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Glossary of paving terms

Glossary of paving terms

Common landscaping words and their meanings

Confused over some paving terminology? Here’s a whole heap of common terms, phrases and abbreviations used by paving contractors throughout the country. 

If there’s a term you’re unsure about that’s not included in our list, then drop our paving experts a line and they will point you in the right direction. Contact our team

Paving terms with definitions

Aggregate

What is aggregate? It’s a fractured or rounded stone in the form of either sand, gravel or crushed stone. Among other things, aggregate can be used as a sub-base for paving.

You can buy grouting mortars with less visible aggregate for a sleeker finish, such as with Flowpoint Fine.

Also see Exposed aggregate below.

Asphalt

Also referred to as asphalt concrete, asphalt is a street and highway paving material which is made of asphalt and a mineral aggregate, for example sand or stone-dust. 

Most urban paved surfaces are made of asphalt as it is a cheap solution when surfacing large areas. Although asphalt is hard wearing, the downfall is that it can easily be damaged by regular vehicle traffic and fluctuations in temperature. 

Asphalt is sometimes referred to as ‘asphalt tarmac’ but they are two different things. 

Also see Bitmac, Bitumen and Tarmac below. 

Asphalt chip sealing

Tyre grip and road wear can be improved by rolling a layer of aggregate into a base of asphalt emulsion binder. 

When using a light-coloured aggregate for asphalt chip sealing, landscapers can improve the reflectivity of the road surface and even reduce warming. 

Local stone is sometimes used in asphalt chip sealing to improve the aesthetics of the road within its local surroundings.

Backfill

Backfill is when gravel or dirt is used to fill an area.  

Bedding mortar

A landscaper creates a level bed for pavers to sit on using a bedding mortar.

Belgian block

A Belgian block paver is a large, cubical or rectangular paving block that resembles an oversized cobblestone. Despite its name, this type of block is said to have no solid affiliation with Belgium itself!

Belgian blocks are generally made of quarried granite and used for paving, borders and other landscaping jobs. 

Also see Sett below. 

Bitmac

Similar to tarmac, bitmac is manufactured by removing the tar and replacing it with bitumen. Bitmac contains more sand and filler than asphalt. 

Today, most tarmac has been replaced by bitmac. The reason being that bitmac is not as prone to damage from fuel spills, which is especially useful on driveways. 

Also see Bitumen and Tarmac below. 

Bitumen

The material bitumen is used to bind together a blend of aggregates that are used in asphalt (see above). 

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Cassie

Originating from the word ‘causeway’ (see below), cassie is often used in Scotland when referring to a paving stone, wooden block or sett. 

Cassie is a word that can also used to refer to a pavement or cobbled street. It also means ‘to pave’. 

Causeway 

A causeway can be either a track, path, road or highway on the upper part of an embankment. Causeways often go over water or marshy ground. 

The term causeway can even refer to a path or road that is only slightly elevated above the natural level of the ground. 

Causey

Scotland and the north of England have their dibs on the term ‘causey’, which is an abbreviation of the word ‘causeway’ (see above). 

Causey is also used to refer to a cobbled street or pavement. Just like the Scottish derivative ‘cassie’, causey also means ‘to pave’ and particularly down the middle of a street. See Crown o’ the causey below. 

Causey edge

Similar to causey, there’s no prizes for guessing the meaning of causey edge. You may have heard it being referred to by Yorkshire-bred paving contractors. If you’re still in doubt, kerb is the meaning for this paving term.   

See Crib-stane below for the Scottish term for kerb. 

Cobble

Cobbles or cobblestones are naturally rounded stones that are used for walls and paving.

Cobbled streets are often paved with setts.

Crib-stane

Another Scottish paving term. Crib-stane means a kerbstone.

Crown o’ the causey

A Scottish phrase meaning the middle of the street.

In Edinburgh’s old town it was recorded that in the late 1700s, “Crowns of the causeway was [sic] removed and levelled along with other subsequent improvements.”

Also see Causeway above.

Cube

A cube in paving lingo refers to a square sett (see below).

I bought paving grout from The Paving Experts, price was lower than all competitors and delivery was very quick. I highly recommend them for all grouts and paving requirements.

Dropped kerb

A dropped kerb refers to a stretch of kerb that is dropped to allow vehicles to access a driveway, garden or car park.

These lowered kerbs also allow wheelchairs and prams to easily cross a road.

Dropper kerb

When a pavior refers to a dropper kerb, they are talking about the kerbstones that are needed to create a dropped kerb.

Exposed aggregate

Also known as aggregate pavers. Exposed aggregate pavers offer a decorative type of concrete paving with a more rustic look.

Flagstone

Also known as flags, flagstones are flat slabs of stone used for paving to create pavements,  walkways and patios.

Granolithic paving

This granolithic screed has a granular appearance and offers durability to paving slabs.

Granolithic paving is made of cement and fine aggregate such as granite.

Gridder

A gridder is a person who spots ‘street furniture’ as a hobby. Street furniture includes drain covers, coal-hole covers and other ironwork.

Hardscape

When a landscaper refers to ‘hardscape’, they are talking about the hard elements of a garden or area. These can include patios, pathways and walls.

Horonized paving

Another common Scottish phrase among landscapers is horonized paving. It refers to a paving surface that is made up of irregular fragments of stone and which has been set in cement or another type of binder.

I've recently purchased 28 bags of Flowpoint from The Paving Experts and both the product and customer service were fantastic. Flowpoint is so quick and easy to use and gives a fantastic finish. Far better than a sand and cement mortar. The time and labour saving easily covers the cost of the product. Poppy was incredibly helpful on the phone and Cleo was fantastic at the warehouse upon collection. I can't recommend these guys enough.

Impermeable paving

Impermeable paving – or non-permeable paving – covers any solid paving surface that does not allow water to penetrate.

Examples of impermeable paving include asphalt, concrete, stone, brick and extremely compacted ground.

Flowpoint is an impermeable grout that doesn’t allow water to pass through it. Instead it runs off the surface.

Also see Permeable paving below.

Kerb

A kerb is the edge of a pavement. It’s an area often edged with kerbstones.

Macadam

Also known as stone macadam, macadam is a smooth, hard road surface constructed of layers of compacted and crushed stone, all bound together with stone dust. 

Macadam was pioneered by the father of the roads and carriageways we have today, John McAdam in the early 19th century. He was a civil engineer and road builder by trade, and inventor of ‘macadamisation’. 

McAdam discovered that he could create smooth surfaces by holding small stones together with naturally occurring tar. 

Also see Tarmac below. 

Mathematical paver

A mathematical paver is a type of paving brick with a distinctive design. These types of pavers were made in Somerset in the mid 1800s.

Mortar

Mortar is a mixture of cement, sand, and water that is used in stone masonry for setting stones and joints.

Pavement

A raised, paved walkway for pedestrians, adjacent to a road or street.

Pavers

The exact meaning of ‘pavers’ is precast concrete pieces used to create patios, pavements and paths.

Pavior

A pavior is a person who lays paving.

The word pavior can also be used to refer to a machine that lays paving.

Pebble paving

Paving slabs that consist of pebbles set within cement are called… you guessed it: pebble paving!

Sometimes an alternative binder to cement is used.

Permeable paving

A paving system that is designed to allow rainwater to infiltrate into the ground is called permeable paving.

Permeable paving helps to reduce problems with puddles collecting on the top of paving slabs. Ultimately, it can reduce the risk of flooding.

Permeable paving can be achieved through permeable concrete, porous asphalt and interlocking pavers (to name a few examples). For the system to be completely permeable you will need to use a permeable bedding layer (such as Perma-Bed) and a permeable jointing compound (such as PremJoint or EasyJoint).

Find out more about permeable paving in our frequently asked questions.

Pitching

Particularly in Birmingham, a pavement made from stones set on an edge is called a pitching.

A pitching can also refer to the foundation of a pavement or road that is also made from these stones.

Plainstones

An old Scottish word for pavement is plainstones.

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Scoria block

These are durable and robust blocks that have been used for building and paving from the 1700s onwards.

Scoria blocks are made from scoria, which is a residue formed from metal-smelting processes.

Sett

Also known as cobbles, a sett is a small, rectangular quarried stone used for paving.

Also see Belgian block above.

Stable block paver

As a durable paving block, a stable block paver is indented with lines that help to shed liquid. These grid-like lines also offer a slip-free grip.

Stoneway

Also known as a stone tramway, a stoneway refers to two tracks of paved surfaces for a vehicle’s wheels to run along. They were initially designed for horse-drawn carriages.

Stoneways are fairly rare today as they were commonly constructed well before the early 1900s when horse-drawn carriages frequented our roads.

Setts between the stone slabs would offer a good grip for a horse’s hooves. 

Tarmac

Tarmac is the word used generically to refer to asphalt-type surfaces. Tarmac is also a patented road-surfacing material made mainly of compacted aggregate and tar. 

The term tarmac originates from the word ‘tarmacadam’ which itself was derived from the pioneer of macadam roads in the late 1800s, John McAdam. 

Also see Macadam above. 

Togher

Originating from the Irish word, tóchar. In Ireland a togher refers to a road or causeway.

Wheeler

Not to be confused with a cyclist, a wheeler is also a twin track of large, flat stones laid on a cobbled street. The wheeler provides a smoother surface for vehicle traffic.

Whinstone

Heard of a whinstone before? In northern England and Scotland, whinstone – or sometimes whin – refers to any hard, dark-coloured rock.

Whinstone can be used for setts and is also utilised as a building material.

Wood block paving

Although not as durable, wooden blocks can be a cheaper alternative to hardscape materials such as stone and asphalt.

Wood block paving is usually treated with creosote or bitumen.

Get in touch for paving advice

If you have a question about paving and landscaping, get in touch with our team of experts on 0845 862 1099 (weekdays, 8.30am–5.30pm). We’re here to help you make the best choice for your commercial or domestic paving project. 

Here at The Paving Experts, we are highly-rated Flowpoint stockists and also stock a wide range of paving grouts, bedding mortars and primers, all ready for click and collect from our Tamworth depot. Delivery can also be arranged, both locally and across the country. 

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