Benefits of Patio Pavers vs Concrete Patios
If you are looking at redoing your driveway or patio, you are probably considering patio pavers versus poured concrete. You may be thinking of going with stamped concrete with the idea that it is the best of both worlds in terms of having low upfront costs and more attractive designs than just plain concrete.
But, not so fast. Let’s first compare the two options.
The Big Picture
For most people, their home represents half or more of their retirement savings. It is also a haven from the rest of the world. This puts a double burden on all home improvement decisions. They need to take good care of the occupants of the home and also make sense financially.
Since a pleasant home will typically have higher resale value, there is no straightforward or simple means to separate those issues neatly into a column A and a column B. The best choice for your home will involve looking at a lot of nitpicky details and choosing the solution that best meets all pertinent criteria.
Stamped concrete will have a lower upfront cost than patio pavers. This makes it appealing to people who are very budget-minded. But, upfront cost is just one part of the equation. Before you make a major, long term purchase, you should always consider the lifetime cost.
Like many seemingly cheap solutions with relatively low upfront costs, stamped concrete can have a higher lifetime cost than other solutions. Granted, this isn’t guaranteed. The actual maintenance costs will depend on many factors, such as the kind of climate to which it is being exposed, the landscape in question and the quality of the installation.
So, you might get lucky and find that your stamped concrete patio or driveway has low upfront costs without having higher maintenance and repair costs down the road when compared to patio or driveway pavers. But, in most cases, the maintenance costs for a stamped concrete driveway will be higher than for driveway pavers.
What is Involved in Maintenance?
If a paver gets damaged, it can be removed and replaced without digging anything else up. You will need to occasionally put some additional sand between the pavers, but pavers are designed to accommodate the fact that land expands and contracts. As temperatures change and as water levels change regularly over time due to precipitation, the land moves a surprising amount.
Pavers can accommodate that movement. Concrete cannot.
In the face of these normal variations, concrete will develop cracks. It isn’t a question of if. It is a question of when.
Some designs can help hide hairline cracks. Such small cracks are largely a matter of aesthetics, so hiding them is a good strategy. However, over time, they tend to get worse. As the cracks get larger and deeper, they are no longer a matter of aesthetics. They become a safety hazard and need to be repaired.
When concrete is repaired, it is nearly impossible to match the original finish and design. The patch tends to show. It also involves heavy equipment and is generally not a DIY job.
In contrast, replacing a damaged paver is easily handled as a DIY job. It can be done inexpensively and take only minutes to resolve. If you buy a few extra pavers when the job is first done, fixing any damaged pavers is a very minor nuisance that can be rapidly wrapped up on your day off as one of your jobs in the “Honey Do” jar.
Safety should be one of your highest concerns when considering driveway or patio designs. This is especially true if you have small kids, an elderly parent or are just not as young as you used to be.
Concrete tends to be slippery when wet. Certain finishes are worse about this than others. If you get a lot of rain, you can expect this to be a routine problem. Mitigating it with a slip resistant finish adds to the expense.
Concrete does have the benefit of being smoother than pavers. This might matter if someone is in a wheelchair or using a walker. But, as it develops cracks, this advantage can be lost over time.
It is true that pavers can be a bit uneven. This can be a tripping hazard, especially in the dark or for people with poor eyesight. When the ground settles, this can be exacerbated some. However, pavers have good drainage, so they are less of a slipping hazard than concrete. Generally speaking, slipping hazards are usually a bigger problem than the potential tripping hazard involved in the slight unevenness of pavers.
If you are concerned about the environment, pavers are a better choice than concrete because they allow for natural drainage. This lets water percolate through the soil in order to recharge the groundwater supply.
In contrast, concrete slab contributes to polluted and dangerous high speed runoff events. Runoff can accumulate chemicals and sweep them into the water system, it promotes flooding and can be surprisingly harmful to the environment.
Concrete also promotes heat island effect. Pavers tend to be cooler on hot days than concrete. This fact can even impact your air conditioning costs in the summer months.
In addition to these other issues, concrete also takes some time to cure when it is first poured. This means it can take two to five days to be ready for traffic. In contrast, pavers are ready to walk on as soon as they are laid out.
When considering patio designs, there are endless options for getting the look you want. But, pavers are generally a recommended solution over slab concrete.
One additional perk from using pavers is that you can easily accommodate plantings, changes to the design over time and the inclusion of patches of real or artificial turf to create the outdoor room of your dreams. Because concrete causes runoff and makes things so hot, it is not as garden-friendly.