Are pavers better than concrete? Which is more expensive? What about sand? Weeds will grow through, right? These are just some of the common questions asked and will be answered here with others.
A commonly debated topic when one is considering a project involving Pavers or Concrete. Projects like walkways, patios, driveways and outdoor living spaces are designed typically using one or the other or maybe both. It’s not as simple as most one would think. So we are going to discuss it here and lay it all out. That way you can make the best decision possible, with all the information needed too.
Interlocking concrete pavers or pavers as most refer to them; have a few other common names like:
and also commonly used to describe natural paving material like
Pavers are manufactured using concrete in different mixtures to achieve numerous amount of colors and textures. All the while being 4 times as strong as the average poured concrete surface.
That’s right 4 TIMES as STRONG!
Due to the controlled environment pavers are created in makes their strength superior to poured concrete surfaces like sidewalks, patios, driveways, etc. You might be wondering what strength means exactly? An average paver can take a blow 4 times heavier than poured concrete.
Cracking, Settling, Shifting
Larger poured concrete surfaces are more likely to crack due to things like freeze-thaw cycles, large root systems, large vehicles, settling issues, or unstable ground. There could be other reasons as well, but those seem to be the most common. Pavers would “go with the flow” so to speak. Meaning they would move up, down, and side to side depending on if a tree root was upheaving them or unstable ground caused them to shift. First, the problem can be addressed(cutting tree root) and then the base material can be adjusted and the pavers reinstalled leaving the area good as new. Poured concrete surfaces would likely crack in unwanted areas. Never to be the same again until a replacement.
Pavers retain their value and appeal much longer than concrete. With a higher resale value than concrete you get more back on your investment with pavers should you choose to sell your property. Poured concrete is more cost-effective upfront but the value is diminished much quicker than pavers and is expensive to replace.
Concrete repairs can be costly with cutting and jackhammering sections out. Followed by setting forms and pouring concrete again. Patching cracks and filling voids never make it look the same again. Concrete resurfacing can be a cost-effective repair method that can be reapplied every few years to maintain “like new concrete”.
Pavers typically just need the base material (gravel or sand) corrected or releveled followed by reinstallation of the pavers. If a paver does break, you can remove the broken one and replace it. If the new one stands out too much (like in the middle of a patio) swap a seasoned paver from another part of the paver surface like the back corner to take place of the broken one and place the new paver in a back corner.
Pavers benefit from pressure washing every year or two and reinstalling sand or polymeric sand to the paver joints. This should eliminate weeds in the joints. Lastly, sealing every 2 to 4 years will greatly improve the longevity of your pavers and concrete.
Concrete should just need pressure washing yearly or every other and sealing every 2 to 4 years. More often if ice melts are used.
Textures, Safety, Considerations
Pavers come in many textures, colors, shapes, and sizes to customize for one’s specific needs and site conditions. Installing around a pool? Definitely don’t want to install a paver with a slippery texture when it’s wet. Likewise, with concrete, that’s why I don’t recommend stamped or stained concrete around a pool area. Even with a texture stamped or stained concrete is slippery when wet. Most pavers are pool friendly unless a super glossy sealer is used, in which case this could make the pavers a bit dangerous as well. If you don’t seal your concrete it will deteriorate much faster leaving someone not very happy down the road.
Another consideration with your paver and concrete choice is the heat retention factor. Some pavers are excellent at absorbing heat while others heat up and can be painful to walk on barefoot. Plain concrete is not too bad with sunlight, although some stamped and stained textures will make it just like some of the pavers.
Better have tough skin for some textures if you plan to walk on them barefoot.
Cost: Both products give you more value the more square footage installed. For example, a 10’x10’ paver patio is going to be closer to $35 per sqft installed compared to a 25’x25’ paver patio that would be around $24 per sqft installed.
To figure out square footage- you take the length times width = _________ then multiply by $ per sqft.
Pavers average between $18 to $35 plus per square foot installed. That includes everything needed for the project like materials and labor.
Plain or colored concrete ranges between $5 to $10 plus per square foot installed and around $8 to $16 per square foot to replace concrete.
Stamped Concrete is $16 to $25 or more per square foot installed. More complex and multiple colored/textured designs will drive up the cost considerably.
Easy access to buried utilities or services
Plenty of design options- colors, textures, shapes, and sizes
Higher Resale Value
Well suited for freeze-thaw environments
Well suited for unstable ground environments
More durable than concrete
Some paver suppliers provide a lifetime warranty against deterioration- not fading
More expensive than most poured concrete
Can shift and loosen over time
Weeds in joints without proper maintenance
More tedious to install
Cost-effective and less expensive than pavers