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Know More about Natural Alternatives for Concrete: An Interview with Clay Hubbs of Stabilizer Solutions

By Clay Hubbs

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. is a family-owned company that exists to advance natural alternatives to concrete, asphalt, and other artificial surfaces for athletic, equestrian, pathway and landscaping projects. Basically, where a high traffic area calls for a pavement (or artificial turf on a field), we think a natural aggregate or soil can do the job just as well if not better, with a little help.

In our thirty year history we've advised on many major landscape projects that receive millions of visitors annually, like national parks, botanical gardens, and museums. We have seen what natural materials are really capable of doing. That goes for our work on golf courses, horse tracks, natural turf event venues, and many professional and collegiate baseball and softball stadiums across the country. We offer products for each of these industries.

Much of the flexible pavement industry as a whole was spurred by our original Stabilizer, the first patented natural soil binder. Stabilizer is what makes our Stabilized Decomposed Granite and Crushed Stone stand out as a concrete alternative. Although Stabilizer is more relevant than ever, we are constantly innovating, and our StaLok, waterless natural paving products are gaining in popularity.

In brief, please explain the concept of the use of decomposed granite and crushed stone as concrete alternative.

Concrete and asphalt are very good rigid pavements that can take a lot of abuse. This is great for a congested city street or warehouse loading dock, but is it necessary to use rigid pavements everywhere? No. In fact it would be detrimental if we paved over everything. Natural materials such as decomposed granite and crushed stone were the paving materials of choice for centuries, but they have their limitations. What we are doing now is not turning these materials into concrete or asphalt, but removing their limitations when it comes to durability, accessibility and weather resistance. We are stabilizing them.

Why is it important to find alternatives for concrete?

Like I said, in our modern world concrete is necessary, but the key is to find a balance between paved and unpaved surfaces. Standard concrete and asphalt are impermeable. This creates problems with stormwater runoff. Also, they retain heat during warmer months, which can create a "heat island" effect. There are permeable versions out there, but they are costly and have maintenance issues. Furthermore, concrete is among the most energy intensive of building materials, since production involves both the mining, and the calcination process. It is even more difficult to reuse or recycle concrete previously used for driveways and pathways.

On what parts of the home can these natural products be used as an alternative for concrete?

I may be biased, but a Stabilized Decomposed Granite or Crushed Stone driveway is really eye catching on a residence. Depending on the shape (winding or straight lines), and edging materials (brick or steel, etc.), the driveway can give a traditional, modern, or native aesthetic. It is an element that can really tie the rest of the landscape back to the house. For some, a driveway might be a bigger project, but the most common use across the world is for pathway or trail. A winding wooded trail or garden path made with these materials can be quite serene. Patios and other outdoor seating areas are a close runner-up.

Why is the use of these alternatives useful and advantageous?

For most people, it is all about the appearance, but if you look closer, these materials provide reduced cost, maintenance, and water management. They are much more cost effective in upfront investment and long term maintenance in many regions across the country. Stabilized Decomposed Granite and Crushed Stone are flexible pavements.

Flexible pavements can be much easier to maintain, especially in freeze/thaw conditions. They flex with the freeze/thaw cycle instead of resisting it. Resistance results in cracking and upheaval. The same feature makes these materials easily reused and repurposed. Also, permeable materials like these can help capture stormwater runoff and reduce the heat island effect. Finally, there is a geographical aspect to all of this. These aggregates are local to the area. They provide a natural aesthetic. They just feel right.

Are there any significant advice you have for homeowners who are looking at making great savings with some of their home building or beautification projects?

There are many qualified contractors that can install Stabilized Decomposed Granite or Crushed Stone quickly and efficiently, usually at a lower cost than concrete pavement. If I was looking for great savings though, as a homeowner I would do the work myself. At least on smaller projects. These materials are flexible.

There is a lot of room for error, allowing for easy addition or reworks. Before attempting a big project like a driveway, I would experiment with a smaller path to get more comfortable with the process. The most critical part of the process is blending the Stabilizer with the crushed stone. In many regions, we have pre-approved crushed stone, and can direct you to a supplier that can blend for you. If not, our staff is always available to walk you through the process. Also, keep in mind that our StaLok line of products makes the installation process even simpler, eliminating blending and watering.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

We can be contacted via telephone at 800.336.2468 or email at info@StabilizerSolutions.com. For more information visit StabilizerSolutions.com.

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About The Author

Clay Hubbs is the Director of Operations at Stabilizer Solutions.

Phone: 800-336-2468

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