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.