Brick Pavers: Tumbled vs. Un-Tumbled? Jacksonville Property Owners Get Answers
Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 01:38PM

Who could predict that the antiqued, time-worn, distressed look of tumbled hardscape materials in Jacksonville would be as popular today as the simple, smooth-faced pavers in the early days of the concrete brick paver industry? The more refined edges and corners of the un-tumbled pavers in various paver shapes such as Tremron’s Olde Towne can be beautifully designed and installed to resemble the subtle look and appearance of cobblestones, but not without the uniform “new” look.

Jacksonville Tumbled Paver Pool DeckMany of today's property owners desire a more rustic finishing touch.  Patios, driveways, walkways, pool decks, plazas, grand entrances and streets laid with tumbled pavers can look as if they have gracefully survived decades for decades.  Modern style vs. old world, smooth vs. textured, crisp-edged vs. weathered, the pull is sometimes toward a more natural stone-like appearance, reflecting a desire for a classic sense of permanence and elegance. The rustic tumbled or antiqued paver retains much of the benefits of a typical un-tumbled paver, it still has the ease of installation, cost effectiveness, and durability.  Overall, a little more cost and a little more maintenance are the only drawbacks.  There are multiple shapes and sizes of tumbled products to meet a vast array of architectural themes.


Paver Tumbler in UseHow does tumbling effect cost of the paver installation?  First, it requires an additional process in manufacturing.  In years past pavers would be tumbled in a huge drum, similar to one you would see on a cement mixer truck.  The pavers are slowly turned over a period of time, sorted through, and restacked to be ready for delivery.  This process is time consuming and can add from .50 to .75 cents per square foot to the material costs once breakage loss is factored in.  A newer in-line tumbler has been added to many manufacturing plants recently making this process more streamlined.  The second cost factor involves installation.  A joint sand stabilizer must be used to protect the wider, irregular, tumbled joints.  This can be done with polymeric sand, which has polymer binding agents that harden the sand lock it into the joints.   Polymeric sand can add up to .80 cents per square foot to your Jacksonville paver project, depending on the particular product selected.

How does installation of a tumbled paver vary form a traditional paver?  The process is mostly the same.  The paver underlayment and sub-base are prepared in the same fashion.  It may take about 10 percent longer for a tumbled paver installation, for the polymeric sand installation. 

What are the maintenance and upkeep considerations for tumbled pavers?  With traditional un-tumbled pavers, the paver sand is “out of sight, out of mind” the joints are so small that the sand stays in place and requires very little maintenance, maybe a cleaning and refresh every few years.  With the polymeric sand, the joints and corners of the pavers are wider, making almost a grout-like appearance.  The polymeric sand will slowly break down over the years and need replacement.  The voids also allow more of an opportunity for the germination of airborne seeds and more of an opportunity for ants and insects. Since polymeric sand does not allow the passage of water through the joints of the pavers the joints will develop mildew or mold much faster.  

Other considerations?  Although most tumbled pavers are ADA compliant, be prepared for a rougher, slightly less uniform surface.  Take into consideration anything that would be rolled across the paver surface form a wheelchair to a skateboard.  Un-tumbled pavers are generally considered fine for basketball, some tumbled pavers may affect the bounce.

Tumbled pavers blend harmoniously into most residential or commercial settings and complement the equally strong current trend toward natural surfaces in segmental retaining wall products. Although developed for use in standard concrete paver applications, there are some considerations to acknowledge when designing a project with tumbled pavers.

Article originally appeared on Jacksonville Backyard Hardscapes Landscapes Ecoscapes (
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