Story at a glance:
- From permeable pavers to aesthetically pleasing patio slabs, Techo-Bloc innovates the solutions the industry needs.
- Permeable pavers are one of the fastest growing segments of the hardscape industry.
- People are spending more time outside, and experts say having high-quality amenities and design matter now more than ever.
Whether it’s an inviting home patio and yard or a restaurant with plentiful outdoor seating, people are spending more time outdoors. In fact participants in one study reported they spent three hours more each week outside post-Covid than they did before the pandemic, citing the therapeutic benefits of being outside. Seven out of 10 in the study also said adding to their home exterior spaces was a new hobby.
“People want to spend more time in the backyard and are inspired to design their outdoor spaces with some of the features from inside like cooking features, outdoor dining, and outdoor living rooms, says Lincoln Paiva, director of technical service at Techo-Bloc—specializing in landscaping products like pavers, garden and retaining walls, patio slabs, fire pits, and virtually anything else you might need to design an incredible outdoor oasis.
Since Covid Paiva has seen people transition from home kitchen remodels to incorporating an outdoor kitchen, for example, or having a larger patio with a fire pit.
People want to spend more time in the backyard.
“The value of outdoor living has grown in residential and commercial,” he says, adding that, in the commercial space, workplaces are using those kinds of amenities to entice people to come back to the office, creating outdoor spaces that encourage a sense of community. “Covid has played an interesting role in setting trends for the industry, and I think those trends are here to stay; people enjoyed themselves outside.”
Techo-Bloc considers itself the most modern hardscape manufacturer in the world, says Jeff Taphouse, Techo-Bloc’s US commercial sales manager, with products in more than 700 stores across the US and Canada. The company is focused on developing the top solutions to improve outdoor living across commercial and residential projects.
A Closer Look at Design Trends Outside
Large format pavers and slabs with more modern designs are in demand. “We have modern colors, textures, and styles,” Paiva says. The type of product as well as its shape and scale is also changing. More new home construction includes large slabs, like a three-by-three foot slab, for example.
Gray and cooler tones are in high demand. Earth tones are less popular in contemporary spaces. Lighter colors that absorb less heat are top sellers for homeowners and are also becoming a requirement for commercial spaces in urban areas to reduce the heat island effect, says Taphouse.
Even in the South, where Taphouse says you might expect more traditional styles, people are painting brick houses white and beige. “It’s more of a timeless modern,” he says. “We offer modern products with modern technology and modern installation techniques you can make feel timeless in the overall design.”
Feature Rich Environments
Techo-Bloc looks for solutions that both make the contractor’s job easy—simple to install—but also inspire designers with ideas to help create the best outdoor living space. “We try to challenge the industry,” Taphouse says.
With Techo-Bloc you can install not just a fire pit, but a beautiful fire feature that the whole family can gather around, or a water feature that inspires a sense of calm. “All these things give people reasons to interact with their outdoor living space.”
And instead of pavement no one pays attention to, Techo-Bloc inspires designs that set the tone of a space and draw people outside. Solutions like these can increase the value of a home, increase tenant retention, and even attract people to commercial spaces. “It’s fun using hardscapes to design spaces that are worth interacting with,” Taphouse says.
Techo-Bloc takes pride in its innovative product development process, including having many complementary colors that blend well. And you’re not stuck with one pattern or surface; you can incorporate various vignettes, inlays, and accents—tying in the styles from inside a home with different interior design trends if you want, for example.
The new Industria Flora is among Techo-Bloc’s recent innovations. Inspired by Mediterranean tile, these patio slabs feature textured floral patterns to bring soft and sophisticated visual interest to any outdoor space.
“This has become very popular,” Taphouse says. “It’s had a resurgence in interior design.”
Techo-Bloc also offers Klean-Bloc technology with sealant that protects pavers and slabs against everyday wear and tear, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of natural materials like travertine and wood grain without worrying about maintenance. Having a party? Don’t worry about a little wine spill. It’s much easier to clean with Klean-Bloc.
Then there’s the brand’s HD2 technology (high definition and density). By combining Techo-Bloc’s existing blend of specially selected aggregates, pigments, and cement with a new, proprietary blend of finer sized particles, they created an even stronger, more durable, beautiful option.
“It will look prettier longer with less maintenance,” Taphouse says. “We want to give people solutions that are durable and that require less maintenance. We don’t just innovate because we want to have a new product; we want specifically to make the product better.”
“We’ve seen trends and policies evolve because of climate change,” Paiva says. For example, in years past stormwater design strategy was to get water moving as fast as possible off the property. Now Taphouse says the idea is to try to keep the water on the property but going into the ground.
Techo-Bloc provides sustainable solutions for stormwater management with permeable pavers. “It’s the fastest growing segment for the hardscape industry,” Taphouse says.
Companies’ clear commitments to sustainable products are more important than ever, too. “How much fossil fuel are you burning to produce your products, what is the recycled content, and is your product itself recyclable? Those things are very important to site planners, landscape architects, and municipalities,” Paiva says. “They want products that are sustainable.”
Techo-Bloc works with different organizations to try to understand what their goals and visions are and how their products can even help projects earn LEED points.
Taphouse says many young entrepreneurs want to get into the industry but don’t have the education. “We’re trying to avoid that. We’re trying to elevate the industry through education and using the latest installation technology, training people to be better businesspeople.”
Techo-Bloc achieves this in part through its Hardscaper.com platform, complete with free seminars for hardscape professionals, certified courses, and even podcasts.
“We’re supporting contractors to provide better value to the end users—whether that’s commercial or residential—with better installation practices, better business practices, better care for their team, safety training, and all those things are really the heart and soul of Techo-Bloc,” Taphouse says. “We want to support our installers and designers and provide them with not only designer-oriented products but also practical products that are easy to install.”
Techo-Bloc works a lot behind the scenes in the industry, too. They actively contribute to the creation and revision of industry related standards (such as American Society of Civil Engineering, Canadian Standards Association) through their engineering department, and participate in several committees of industry association and the Concrete Masonry and Hardscapes Association.