Travertine pavers for a patio around a new pool at the Jersey Shore.

by Eileen
(New Jersey)

Hi Susan -

I am really enjoying your website with all of your insightful ideas and suggestions regarding so many aspects of landscape design. We own a home in Bay Head, NJ which is at the Jersey shore nearby Point Pleasant.
We are finally recovered from the damage of hurricane Sandy and are soon to embark on the installation of a concrete pool (12x23 rectangle) with surrounding pavers for decking and plantings. I have been focused on travertine pavers and was happy to read that you really love the look they provide around the pool area. I was concerned that they may be too sensitive to the freeze-thaw conditions at the Jersey shore but you seem to suggest that they should hold up well. I am a little concerned about cracking and swelling or popping of stones which i understand can happen from the moisture getting under the stones.

Our home is a recently renovated 1920 period home with red cedar shakes left in their natural color. The shakes were dipped at the manufacturer which is intended to preserve the color balance and prevent the cedar shakes from turning the very dark brown/black color they they are known to do. The house also has a good amount of white trim on the railings, windows etc.

In the event we choose to use a travertine paver I would like to ask your advise on the color selection of travertine you think might be most suitable as a good match for our home as there are various shades. What is the color you have photographed on your website in the French pattern? Since you are a designer who lives in New Jersey and are very familiar with the climate I was hoping you could comment on the freeze/thaw concerns as well. I am already planning to place a sealer over the stones after installation as a precaution.

Finally, do you have suggestions for laying the stone given that the house is across the the street from the ocean and we have a high
water table.

I would be most appreciative for any suggestions you can offer.

Many thanks!


Hi Eileen,
It's always nice to hear from someone in New Jersey. I have been going to the NJ shore ever since I was young and actually owned a home there at one time, so I am familiar with the specific climate there.

Here are answers to your questions.
1. Travertine and Freeze Thaw
This is not a problem. It holds up in cold weather and is resistant to freeze thaw. I always recommend dry laying it (see below) which allows for much better than possibly having concrete joints crack. Also, if anything were ever to happen to any of the pavers, you just remove that paver and replace.

2. Color
I hate to say this but I can't recall the exact color we used in that project. I would say it resembles carmel. You should really get samples anyway and hold them near your house to see which looks the best. There is a darker one ususally called walnut and a few different grays. I would try them might be surprised as to what goes well with your shakes.

3. Laying the Stone
I would do some research for excellent installers in your area. Thinking about it, I would say that the stone base perhaps should be deeper and VERY compacted. I would also not use polymeric sand as the joint filler, as this can crack...use regular sand. Here is drawing showing how they typically should be installed taken from Architectural Standards. Again, speak with your contractor about the high water table.

See the one that is labeled Dry Laid Patios. The bottom layer or sub-grade is what should also be particularly addressed for a firm base. Since you have sand, or sandy soil, I would say that perhaps it should be repalced with a clay type soil, compacted.

I hope this was helpful and if you need any help with design, landscaping, etc. just let me know.

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