Nature in its purity: permeable wood pavers

April 23, 2024

Black Locust wood pavers are capable of absorbing water faster than concrete, have a natural durability of 50+ years and rot-resistant properties.

Common paving materials are concrete, asphalt and stones, but nowadays there is a growing demand for more sustainable paving materials, such as wood pavers. Concrete is the second most used material on the planet after water. However, a world covered in concrete is not prepared for the climate changes of the modern days. Designers and landscape architects are looking for new hardscape solutions that will help combat the impact of climate change. Permeable wood pavers are the new direction when designing urban green spaces, playgrounds and green rooftops. 

In our article we have gathered everything you need to know about wood pavers. In case you are contemplating what material to use for your next landscape design project, we also made a comparison on different outdoor paving materials

Historic wood pavers

The first wood pavers, called Nicolson pavement were invented by Samuel Nicolson in the mid-19th century. Wood pavers were used in the 1900s because horses made less noise when passing over them. One very historic wooden street is Camac Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, due to using the wrong type of wood (oak) it decayed over time and it is no longer lined with wood paver blocks, but instead is paved temporarily with asphalt. 

Camac Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania once paved with wood paver blocks

If Camac Street were to return to its historic roots and could be aligned with wood pavers once more, Black Locust would be the best type of wood to do so. With the right type of wood and by placing wood paver blocks upon permeable foundations Camac Street would have a more durable surface than before. It has actually been suggested to use Black Locust wood as a more durable option.  

Black Locust wood pavers

At Black Locust Lumber, we have deep roots in forestry and we have always insisted on using Black Locust wood as a material for our products. Why? Pioneers used Black Locust wood for fence posts. And in 1686, Captain William Fitzhugh wrote that Black Locust wood is “as durable as most brick walls”. 

ProFlow Permeable Pavers™ used for Central European University green rooftop in Budapest, Hungary.

They understood that the wood has a natural longevity of 50+ years. Black Locust wood has rot-resistant, and anti-fungal properties without the help of toxic chemicals. No oils, stains, or paint are necessary to maintain its beauty. We have found that this makes Black Locust a perfect type of wood for sustainable architecture. 

Based on our experience with Black Locust wood, during the past decade we developed and tested a durable wood paver product called ProFlow Permeable Pavers™. These small wood paver blocks provide a highly permeable, durable surface that will last for decades. Black Locust Lumber wood pavers exceed 10.180 PSI (pounds per square inch). It is a stronger surface than concrete pavers (compressive strength of 8,000 PSI) or poured asphalt (compressive strength of 3,000 PSI). 

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This test video shows a 60-ton crane driving over ProFlow Permeable Pavers™.

Wood pavers combat stormwater management issues

Due to climate change stormwater management through hardscape material is becoming a focal point in landscape architecture. Architects turning towards permeable pavers will find that wood and especially Black Locust is an effective wood pavers material in reducing the impact of flooding.

Stormwater management with ProFlow Permeable Pavers™ at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School in San Francisco.

When Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School in San Francisco approached us, they had a serious stormwater management issue. Rain would remain unabsorbed in the schoolyard making it impossible for children to play on the school grounds. Having installed  ProFlow Permeable Pavers™ in the schoolyard, it now allows water to be absorbed in the surrounding environment. It brings joy to our hearts to have made an impact on the everyday lives of students of Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary by providing a solution for outdoor play. 

ProFlow Permeable Pavers™ made of Black Locust wood are capable of absorbing water faster than concrete. They turn urban green spaces into more livable areas and bring in nature in its purity: an artful and beautiful surface that is as natural as it gets.

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