Focus on a Feature: Concrete Pavers

Patios vs. Decks: How to Decide Which is Right For You
August 14, 2014

Focus on a Feature: Concrete Pavers

“What’s the difference between concrete and concrete pavers?”

It’s a question we get often, especially when we’re installing a new patio, path, or driveway. People want to know what’s going to last longer and require less maintenance over its lifetime.

As with most things in life, both concrete and concrete pavers have their pros and cons.

To start, let’s review the qualities that distinguish concrete pavers from plain old slabs of concrete.

What Makes A Concrete Paver?

A paver is defined by the following traits:

  • If they become cracked, stained, or broken, they can be replaced without much trouble. They can also be removed to make room for a pipe repair, then put back when the repair is finished.
  • They can withstand at least 50 freeze-thaw cycles without losing more than an average one percent of their mass.
  • The length-to-thickness-ratio must be no more than 4:1. That means if a paver has a side that’s five times longer than its height, it’s no longer a paver. It’s just concrete.The average compression strength must be 8,000 psi or greater.

Concrete, on the other hand, has these characteristics:

  • Expensive jack hammering may be required if an important pipe or wire is placed underneath it and requires repair.
  • Unlike the usual paver with 8,000 psi in compression strength, the average batch of concrete comes in at just 3,500-4,500 psi.
  • If it cracks, it becomes part of the landscaping.
  • It can be difficult to pour two batches of concrete in the same color, so expanding existing concrete can be tricky.

We’re not trying to bash concrete here, because it’s the optimal choice for certain jobs, like basement walls and footings for decks. But when it comes to landscaping that’s intended to look nice, concrete pavers are often the better choice. It just holds up better under certain loads, like getting driven on every day. Furthermore, the interlocking tiles are generally more aesthetically pleasing than the plain, untextured surface of concrete.

Benefits of Concrete Pavers

As we’ve already established, concrete pavers are great at bearing lots of weight without cracking. That’s because of the various ways they interlock: vertically, horizontally, and rotationally. Ever walked across a stone path and felt one of the tiles tilt and shift under your feet? With interlocking concrete pavers, that won’t happen (if they’ve been installed correctly, that is).

The other big benefit of pavers is that they’re easy to clean. Hosing them off a few times a year should be enough to keep them looking new. And if one of them does managed to get stained, you can replace it without too much difficulty.

Lastly, you won’t get plant life sprouting up between properly installed pavers. The fit between pieces should be tight enough to prevent enough light and oxygen from reaching the soil beneath them.

To sum up, concrete pavers are an excellent choice for most landscaping projects. And with the variety of pavers out there, you can ensure that your patio or pathway is truly unique and well suited to the surrounding beauty.

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