Commercial Paving and Landscaping Ideas

We all know that first impressions count and often the landscaping surrounding commercial buildings is what customers and visitors see first. For that reason, we have put together a guide outlining some of the most common paving solutions used by commercial landscapers, architects and design engineers highlighting the pros and cons of each one.
Commercial and industrial resin flooring - Paving and landscaping ideas

Paving as part of a building’s hard landscaping is a wonderful way to create a good first impression, and the benefits of resin bound or bonded surfacing simply outweigh the gains other paving options provide.

Resin bonded paving pros and cons

Resin bonded paving is a non-permeable decorate surfacing that uses natural aggregates bonded with high-performance resins to ensure your outdoor spaces stand the test of time.

It is a great alternative to loose gravel as it gives the same finish, but without the problems!

  • Zero weed growth – because the surface is sealed prior to application, it prevents weed growth by 100%.
  • Extraordinarily little stone migration – aggregates are sprinkled on top of an applied resin, meaning they stick to the ground ensuring little or no stone migration.
  • Durable and hard-wearing – resin bonded surfacing can handle vehicle as well as pedestrian use.
  • Slip resistant – this type of surfacing creates high friction and is therefore ideal for slopes, ramps and winter conditions.

If we were to pull on any negatives it would be its lack of porosity and not allowing water to drain as well as its high abrasive qualities meaning it isn’t ideal for patios or children’s play areas.

To ensure there aren’t any problems with flooding or surface water, additional drainage should be installed (and therefore, potentially planning permission), adding to the cost of a project. For this reason, it’s also not SUDS-compliant (Sustainable Urban Drainage System), which is often stipulated during the planning application.

However, being non-porous does have its plus points; it can actually preserve the base material meaning the whole base construction will last longer as the sealed top layer prevents water (and subsequently frost) ingress.

Resin bound paving pros and cons

Resin bound paving is one of the most popular commercial surfacing choices and is heads above alternative solutions. Here’s why:

  • Permeable – water effortlessly drains into groundwater and watercourses making it an excellent choice for built-up urban areas prone to flooding, landscaped areas that includes plants, shrubs and trees, swimming pool surfaces and areas around water features, plus areas prone to standing water.
  • SUDS-compliant – resin bound surfacing replicates the natural landscape by allowing water to drain and acts as a filter removing pollutants from surface water before it reaches our lakes, rivers and streams.
  • Long-lasting – a durable, long-lasting surfacing solution that can last between 10 – 20 years. However, if installed correctly, it can last anything up to 25 years!
  • No stone migration – because aggregates are bound with a part A and B resin prior to installation, the stone is encased, meaning there is no stone migration.
  • Looks great – resin bound paving uses naturally occurring aggregates, meaning you receive all the benefits of loose gravel or stone, but without the negatives!
  • Non-fade – using UV-stable resin ensures the gravel colour doesn’t fade, therefore, ensuring your commercial space continues to look great for years to come!
  • Frost resistant – Although resin bound paving is porous, it ensures water completely drains through to waterways, which means the surfacing doesn’t suffer from the frost/thaw cycle.

SuDS Compliant Paving

There are very few cons with resin bound paving, but the main drawback for some commercial landscapers comes down to expertise and price. To ensure your commercial landscaping stands the test of time, you need to make sure you have a qualified installer who has the experience, equipment and knowledge.

Block paving pros and cons

Block paving is one of the most common commercial paving solutions. Commercial landscapers especially like it because it enables them to create unique designs using a variety of colours and shapes to produce an attractive finish. Some of the other reasons landscapers, architects and design engineers like block paving is because of its:

  • Small size – being smaller than larger paving slabs, block paving lends itself to curves, slopes and steps, making it a go-to choice for multi-level areas.
  • Easy installation – no specialist equipment is needed to lay block paving … simply good old-fashioned elbow grease is necessary to dig out the foundations!
  • Resistant properties – making it less slippery than concrete and large paving slabs, it is often chosen when paving is required in sloped areas or spaces prone to ice or frost.
  • Durability – it is less likely to crack than large paving slabs as the load is spread evenly across the surface.

However, aside from these benefits, block paving requires regular maintenance and should be frequently cleaned of moss and algae to ensure the paving doesn’t become slippery. This can become costly for commercial businesses to upkeep and that upkeep is essential for making a good first impression.

Other potential problems to consider include:

  • The cracks between the paving collect dirt & debris and are also susceptible to weed growth, therefore, block paving can quickly become unsightly.
  • This type of paving suffers when it comes to the freeze-thaw cycle affecting the longevity of the surfacing. This is a result of its porosity and lack of permeability, causing water to seep through the gaps. When it freezes and thaws, it moves the paving causing the paving stones to come loose.
  • Additional drainage is often required for this type of surfacing and that can become costly, especially if planning permission is needed … and it also doesn’t add anything to the aesthetics!
  • Installing block paving is time-consuming … adding to the cost of the installation!

Porcelain paving pros and cons

Porcelain paving slabs have only been available as a paving solution for the last 10 years. They are now becoming very popular with commercial landscapers, architects and design engineers due to its hard-wearing, aesthetic qualities, plus other benefits which include:

  • Easy to clean – porcelain tiles have zero or little water absorption, which makes them easy to clean.
  • Suitable for traffic areas – developments in technology have enabled porcelain tiles to become thicker and stronger, enabling them to carry a higher load capacity. This makes them suitable for both vehicular and foot traffic.
  • Freeze/thaw resistant – porcelain paving is non-porous, which means it doesn’t get damaged or move during the freeze/thaw cycle.

Although there are many benefits to porcelain paving, there are some negatives that commercial landscapers, architects and design engineers must consider when choosing this type of surfacing solution:

  • Cost – not only is the cost of porcelain pavers more expensive than other alternatives on the market because the surfacing is completely non-porous but additional drainage is also required to prevent flooding and the build-up of standing water. This can sometimes result in the need for planning permission … again adding to the costs!
  • Brittleness – porcelain pavers are fired at very high temperatures meaning they are more brittle than concrete pavers resulting in chipping accidents. Care should also be taken when transporting slabs to avoid damage prior to installation.
  • Harder to cut – because porcelain pavers are made from a more hard and dense material it makes them harder to cut. Therefore, specialist equipment is required when cutting or drilling porcelain pavers.
  • Non-porous – this type of surfacing becomes a flood risk where water can’t drain and permeate the ground. This should definitely be considered in urban areas or commercial buildings built close to or on floodplains.
  • Slippery – standing water can cause moss and algae to grow (unless maintained regularly, adding to the costs!) causing porcelain pavers to become slippery. Additionally, standing water can turn to ice in the winter, resulting in them becoming a slip hazard in commercial outdoor areas.

Concrete or traditional slabs pros and cons

Concrete or concrete paving slabs are one of the most popular paving choices for commercial landscaping, mainly due to its universal appeal and cost, but there are a few other benefits landscapers, architects and design engineers should consider:

  • Durability – concrete is durable, meaning it will last for decades with minor damage. It is extremely hard-wearing and can cope with heavy loads without any problems.
  • Wide range of finishes – another advantage of concrete slabs is that there is a wide variety of colours and finishes available and will enhance any commercial building.
  • Easy to repair – not only are concrete slabs hard-wearing but if any get damaged, they are also easily repaired.

With the many benefits of concrete paving, there are some drawbacks with the main disadvantage centred around colour changes and stains. Because it’s porous, concrete paving is susceptible to staining if it’s not cleaned and maintained regularly.

On top of that, concrete and concrete slabs are more difficult to install (especially slabs) and often an expert team or company should be chosen to install the surfacing, adding to the project cost.

Pros and cons of loose gravel as an alternative to paving

Gravel paving is the cheapest of all the surfacing alternatives and looks great, especially if a commercial building is in a conservation area or is part of a heritage zone.

Not only is it cheaper, but it also costs less to install as it doesn’t require skilled labour and there’s less excavation required to prepare the subbase.

From a landscaping point of view, this type of surfacing allows for interspersed planting ensuring the aesthetics of the commercial site. Additionally, water easily drains, which is great for plants, shrubs and trees, but also reduces flood risk.

However, there are many drawbacks to this type of surfacing that deter commercial landscapers, architects and design engineers from specifying it in their plans or drawings.

The main downside is the maintenance. This type of surfacing is susceptible to weeds and is also difficult to clean so it can quickly deteriorate the aesthetics of a commercial building. Not only that, but stone migration can cause bald patches to show.

This is where resin bound or bonded paving comes into its own. It has the look and feel of loose gravel, but with none of the drawbacks!

Surfacing of choice

Dependent on your project requirements, here at HMS we feel that resin bound and bonded surfacing are the ultimate go-to surfacing solutions … but of course, we’re biased! We have, however, tried to provide a guide that isn’t swayed either way!

Here at HMS, we have been installing decorative surfacing for over 20 years and are always happy to help and advise if you have any questions or are looking for a site survey or quote. Simply contact us or call on 01858 881111 and a member of our team will be on-hand to help.

About HMS

HMS has more than 25 years’ unrivalled trading history in providing high quality resin based surfacing treatments for Highways England, Main Contractors, Local Authorities, National Home Builders and private individuals.

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