Jan 28th, 2021 - Ryan Matheson
Mainline Materials - Phone (800) 604-5337
Email: support@ mainlinematerials.com
8 Common Gravel-Lok Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
Many home owners are looking for the perfect pebble path or driveway around the house. The most popular and effective product on the market for creating these kinds of beautiful permeable pebble pathways is the Gravel-Lok binding solution.
In this article we provide the top 8 most common mistakes and installation pitfalls to avoid, so you don't have to learn them the hard way:
- Miscalculating the right amount of product for the job
- Using the wrong size pebbles
- Not allowing enough time to cure
- Neglecting the finish roll coat
- How weather conditions affect installation
- Delaying cleanup of spills
- Not maintaining the surface after normal use
- Forgetting about UV breakdown
1. Miscalculating the right amount of product for the job
One of the most common mistakes is using more Gravel-Lok than is recommended in the installation guide. This can be an issue as not using enough will prevent good adhesion between pebbles and too much product can result with poor looks and foaming.
Gravel-Lok cures and expands over the first 24 hours. If too much is used then during the curing period a white foam will bubble up through the stones. This foam cannot be easily remedied, so the best option is to avoid this situation altogether by following the mix ratio found in the installation guide.
If you do find yourself in the situation with foam then you might be able to pop the bubbles using a brush or a broom. This will work only if there is a small amount of foaming and it most be done immediately. If there is a lot of foam, or if it has cured then the only fix is to remove all of the rock in that area and patch with fresh rock and Gravel-Lok. Here is a video explaining how to repair your installation if this has happened to you:
One 5 gallon bucket of gravel can me mixed with 16 - 18 oz. of Gravel-Lok (Mix Method Install)
Be careful to apply the correct amount
Avoid dirty rock or stone with Fines.
2. Using the wrong stone/pebbles
Using the right size stones is important for the success of your project. Use the following as guidelines when selecting stone. Note, other types of stone may work for your application however best results tend to be found by following the guidelines below.
Size: Stone sizing should be at least 3 stone's tall to get the best adhesion.
For example if your total stone depth is 1" then it is best to use stones no greater than 1/3", if you are going to have a stone depth of 2" you can use stones up to2/3".
For ADA Wheelchair Compliance – use stones which are 1/8” up to 1/2” to create a smooth pavement for wheelchairs.
Shape: The difference between crushed, angular, or round stone definitely makes a difference on the amount of traction provided for bound gravel pathways.
Use caution when choosing rounded stone as these tend not lock together as well and can come loose. Additionally using smooth stone can potentially create a slippery slick surface requiring additional traction grit sand to be added in with the Gravel-Lok mixture prior to application.
Clean Rock: For best results you should be using clean angular stone (NO FINES). Having the stone clean of debris, twigs, and grime will allow Gravel-Lok to adhere better and can help prolong the life of your project.
Also make sure that the stone is dry so that the Gravel-Lok solution can make good contact without worry of water interference
PRO TIP: Avoid using decomposed granite or any stones that fracture easily as your finish course.
3. Not allowing Gravel-Lok enough time to cure
Curing takes a full 24 hours. After applying the solution the project area should be roped off so that people and animals don't accidently walk on it before it sets.
Once the Gravel-Lok has set you will want to clear off the surface with a blower or broom before proceeding on with the next roll coat step.
PRO TIP: Store Gravel-Lok® at 68 degrees or above until you are ready to use.
Allow full 24 hours for Gravel-Lok to Cure
Finish roll coat applied with a paint roller
4. Neglecting the finish roll coat
The final step after you've allowed the Gravel-Lok to cure 24 hours is to apply a roll coat. This helps keep the top layer of rock locked in place and reduces the amount of maintenance from dislodged stones.
There are two primary installation methods namely the Mix Method, and the Pour Method. Both applications require a roll coat, however when utilizing the Pour Method even after you apply Gravel-Lok with 2 light applications you will still need to do a finish roll coat to ensure a long lasting finish surface.
A reapplication of the roll coat is recommended every 4-5 years. For areas of heavy use this may be sooner. For driveway applications reapplication may be required annually.
PRO TIP: 1 Gallon of Gravel-Lok will cover 80 – 100 sq. ft. of surface for a top roll coat.
5. Installing during poor weather conditions
Weather is an important factor in deciding when to begin your Gravel-Lok project. The temperature should be above 50°F for a minimum of 12 hours after the installation.
Additionally the weather will need to be dry during install and for the following 24 hours. If it has recently rained, or the pebble/stone is wet it can affect the mixture ratio and impact the bond while curing.
It is important to keep in mind that heavy winds may blow dirt and debris into your project while it is still drying. Try to avoid this as much as possible so that dirt and debris doesn't get bound to the path surface and diminish the overall look of your project.
Apply above 50° F, & in dry weather conditions
Clean off spills before they dry with Acetone
6. Delaying spill cleanup
Spills and smudges can be common when applying Gravel-Lok, especially in applications with stone between pavers or flagstone.
When installing in between flagstone it is very important to clean any Gravel-Lok overspill from the flagstone as it will give the flagstone a slick surface and you won't be able to easily remove it later.
The most effective method for removing Gravel-Lok on surfaces is putting some Acetone onto a rag and dabbing/wiping the spill with the rag. We advise putting the Acetone onto the rag instead of pouring it directly onto the spill to avoid having the solvent run off onto the stone mix and ruin the bonding in that area.
7. Not maintaining the surface after normal use
Maintenance will be necessary as stones eventually come loose over time. The frequency of maintenance is going to depend on the use of the surface. Patching and roll coat maintenance can range from once every 7 years for low traffic areas, to potentially once every year on heavy traffic areas and driveways.
Typical maintenance consists of a roll coat, remixing, and adding stone where needed to fill in any significant divots. How often you choose to refresh the Gravel-Lok is largely personal preference as some people may not mind a few loose pebbles while others may wish to keep a perfectly manicured surface.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When doing a repair make sure to use the same genuine Gravel-Lok and matching the original installation color as the Amber and Clear solutions do not mix.
pathways and driveways breakdown over time and require reapplication maintenance
Video, differences between Clear and Amber
8. Forgetting about UV
Natural sunlight affects many outdoor products and Gravel-Lok is no exception. That is why its best to use the Gravel-Lok Clear solution as it has UV protection, helping to keep your stone fade resistant.
Amber Gravel-Lok does not have UV protection and over time stones will turn an amber color, so this option is best used either in low sun exposure areas, or with darker stones making the Amber hue less noticeable, unless the amber color is what you're going for.
PRO TIP: Clear and Amber Gravel-Lok solutions do not mix.
Gravel-Lok is a great solution for walkways, paths, steps among other applications and by avoiding these common mistakes you'll avoid a few of the headaches that we've already experienced.
BOTTOM LINE: Gravel-Lok is an incredible tool to help make your project look amazing and great to enjoy. There are many ways to use Gravel-Lok and if after reading this you have questions about a more complicated project idea, or just want to run your out of the box idea by someone here, we would be happy to help, give us a call at (800) 604-5337.