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Choosing paving slabs, wall blocks and pavers for a successful landscaping project

There was a time when sitting outside on a sunny day meant simply putting a couple of garden chairs out on the grass! Today, outdoor living is about creating true living spaces. When choosing patio stones, pavers and wall blocks, it's important to consider not only your own preferences but also the style of neighbouring homes and the surrounding area. An overview of concrete products available on the market.

Six main groups

There are five main groups of landscaping products for the garden, deck or patio: paving slabs, pavers, wall blocks and outdoor fireplace blocks, steps, curbs.

Each year, manufacturers launch new concrete paving products that mimic stone, brick, wood, slate and are more resistant and easier to install.

To help you make the right choice, here is a description of the various products available on the market as well as installation guidelines.


With the proper planning, a fencing project can be completed fairly quickly and easily. The function of your fence should be your first and prime consideration. Once that has been established, check if any municipal bylaws or regulations apply, then determine the exact location of your fence.
  • Concrete paving slabs, wall blocks and pavers in their many shapes and forms are designed to withstand stress and support various loads and treatments: weight, scraping, de-icing, freezing and thawing cycles, etc.
  • Some pavers are designed for swimming pool borders; a hybrid of steps, curbs and caps, these pavers have a non-slip surface and rounded edges to reduce the risk of injury. Installing pavers around the pool also makes it easier to access the pool house and plumbing installations.
  • In high-traffic areas install thicker, more robust pavers designed to withstand heavier loads and absorb stress. Edging and wall blocks can be damaged by snow blowers. For these areas, opt for integrally coloured concrete so that any damage caused by knocks or scratches will be less visible.
  • The bigger the paving slab, the heavier it is. Obviously, this is an important aspect to consider when planning your project. In some cases, it may be better to use smaller slabs – easier to carry and to position – than to work with large, cumbersome stones.
  • Remember that dark-coloured slabs will absorb the sun's heat and can therefore become very hot, which makes them unsuitable for use near the pool or in places where people walk barefoot.


Some maintenance is required to keep slabs and pavers in good condition.
Pavers do not need to be protected with sealing products because they are specially made to withstand the tough Canadian climate. Applying sealer will not therefore extend the life of your paved surface, but it will make it easier to clean the stones and prevent stains. Choose acrylic sealer and avoid low-end products.
Although wet-look sealers bring out the colours of paving stones, they do not suit traditional settings or antiqued looks. These types of sealers are also not resistant to wear, which will begin to show after a few years.
Clean slabs, blocks and pavers with appropriate products. For example, before attempting to remove an oil or rust stain from a paving slab, research the best ways to remove it and the most suitable cleaners to use. Avoid chemicals like paint thinner or gasoline, which can make the problem worse.

A few tips

Ask to borrow paver samples from your retailer. Take home a few stones of different sizes and colours to compare them and see what they look like. Even if you have to pay for them, you can return them afterwards for a refund or exchange.
Glue cap stones and steps with construction adhesive so that they do not fall or become dislodged. You can also glue wall blocks too, for greater stability in places that might get bumped or knocked.
Keep some extra pavers or blocks aside to replace broken ones if necessary. Store them outside if possible, so that they are exposed to the same weather conditions. That way, they will age at the same rate as those already installed and the colours will match. This is especially true of inexpensive white concrete slabs.
Use polymeric sand, which hardens on contact with water while conserving its texture and flexibility. This sand will not be dispersed by wind or rain, does not stick to feet (therefore won't get into the pool) and acts as a barrier to weeds and ants.

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