When it comes to laying down an outdoor pavement, you have a number of options available to you. Traditionally, concrete has been the go-to option based upon its affordability and relative simplicity when it comes to installation. But recently, the use of pavers has come back into style, especially for homeowners who want to spice up their yards and add to their home value.
So, which of these two options is right for your next home renovation project? Well, that will depend a lot on the time, resources, and budget available to you. While concrete may feel more accessible and reasonable, you’ll be surprised at what you can do with pavers today. Also, there are hidden maintenance costs associated with both that you simply must factor in.
Herein, you’ll learn all about what makes each of these mediums unique, including their durability, cost, and resale value.
Concrete and Pavers: The Basics
Before jumping into the differences between concrete and pavers when it comes to building an outdoor pavement, I want to start by looking at each of these materials on their own. This will us to more efficiently compare the two based upon their core properties, as well as their individual practicalities relating to this kind of installation.
What Is Concrete?
You’re likely familiar with concrete in practice at this point.
But in case you’ve never worked with the medium before, concrete is a composite material made up of cement (usually Portland cement), an aggregate (such as small rocks), and water. When mixed together, these ingredients become a paste that can be poured out into a form.
After drying, these ingredients form a sturdy matrix that can support a lot of weight and wear.
What Are Pavers?
In essence, a “paver” can be any type of stone, tile, or brick that is placed into a formation for the purpose of creating a pavement structure.
Because of their size and shape, pavers can typically be arranged into specialized formations to create a unique outdoor flooring surface. While pavers are often used in making walkways for foot traffic, their combined strength is often enough to support heavier loads such as a car.
Pavers can be made from any number of materials, including flagstones, cobblestones, or brick.
Today, it is also very common for more affordably-priced pavers to be made from concrete. As such, a paver-based surface can possess some of the same properties of a concrete slab surface.
Concrete vs. Pavers Cost: Which Is Cheaper?
When it comes to comparing pavers and concrete, many homeowners are taking overall cost into full consideration. As you might expect, the precise cost of a large pavement made from concrete or pavers will depend on the size of said area.
However, some generalizations can be made regarding the cost of each pavement material.
In almost all cases, you’ll find that concrete is the cheaper option on almost all fronts.
This is because concrete carries about half of the materials cost of pavers, making them cheaper to obtain. Pavers are also far more labor-intensive, which raises the price of contracting work involving them. Concrete also does not require extra binding agents, which is another hidden cost associated with using pavers.
Also, when it comes to comparing the price of each material, don’t forget to factor in the long-term cost of maintenance.
To that end, concrete is also usually the cheaper option because it doesn’t require that attention be paid to individual paving units (as is the case with pavers).
So, concrete is both the short- and long-term pick when it comes to affordability.
Other Differences Between Concrete and Pavers
In spite of the cost difference, though, the decision between the two materials is not always clear cut. That is because there are also other differences between them that play in favor of either.
When it comes to design options, you’ll have a lot more choice when choosing pavers. This is because pavers today come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns to match your home’s aesthetic.
Meanwhile, concrete pavements are fairly standardized when it comes to design. While some detailing or stamping can be done on a concrete pavement’s surface, its overall structure is fairly set in stone (no pun intended).
Durability and Resilience
When it comes to durability, both concrete and pavers have their own weaknesses.
While a concrete slab is generally stronger when it comes to surface tension, they are also more prone to cracking and splitting. This is especially true in regions with very hot summers or cold winters, both of which can put stress on the concrete structure and the ground beneath it. That said, small cracks can be easily fixed and larger ones can be cut out and replaced with new concrete.
While pavers do not generally crack, they are likely to loosen over time. This can be a hazard, especially if the paver’s loosening is causing a depression in the overall pavement’s surface.
But by the same virtue, a paver pavement’s ability to “flex” allows it to be more resilient. This is even true in areas with intense temperature swings in the hot and cold months.
Ease and Frequency of Repair
Repairing a paver surface isn’t a terribly difficult task.
Often, the job simply requires the replacement of a couple of paver units along with a bit of mortar to renew the surface’s tension. Despite common misconceptions, replacing a single stone does not necessitate the removal of stones around it or in its same row. That said, sometimes you might need to cut a paver, adding a bit of a complication to the process.
However, replacing concrete pavements can be both difficult and costly. Because cracks in a concrete slab surface often extend over its breadth or deep into its structure, the best option for a secure fix is to simply replace the whole slab.
This then requires the removal of the old concrete, which usually requires a specialist to perform properly.
Paver-based pavements are well-known for attracting a high resale value for homes on the real estate market. This is usually because they cost more to install and are seen as a luxury compared to a utilitarian concrete pavement.
Concrete pavements do not decrease resale value, though, unless they are kept in poor repair.
Which of the Two Should You Use?
As far as using either of these two materials is concerned, your best bet for affordability is to install a concrete pavement. Regardless of where you choose to use it, this material is usually cost-effective and easy to maintain over the long-term.
The material is also fairly reliable and durable if you live in an area with a moderate climate.
Meanwhile, you can opt for a paver-based pavement if you are looking to bring a luxury appeal to your home. Though pavers are usually more costly at the front end, they begin to pay dividends when it comes to their simple maintenance.
They can also raise your home’s resale value, which is a big plus for homeowners who are looking to sell their home in the near future.
Concrete vs. Pavers for Patio
Depending on the size of your patio, pavers are a great option due to their asthenic appeal and versatility.
Most people use their patios as entertainment and relaxation space, so the unique stylings of pavers can really set the mood in this outdoor space. If you want to moderate the cost of such a project, you could even use pavers to accent concrete walkways in high traffic areas on your patio.
Concrete vs. Pavers for Driveway
When it comes to driveways, there’s a reason that concrete remains the best option.
This material is relatively cheap, especially when being spread over a large space such as a driveway. Also, concrete is often strong enough to withstand the pressure of a vehicle’s weight while still providing a smooth surface to drive over.
Pavers can also be used for this purpose, but the cost and time spent maintaining such a wide pavement surface may be prohibitive.
Concrete vs. Pavers for Pool Deck
Pool decks are traditionally made from concrete with good reason.
The material is very water-resistant and able to be cleaned with ease. Also, concrete often provides a smoother walking surface, especially if it is treated with a grip-able top coating.
That being said, pavers can be used to accent a pool deck’s aesthetic style. In fact, pavers can be great for decorating the outer edges of a pool deck while keeping a concrete pavement area around the pool itself.
All in all, there are a lot of important differences between concrete and pavers when it comes to building an outdoor flooring area. Both have their tradeoffs when it comes to cost and durability, so it’s worth your time to consider which is most important to you when building a patio, pool deck, or driveway.
Regardless of your project, you now know what makes either concrete or pavers a worthwhile option for creating your home’s next large pavement area. That said, you might also want to consider using asphalt.
How Does Concrete Compare with Other Materials?
Below, you can find articles that compare concrete with: