When installing a new hardscape in your yard, there are two installation methods to choose from: dry laid, and wet laid. While both can create stunning hardscapes to complement your landscape, the right installation method depends on many factors. But first, it’s important to understand the difference between the two installation methods.
Wet laid hardscaping is set on concrete and jointed with mortar to create a strong, steady surface. The use of mortar prevents the stones from shifting or settling over time, and allows for precise placement of the stones, and prevents water from penetrating. Wet laid is a more permanent installation and ideal for more sturdy, complex hardscapes including pool patios, retaining walls, mosaic and tile work, and outdoor living areas like fireplaces and kitchens.
Dry laid hardscaping is installed on a compacted base – usually gravel or sand – which sits slightly below ground level. This style of hardscaping does not rely on mortar or adhesives like wet laid hardscapes do; instead, they tend to use unique stone patterns to lock it all together to create more stability. This typically makes dry laid a more versatile option; it’s also easier to repair and is the ideal method for for DIY installations, since the stones aren’t locked in with mortar. Dry laid hardscapes most often consist of walkways or patios.
The main considerations when deciding whether to install dry laid or wet laid are the structure’s purpose, its necessary strength, your desired design, and your budget. Every project has different factors that contribute to which installation method is best – your contractor can help determine what method is best for your landscape.