Understanding Permeable Pavers: Benefits, Types, and Applications

Written by Barkman Concrete Published on May 28th, 2024

Water management is increasingly vital for municipalities concerned about excessive storm flooding, reduced water quality for drinking and swimming, and polluted streams, rivers and lakes. Many of these water issues directly result from asphalt and concrete paving, preventing the ground from properly absorbing stormwater. This, in turn, causes unwanted flooding and redirects the water, with accompanying pollutants, into rivers, lakes and retention ponds. This is why permeable pavers exist.

What Are Permeable Pavers?

Permeable pavers reduce storm runoff and flooding and protect local water quality. They do this by permitting water to pass through the specially designed interlocking paver system into the ground rather than collecting in place or runoff into storm sewers. Before being released into the ground, the water is filtered through the paving system’s crushed aggregate base, trapping most contaminants that can pollute local water systems.


Permeable interlocking concrete paving systems are designed to effectively manage stormwater by allowing water to infiltrate the pavement and into the underlying soil. These systems can be categorized into three basic types based on their infiltration capabilities: full infiltration, partial infiltration, and no infiltration. Each system has its own unique application and benefits, tailored to specific soil conditions and water management requirements.

Full Infiltration ​
  • Directs water through the base/substrate and infiltrates into the soil subgrade​
  • Is the most common application over high infiltration soils such as gravel and sand ​
  • Overflows managed via drains to swales, bio-retention areas or storm sewer inlets 

Partial Infiltration​
  • Relies on the drainage of the base/subbase into the sub-grade soil and drainage pipes to direct excess water to the
    desired location
  • Is common in lower infiltration rate soils such as silts and clays

No Infiltration  
  • Required when the soil has very low permeability or strength or if there are other site limitations
  • Used for creating a reservoir for water harvesting 
  • The assembly is a retention pond with an outlet


Permeable paving offers numerous benefits for urban and suburban landscapes, addressing critical environmental concerns while providing durable and attractive paving solutions. However, like any technology, it also comes with certain challenges. Understanding both the advantages and the potential drawbacks of permeable paving systems is essential for making informed decisions about their implementation in various projects.

  • Improved groundwater quality: As water filters through the aggregate base, contaminants are trapped, reducing pollution.
  • Reduced heat island effect: Permeable pavers can lower surface temperatures compared to traditional asphalt or concrete.
  • Stormwater management: Efficiently handles large volumes of water, reducing the risk of flooding.
  • Flexibility with design options: Available in various shapes, sizes, and colours, allowing for creative and aesthetic paving designs.
  • Durability and longevity: High-strength materials and interlocking systems ensure long-term performance.
  • Reduced maintenance costs: Less prone to cracking and potholes compared to asphalt, leading to lower long-term maintenance expenses.
  • Not suitable for all sites: Some areas may have soil conditions or other constraints that limit the effectiveness of permeable pavers.
  • Higher initial cost: Permeable pavers typically have a higher upfront cost than traditional asphalt.
  • Sediment accumulation: Regular maintenance is required to prevent clogging from sediment buildup.

Permeable Barkman Pavers

Barkman Concrete offers a range of permeable pavers, each with varying levels of permeability to suit different applications and aesthetic preferences:

These permeable Barkman Concrete pavers provide practical water management solutions and enhance any project’s aesthetic appeal, making them a valuable choice for sustainable urban development.

You can download the permeable paver catalogue here: https://www.barkmanconcrete.com/wp-content/uploads/2024-permeable-sheet.pdf

Sources: CMHA

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