Ashkar home remodeling pioneer

Faris Ashkar, a Farragut resident, became a regional pioneer in the materials he used while remodeling his home.

A year’s research led him to eco-friendly, low-maintenance materials not previously used for decking or driveways. Ashkar used a new product, Truegrid polymeric sand paver, to install his driveway instead of concrete or asphalt. Last year, he built a deck using aluminum decking instead of wood or composite material.

“I’ve been researching [the installation of the driveway] on and off for over a year,” Ashkar said. “Last year, I tried to get prices for pavement. I have close to 4,000 square feet that I wanted to do.”

“The prices for asphalt were outrageous,” he said. “ I got three estimates, and had two come look at [the driveway]. They wouldn’t give me a price. They said it was too much.”

Three months ago, he sought out prices for concrete and found the prices too high for concrete as well, so he continued researching paving materials until he found a manufacturer for Truegrid in Texas.

Truegrid polymeric sand paver is a permeable, recycled plastic material that is easy to install and will allow rainwater to pass through it, he said.

The product has been used for parking lots, fire lanes, recreation areas, patios, sidewalks and the walkway at NASCAR’s Pocono racetrack.

“I was reading on the Internet I think the City of Chicago will be using it,” Ashkar said. “A project was just finished in one of the national parks in West Virginia in cooperation with a Boy Scout troop. They opened a trail and they used this stuff.”

“The nice thing about it is it will hold better than concrete and asphalt. [The manufacturer’s] specifications said you can drive on it without filling it, and it will hold over 6,200 pounds per square inch. Filled, it will hold over 8,200 psi. They say it will last 60 years but plastic lasts forever.

“The other thing that impressed me is you don’t have to have drainage, such as downspouts. The water seeps through the material and into the ground.”

“There are some people who make a product that’s similar, but I like this product better than the others,” he said. “And, being the amount I ordered, they were able to give me a good price on it.”

After receiving a sample of the product, he said he tested it, leaving it out in the driveway and left it there for three weeks, driving on it.

“My nephew with his van, loaded, wanted to test it to see if any of the gravel would come off,” Ashkar said.” It didn’t. It held pretty good, so I decided to go ahead and get it.”

He had someone excavate the driveway, scraping away the grass and old pavement before installing the gravel.

“The specifications say you need a base of gravel about 4-to-6 inches, but I took it a step further and put down landscaping fabric to keep the grass from growing back before I put down the gravel,” he said. He and a neighbor’s son laid out more than 1,500 square feet of gravel in about five hours.

“This is what impressed me with it. It’s easy to do. You don’t have to stake it into the ground. You just lay it.”

Before taking on the driveway, Ashkar built a deck last year using aluminum decking. He had a storage room underneath his deck area so he needed a system that was waterproof underneath [the deck].

“There are different systems on the market to make the deck waterproof underneath it. They are not cheap,” he said.

After looking at the costs, labor and maintenance of wood and composite materials, such as Trex, he researched until he found aluminum decking. He said his research showed aluminum is more expensive than wood or composite decking, but aluminum stays cooler and you have less maintenance costs and time involved.

“With aluminum, you don’t have to do anything once it’s there,” Ashkar said. “They say to crush this is 26,000 pounds per square inch.

“The deck I have is 16-by-28 feet,” he said. “After we had the frame ready to put on the decking, two men installed the decking in five hours.”