Over recent years there has been the development of different products that offer an alternative to the traditional mortar pointing. These products promise to offer the same long lasting results but without the back breaking labour intensive work and with an overall reduction in installation cost. In this brief news article I would like to discuss a few of the options currently available on the market and their pros and cons.
Sand and Cement Mortar
Traditionally only sand and cement mortar would be used for point paving slabs, (shown in the main image above) this method is extremely successful If done correctly, it is however extremely labour intensive and can be extremely expensive because of this. If you are working with high end products such as Yorkstone paving or on a listed building project, this method is what is required, as you need the authentic look, but It does involves being bent over on your knees all day and can be back breaking work for the trades people involved.
Resin based point products (Easy Joint, Geo-fix etc)
These products are very user friendly, in most cases you just dampen the paving slabs and brush the product directly into the joints, then brush the residue off, after a short period time. These products also offer the customer a great range of pointing colours without having to add dyes as you would with sand and cement based mortar. These products can save a massive amount of labour costs, as the time needed to point a patio is reduced by at least 75%, this can result in a great saving even after including the greatly increased purchase price of the resin products, compared to the inexpensive material costs of the sand and cement traditionally used.
In my opinion these products do have their place within the market, they save time and money on your installation but they do seem to have a limited life span if not very carefully installed. We would always recommend trowelling over and compacting the compound after you have brushed it into the joints, this will give it some extra strength and also give a better appearance. You also need to make sure you follow the manufacturers guidelines carefully especially when it comes to joint width and depth. If you have too smaller gaps between your slabs, the resin pointing can be easily removed with either a pressure washer or with the freeze thaw affects seen over the winter months, as there is insufficient amounts of resin to bond together and create the needed strength.
Cement based pointing products (Flowpoint from Instarmac)
This is a tried and tested product that has been used for decades within the ground working industry. It is a rapid setting cement based product that has added hardeners to protect it against freezing and thawing damage. This really is an excellent product that speeds up the pointing process hugely. It still offers an extremely long lasting quality joint that will perform far better than the traditional sand and cement and any resin based product available on the market. The costs of these products are generally 40% lower than that of resin products, making them an extremely cost effective alternative to both sand and cement and resin based compounds.
These manufacturers have also started to develop alternative products based around the same formula, for use with porcelain paving and where finer joints are required all the way down to 3mm widths, which has opened up a lot of the market to these excellent products. The downside with these products is they set extremely quickly and unless you are experienced in their uses can prove difficult to use and if left to dry on the surface of the stone it will be almost impossible to remove. These products in my opinion are the best available on the market today with greatly reduced labour costs, excellent product price point and are much easier to use, when in the correct hands that either of the above methods.
External grouts for porcelain (Easy Grout etc)
Recently with the huge increase in the popularity of the porcelain paving within the UK market, companies have started to develop external grade grouts for porcelain installations. These products do save a great deal of time on installation and also offer an extremely attractive and hardwearing finish when installed correctly. The problem I'm seeing with these is their extremely expensive price point, which has left us as a customer looking for alternatives so we can offer something at a more reasonable price. We have for a very long time, sold tile grouts that can be used outside for a fraction of the costs, the only downside with these, is that is the drying time is quite slow, which with our inclement weather can be a problem sometimes.
We are currently testing some alternative options from Instarmac as mentioned above that will offer an external grout that is rapid setting and at a much reasonable price point. These alternative products once we have tested them thoroughly will be available from all NST branches and to buy directly from our website.
All of the above methods have their place within the market place, some are better than others, but if you want a hardwearing, attractive and extremely costs affective solution that will last for years to come, you really can't go wrong with Instarmac Flowpoint and their range of external pointing products, their only limitation is that they are really only a trade product and not suitable for DIY as they need some experience to used them correctly. Please see link to Instarmac Flowpoint below:
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