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Spring Paver Maintenance Tips

by Belgard®

Mother Nature can be cruel. If you have chosen Belgard for your hardscape projects, you’ve already taken measures to increase resistance against weathering and corrosion. Still, seasonal hardscape maintenance is encouraged to preserve the beauty and integrity of your installation. Here are a few Spring paver care tips.

General maintenance

  • Clean your pavers each Spring with a coarse-bristle “stable” broom and a routine maintenance paver cleaner to keep them looking like new.
  • Some weeds, if left unaddressed, can shift pavers apart over time. Be sure to periodically apply a granular weed preventative between joints as a part of your paver maintenance routine.
  • Be careful when cleaning your Belgard pavers with power washers as they can remove the paver finish and expose the aggregate on the paver’s surface.

Cleaning

  • Before applying any paver cleaning solution to your hardscape, test a small inconspicuous area first to be sure you get the desired results.
  • Be sure to read and follow the directions printed on container labels for cleaning solution use, application, precautions and first aid. Always rinse the solution off thoroughly after use.
  • For tough stains, use a specialized cleaner to treat the specific stain. Techniseal offers specialty cleaners for organic stains (moss, mildew, dead leaves, blood, wine); greasy stains (motor oil, barbecue, oily foods); rust (caused by steel, rusty objects or fertilizer); and paint, tar or rubber (including gum). Each of these products are specifically formulated to clean pavers and masonry and should not affect the color or tone of your hardscapes. However, it is always a good idea to test a small area area first.

Protecting

  • The joints between paving stones are the most vulnerable areas of any installation. Keep these joints topped off with jointing sand to prevent the sand-bedding layer below from deteriorating, causing the pavers to shift.
  • Every three years, apply a sealer to keep your pavers looking their best. Depending upon your preference, sealer options can offer a natural matte finish, a color-boosted matte finish, a clear semi-gloss look, or a wet-look gloss finish. Sealers should not be applied more than once in three years. Too many applications will create a film on the surface which may discolor in sunlight. You can easily test whether your pavers are ready to resealed by dripping some water on your pavers. If the water initially beads, your pavers are still protected. If the water immediately soaks in, it’s probably time.
  • For older pavers that have suffered from weathering and neglect, bring back the original shade of pavers or give them new color with NuLook Tinted Sealant, which is a semi-transparent semi-gloss sealer designed to rejuvenate faded pavers. NuLook comes in four different shades to bring new life to pavers or create interesting designs.

Hardscape Lighting Ideas

by Belgard®

Whether you’re lighting an existing outdoor living area or planning a new one, here are a few ideas on how to light up your space.

This lovely outdoor living room uses lighting techniques inspired by nature. The focal light emanating from the fire is enhanced by votive candles and low-voltage hardscape lighting that’s built into the walls of the outdoor fireplace. In the surrounding landscape, ambient in-ground lighting reflects throughout the picturesque waterfall. Uplights used for the shrubbery and trees add an ethereal glow.

Fire can be used in a number of creative ways. This outdoor living room uses a European style fireplace and fire bowls that are all operated off of gas and can be turned on remotely. For additional fire elements, tiki torches are placed around the backyard to add a festive design element that coordinates with the “fire” design scheme.

This design incorporates a variety of antique brass light fixtures, including attractive pathway lights in the planter beds and coordinating low-voltage hardscape lighting along each wall.

Columns lights will both dress up a wall and provide additional lighting, as illustrated with the seat wall pictured below. This design also includes hardscape and overhead lighting in the bar area that allows for increased visibility behind the bar, without overpowering the fire pit area.

Strategic use of pathway lights adds both character and an element of safety for a walkway or patio. The color of the light fixtures selected below incorporates complementary tones to those in the pavers, creating a cohesive design.

In the poolscape below, low-voltage hardscape lighting was installed in a pattern that complements the sweeping arches throughout the design. To improve the safety, lights are installed on all steps and elevation changes, in addition to the seat walls. All lights in the hardscaped areas face downward, with upward lights facing the trees. The combination creates a subdued and cozy atmosphere.

String lighting can be a festive way to add additional lighting and comes in a variety of styles to complement a wide range of design schemes. The outdoor pavilion below incorporates simple string lighting that creates a festive atmosphere without detracting from the richness of the rustic design elements. Additional lighting comes from pendants, sconces and hardscape lighting.

The Benefits of Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

by Belgard®

When planning a paver project, it’s important to know that not all pavers are equal. When comparing concrete pavers versus brick pavers, it’s particularly essential to understand the differences between the two, and the multiple benefits of choosing concrete pavers over traditional clay brick.

Paver Sizes & Shapes

Concrete pavers come in a tremendous variety of shapes and sizes –- from small 4″x8″ and 6″x6″ all that way up to 24” slabs, as well as irregular and plank shapes. Clay brick pavers typically only come in 4″x8″ sizes.

Paver Finishes & Styles

While brick pavers all have a similar face, concrete pavers are available in an endless array of finishes — including smooth finishes, natural stone textures, cobbled looks, antique tumbled looks and more. Most concrete paver finishes incorporate blends of colors, and many have unique faces created with specialized aggregates.

Paver Colors

Clay brick pavers are typically only available in a limited number of shades or color blends. However, concrete pavers are available in a wide array of hues and color blends — including warm color tones, cool color tones, deep shades, and variegated color blends. This allows for greater design flexibility and the ability to create more coordinated outdoor designs. Unlike most brick pavers, some concrete pavers also have built-in protectants to help prevent the color from fading over time.

Consistent Paver Sizes

Concrete pavers are made in a highly controlled environment, allowing for more uniformed and consistent shapes and sizes within a particular style. This allows for more efficient installation. Brick pavers can often be warped as part of the firing process, which can make installation more challenging.

Coordinating Design Elements

Concrete pavers are often designed to specifically coordinate with adjacent vertical products — such as retaining walls, outdoor kitchen and fireplace kits and fire pit kits — in terms of style, texture and color. This makes it easier to plan coordinated outdoor living spaces. Although clay bricks can be used to construct vertical design elements, doing so is a longer, more complex masonry process.

Paver Design Flexibility

With brick pavers, designs are limited to running bond, herringbone and basket-weave paver laying patterns. However, with concrete pavers, the design options are endless. You can mix and match various shapes, sizes, finishes and colors to create unique outdoor living designs.

Paver Durability

Clay is fairly unpredictable, and some clay bricks are prone to cracking in freeze/thaw environments. Belgard concrete pavers are manufactured to handle extreme weather conditions and come with a lifetime transferable warranty against cracking or breaking.

Decorative Ways to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space in Colder Months

by Belgard®

Just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the outdoors. There are a number of decorative ways to keep your outdoor spaces livable during the winter months that add both ambiance and warmth.

Fire Pits

Fire pits are currently one of the top must-haves in outdoor living, and with good reason. They easily fit into any outdoor living design and provide a spot for groups of any age to gather and enjoy the outdoors. Whether roasting hot dogs or s’mores, sharing a bottle of wine, or just having a cup of hot cocoa, everyone loves sitting around the fire pit.

Outdoor Fireplaces

Outdoor fireplaces make a dramatic statement and become the focal point of your outdoor living design. Not only will it add physical warmth to your outdoor living space, it will become the favorite spot for enjoying a glass of wine or an intimate conversation. When designing your outdoor living space, remember that gas fireplaces can be placed just about anywhere, but a wood-burning version will likely need to be 10 or more feet from any structure.

Homey Accessories

Adding retractable solar shades to a porch will not only provide protection from the glaring sun in summer months, they can also help keep you warm in the winter by blocking the wind and helping to hold in any ambient warmth created by area heaters.

Comfy throws not only add a cozy look to your outdoor space, they provide that extra layer that some folks need to keep warm. Decorative outdoor bins can be a good place to store throws; however, you may want to choose an easy-to-carry basket that can be stored indoors when not in use, which will keep your throws free of unwanted critters.

Looking Ahead to 2019 Trends in Outdoor Living

by Belgard®

The need to maintain real human connections in the digital age has greatly influenced the design elements of the outdoor living movement. A simple patio with weatherproof chairs and portable grill just won’t do the trick anymore. People want a comfortable spot to connect with family and friends that replicates, and in many cases exceeds, the comfort of their indoor gathering spots. With that in mind, here are some of the prevailing trends that can be expected to continue to gain popularity in the coming year.

Contemporary Outdoor Design

Current outdoor living spaces are definitely following the interior design trend toward the clean lines of contemporary design. People normally associate modular-shaped pavers with contemporary design, but that isn’t necessarily true. The textures and colors used can also sway a look towards a more contemporary feel. Although modular-shaped pavers are expected to continue to rise in popularity, expect to see an increase in smoother textures in various styles of pavers. The contemporary trend also leans towards monochromatic color schemes with pops of color.

Pantone Color of the Year

Each year, the Pantone® Color Institute declares an official Color of the Year, which influences many of the design trends. The company recently announced “Living Coral” as the 2019 Color of the Year. This color can be incorporated into outdoor living design in a number of ways. Some pavers have hues of coral incorporated into the color blend. There are also many paver styles with complementary colors that can work well in conjunction with Living Coral. Living Coral can also be used as an accent color for pillows, umbrellas and decorative accessories.

Entanglement with Nature

One of the hottest up-and-coming trends is to “entangle” hardscape installations with the surrounding landscape. This can be done in several ways. Pavers can be entangled with adjacent grass or gardens in a “fade away” effect. This effect is even more dramatic when used with plank-style pavers. Another, more formal application of this idea is to use porcelain pavers spaced out with strips of grass to create a checkerboard or stepping stone pattern.

Natural Textured Walls

More and more homeowners are requesting retaining and free standing walls that have natural stone textures. Trending styles include walls that offer the look of tumbled stone or chiseled stone. Homeowners are also increasingly drawn to wall installation patterns with clean, contemporary lines.

Gray and “Greige” Tones

From light gray to charcoal, gray tones continue to dominate current hardscape trends. However, an up-and-coming trend is starting to lean back toward warmer tones. This transitionary color phase is coined “greige”… a blending of grey and beige tones. Homeowners across the country are currently looking for these muted gray/tan color blends in hardscapes for their ability to work well with both warm and cool design palettes.

Blurring Transitions from Inside to Outside

One of the biggest trends in new home and remodeling is the blurring of the line between the indoor and outdoor. This involves much more than windows and patio doors. Fully folding walls and screens are being installed that allow spaces such as a family room to open and create a seamless transition into the outdoor space. Or, a standard kitchen can become an outdoor one in warmer months with the flip of a switch.

Linear and Large Format Pavers

The trend toward larger and more linear pavers continues to grow at a rapid pace. Not only are consumers looking for clean, modular textures, they are leaning toward plank-style pavers, and very large format slab pavers.

Formal Water Features

People love the soothing sound of running water, and the trend of incorporating formal water features into outdoor designs is growing at an exponential rate. With our busy lifestyles, however, consumers also want a water feature that is simple to take care of — adding beauty, ambiance and value to the outdoor living space without additional maintenance time and cost.

Outdoor Lighting Trends

The vast majority of time spent in most outdoor spaces is in the evening and on weekends. Because of this, outdoor living trends are moving towards well-designed built-in lighting systems. With today’s LED technology and smart phone apps, installing an automated lighting system has never been easier. However, this type of system is not very easy to retrofit after-the-fact and is more common in new construction. For existing outdoor living spaces, expect to see a continued increase in landscape lighting and durable string light options, like commercial grade Edison-style LED string lights.

Preventing De-Icing Downfalls

by Belgard®

The recent blast of arctic air sent temperatures plummeting across the country. Many of you are already stocked up on deicing agents for your walkways and driveways. Although deicing agents offer an immediate benefit, they can sometimes have a corrosive effect and diminish the beauty of paved surfaces.

To ensure long-term resistance to the downfalls of deicing, regularly maintain pavers with paver sealants for additional protection and follow these tips:

  • Mix salts with sand prior to application
  • Don’t over-salt
  • Use salt for melting ice only, not snow removal
  • Once loose, remove ice to avoid salt buildup
  • Wash residue from pavers in the spring

Holiday Hours


Watkins’ hours have changed for the upcoming Holidays:

  • December 24th – Closing at 3pm
  • December 25th – Closed
  • December 31st – Regular Business Hours (7am-5pm)
  • January 1st – Closed

Thank you, and Happy Holidays from all of us at Watkins Concrete Block.

Watkins Partners with Lauritzen Gardens’ Holiday Show

Thousands of poinsettias bursting with rich, vibrant color will fill the floral display hall at Lauritzen Gardens in a glowing holiday tribute during this year’s Holiday Poinsettia Show, supported in part by Watkins Concrete Block Company.

To help families make more holiday memories, they can visit the new Family Chill Zone on the festival garden patio to participate in a variety of fun, family-friendly activities. Gather around the fire and enjoy the winter weather with Anchor Highland Fire Pits and an outdoor fireplace supplied by Watkins. Families can also create a craft, watch the action at the wildlife trees, play a game, explore the igloos, and paint on ice. During the AGLOW evenings, S’mores kits will be available for purchase and guests may roast marshmallows.

More than 5,000 poinsettias in nearly 20 different varieties were grown for the 2018 display.  See varieties of multi-hued, deep red, sparkling white and speckled poinsettias that vary in hue, texture, height and bloom time.

A magnificent and majestic 20-foot-tall poinsettia tree stands tall in the middle of the display. Surrounded by a cascade of twinkling white lights, glittering ornaments and the whistle of model garden trains, this show evokes the warmest greetings of goodwill and cheer.

Watkins Concrete Block Company and Lauritzen Gardens are giving away one wood burning Anchor Highland Fire Pit Kit! To enter, complete and submit a registration card at the Lauritzen Gardens Holiday Poinsettia Show during open hours of the show from November 24, 2018 to January 6, 2019.

Project featuring Watkins Products Garners HNA Award

A local project featuring Watkins materials received national recognition at HNA in the Porcelain Paver Residential Category. Marti Neely Design and Associates, Craig Tuttle Construction and Superior Masonry received an honorable mention for the design and installation of a residential backyard that featured Belgard Mirage Porcelain Pavers supplied by Watkins Concrete Block Company.

Marti Neely spent countless hours doing her homework on the Mirage product line accounting for all details including an invisible drain system. The Bennington home features 5,000 SF Belgard Mirage Officine Porcelain Pavers in Romantic and Dark colors on the horizontal installation for the pool deck, and 500 SF of Officine Dark for a vertical wall.

This project was one of the first Belgard Mirage Porcelain Paver projects supplied in the Omaha area by Watkins. The homeowners have been thrilled with the paver selection and have since replaced the front stoop of their home and are in the process of a third phase that includes replacing a raised deck with the same product.

The HNA Awards nationally recognize outstanding hardscape projects by contractors building residential and commercial walkways, patios, driveways, and commercial plazas, parking lots, streets and more. The annual award winners are recognized during the 2018 Hardscape North America trade show and are featured in the Interlock Design Magazine, the HNA website and other industry publications.

NEW!! – Highland Stone in White!

New at Watkins! – Highland Stone Freestanding and Retaining Wall Systems; in White! Stop in at Watkins on 144th & Giles to learn more about this new color, or click the link below!

Learn More

Also, Highland Stone – White – Fire Pit Giveaway!  Simply visit the Watkins showroom on 144th & Giles in September for full details. Any purchase of Highland Stone in White in September is an automatic entry to win!

Winner will be announced on Oct. 1 on Facebook!