven over time. This maintains the structural integrity of the paving surface.
  • Withstands weathering – Polymeric sand joints stand up well to rain, freezing and thawing, and other weather effects better than regular sand.
  • Reduces erosion – The tight joints resist erosion and loss of fill material due to wind, rain, and other environmental factors.
  • No hazing – Polymeric sand resists forming a haze or residue on the pavers that can occur with some regular sands.
  • Wide range of colors – Polymeric sand is available in tan, gray, and other colors to complement the pavers.
  • Can replace old sand – Polymeric sand can readily replace worn out joints filled with regular sand to restore integrity.

How Polymeric Sand Works

Polymeric sand consists of quartz sand particles coated with a binding polymer. When the sand is moistened, the polymer activates and hardens into a solid mass that glues the sand grains together.

Popular polymers used in polymeric sand include:

  • Sodium silicates – These bind the sand particles together when exposed to moisture, forming a durable joint.
  • Polyacrylates – These polymers solidify the sand when wet. They resist breakdown in wet weather.
  • Other organic binders – Various natural and synthetic binders are used that react when moistened.

The polymers only account for a small percentage of the sand’s content. The vast majority is natural quartz sand. However, the polymer binder is enough to lock the particles into a rigid matrix when set with water.

When to Use Polymeric Sand

Polymeric sand is highly recommended for filling the joints between all types of pavers, including:

  • Concrete pavers
  • Brick pavers
  • Natural stone pavers like bluestone or travertine

It can be used for paver joints in these types of installations:

  • Driveways
  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Pool decks
  • Courtyards
  • Parking areas

Polymeric sand is suitable for paver joints in any climate. It withstands freezing and thawing cycles well. The binding polymers also prevent rain and moisture from eroding the joint material.

For best performance, polymeric sand should not be mixed with regular paver sand. The entire joint area should be filled only with polymeric mix.

Tips for Working With Polymeric Sand

Proper installation technique is important when working with polymeric sand to activate the polymers correctly. Here are some useful tips:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for working times and setting procedures.
  • Thoroughly sweep the joints to remove all debris before applying the polymeric sand.
  • Slightly dampen the pavers before sweeping in the sand. This helps the sand particles adhere initially.
  • Compact the sand into the joints using a hand tamper or plate vibrator. This embeds the sand down 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
  • Avoid spreading sand across the paver faces. Brooms and blowers can remove excess sand.
  • Lightly mist the sand with water to activate the polymers. Too much water can wash sand out of the joints.
  • Allow 24-48 hours for the polymeric sand to fully cure and harden before use.
  • Avoid heavy traffic on the pavers during the curing period to prevent joint disruption.

Proper preparation, installation, and curing ensures optimum polymeric sand performance. Consult the manufacturer’s directions for the products you are using.

Polymeric Sand Brands

There are several quality brands of polymeric sand available from major paver suppliers:

  • Alliance Gator – Offers Gator Polymer Sand and Gator Maxx sand for wide joint sizes.
  • Sakrete – Their Flo-Coat Polymeric Sand comes in different grades and colors.
  • Pavestone – Pavestone Polymeric Sand is available nationally and comes in tan and gray.
  • Home Depot – Vigoro Polymeric Sand is widely available.
  • Lowe’s – Their Cobblestone Polymeric Jointing Sand gets good reviews.
  • Menard’s – They sell StoneTek Polymeric Sand in gray and tan.
  • A.M. Leonard – Their Polymeric Sand Binder comes in natural, gray and tan.

Always check the manufacturer’s guidance to choose the right polymeric sand for your project and local climate conditions.

How Much Polymeric Sand Do I Need?

The amount of polymeric sand needed depends on the total length of joints and the width and depth to be filled. Here is a guideline for estimating:

  • Measure the total linear feet of paver joints to be filled.
  • Determine the average joint width and depth. Most are 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.
  • Multiply the total linear feet by the width and depth to get cubic inches of joint space.
  • Divide by 27 to convert to cubic feet if needed.
  • Allow for any irregular or wide joint areas that may take more sand.
  • The joint sand manufacturers provide charts showing their sand coverage per cubic foot.
  • Buy 10-20% extra sand over the estimated amount as a buffer.

Having a little extra polymeric sand left over is better than running short in the middle of a project. Consider renting or buying a sand spreader to make the installation process easier.

Step-by-Step Installation Process

Follow these steps for proper polymeric sand installation between pavers:

Prepare the Base

Ensure the paver base layers and edges are fully prepared before applying the polymeric sand.

  • Use a low-permeability base like compacted aggregate for drainage.
  • Restrain the pavers at the edges with edging materials to prevent outward movement.
  • Make any needed paver shape adjustments and push against restraints.
  • Ensure base materials are compacted to 1” inch below the paver tops.

Clean the Paver Surfaces

Thoroughly clean the paver surfaces before sanding the joints.

  • Use a stiff broom to sweep away all debris and loose sand from the joints.
  • Use a blower or pressure washer to remove finer particles.
  • Allow the pavers to fully dry if pressure washing before sanding.

Moisten the Paver Surfaces

  • Use a garden hose with a light misting spray nozzle to evenly dampen the paver surface.
  • Avoid heavy dripping or puddling of water.
  • This small amount of moisture helps the initial adhesion of the polymeric sand.

Fill the Joints With Sand

Work across the paver area, filling the joints completely with polymeric sand.

  • Use a scoop and broom or rented sand spreader to put sand directly into the joints.
  • Avoid dumping piles of sand onto the paver faces.
  • Check regularly that joints are filled flush to the paver surface, adding more sand as needed.
  • Polymeric sand can also be swept into joints like regular sand if desired.

Compact the Sand Into Joints

Compacting the sand forces it deeply into the paver joints.

  • Use a hand tamper or plate compactor to tamp the sand fully into the joints.
  • Run the plate compactor over the surface to vibrate the sand into the 1/4 to 1/2 inch depths.
  • Recheck joints for low spots, filling these areas with more sand as needed.
  • The joints should be filled to the bottom but not above the paver tops.

Remove Excess Sand

Carefully sweep, blow or wash away all excess sand left on the paver surfaces.

  • Use a soft broom or blower first to remove loose surplus sand.
  • Hose the surface lightly, avoiding direct high pressure on the joints.
  • Inspect the paver faces closely to ensure all residual sand is gone.

Mist the Surface and Allow Curing

Lightly mist the sanded pavers with water to activate the polymeric sand.

  • Use a spray nozzle or garden hose set to a fine mist.
  • Spray until the sand is thoroughly damp but not saturated or washed out.
  • Allow the sand to fully cure over 24-48 hours before use. No heavy traffic during this time.
  • Some hazing may appear but will dissipate after curing. Avoid foot traffic while curing.
  • Cordon off the area with barricades or caution tape during the curing period if needed.
  • After curing, polymeric sand joints should feel firm and solid when set.

Proper installation of polymeric sand provides long-lasting strength and durability to any paver project. Just be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions. Consult an experienced paving pro if unsure about working with polymeric sand. Taking the time to do it right will pay dividends for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is polymeric sand?

Polymeric sand is a blend of sand and polymer binders that solidifies when wet, forming a durable joint between pavers. The polymers lock the sand grains together into a tight matrix that resists erosion and weeds.

How is polymeric sand different from regular sand?

Polymeric sand contains polymer additives that activate when moistened to harden the sand into a solid mass. Regular masonry sand does not have polymers, resulting in a looser joint.

What are the main benefits of polymeric sand?

Polymeric sand provides joint stability, prevents weeds and ants, resists erosion, avoids sand hazing, and forms tight joints that withstand weather extremes. It also unifies pavers into an integrated surface.

When is polymeric sand used?

Polymeric sand is used for all types of paver joints, including concrete pavers, brick pavers, stone pavers, driveways, patios, walkways, pool decks, etc. It works in all climates.

How is polymeric sand applied between pavers?

First, thoroughly clean the joints. Lightly dampen the pavers to help the sand adhere. Fill the joints completely with polymeric sand and compact it down 1/4 to 1/2 inches using a tamper. Sweep away all excess sand from the surface. Lightly mist the sand to activate the polymers and allow a 24-48 hour cure time.

Can polymeric sand be used on existing pavers?

Yes, polymeric sand can readily replace worn out regular sand joints. Simply clean out the old sand completely and follow the polymeric sand installation process to renew the paver joints.

Does polymeric sand come in different colors?

Yes, polymeric sand is available in tan, gray, natural, and other colors to blend with the pavers and complement the landscape design. Always choose a color as similar to the pavers as possible.

What’s the recommended joint width for polymeric sand?

Polymeric sand works well for joints ranging from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch wide. The joint depth filled should be 1/4 to 1/2 inches deep. Consult the polymeric sand manufacturer’s recommendations.

How much polymeric sand will I need for my project?

Measure the total linear feet of joints and the width/depth to fill. Allow for 10-20% extra. Polymeric sand coverage charts give the quantity needed per cubic foot of joint space. Consider renting a sand spreader to make the installation easier.

What’s the best way to activate the polymeric sand?

After sweeping off the excess sand, lightly mist the pavers and sand using a spray nozzle until damp. Too much water can wash the sand out. Allow 24-48 hours for the polymeric sand to fully cure and harden the joints.

Can polymeric sand be used with concrete pavers?

Yes, polymeric sand is highly recommended for filling the joints between concrete pavers. It stabilizes the pavers and forms weather-resistant joints. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Polymeric sand is an advanced paver joint material that creates a smooth, interlocked surface. When installed properly, polymeric sand joints prevent shifting pavers, resist erosion, inhibit weed growth, and provide long-lasting stability. By following the steps outlined, you can achieve professional-quality results. Be sure to refer to the polymeric sand manufacturer’s detailed guidance as well. Investing in high performance polymeric sand will keep your paver project in great shape for decades to come.