Types of Pedestal Systems

There’s probably about half a dozen types of pedestal systems available on the market these days both imported and locally manufactured, so choosing the most appropriate pedestal system can be a bit tricky. Now whilst  I guess we may be somewhat biased in that we sell the Eterno pedestal system, I would like to make a couple of comments about the type of pedestal systems that are available and note some of the differences or similarities between them.

There’s probably three main types of pedestal systems:
1. A rather simple type which uses polystyrene foam blocks underneath the pavers. It’s claimed that these blocks can be used up to any height, load or steepness of the substrate and the blocks are apparently cut once the pedestals are in place with a hot-wire trolley riding on a
laser-leveled track to trim off excess material above bottom-of-paver elevation. It’s not clear how the laser level track works or whether you need to purchase this laser level track, hire it or whatever.

2. The cut PVC pipe system whereby lengths of PVC pipe are cut to the exact height required and one end inserted in a base component and the other in a head component. The disadvantage of this system seems to be that you have to  cut the PVC pipe very accurately as otherwise your only option for adjusting the height if you happen to cut the PVC pipe slightly inaccurately is to use multiple shims. In terms of the initial cost of the components, it may be a little cheaper than the alternative screwjack type of pedestals, but taking the extra installation effort and time into consideration, would it really be a lower cost alternative overall? And it seems that making slight adjustments to the pedestals after installation would involve lifting up the pedestals and inserting some shims. A slightly more advanced version of this is used by one manufacturer which is somewhat of a hybrid between the screwjack type of pedestal and the PVC pipe system. In this system, the PVC pipe is still used but the head includes a short screwable section which thus overcomes the issue of having to cut the PVC pipe to the precise height that has been estimated. The downside of course is that adding the extra component then brings the pricing to a similar level as the full screwjack type of pedestal system.

3. The most commonly used type of pedestal system would surely be the screwjack type of adjustable height pedestal system which was pioneered by Buzon in Belgium. Various other manufacturers around the world now make a similar type of system, each with their slight differences. Probably the most common difference is  the slope compensation device, used to ensure that the head of the pedestal remains perfectly horizontal to the surface when the pedestals are installed over sloping ground. Some compensation devices are based on moving two concentric rings and others simply stack circular ‘wedges’ on the base of the pedestal but now opinion, the Eterno method of a ‘floating’ automatically compensating device is by far the neatest solution to this slope correction issue. With the Eterno pedestal you don’t have to line up any marks on the slope compensation device, figure out how many wedges you might need etc. The head simply adjusts to provide compensation from 0 to 5° without any further input required. Another unique feature of the Eterno pedestals is that the height is adjusted by inserting a special height adjustment tool into the head of the pedestal and turning it either right or left. The advantage of this is that you can also insert this tool into the head of the pedestal after all the pavers have been laid to make any slight adjustments that may be necessary.

All pedestal systems, no matter what type require a few extra components, which may either be built-in or they are added separately. Firstly there are  spacer tabs on the head of the pedestal which are designed to keep the pavers at the required distance. Some manufacturers require you to insert individual spaces into the head either as a single component or four separate components whilst with other manufacturers like Eterno, the spaces are built into the head and if not required they are simply snapped off.

Shims are normally required to make slight adjustments and they also of a soft rubber material which can provide extra shock protection and/or sound protection. With the Eterno pedestals, although separate shims are also available, pedestal head is made of a soft rubber material so provides built-in shock protection and sound absorption.

Maximum height may be a consideration. In this case, the Buzon pedestals for example have loops on the pedestal components whereby guy wires can be attached the security measure when pedestals over about 24″ are being installed.

For low height applications up to about 1/2 inches in height, fixed support pads are used and there are probably not great differences between the various manufacturers with these items. The main difference is probably that some of these are made of a rubber material which is generally better from the viewpoint of sound absorption and also they can provide more friction between the support pad and the substrate as well as the support pads and the paver itself. This can be advantageous if simply lay the pedestals over concrete as it means that you normally would not require a perimeter wall to prevent the tiles from moving. The downside is that rubber pads are normally more expensive of course than plastic ones although in either case they are much cheaper than a screwjack type of pedestal.

So that’s just a few thoughts about pedestals and it’s worth weighing up the advantages of one manufacturer against the other, not only in terms of costs, but in terms of installation time, sound absorption and post installation adjustment ability.

Slate Look Porcelain Pavers Solve Problems of Natural Slate Tiles

Natural slate is a great looking product which of course is why it’s so commonly used for patios and even indoor applications such as bathrooms. And of course for many years in Europe at least, it has been used as a roofing material due to its laminar structure which effectively enables it to be supplied in slices.

But unfortunately natural slate does have inbuilt problems. Firstly, for a lot of applications the laminar structure is not particularly helpful because it means that the slate can flake. As we also sell interlocking tiles, with natural slate we have many times come across the problem where people have thought there were white patches on the slate were in fact they were simply areas where the slate had started flaking. The second issue with natural slate is that it is not particularly a very hard stone, so it can scratch quite easily and therefore leave marks on the surface. In the third issue is that slate not only absorbs water to some extent but is also not stain resistant. There are of course commercial products available that are designed to seal slate so that it will have greater stain resistance, but the the effectiveness of many of these products is questionable, especially over the longer term. And fourthly, at least in thinner sections, slate is not a particularly strong material, so it can crack.

Fortunately there is now another solution. With the advent of modern digital printing techniques, you can now get 2′ x 2′ porcelain pavers 3/4″ thick in designs that simulate slate not only from the color aspect, but also they simulate the specific texture of a natural slate surface. So far there’s only a few options available including a dark gray slate and a multicolor slate, but we would expect that in the future, more color options will become available.

Porcelain with slate look

Porcelain with slate look

The big advantage of the porcelain tiles is that they are almost completely impervious to moisture and therefore  are frost resistant, stain resistant, and particularly scratch resistant. and they are much stronger than natural slate, so much so that they can be installed on top of adjustable height pedestals, resting only on the corners of each tile.

Wood Porcelain Pavers Overcome Fire Issues with Wood Deck Tiles

In many urban areas these days there are increasingly severe fire regulations especially in regards to rooftop decks. Even in places like New York City, until recently it was possible to build a large wood deck on a rooftop using the wood species Ipe because this particular wood species is exceptionally hard and dense and actually has a Class A fire rating according to the NFPA.

Then the regulations became somewhat stricter and you could only build a deck using Ipe wood which was only a certain percentage of the complete area. But more recently we have heard reports that its not even possible to construct a Ipe wood deck in certain areas of New York City without running afoul of the fire regulations. So what can you do if you really like the look of a wood deck?

Well, due to the advances in digital printing and the availability of 3/4″ thick porcelain pavers, you can now construct a wood look deck with these specific pavers. And the wood look is  very realistic as it simulates not only the color of the wood, but the  wood grain and natural imperfections that are in wood. What’s more, with the Kronos Teknowood range, you can even get a porcelain tile which looks like natural wood decking complete with a ribbed profile and parallel dark lines which simulate the gaps between a traditional deck board.

But the advantages of the porcelain pavers are not just limited to fire resistance. Because porcelain pavers have essentially zero water absorption, they are exceptionally stain resistant, they don’t suffer from freeze thaw cracking, they don’t fade, and they certainly do not twist or warp. And for many people, perhaps one of the biggest advantages is that they have exceptionally low maintenance and you certainly don’t need to consider scrubbing your wood deck carefully and then applying a good quality deck oil every 12 months or so. And as you would know, you can never completely stop wood from fading to a silvery gray, no matter what the manufacturers of the decking oils promise in their advertising.

Also, these porcelain pavers are exceptionally scratch resistant and in fact they are widely used for commercial high traffic situations including installations on top of a pedestal system.

So next time you are thinking of a wood deck and have been blocked by fire regulations, then take a look at porcelain pavers  – they may provide just the solution you need.


How to use Porcelain Pavers to Resurface a Patio

Whilst our range of interlocking deck tiles provide an excellent and very quick and easy way to re-surface a rooftop, patio or balcony, another option is to use our range of porcelain pavers. Although these are not interlocking, they are considerably more scratch resistant, stain resistant, frost resistance, fade resistant and low maintenance. They are also available in a larger format 2′ x 2′ and three-quarter inches thick. and the other advantage is that the porcelain pavers are available in an exceptional range of colors including simulated stone such as granite, sandstone, travertine and basalt as well as very realistic would look pavers which simulate the wood grain, natural features and , of natural wood. and in many circumstances you can even get exterior porcelain pavers which will match interior porcelain floor tiles, so you can create a seamless transition from the in dollars to the outdoors.

Essentially they can be installed in a similar manner to the interlocking tiles, although in this case you need to use small 1/2″ high plastic or rubber pads under each corner of the pavers. The reason for this is simply to prevent the pavers from rocking on the surface due to any surface irregularities or even cracks that may be in the concrete base. The porcelain pavers are sufficiently strong so that they can be simply supported on the corners alone. In fact these pavers are specifically designed for use with pedestal systems for commercial high traffic applications such as on rooftop decks, plazas or water features.

For this type of application when you are laying the pavers directly over existing concrete, we always suggest using the small rubber support pads rather than the plastic support pads. The reason for this is that the rubber pads provide extra sound absorption so the pavers will be quieter when you are walking on them. The rubber pads also provide more friction between the pads, the pavers, and the concrete substrate. This is important because with a non-interlocking tile, you would normally put some sort of restraining edge around the entire area to stop the tiles from moving. But because these porcelain pavers weigh approximately 36 pounds each and if you are using the rubber pads, then it’s very unlikely that they will move, and in that case you could avoid constructing a restraining edge.

Note that the support pads also have inbuilt spacer tabs, so there’s no problems about accurately aligning and spacing the pavers on the deck surface. The rubber pads can also accommodate small shims which can be placed between the paver and the pads to correct for any slight height differences.

But apart from the weight of the pavers ( about 36 lb.) which can make them a little tricky to maneuver, laying porcelain pavers on a patio should not be any real difficulty. Of course in some circumstances you may need to cut the pavers to fit around pipes or posts or if you have an irregular shaped area. In this case you will need to use a wet saw to cut the pavers but suitable saws can be hired from most hire shops.

Rubber Support Pad & Paver

Rubber Support Pad & Paver


Edge Treatment of Deck Tiles

We are often asked for suggestions of finishing the outer edge of a deck constructed of interlocking deck tiles or even our porcelain pavers.

The SwiftDeck range of Ipe tiles has the option of installing clip on edge pieces and the EzyTile range also has the option of clip on injection molded  plastic edge pieces, but the ResiDeck composite wood range does not have this option. Also with the porcelain paver range, there is often the requirement to have a restraining edge around the outside of the area to be paved, since these tiles are not interlocking.

Probably the simplest option is to use an L shaped profile where the horizontal section of the profile is slid underneath the tile and the vertical section is then attached to the outer edge of the tile with stainless steel or corrosion resistant screws, where this is possible.

Two commercially available products which could be considered are:
Permalock Asphalt Edge – the ‘Asphalt Edge’ (1″ high) would be preferable to the 1 5/8″ high ‘StructurEdge’
Oly-Ola Edging Stone-Edg – PVC edging 1″ high

Both the above are specifically constructed so that they can be bent into a curved shape. But if you only require a straight section, then just a standard L shaped anodized aluminum profile may be quite sufficient e.g.from:
Extrude.A.Trim – anodized aluminum profile

Skyroom in NYC chooses Kronos porcelain pavers

The Skyroom bar in New York at 330 W 40th St has chosen Kronos Teknowood Ebano porcelain pavers for its new flooring on its rooftop bar.

The pavers are essentially a floating deck as they are installed on a pedestal system. The Teknowood Ebano wood look pavers simulate the look of natural wood decking except that are completely fireproof, fade resistant, scratch resistant and stain resistant.


Kronos Porcelain Pavers Chosen for Bogota University Colombia

With thousands of pedestrians passing through every day, Bogota University wanted a paving solution that was both durable and would maintain its appearance over the long term without requiring much maintenance.

Despite its higher cost than concrete paver alternatives, the university decided on Kronos Teknowood Ebano pavers. the pavers are designed to look like traditional wood decking complete with a ribbed profile and perpendicular lines simulating the gaps between wood slats.

Kronos Teknowood Ebano pavers

Kronos Teknowood Ebano pavers

How to Lay Porcelain Pavers Directly on Concrete

Porcelain pavers offer a great alternative to concrete paving blocks because they offer so much more variety in colors and styles and what’s more, they are essentially impervious to water and virtually stain proof. They also lighter than concrete pavers, so therefore easier to install and transport.

But many people might be reluctant to lay them on a patio, terrace or rooftop deck because they believe they would be difficult to install. However this is not really the case.

The best way of laying the pavers over existing concrete is to use  1/2″ high paver support pads which have inbuilt spacer tabs. The idea is you that you simply lay these down on the concrete slab where you want to lay the porcelain pavers and then place the pavers with each corner on one of the fixed height supports. The reason for laying them on the fixed height supports rather than directly on the surface is that the supports will prevent the pavers from rocking on the surface due to any slight unvenness. Also with the rubber pedestal supports, they provide some added sound protection which makes walking on the tiles much quieter. and the other reason for using these is that if you use the rubber or EPDM supports, the friction between the pavers, the support pads and the base surface, means that the tiles are restricted from moving. Normally you would need to construct a retaining wall around the outside of your paved area if you are using a essentially floating floor type of construction, but with the rubber supports this is not really necessary.

And because the pavers are only 3/4″ thick, the paver and support, nation only raises the surface of your existing patio by 1 1/4″, which in most cases shouldn’t be a problem with doorways.

There are essentially two types of fixed height supports – either plastic or rubber/EPDM. the plastic supports have the advantage of being quite cheap, but as mentioned above, the rubber supports have the advantage that they offer better noise absorption and increased friction which prevents movement. You can place rubberr shims on top of the plastic supports, but then the cost tends to approximate the rubber/EPDM supports anyway, so really there is no advantage in this, and the plastic supports won’t have the added friction between the support and the base surface.

But you’ll find the paver plus fixed height pedestal combination is a great way to build a new patio floor, and the cost is quite similar to interlocking deck tiles, which don’t have the same durability, strength or stain resistant properties.

Eterno Pedestal System Simplifies Building Elevated Decks

HandyDeck is now exclusively offering the Eterno pedestal paver system as our preferred deck support system for building elevated decks due to its simplicity in ordering components and because it offers much quicker installation by contractors compared with alternative deck support systems. In particular, the self leveling head makes installation so much quicker on sloping surfaces as you don’t need to pay for any additional slope corrector components, you don’t need any special tools to calculate  the slope and you don’t need to rotate two concentric discs and match up alignment marks.

Also because the head has a soft rather capping ,together with tabs which are built into the top of the head, you don’t need to separately insert up to four individual tabs like you do with some other pedestal systems, and there’s no need for any additional shims, unless you need to adjust the height of a specific paver because it may be slightly higher or lower in height than another paver which is being supported on the same pedestal.

And compared with systems where you have to cut  lengths of PVC pipe, well the difference in installation time is simply not  comparable. Just imagine cutting a length of PVC pipe, putting it in place and then discovering that it’s not quite correct in height. Sure you can add a couple of shims, but that’s an extra expense and it shouldn’t be necessary if you are using a screwjack type of pedestal. And then you still have to add your slope corrector and figure out the slope to be adjusted. Just imagine how much easier it is simply to put the pedestal in place, lay the paver on top and screw the pedestal up or down to the precise height that you want it.

And even after installation if there’s any slight correction in height needed, you don’t need to pull up any pavers, reach down and screw up or down the the pedestal, or add extra shims. You just need the special Eterno height adjustment tool which is inserted into the head of the pedestal in the gap between the 4 pavers at the top of the pedestal and screw the pedestal up or down to adjust the height. What could be easier!

And Eterno adjustable height pedestals are available in the full height range from 1.125 ” up to more than 20″ . F or the very lowest height requirements ,fixed height 1/2″ and 3/4″ support pads available  which are either stacked or used in combination with shims to get to the precise height needed. These same support pads are also used if you want to lay pavers directly over a concrete surface.

Interlocking Tiles vs Structural Tiles – What’s the Difference?

Since we sell both interlocking deck tiles and also structural tiles, sometimes there’s a bit of confusion about what tiles should be used for what applications.

The main difference is really that the interlocking deck tiles must always be laid over a flat even surface which does not contain any significant bumps which might cause the tiles to lie unevenly on the surface. Whilst the interlocking wood tiles and composite wood tiles have some degree of flexibility which can cope with small variations, the single piece EzyTile range, with the exception of the pebble tiles and mosaic stone tiles,  really  don’t have any flexibility and therefore if they are laid over a surface crack for example with a mismatch on either side so that they can rock, then if an uneven pressure is placed on the tiles, they could crack.

The other point to note with interlocking deck tiles is that if you have a surface which is sloping slightly for drainage, then of course the tiles will continue to slope in the same direction.

On the other hand, the structural porcelain tiles or the Ipe wood structural tiles are designed specifically to be installed on adjustable height pedestals for making elevated decks. This means also that you can make a perfectly horizontal or level deck even though the underlying surface may be sloping or uneven, since the pedestals are simply screwed up or down to compensate for the variations in the substrate.

Having said that, you can also install the structural porcelain or Ipe tiles directly over an existing concrete surface by using small 1/2″ high support pads under the corner of the pavers. This lifts the pavers off the surface and ensures that they do not rock. Of course in this case the tiles would slope just the same as the underlying substrate. But these low height support pads are available for just over $1.00 each compared with the adjustable pedestals which can be more than $10 each depending on the height required. So this in fact makes the porcelain pavers quite competitive with the interlocking deck tiles, and considering their advantage in terms of stain resistance, scratch resistance, less possibility of cracking and their freeze thaw resistance, they can often be a much better alternative than the interlocking EzyTile range.