Basalite Concrete Solutions

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What Should I Use to Improve my Driveway?

driveway pavers

Italian Renaissance Paver Driveway

Have you been “stalling” on a driveway fix?  Not sure what materials make the best “cents”?  Let’s compare some driveway finish options.



Many homeowners choose gravel for an easy, DIY installation. Gravel comes in a variety of colors and weights, and can be visually attractive. However, gravel does have many negatives. It can be very difficult to maintain. If you have a lot of trees with falling leaves, or if you live in an area where winter snows hit, it’s fairly impossible to sweep or shovel across gravel. Gravel can lodge in between tire treads, is hard to walk on, and it is not ADA compliant. While gravel appears to be a low-maintenance option, it typically needs to be refreshed annually, which adds to the cost.



Hot, ugly and smelly, plus you have to perform crack repair and reseal every few years.


Poured Concrete:

Although pouring concrete seems to be an easy, do-it-yourself project, it is not.  Slab concrete should be poured at the same time and from the same mix to avoid differentials in color and finish from different batches.  Mixing and placing by yourself, without the help of plant mixed and truck delivered concrete is back breaking and slow, which in most cases leads to cold joints, blotchy colors and low strength concrete.   Weather conditions can also affect results, so in hot and cold climates, most of the day is unsuitable for pouring concrete in some seasons, which lessen your time to mix, pour and place concrete. Poured concrete can succumb to “spalling” (top layer peeling off), if temperatures are low or there is too much moisture in the mix. Poured concrete is prone to cracking, especially where driveways are uneven or tree roots are present. Visually, poured concrete is often considered a “low end” approach, which doesn’t help with resale. Today’s home buyer is typically seeking visual appeal and since a driveway is often the first visual when guests arrive, most home buyers are seeking a higher end alternative.



Concrete pavers come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. While initially it may seem daunting to lay your own pavers, installation is not technical and the low upkeep may be worth the initial effort. Pavers are long lasting and you can easily replace a paver here and there, if needed, without having to rip up your entire driveway.  If repairs are required, or additions need to be added, the pavers can be picked up, repairs/additions performed and the original pavers replaced without additional material cost and since it’s the original paving material, it will match the rest of the pavement exactly. Pavers are easy to clean, and, if sealed correctly on installation, can maintain their beauty for many years. Studies have shown a paver driveway and or paver patio can increase to a home’s value by as much as 15 to 20 percent. Pavers are considered an “upscale” feature and are attractive to home buyers.


Get ready for a DIY paver project? Get helpful hints on how to do the job right the first time. Click here for paver tips and tricks!

DIY Paver Help


How to Mix Concrete in a Wheelbarrow


Want to learn how to mix concrete in a wheelbarrow? We’ll show you how in our YouTube video below!

For more DIY, help with concrete projects, and inspirational home photos, check out our Homeowner Section here:


Tree Roots and Your Retaining Wall


retaining wall tree

Engineers and Contractors frequently drive around to check the retaining walls they designed and/or built, to make sure they are performing as designed. When designing and installing retaining walls, professionals take into consideration potential hazards. The list of potential hazards is extensive, but for now,we are going to concentrate on TREES.

So, you moved into your new house and want some shade in your backyard, or you want to add some value and luxury to your existing backyard. A beautiful Maple or fast-growing Fruitless Mulberry are just two of the many trees that do well in Northern California. But how close to the retaining wall can you plant this tree? Take into consideration a trees root system when planning out where to plant your tree. A tree will send down a “tap root”, which is a root that extends down as far as it can obtain oxygen. Once it has reached that point, it sends out shooter roots that grow horizontally. The myth out there is that the shooter roots will only grow out as far as the canopy extends. While this may be true for some trees, it is not true for most trees. Your best bet is to contact the tree professional at the nursery you are purchasing your tree from, or contact an arborist and consult with them. This is important because over time- if you plant a tree too close to a retaining wall- the potential for the roots to push the wall over is in direct proportion to the height your tree will grow to.

Now don’t get me wrong- there are trees planted close to retaining walls that  have been there for years and will probably be there for years to come. But you should have that tree periodically inspected to make sure it is healthy and not pushing on the retaining wall, potentially turning into a problem.


When planting a new tree near a retaining wall, the tree should be a minimum of 2 feet away from the face of the wall plus the diameter of the root ball, i.e. a tree with a 5 five-foot root ball should be planted a minimum of 7 feet away from the face of the retaining wall. While a tree can bring comfort from its shade and beauty from its structure you need to remember to consult with a tree expert or an engineer before planting your tree.

Happy Planting!

Mike Blumenstein, Basalite Product Manager
: (707)678-1901


How to Build a Concrete Bench


DIY Concrete Stone Bench

Want to add an impressive seating area to your backyard? Build a stone bench to enhance your outdoor space, by following these easy instructions. In just a few hours, you will have a unique and attractive new backyard feature! The addition of this DIY stone bench can add a unique esthetic element to your garden, patio, or any landscaped area.

This project measurements reference Stonewall II Concrete Blocks. Other block products may be utilized. Contact your dealer for more information on products that would complement a bench).



Four, 12” stakes
marking paint
rubber mallet
wheel barrow
knee pads
safety equipment
hand tamper
caulking gun
SRW adhesive
string line
tape measure

STEP 1, PREPARE THE SITE   Step 1 Concrete Bench DIY

Stake out a 2’ x 9’ rectangle. Use one of your stakes as your starting point and hammer it into the ground. Measure 9’ in the long direction and hammer in another stake. Measure 2’ at a 90 degree angle from the two stakes already hammered in the ground. Set both stakes and make sure they are 9’ in between. To check for square, measure diagonally from stake to stake until the two measurements are the same.



STEP 2, COMPACT AND LEVEL  Step 2concrete Bench DIY

Once you have your area marked out, dig approximately 4” into the soil. Place and compact 3” of 3/4″ Minus Gravel as a leveling
pad for the base course of your bench.



To set your base course, lay your first stone 1” below finished grade, and level front to back and side to side. Start with a large and small and large and small, side by side to make a 20” x 20” column base. Measure 5.5″ in from one side, and place a large stone, then a small stone, alternating until your bench is 5′ 2.25″. Then, build another 20″ by 20″ column base. Fit for alignment and check for level.


Place a continuous bead of caulking on the blocks below. Stack additional courses, ensuring you have a running bond, so the block lines do not match the lines below. Check for level and adjust as necessary. Stack additional rows on the square to a maximum of five rows high.
Stack additional rows on the bench to a maximum of three rows high.


STEP 5, SECURE THE TOP COURSE  DIY Bench final step - glue  

Secure the capstones. Use a generous amount of SRW adhesive to glue the top caps and five bench caps.
Questions about this project? Contact Basalite and we’d be glad to help you with your project!




Why Use Sand with Pavers?


DIY pavers and edger

Author: Mike Blumenstein

Sand is the glue that holds pavers tightly together. Whether constructing a patio with pavers or a driveway, it is important to construct a paver base. This paver base should be a minimum of 4 inches of a class 2 road base (available at a landscape yard), compacted to 95% Standard Proctor Density (or compacted until you are not able to make a dent in the road base with the back of your foot). (more…)


DIY~ How to Lay Pavers


paver garden walkway

Featured: Basalite Artisan Slate Pavers in Positano

A paver project, when properly installed, can enhance your property appearance and value. The use of concrete pavers in the United States has become more and more popular due to paver flexibility, looks, durability and DIY capabilities. While this is not a project for everyone, most do-it-yourselfers will find that they can properly install a paver patio, walkway, or driveway, as
long as the correct tools are available. (more…)


Mixing & Pouring Concrete in Hot Weather


Cracked concrete in hot weather

Author: Mike Blumenstein

Spring missed us in Northern California. In some areas, temperatures have already hit the 90’s and our grass won’t stay green for long. But the lack of spring weather or reasonable temperatures doesn’t mean we can bypass our spring projects. Many of us will still be building our concrete patios or pouring new concrete walkways.

Working with concrete in high summer temperatures can be a real challenge. Excessive heat coupled with low humidity, direct sunlight and wind is the perfect storm for concrete surface cracking. Shrinkage cracks can occur when the surface moisture evaporates too quickly. Hot weather will also cause concrete to lose slump (consistency of the mix) and overall workability, causing the concrete to set too fast. On average, concrete sets up in approximately 4 hours at 80F. An increase of 10 degrees will reduce the set time almost in half. An increase of 20 degrees will reduce set time over 60%! While it may seem logical to add more water when temperatures climb, adding water can have a negative effect on the ultimate strength of your concrete, and can increase the risk of cracking. (more…)


Myths About Concrete Pavers


Patio Built with Basalite Pavers

Author: James Motarex
  1. Poured-in-place concrete driveways, walkways and patios are stronger than those constructed with concrete pavers The opposite is true. Typical ready mix concrete pavements are between 3000-4000psi and concrete pavers, by ASTM standard (936) requires that concrete pavers have a minimum compressive strength of 8000psi, twice as much as their cast-in-place, monolithic counterpart.
  2. Concrete paver driveways and approaches tend to rut out All pavements will reflect what happens with their base; therefore, when rutting occurs, the base underneath the pavers has most likely been inadequately compacted. Concrete pavers are twice as strong as typical cast-in-place concrete; therefore, the same base with cast-in-place concrete would most likely crack, collapse and become uneven. If this happens with concrete pavers, the individual paving units can be lifted out, the base repaired, and the original units re-installed in the pavement. Cast-in-place, on the other hand, would have to be jack hammered out, the broken concrete hauled off and the pavement re-poured at great cost.



Top 7 Common Problems with Pavers & How to Fix Them


White Film on Pavers

Author: Mike Blumenstein

Installing pavers can add beauty, functionality and value to your home. Whether you take on the project yourself or hire someone to do the work for you, it’s important to ensure that the right steps are utilized and that no shortcuts, which can cause problems later, are taken.

The good news about these paver problems is that if you do run into them, there are steps that you can take to correct them. (more…)


Selecting Pool Decking

Pavers for Pool Decking

Pavers for Pool Decking

Author: Mike Blumenstein

A backyard pool can be an important part of a family’s recreational time. A pool can create hours of outdoor fun, or a quiet place to relax. When building your new pool, you will not only want to consider the size, shape and depth of the pool itself, but what materials you would like to select for your pool decking. There are many options, but typically, pool owners select either a cement or concrete deck, or pavers for their decking needs. (more…)