HUGE DIY PATIO FAIL | Mulch-Lock Pebble Binder

HUGE DIY PATIO FAIL | Mulch-Lock Pebble Binder

This video showcases my lack of product and application knowledge. What you are seeing is an instant gratification shot, recorded the 36-48 hours after the final spray. I have shared below the lessons learned during and after this project so hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes.

This patio is 600 sqft atop a clay bed. I dug out the old patio and graded the clay bed 10″ below the back door threshold. I trenched and laid 2 french drains that go the length of the patio and out into the backyard.

I then set the front and back retaining walls, using the two houses foundations to complete the square. I set the first row of retaining wall blocks with cement, the second row with PL-500.

I laid 8″ of #2 stone and went over it with a 200lb vibrating plate compactor and 10lb hand compactor in the tight spots. Then I laid 2″ of pea gravel and compacted it with the same machine, using a 10lb hand compactor in the tight spots. Next came about 5 gallons of pump and spray Mulch-Lock.

This whole project was a disaster:
1. The clay bed was near impossible to grade and trench using the 42-in dingo and trencher. I had a fence in place with a 48″ gate so equipment choices were slim.

2. The french drain isn’t perfect but gets the job done.

3. The #2 were overkill. I described the project to the stone place where I live and they said this would be best. It is a highway base lol (the larger stone are harder to work with)

4. Pea gravel doesn’t tamp. The best I could have done here is use a heavier rolling-type tamper not a vibrating plate compactor. Pea gravel is smooth and doesn’t interlock.

5. Topical sprays are for landscaped areas that don’t experience foot or animal traffic.

6. Resin binders are expensive, so make sure it’s what you want to do. Do not think it will more cost effective. You will also need a lot more than they advertise.

7. The only way to properly use a resin binder is to tumble the solution in with the stone PRIOR to laying it out. Rent a cement mixer.

8. Make sure to skree the area. I didn’t so my patio was hilly.

9. Even the best resin binders will break apart when you put patio furniture on it and sit down. Cars can drive over resin-bound gravel driveways like you see online because tires are soft and displace the vehicle’s weight over a larger surface area.

10. If you ever want to ‘tamp’ pea gravel for some reason, don’t vibrate, use a heavy roller. Tamping will compact the area underneath the tamper and loosen the surrounding area, resulting in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

11. During the heat of the day, or after extensive rain, it will become mushy then toughen up again when cool or dry.

Final thoughts:
The issue with this product is that it is not meant for foot traffic or having ‘pinpoint’ weight applied to it e.g patio furniture. Pinpoint weight meaning small surface area contacting the patio such as a chair or table leg. The more expensive alternatives have a higher sediment count and different formulation for this purpose. I even tried skree’ing polymeric sand over it but that got expensive and looked unsightly and splotchy (as it’s made for grouting pavers, not laying across large open areas). It added strength initially when cured and dry, but after a long day in the sun, or rain, it would soften as well and also broke under patio furniture. When it is dry on a large open area it is actually quite spiky after a rain and uncomfortable to walk on (and think about crawling babies!) not to mention making your feet very dirty.

Resin bonded driveways: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=resin+bonded+driveway

Gravel-Lok: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=gravel-lok

EkoFlo: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=gravel-lokekoflo

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Comments

Lawrence Hiland says:

Hi
I just used EkoFlo on many projects and it always turned out killer. The product is made by Technisoil Global. Located in Redding Ca
No loose spots very firm and very easy to install. You can trowel it and make it perfect. It is also permeable. The great thing about EkoFlo is that you mix the EkoFlo binder with the rock so it will all be coated and bond very well.
EkoFlo is the only way to go. The other products only last about a year and then you have a lot of maintenance.

cesar castellanos says:

Your video was very helpful. I bought the 2 pack from amazon and used one on a very small mini patio area for my fire pit and some chairs. It’s about 10’x12’ used one entire bottle. Held up pretty well, but broke apart when I sat on the chairs. Did you have this problem when you added your furniture?
I’m thinking I didn’t tamp it down enough or maybe it’s not strong enough product.
How has yours held up? Any advice?

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