il Campo drivewayIf you have been reading some of my articles on this website, I've mentioned a few times the fact that many homeowners in the Toronto area are facing a decision on whether or not to repair or replace their existing interlocking paving stone driveway, walkway or patios. Also, in this category would be other hardscape elements such as steps and retaining walls. With over 40 years of concrete products in the ground many of these first generation installations are getting tired and are need of some type of tlc. Many driveways are showing signs of wear and far too many retaining walls are leaning over and are ready to topple to the ground. Let's not even talk about some of the weed infested patio's I've seen.



First generation pavers          First generation paversYou may recognize these shapes, there is hundreds of thousands of square feet of these installed in Toronto First generation paversYou may recognize these shapes, there is hundreds of thousands of square feet of these installed in Toronto
First generation pavers


So when should you think about starting over with new materials vs trying to work with what is currently installed. In some cases it doesn't make financial sense to keep the existing hardscape materials. With labour being the most expensive component, dealing with older materials can drive up the cost to a point where fixing an old project is not that far off from a new installation. One must consider pattern, colour and how many new stones will be needed to fill in areas where pavers will need to be re-cut or to replace broken or chipped stones. Many of the older pavers and their colours have been discontinued for some time now. There could be many chipped, broken and cut stones that are not reusable. Also there is the fact that driveway paving stones installed on limestone screenings will wear from the bottom first, shortening their structural integrity prematurely. A tell tale sign is if you look at a driveway and there is a missing stone here and a missing stone there, this means that there are many more stones that are crumbling from underneath. This type of scenario would be a new installation candidate.


That leads us to our current project here. The interlocking paving stones on this driveway had the the characteristics as previously discussed. There was a stone missing here, and a stone missing there. As you can see from the pictures below. There are missing stones and when you start taking the pattern apart many will just fall apart in your hands.


Classico pavers Holes! Crumble Look at the bottom Mushroom stone Classico fans Steps and railing Timberscaping Timberscaping Timberscaping


So now that we know where we're going, how do we get there? We always start with a design. For this project the footprint didn’t change due to the fact that there are certain criteria for parking pads in Toronto. This project passed the permit process and was given the green light. Of course if you’ve been reading my articles I’m a big fan of using 3d design software. It gives the homeowner a very real sense of how the finished project will look. Here is the 3d design for this project plus before and after shots so you can see that the 3d software has improved greatly and looks close to the finished project.



From a failing driveway and retaining walls, oh and let’s not forget those steps, this driveway/courtyard, some may even call this a forecourt went from ugly duckling to show stopper. If you are out and about in Toronto there are certainly many homes with this look. Fans and circles were very popular in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s but have fallen out of vogue as tastes change. I do think that fans and circles will return at some point, just not right now. Certainly timberscaping is on the decline, and with so many nice retaining wall systems on the market, does it make much sense anymore to construct wood retaining walls?


Many first generation hardscape installations are coming up for renewal. Some are in desperate need of updating, others are dating the house and it could be time for a change just for esthetic reasons. Currently there are some fantastic products out there in the market for all applications, front or back, natural stone and man made products are abundant. This is a great time to be undertaking a hardscape project.


Materials used on this project:

Paving Stones: Unilock iL Campo, heritage brown, 4” x 12” herringbone pattern.

Border: Unilock Unigranite, charcoal , Brussels Block, sandstone.

Natural Stone: Unilock Fairstone, stone cliff grey.

Retaining Wall: Unilock Rivercrest, grey. Coping, Unilock ledgestone, grey.


Border detail 02-forecourt 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10