Segmental pavers, also known as segmental masons in some instances, are construction and home renovation specialists who install flat segments of brick, concrete, or other stone-like building materials. Segmental pavers work in a variety of settings, but the majority of them work in the home improvement or construction industry. Segmental masons are responsible for the planning, cutting, and laying of paving materials used to create walkways, patios, and even driveways.
The discipline of segmental paving involves complex planning and designing. Working closely with clients is paramount to the success of a segmental mason's job description. Most of the time, segmental pavers work on outdoor projects such as custom-designed home patios, but occasionally segmental pavers ply their trade indoors.
Cement masonry involves a multi-step process in order to create marvelous, appealing sidewalks and paths. Without the expertise of a skilled mason, these construction projects would degrade over time as topsoil shifts and settles. A large number of home improvement developers attempt to do the work of a segmental mason by themselves, but more often than not these do-it-yourself projects require repairs performed by a skilled segmental paver.
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The job duties of segmental masons are complex to say the least. Segmental pavers must consider a large number of variables in order to create well-crafted projects. As such, many segmental pavers choose to delegate the individual steps in the process to other workers, overseeing the proper completion of the home renovation project as a whole.
The first part of a segmental mason's job duties is preparing and framing the work area. All topsoil shifts and settles with changes in weather and climate as well. Regional climate differences force segmental pavers to deploy different techniques in order to perform their job duties properly. Regions with a large number of rainfalls, for instance, would be better served by using a gravel base instead of a sand base.
Segmental pavers inspect the ground for instability and, when applicable, drain weak, soaked soils. Water and moisture are the biggest threats to the stability of a paving project, which is why many segmental pavers consider the first steps in the process the most crucial of them all. It is far more expensive and time-consuming to repair shoddy craftsmanship than to do the job properly the first time.
The next part of a paver's job description involves the cutting and setting of the segments. Correct spacing and alignment is absolutely critical at this point in the project. Poorly spaced pavers create unsightly projects that may not even reach a client's expectations.
Filling the spaces between the stones is the final basic step in the paving process. This step involves the use of more sand or gravel in order to hold the pavers in place over the entire lifespan of the project. Aesthetics is another facet that segmental pavers must consider when choosing a filler to use. Often, regional climates dictate which filler segmental pavers are able to use, despite a client's wishes.
The day-to-day activities briefly listed above represent only the most basic job description of segmental masons. Designing and planning a project properly involve creating complex blueprints in order to consistently deliver the best craftsmanship possible. This facet of the job consists of the use of special software applications in addition to old-fashioned drafting strategies similar to the work of an architect. Indeed, many of the most successful pavers have a strong background in architecture and computer-aided design software.
Similar to other specialized craftsmanships within the construction industry, segmental pavers learn their craft on-site by assisting a master mason on many different projects. Apprenticeships in segmental paving can last as long as several years or as little as a few months. The level of work responsibility dictates the amount of hands-on training necessary to perform the job. For instance, an entry-level segmental mason may only focus on the cutting and laying of pavers, relegating the planning and supervising to a project manager.
The educational path to becoming a segmental mason involves studying construction technology. The most well known vocational programs that specialize in masonry include the home renovation technology program at the North American Trade School of London, Ontario; the School for Advanced Segmental Paving; and courses from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute.
In addition to vocational training programs and on-site job experience, prospective segmental pavers must be highly self-motivated individuals with a passion for construction and home renovation. Segmental pavers are artisans who apply their creativity on a daily basis. Those with a talent for completing home improvement projects masterfully would do well to consider masonry as a profession. Simply stated, segmental pavers must possess an artist's work ethic in order to be successful.
Segmental paving involves working outdoors majority of the time. As such, prospective pavers must have the physical fitness necessary to remain outdoors in the elements for many hours at a time. Likewise, the construction materials of paving projects can be quite heavy, thus requiring segmental pavers to have the agility and strength necessary to handle these materials safely.
Segmental masons may work indoors as well. In an office setting, segmental pavers coordinate their projects and handle all of the financial paperwork involved in the construction industry such as applying for building permits.
Segmental pavers earn a median income of approximately $30,000 annually. Entry-level apprentice segmental pavers are typically paid by the hour under the direction of an established masonry professional. The compensation scale for these apprenticeships varies widely, with wages between the $10-20 per hour range.
As segmental masons progress in their careers, many choose to open their own contracting businesses. The most successful masonry contractors can earn as much as $50,000 to $75,000 annually depending on the volume of clientele and the company’s reputation within the construction industry.