concrete vs pavers driveway

Which is better – concrete vs pavers

As homeowners, we want best for our driveways and patios as it can potentially lift the value of our property. Good and well kept looking house will always wake more trust in potential buyers than one that hasn’t been cared for. Even if we’re not selling, I think it’s important to be able to see our homes in the best light.

Driveway and patio paving can be hard to choose as there are many options. We have already compared concrete vs asphalt earlier and now it’s time for concrete vs pavers. Let us look at the pros and cons of stamped concrete vs pavers as the outlook is close to each other.

Paver driveway vs concrete

To compare concrete vs pavers driveway, we need to compare the materials they are made of. Concrete, as we know from earlier posts, is made of cement, aggregates, and water. Pavers can be made from concrete, natural stones, and bricks for example.

Concrete driveway and its characteristics

A stamped concrete driveway is a slab up from 4 inches (10.16cm) thick. Color agents can be used on the stamp and it can replicate many different surfaces. Why go through the trouble to imitate other materials? It can be a cheaper alternative when replicating the more expensive surfaces.

I went through the concrete pros and cons of concrete vs asphalt post, but to summarize concrete is a long-aged solution lasting from 20 to 40 years and it can handle lots of pressure. The downside is it can be hard to maintain and repair as at worst you might need to replace the whole slab. Extreme conditions like cold winters, ground freezing heaves and salt used to keep roads melted can eat the concrete as well.

Grey block paving

Paver driveway and its characteristics

While concrete can be customized with stamping, paver driveways can be customized with multiple types of pavers as well. If you check your local distributor, you will notice there are pages and pages of different types of stones and bricks.

Personally, I think that pavers have a very strong aesthetics thing going on and can be enhanced with a paver driveway sealer as well. If being unique or owning unique structures is important to you, pavers might be the right way to go. Pavers can also keep color better than stamped concrete as the pigment is not only on the surface.

Pavers can handle great PSI

Pavers handle weight also better than concrete if the groundwork has been done well. Concrete strength is around 2500-3000 PSI (pounds per square inch) while pavers can handle up to 8000. That’s over three times more.

There is also maintenance. While concrete might be difficult to repair, pavers can be easily changed. They do crack as well, mostly due to ground movement but changing them is only a matter of picking up stones and replacing them.

Pavers don’t crack like concrete

Concrete cracks on extreme weather changes can be caused by water that has been absorbed into it. When it freezes, cracks happen and when cracks filled with water freeze, those cracks widen. Pavers let the water into the drainage beneath through the joints and sand in between. It also helps water control as no water is left standing on top of pavers.

For the whole concrete vs pavers setting, the groundwork is really important and can’t be belittled. If the subgrade is muddy ground, it’s more vulnerable to ground heaves and frost heaving. Subbase aggregates can help with proper water control with drainages and it also gives a good base for pavers or concrete once it’s compact enough.

Paver driveway ideas for those considering

There were lots of good things about pavers and it can be a good option for the driveway, being able to handle weight and weather. That’s why I’m going to list a few different options down below. Just to get a quick glance about what someone considering pavers might want to look into.

Permeable paver driveway

Permeable paver driveway, like its name suggests, lets water trough to the ground. It helps the water drain naturally and it doesn’t stand on the ground as it can do on concrete or asphalt. It’s a good way to help your immediate nature to fight erosion if that’s a problem. Also, it will help local groundwater supply as well when more water is to travel naturally.

Interlocking driveway pavers

Interlocking driveway pavers are the ones we usually think of when we think about pavers. They are laid next to each other and joints are filled with sand. It’s a surface that can handle heavy load once it’s all compact.

Grass paver driveway

A grass paver driveway is pavers that might be hollow from the middle to let the grass grow through them or pavers that have grass growing in the joints. The joints must be wide enough then. It’s another nature-friendly option as water can travel its natural course while your driveway is strong enough to handle the weight of a car. The downside is that also unwanted growth like weed will grow there.

Brick paver driveway

Brick paver driveway might be another option for interlocking one. It can be made from clay bricks giving it that warm brick outlook which will age nicely (depending on the taste of course). It has a long lifespan as well if maintained well and can be set in place with sand or mortar.

Stamped concrete vs pavers cost comparison

At this point, we probably are interested in what is cheaper – poured concrete or pavers? Poured concrete is usually cheaper as it takes less time. Pavers have to be all installed by hand and the groundwork takes time as well.

For a DIY guy, the price of concrete and the price of pavers might be close to each other. We have to remember here that the cost of a paver driveway can be from $0.50 square foot to 10 times more or even more than that. But for basic pavers, the cost can be almost the same if the work is done by ourselves. Pavers vs concrete cost per square foot isn’t a fair comparison in that sense that paver prices vary a lot.

The cost should be estimated with the time it can last as well. Concrete life is from 20-30 years. Some pavers claim last to up to 50 years. A lot depends also on the soil and weather conditions around the year. We can safely say that pavers are easier to maintain with extreme weather as well as it lets the water trough and it doesn’t freeze as much on the surface.

Concrete patio cost vs pavers

The cost of paving a patio will still be higher than concrete usually. The same things count here as well. Depending on the patio and its place it’s also good to consider what kind of work would be needed if you want to change at some point. A big concrete slab might be quite a job to remove if it ever starts to bother.

Quick how to install a paver driveway for DIY purposes

To install pavers for the driveway, the existing soil should be excavated. It should be deep enough for the aggregates drainage that can be up to 12 inches if the ground is very wet. It could be good to consult an expert on this to get it right.

On top of that, it’s good to have 1 inch of sand so the pavers are easier to install as rough aggregates are a bit uneven. Still, some people install on rough aggregates as well after its compact. After that, we need to check on the thickness of pavers as well so our installation won’t raise too high.

So the rough aggregates are compacted, the edges might be reinforced with something so they will handle time and movement well. Then the layer of sand is filled in and leveled. Some compact the ground again and some install on loose sand.

Once the pavers are installed the surface plate compactor can be used again to compact the pavers in place. After that sand can be spread to the surface and swept to all the joints with a broom. Lastly, a sealing product can be used to the surface.

Conclusion

Personally, as much as I like concrete – I really like pavers as well. I’ve installed some to my house and it is really easy to install and you won’t be doing much damage if you mess up somewhere. You can easily fix it and all the harm is for your poor back and hands.

For those who like to do things themselves to save money, it’s a good option for driveway, patio and even surrounding the foundation for clean outlook.

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