Garden Paving Slabs: What You Need to Know

Adding garden paving slabs and garden pavers to your garden is a great way to enhance the look and feel of your creations. The mixture of stone and concrete, made by the hands of humanity, meshes well with the beauty of plants produced by nature.

The benefits of garden paving are enormous. The aesthetic benefits are obvious but no less important – you can frame and highlight the features of your garden that you like, perhaps providing visitors with a path to wander through your landscape. The other benefits are functional – you can provide a path for you to walk through or wheelbarrow through or move materials through that will not get muddy or dirty in any way, preserving the beauty and order of your garden.

Types of Garden Paving Slabs

Every garden paving slab is different, as they come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. The first major choice you need to make is on the material of the paving slab. Concrete paving slabs are a very popular option, as they are cheaper than others, last long, and look great besides. Others pay extra to get natural stone paving slabs, giving their garden a natural look in the process. There are many different types of stone, from sandstone pavers and bluestone pavers to granite pavers and marble, each with its own benefits and design possibilities.

Before you select the material of paving slab, find out the specific properties of the type you’ve picked, as they all will react differently to the elements. While some may lose their fade and their finish over time, others will look ‘new’ longer. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on the look you want for your project. A weathered, aged look could look great in some places but terrible in others, while a new installation can look weird in other projects. It all depends on the specifics of your application.

Garden slabs also come in a variety of colors depending on the needs you have for your garden, landscape, or other hardscape features. There are different finishes you can select as well, from rough to smooth, depending on the look you want to portray. In addition, some paving slabs can be made with imprints or etchings, either stock or custom. As you can see, there are a ton of things to consider when purchasing these slabs. You will have many options whether you pick concrete or natural stone slabs, so ultimately it will be up to you to make the choice

Whatever your tastes, pick the type of slabs that best fit your needs for the garden’s traffic, looks, and design requirements. No matter what you pick, however, you largely won’t go wrong.

Installing Garden Paving Slabs

Installing paving slabs is similar to installing other hardscape materials like paving stones and concrete flags. Many homeowners will benefit from getting these slabs professionally installed, especially if the install area is troublesome in some way. Other homeowners should be able to install them by themselves, however, for only a little work and expense. More information on installing pavers can be found here.

Some garden paving slabs are installed like concrete pavers, as they are made to interlock and be compacted close together. These should be installed on an aggregate and sand base like concrete pavers or natural stone pavers would be. Others however could be installed with large gaps in between, gaps to be filled with grass or dirt of some kind. Still others could be installed like stepping stones, with very little connection and much material lying between each slab. The choice is up to you.

When installing them in your garden, consider the possibilities for expanding their use to other parts of your yard. For instance, using them in your driveway, backyard patio, walkway, pool deck, and other areas may be a great way to spread your designs further, while also maximizing the efficiency and lowering the cost of installing the hardscaping overall.

Note that these slabs can be very big. This is great for installation, as it requires fewer brick to cover a certain area. However, moving these heavy slabs can be challenging for one person, so assistance may be required to safely manipulate the material.

Maintenance of these slabs, if they are installed correctly, is quite easy, as they will last many years without serious work. Periodic sealing can help keep them looking new for a long time, and a slab can be easily replaced if it is cracked or stained. Sweeping and washing down with water can help prevent stains and dirt from marring the surface, though sometimes that look may be desired depending on the project.

Garden Paving Slabs Ideas

If you are inclined towards design, you can certainly design your garden paving area yourself. However, you may also hire a contractor or designer to design the ideal project for your space. Here are some general ideas to spur your creativity and get you started:

You have many options about the pattern of hardscaping you lay down. Ultimately the pattern options available to you will depend on the sizes and shapes of the paving slabs you select. You can pick more regular patterns, based on regular shapes, or you can pick irregular patterns made up of a variety of shapes or paving slabs that are themselves cut irregularly.

A walkway is a great way to lead guests through your garden. If you’d like, use an irregular pattern and put bigger landscape pavers in places where you want people to ‘stop and smell the roses’ – in other words, places where you’d like people to stop and admire your handiwork.

You could also consider using garden paving slabs as patio slabs in the middle of your garden. It’s easy to make a fire pit or barbecue too, and even add a waterfall in the area, to complete the look and provide you with a great place to gather and relax.

You could also use the paving slabs as a border between different areas of your garden. This can serve both an aesthetic and a functional purpose.

Garden Paving Slabs Price

The price you’ll pay for the product will depend on a number of factors, most notably if you buy concrete or natural stone pavers, among many other factors that have been well documented on other parts of this website. If concrete is poured to form slabs on site, the price will be still lower, though this will probably require professional installation unless you have experience working with concrete.

How do Interlocking Pavers Work?

The first reason that concrete pavers – and any paver that interlocks – has to do with the material that they are constructed from. Concrete pavers are rated multiple times stronger than poured concrete. This is due in part to the way the pavers are formed, but it’s also due to the ‘interlocking nature’ of the material.

The Secret: The Interlocking Action

Interlocking pavers remain durable and new looking even after years of abuse and weather precisely due to the ‘interlocking action’ of the paving stones. Interlocking concrete pavers are designed specifically to leave gaps in between each brick – in other words, they do not sit exactly flush to each other. It is this space, paradoxically, that gives the entire structure its strength as soon as these joints are filled with an appopriate joint material, such as sand. The pavers are laid in a particular pattern (the pattern really is just how the joints are arranged), leaving a bit of space in between each and every paver. Mortar is not used to bind these joints together, as this would destroy the benefits of the sand-interlocked paver.

Though sand is the most popular material used for the joints, it is not the only one – special joint material is put out by the concrete paver companies for this purpose, but it’s generally quite expensive. Bluestone screenings are another popular material, though there may be problems with this material when the surface is compacted, as the small stones may scratch the surface of the brick. Thus, sand remains the most popular joint material for most projects and contractors.

How the Interlocking Works

When the sand fills the joints, it helps hold the pavers together in two ways. First, the small pits and holes in the stone interlock pavers through friction. The small gaps ‘join together’ and help the paving stones cohere. The sand also fills these holes, increasing the friction between  the pavers even more. Second, the sand itself, when compacted, gets very tight. Thus, not only does the sand help the pavers stick together, it actually helps all the sand stick together as well, as the closely packed grains of sand cannot move without great force (this movement is resisted by friction). When the entire structure is surrounded with edging and compacted, it holds together as a whole even though the paving stones are not directly touching each other across their entire faces.

The material doesn’t matter here, either. Interlocking brick pavers or natural stone work the same way as their concrete brethren. It all has to do with the roughness of the bricks, the joints, and the sand that fills the gaps between them.

It is this strength and toughness that makes paving stones such a great option for homeowners. For instance, interlocking patio pavers withstand the constant pitter-patter of feet and the damaging effects of weather due to this cohesion. They are so strong that they will withstand the actions of vehicles – parking, sitting, accelerating, and so on. The surface is also quite flat, so it’s easy to plow or shovel snow off of it as needed.

Best of all, these types of installations are strong yet flexible. As water drains through the patio, for example, it collects in the base underneath. If it is cold out, the water will freeze. In other applications, such as concrete or asphalt, this freezing would expand the base, putting extreme pressure on the structure above and perhaps causing cracks or fissures. However, paving stone applications bend and flex with this freezing due to the flexibility of the joints and the sand. There is no “solid” structure above, but one that shifts and changes with the elements. Thus, the concrete paver project resists damage as the ice thaws, returning the structure to its original position, freezes again, thaws again, and so on.

The only disadvantages to this system lie in the fact that there is sand in between the pavers, and sometimes this sand escapes. Whether it’s due to the action of water or wind, or the action of ants building anthills, or your own power washing of the surface, sand levels will lower with time. This can weaken and even damage the structure. Luckily it’s quite easy to put sand back into the joints to replace the lost material. In addition, one of the benefits of sealing pavers lies in the fact that the sealant can help keep the sand where it belongs.

Grass Pavers: What You Need to Know

Original photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmr/3485316730/sizes/m/in/photostream/

The installation of a grass paver driveway.

If you have an area that requires detailed water management and drainage, needs to withstand heavy traffic and abuse, and doesn’t need to be aesthetically exquisite, grass pavers (also known as turf pavers, pervious pavers, and porous pavers) may be the best choice for you. The grass paver  differs from concrete pavers in that they are hollow and “grid-like,” as you can see in the picture to the right.

There are many different uses, both residential and commercial, for turf paving stones. They have been most commonly used in commercial applications, particularly in places where lots of driving and parking occurs. However, they have also recently gained in popularity for uses in the home. At home, these pavers can be used for driveways, walkways, garden applications, landscaping projects, patios, and many other ideas. Commercially, grass pavers can be used anywhere high vehicular traffic can be expected, such as parking lots or construction sites, or anywhere soil or grass erosion can occur. Other common uses include:

  • trails
  • emergency access paths
  • golf cart paths
  • sewer access roads
  • barn flooring
  • drainage channels
  • parking lots
  • and more.

For those with environmental concerns, grass pavers are one of the best ‘green’ options out there.

The Benefits of Grass Pavers

Grass pavers are primarily used in areas where soil erosion or water drainage is of paramount concern. For example, grass driveway pavers help stabilize the soil in an area where lots of vehicular traffic may unsettle and damage it. Water can also drain easily in between these paving stones, putting less pressure on water draining systems that would otherwise have to accept all of this rainwater running down grade. This can help with containing and controlling water pollution, as runoff from asphalt driveways can be very polluting due to all the chemical it carries. Grass pavers, however, allow water to drain free and clear, and thus represent an environmentally friendly driveway and paving solution.

Another example of where this material may be used is where there is a hill, slope, or other slight grade that might run off or erode due to wind, rain, or other inclement weather or abusive forces. Grass pavers keep the area secure and stable while also providing a sleek look.

A final example is any area that is flooded often. Normal paving options – concrete, asphalt, or even concrete pavers – do not drain water as well as regular ground, as the water will often slide down the grade. However, turf pavers provide both the strength and durability of concrete pavers with the drainage capability of grass or soil – a useful combination for some applications.

Another benefit of these permeable pavers is how they support and protect the grass roots system. Constant driving and parking on the grass can easily tear it apart and damage it beyond repair. This can look ugly and require work to replace if you ever want to have grass in the area again. Well-installed grass pavers will help protect this grass and prevent major damage due to ruts and tears caused by moving wheels.

Different Kinds of Grass Pavers

Grass pavers are made out of many materials depending on the needs of the project. One common option is concrete, much like standard paving stones. Another choice is plastic; this is often used for applications that don’t need as much strength and need more subtlety instead (i.e. so they can’t be seen as easily by the naked eye). Plastic grass pavers are often used for areas like backyards that need the soil protection and water management but not the strength intended for vehicular applications. These “lawn pavers” actually leave more space for the grass in between the plastic, letting you get the benefits of the permeable paving system without the robust quality of the concrete variety.

Grass Turf Pavers and Design

Grass pavers, because they are functional, do not focus much on looks, so you won’t find much variety in color, shapes, or sizes as you will with other concrete paving stones. If looks are a concern to you, you may want to look elsewhere, though there is certainly something to be said for the simplicity and utility of these grass paving stones. However, some people do enjoy the natural ‘grassy’ look of these pavers, especially as the grass grows over time. It can also help you blend in different areas of your yard regardless of whether or not you park on those areas – instead of installing a concrete or stone driveway to accommodate extra parking, for example, install grass pavers and you won’t have to have a jarring concrete blob on your property.

Installation of Grass Pavers

Luckily, installing grassy pavers is quite easy compared to other options, and can often be completed by the homeowner. You should still consult your local contractor or paver manufacturer for assistance with your particular project. Maintenance is also easy, and you can often still mow the areas where these pavers are installed to keep the grass in check. Overall, grass pavers are often the most environmentally conscious and functionally effective paving material you can purchase.

The concrete grass pavers ‘honeycomb’ is laid first on a graded, properly excavated area. Even though it drains well, it should still have a slight grade away from the home to ensure that the water doesn’t pool or flood. Depending on the volume of water you expect, you may have to install a drainage system and catch basin to help channel the water to where you want it to go. The base will want to be made up of 3/4 to 1″ of gravel or crushed aggregate. You’ll want to compact this surface.

If the grass pavers are the concrete variety, they are laid much like concrete pavers are – by hand, one by one, in the pattern and shape as needed. Plastic grass pavers may be laid in the same fashion, or they may come in a roll (such as EZ Roll), in which case they are ‘unrolled’ around the area as necessary.

Next, sand or aggregate is spread over the system. This material helps keep the grass pavers in place and keeps them strong while also allowing for proper drainage of water. Next, the grass paver blocks are then filled with a top layer of topsoil to allow for grass to grow; however, more aggregate or stones can be used instead of grass isn’t desired given the desired look of the installation. Then, grass may be planted in the area, if desired. You can also roll sod over the top of the pavers as well. Eventually, the grass will grow between the pavers, creating a mixed grass/concrete look that is also quite permeable and durable. (Or, simple stone or sand will fill in the hollow grass pavers network.)

After the paving system is installed, homeowners should check on it over the next few months to make sure water is draining properly and that there are no problems with the installation. After everything checks out, normal lawn and grass maintenance may go on as if the paving system weren’t in place.

Grass Pavers Cost

Best of all, the grass pavers cost is quite low compared to other paving options, and will depend on the usual factors (location, size, complexity, etc.). You can expect to pay somewhere around $2.00 a square foot. For plastic rolls, you can pay anywhere around $250-$300 per 4′ x 24′ roll – this translates into about $2.50 to $3.00 per foot. Installation may be extra for both of these depending on the project. All in all, you’ll probably pay more for grass pavers installation than for other materials options like concrete, asphalt, and the like. Note that you can save money on these projects by finding the material for sale or by laying it yourself – it is definitely a possible DIY project, within the skill of many homeowners.

What You Need to Know about Flagstone Pavers

Though concrete pavers are highly recommended for many home projects, they are not the only choice available. One choice is flagstone pavers, made directly out of natural stone. This stone is shaped, cut, and formed into slabs of various shapes and sizes, which are then fit together like a mosaic to cover the specific area. Aesthetically, the flagstone paver installation is quite nice, giving the area a natural look that paving stones can’t quite manage to capture in many cases due to the fact that they are artificially manufactured.

This article will give you a brief explanation of this material – its properties, how it is used, and the other features important to know about this expensive material before you use it. While this site focuses mostly on concrete pavers, it does contain some information on natural stone like bluestone, sandstone, and travertine paving. We plan on adding more soon and creating a more extensive collection of info on the various stone types, so come back soon!

Anyway – on to the article!

How Flagstone is Used & Design

These pavers can be used in a variety of applications. Flagstone patio pavers are one popular use, as are walkways and garden projects. The color schemes are more limited than concrete pavers, because they come from natural sources, but there still are enough color blends to satisfy most homeowner’s uses. The sizes, shapes, and thicknesses of these concrete flagstone pavers will also vary depending on the particular use of the stones.

There are a number of advantages of flagstone pavers over their competitors. The installation of these stones is usually quite easy compared to other options, as they can usually be laid right on soil, or with little bedding material required. They are also very strong and durable, withstanding any freezing/thawing cycles or other weather, traffic, or abuse. This makes these pavers very low maintenance and long-lasting.

How do you decide between flagstone or concrete pavers? Two factors override all others. The first is budget. If you have less money, you may want to go for concrete pavers, as they can be installed at a lower price per square foot than the natural option. If money is no object, than flagstone pavers may be right for you. The second factor is the particular look or ‘theme’ you want to convey with your project. Flagstone choices generally look more ‘natural’ and ‘earthy’ than manufactured options. These choices may work well with a garden, landscape area, or other place near your home that wants to communicate this natural look. Paving stones, on the other hand, communicate a modern, ‘old-world’ feel that may work better for patios, walkways, driveways, and other projects right near your home. Of course, this all depends on your tastes,  so be sure to consult with a local contractor or manufacturer for assistance.

Flagstone Patio Cost

Flagstone pavers price is usually more expensive, however, than manufactured options. This is generally true of all natural paving materials, as they cannot be mass produced in the ways that concrete paving stones can. The price will vary on a number of factors, including thickness, size, geography, and quality, but the usual price is between $20-30 a square foot.

One popular project for this material is a patio, so let me give you a brief run down of what you might pay for creating a patio out of this material. The flagstone patiocost, or the price of any flagstone installation, will depend on a number of factors. First, as described above, the price of natural stone is higher than manufactured varieties, as the stone must be quarried and cut into the appropriate shapes. In addition, like other hand laid materials like pavers and brick, the labor costs for the installation of these stone projects will be quite high. You can save money by installing them yourself, but ultimately it will probably be better to hire a contractor due to the high level of difficulty. In general, as stated above, the total flagstone cost will vary between $20 to $30 a square foot.

The actual, specific cost of a flagstone patio installation, or the installation of any project, like a driveway, walkway, pool deck, or other, will depend on a number of factors. These factors will depend on your area, the job itself, and how much you can contribute. The factors include:

  • Geography and economy. If you are in a cheaper area, your prices will be cheaper. If there is more competition between contractors, the total price will also be lower.
  • How much labor and material you can contribute. The more labor you put into the job, and the more free or reduced price material you can obtain (such as by recycling old material or buying it used), the less the total job will cost per square foot.
  • The actual contractor you hire. You may pay more for quality; paying less may leave you with a finished product that you detest.
  • The brand or type of stone you select. This is an important consideration to think about when you set out to buy flagstone. Not all stone and brands are created equal, varying in quality and durability and style. Pick the type that fits best in your budget and in your aesthetic vision.
  • How much prep work and excavation needs to be done. For instance, if you need an old patio removed, the total flagstone patio cost will be higher than if you had an empty or already prepped area to work with.
  • Design. If you pick a fancier pattern or overall design, the degree of difficulty of the entire project will increase. Picking simpler and easier to install designs will help keep costs down.

The Fundamentals of Outdoor Pavers

Outdoor pavers can add beauty and functionality to any home or business. Also called concrete pavers, paving stones, or pavers, they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes that complement any landscape or hardscape theme or design. This article will describe some of the fundamentals of the outdoor paver, including information on varieties of paving stones, hardscape design, and installation and maintenance tips. (Note: Other pavers, including brick pavers, flagstone pavers, and other natural stone pavers will not be discussed here.)

While this is a solid introduction to the topic, I’d also suggest that you search around this site for more specific information on many of these topics, not only for concrete pavers but also materials as diverse as bluestone pavers to paving flags and everything in between. This will ensure you that you are making the right decision on the material to use when it comes time to install your next driveway, walkway, patio, pool deck, or other project.

The Strengths of Outdoor Pavers

First, outdoor pavers are very strong and durable. You won’t have to worry about installing a new application for many decades, if at all – as long as they are installed correctly, of course. Second, these stones are very beautiful and unique – they will add more elegance to your home than other, more typical hardscaping materials (such as poured concrete and asphalt).

Another of the strengths of outdoor concrete pavers is that they come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. The shapes and sizes you select will depend on the particular installation you are pursuing. For instance, outdoor patio pavers will require certain properties that may or may not differ from driveway or walkway pavers. Depending on the size and shapes of the brick selected, many different patterns and layouts are possible. The color of the outdoor pavers – either single, double, or triple blends – will depend on any other projects installed in the area and on the general theme, style, and design of the home or business itself. We go over a discussion of paver patterns, paver colors, and more on these pages on this site.

One of the best aspects of outdoor paver installations is that they are nearly maintenance free. Their flexibility and strength resists the rigors of freezing and thawing cycles. They will thus rarely crack (though they may settle). If any pavers do crack or chip or fade over time, they can be easily replaced: simply remove the damaged paver from the area, fix the base, reinsert a new paver, and fill in the joints with sand. It’s that easy!

Outdoor Paver and Hardscape Design

Many different interesting designs can be incorporated into an outdoor paving stone application. For instance, curves or circles can be added to give the project a more luxurious look and feel. Borders (called ‘soldier courses’) can be added to highlight particular aspects of the area. Fancy patterns and layouts can be used to draw attention to a walkway or patio, or a simpler design can be used to make the project blend in more with its environment. Whatever your intention, you can be sure that these pavers will meet your needs.

There’s not enough room in this article to describe all the various kinds of designs that you can build. For more specific information, such as patio ideas, front yard walkway ideas, and others, check out the articles by following the links provided.

Installation Procedures of Outdoor Paving Stones

Installation of outdoor pavers can be rather challenging, however. In most cases, it is probably best to hire a contractor with experience in this field. For the adventurous do it yourselfer, paving stones can be installed with the proper effort and preparation. The most important part of the installation is preparing the proper aggregate base (6″ or more, depending on the project) on which the patio, walkway, driveway, etc. will sit. This includes as well around one inch of fine sand that will act as the main bed for the stones. The area should be correctly graded (sloped) to ensure that water drains away from the home or business and to prevent flooding. Homeowners should also be mindful to obtain the proper equipment, such as plate compactors, necessary to complete the job right. These compactors can be rented for the day. For more installation information, always contact your local contractor or paver manufacturer. You can also check out our pavers installation guide here on this site. Note, however, that the particularities of your project may significantly alter the proper installation discussions – this is why you either need to have the experience to tell what is different or the guidance from a professional.

As for other installation/DIY projects, sealing pavers is something that you can do to increase the beauty and lifespan of your pavers, though it is certainly not required. In general, outdoor pavers do best when sealed once every one or two years. More information on sealing pavers can be found by following the link. They can be easily cleaned with pressure washers or other cleaners, especially if any stains appear. They are also easy to remove snow and ice from, either with plows, shovels, or de-icing salts. More information on cleaning pavers and removing stains can be found by following the link.

Costs of This Material

Though outdoor pavers are more expensive than other options, they more than pay off the investment over time. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $15 per square foot for your next project. The exact cost you’ll pay depends on so many factors that it’s impossible to list them all here – instead, check out this discussion of pavers cost for more guidance. In the end, though, nothing will replace an individual inspection by a local contractor.

The range quoted above may seem kind of expensive to you, though. However, the important thing to remember here is that an outdoor paver project should be seen in part as a financial investment as well as simple consumption. These brick projects last longer than other materials (like concrete and asphalt) and they add more to the beauty and value of a home. Thus, if a house with paving stones is sold, the selling price will be higher if it has an outdoor paver patio, driveway, or walkway than if it doesn’t.

The Cost of Concrete Pavers

Installing concrete paving stones is not cheap. This is certainly what many homeowners have found while doing their research. The short term cost of pavers is usually around $10-$15 per square foot, while other options like concrete and asphalt are less than a third of that cost. Thus, it may seem like concrete pavers and other paving stone options are only within the realm of those who have disposable income to spend on home improvements.

However, looking at installing pavers simply as some sort of cosmetic improvement only is missing out on the major benefit of using the material. While the initial outlay of cash may be larger than for other options (like poured or stamped concrete, asphalt, or stone), the cost of pavers over the lifetime of the installation will usually be cheaper, with  much less maintenance. Asphalt and concrete may have to be replaced multiple times during the course of your ownership of the home, unless you don’t mind having cracking or fading materials in your front yard driveways, walkways, patios, pool decks, and other projects. Pavers, on the other hand, will last you for many decades – in fact, you may never have to replace the driveway again. Thus, it is a battle between quality and quantity. (A comparison of the different material types can be found here.)

Another major reason to not worry as much about the short term costs is that concrete pavers can represent a solid investment in the value of your home. The actual percentage will vary, but many homeowners will appreciate a modest gain in the value of their home when they install a new concrete paver project. Thus, a short term investment, may yield long term profits down the line if you ever decide to sell your home or tap into its equity.

Factors that Affect Pavers Cost

The actual costs of concrete pavers are hard to estimate for you unless we actually went to your home and examined your project specifications. However, we can give you some general guidelines so that you’ll know where you’ll fall within the $10 – $15 range. In addition, you’ll know the factors that go into the price you’ll pay, and thus you might be able to help reduce or make up for some of those costs. Concrete pavers cost depends on many factors, including:

  • Geographical location. Some areas are more expensive than others. Fuel costs, standard of living, material costs, and average salaries can all affect  the prices of materials and labor. If you live in a more expensive area, especially in an area with higher than average home prices, you will probably feel the effects of market forces on the price you’ll have to pay.
  • Brand. How much pavers cost depends on who’s selling them and the relative quality of the pavingstone. In general, though, the differences between pavers are quite minimal, regardless of the premium you’ll have to pay for a particular paver. Thus, its better to go with the choice of paver with one of the lower or medium prices unless you have specific reasons (aka colors or designs) that make you go with the more elite options.
  • Square footage. Obviously, the bigger the project, the more expensive the job (usually). Paring down on your square footage can do a lot to lower the total costs of the project. Note, however, that if you go with a very large job, you may save more per square foot. In other words, a simple 200 sq. foot walkway may run you $12 per square foot, while a super 5000 sq. foot job may run you $10 per square foot. The reason for this is that the fixed costs of the project can be spread over a larger area, thus lowering the total price you’ll have to pay.
  • Project type. Walkways, patios, driveways, pool decks, and garden installations all have their particular quirks.
  • Design. Some paver designs are simpler than others, and thus have lower costs, square footage being equal. For instance, a job with many curves will require more cuts and thus will waste more brick than a job with straight edges. In addition, fancy paver patterns and designs can increase the time and effort the contractor needs to expend, increasing the cost of the labor on your project. Other options, like waterfalls, stoops or steps, or firepits may also increase the cost of the job. This also includes the pattern selected, or if you want to add a border to your project. This could be a great way to save some money on the project – go with a simple, streamlined design.
  • Contractors. Some contractors charge more than others. Be careful when dealing with estimates by paver installers. If the concrete pavers price is too much of a bargain, you might find the work to be substandard. On the other hand, exorbitant prices don’t necessarily imply exquisite work. The best practice here is to get the estimate from three different contractors. Most people default to picking the ‘middle’ price as it seems the most ‘reasonable,’ but don’t automatically default that without reading the fine print. What is each contractor charging for? Is there a guarantee? For more information on hiring a contractor, check out this article.
  • Other materials and preparations. If your project is going to be installed in a sub-optimal area, preparatory work may be needed in order to properly do the job. This may require increased labor and materials costs which will raise the total pavers price. For instance, if there needs to be heavy excavation of an old patio or other project, or if the ground below the area is made of clay and thus shifts and settles a lot, you may have to pay extra. Another example would be if grading of the property needs to be done in order to correct water flow. This is where some wiggle room can come in – don’t be tempted to take the lower price if the contractor isn’t properly addressing issues like these that must be addressed in order to protect your property and your investment.

The Verdict

In the end, as stated above, you will need to hire a contractor to get a specific breakdown of the costs of your project. There are also other articles on this site you can read to learn about the price of other materials besides concrete pavers:

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/an-asphalt-driveway-cost-estimate.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/asphalt-prices-a-guide.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/brick-pavers-cost-estimate.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/a-rough-estimate-of-driveway-paving-cost.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/flagstone-cost-estimate.html

http://www.concretepaversguide.com/a-general-paving-cost-breakdown.html

If you have any questions or any experiences to share, leave them in the comments!

Concrete Pavers and Hardscaping FAQ

Listed here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about pavers and hardscaping – everything from product selection to hardscape maintenance and everything in between. Check back often for new additions.

Why should I pick concrete pavers over other choices for my driveway/walkway/patio/etc.?

Concrete pavers enjoy many advantages over their competitors:

  • concrete pavers are available in a wide variety of styles and colors to complement any design or personal style and taste; hardscape design is fun, easy, and exciting;
  • they are relatively easy to install;
  • a paver driveway can be easily plowed, shoveled, or de-iced in the winter;
  • paver installations withstand freeze/thaw cycles without cracking or breaking;
  • they require little to no maintenance, year-round
  • individual pavers, if damaged or stained, can be replaced by simply removing the flawed paver and replacing it with a new one;
  • pavers can be removed and replaced if you need to install new cables or sprinklers, or any other lines need to be run underneath your installation – the entire project doesn’t need to be damaged;
  • paving stone projects increase the value of your home;
  • your beautiful new project increases the quality of life of you, your family and your friends;
  • cost-effective over the life of the project.

For more information on the pros and cons of pavers versus asphalt, concrete, or stone, see this page.

What other materials can I use for my hardscape project?

Though concrete pavers are very popular, they are not the only paving material suitable for most hardscapes. In the paver family you can also find brick pavers and natural stone pavers. Within the natural stone family there is even more variation, as you can use flagstone pavers, granite, limestone, sandstone, and much more for your project. In the slab family, there exists asphalt, concrete, and macadam. You can also use loose stone if you want to go a less expensive route.

What brand should I use?

This depends on a large number of factors, most notably which paver manufacturer is available to you. Other important factors include your budget, your design needs (such as the sizes, shapes, and colors of pavers you want to use), and what your contractor usually works with.

What are the different ways I can use concrete pavers?

There are many different uses for paving stones; the only limit is your imagination! The most popular hardscape ideas include driveway pavers, paver walkway, patio pavers, and pool pavers. Other options include paver steps and stoops, retaining wall pavers, and complements to landscaping. Don’t forget garden pavers and grass pavers, too. Pavers are also installed for commercial clients, and are a great way to increase the beauty and professionalism of your business.

What are the patterns and designs I can make?

Given the creative properties of concrete paving stones, you have a near limitless selection of possibilities to pursue for your next project. For a more detailed discussion of some of your choices, see these articles on paver patterns and paver designs.

Aren’t pavers expensive?

They are not as costly as you think. Pavers are installed by hand and do require a lot of preparation and time in order to be laid correctly and solidly. However, the many benefits of hardscapes outway this initial cost. Asphalt, concrete, or stone driveways, for example, need to be replaced as they crack and shift over time. Concrete paver installations, however, stay beautiful and strong for longer periods of time. Plus, investing in hardscaping is an investment in the property value of your home. See this link for a more detailed discussion of pavers cost.

How do I save money on my pavers project?

The major way to save money on your application is to install it all yourself. Barring this possibility, you could look for pavers for sale to help defray the costs of the materials.

Can I make concrete pavers?

Absolutely! If you want to know how to make concrete pavers, read this article. In short, find or make some paver molds, mix your concrete, pour it, and let it cure. You can make pavers for many projects this way, though it may not be recommended for large scale projects.

Who can install paving stones?

Most homeowners allow paver contractors, or masons, to come in and do the work. However, many hardscaping projects are well within the skills of some homeowners, such that these pavers can be used in DIY paving projects. See this article for a detailed discussion of paver installation.

What is the most important part of my installation?

If you are installing the pavers yourself, or even if you are having someone else do the work for you, it’s best to spend most of your effort and attention on the sub-base to the project. If this foundation isn’t secure, the pavers above will not be as strong as they can be. This entails using concrete sand as the bed underneath the pavers and crushed aggregate as the main ingredient for the sub-base.

How quickly can I walk on my paver project?

As soon as it has been properly edged and compacted with a plate compactor.

How much maintenance do I need to do?

Very little, actually. You may want to try sealing pavers occasionally with concrete sealer, though this is not required. You will have to clean it occasionally when it gets dirty, and potentially refill some of the joints with sand. Otherwise, the project is near maintenance free. Even if you left it untouched, it would probably last for many decades, assuming it was installed well.

What is this white chalky residue on my pavers?

This is called efflorescence, and it is totally normal, especially when pavers are laid over a concrete base. This will go away over time, and will not affect the structural integrity of the pavers.

How do I remove stains on my pavers?

For tips, see this page on stain removal.

Will weeds grow in between the pavers?

Depending on the joint material used to fill in the cracks between pavers, growth of weeds should be minimal. In the case of weed growth, the simple application of weed killer will help remove any growth.

Will any settling of my patio, driveway, or walkway occur?

Proper installation of your project should minimize any settling over time. Other factors may be important, however, such as the material on which the pavers are installed. Make sure you find out what your contractor’s policy is with settling. Many offer a one-year warranty against any settling.

Can my installation be shoveled, plowed, or salted in the winter?

Yes! Shoveling or plowing your walkway, driveway, or patio will not damage your project as long as care is taken. De-icing salts may be used with some brands of concrete pavers, as long as the salts are not used excessively. Check with your contractor or paver manufacturer or supplier for more details about your specific brand.

Is there any warranty on my installation?

It depends on the contractor and manufacturer. Some contractors offer a one year (or more) warranty against settling or cracking, especially after one or two winters or as the hardscaping settles over time. Make clear ahead of time the conditions for the warranty with your contractor. In addition, the specific manufacturer of your brand of pavers may offer a warranty against long-term damage, color fastness, or other features. For example, Nicolock has lifetime limited warranty in residential installations. They guarantee their pavers through their “Paver-Shield” technology: where other pavers have color only on the surface, Nicolock’s pavers have color all the way through, and they guarantee this color for a lifetime. They say: “Paver-Shield is an advanced manufacturing technology that concentrates the highest grade of cement, a selection of the finest sands, and the most vibrant pigment available on the surface to create a durable, color-rich paver.” Cambridge pavers, on the other hand, have their own “ArmorTec” technology, offering a smooth, rich finish: “Manufactured into the top 3/8 inch of Cambridge Pavingstones is color saturated, extra dense concrete made with super-fine sand granules and devoid of any large aggregate (stones). We call it ArmorTec. As a result of this manufacturing marvel, the color remains rich looking and the surface stays smooth, yet skid-resistant.”

The Basics of Concrete Pavers and Paving Stones

 

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/freddy/444395421/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Paving stones being installed.

What Are Concrete Pavers?

Concrete pavers (also known as paving stones) are interlocking bricks made out of concrete. They can be used to make beautiful and resilient (and near maintenance free) driveways, patios, walkways, or pool decks, among other uses (including commercial applications). Concrete paving stones have a long history, but have only recently become popular in the United States. Old ruins and archaeological finds have shown how ancient civilizations used them (in stone, not concrete form) for roads and pathways. The first concrete pavers made and installed were in Holland in the 1940s – this is where “Holland Stones” get their name today.

Concrete pavers are a very durable and robust material. Normal concrete can withstand 2000 pounds per square inch (psi). Paving stones, however, must meet a minimum of 8000 psi, and many exceed this number. Thus, a project made with paving stones will be at least four times as strong and durable as the same project made with concrete. These paving stones are built to last.

How They Work

Interlocking pavers interlock because they are bound to their neighbors very closely. The sides of the pavers are very rough, and get caught with each other. The friction prevents each paver from moving, thus keeping the structure together. Furthemore, the joint sand used in between the pavers increases this friction even further, helping bond the brick together in one interconnected whole. In addition, the pavers are “edged,” which helps keep outward pressure on the whole, maintaining the total friction between the blocks. Thus, pavers combine the best of both worlds – the strength of concrete with the flexibility required to withstand the freeze/thaw cycles and other forces of nature that would otherwise crack slabbed materials like concrete and asphalt.

How are Pavers Installed?

Either installed by the homeowner or by qualified and licensed and insured paver contractors (sometime known as a “mason”), these pavers are laid over a bed of compacted crushed aggregate base and fine (a.k.a. concrete) sand. The base of the project is the most important part; if little time is spent on the underlying foundation, the whole project will suffer. The brick are then filled with sand and compacted one more time. Depending on the size of the project, installation of the pavers can take from one to two days to a week or more.

Homeowners with the right skills and tools can also try to install concrete pavers themselves. A DIY paving project can help reduce the cost of the overall paving stone application while ultimately providing the homeowner with a wonderful hardscape creation.

How Can Paving Stones Be Used?

There are many potential projects for pavers, including driveways, patios, walkways, pool decks, garden and landscape applications, retaining walls, and more. Since the same pavers – colors blends and sizes – can be used for all these projects, homeowners can have a yard that looks professionally planned and created; there’s no need to have a hodge podge of materials dotting your hardscape and landscape! In addition, the wide variety of paver shapes, sizes and colors affords the homeowner many design possibilities. Thus, paving stones go well with nearly any home design and theme, as they are a very versatile and useful material.

What Are the Benefits of Paving Stones?

Installing concrete pavers in a new backyard patio or pool deck is a great way to increase the quality time spent with friends and family at your own home, potentially saving you travel costs for expensive vacations. They also offer numerous safety benefits – pool pavers, for instance, do not get slippery when wet, making it safe if people walk or run on them during summer play. Paving stone installations also increase the property value of your home, thus also representing an investment in your family’s financial future. For commercial projects, installing paving stones gives businesses a clean, professional, and aesthetically pleasing look – first impressions are important, and paver stones can give a great first impression to  customers.

Pavers are also relatively maintenance free, especially compared to certain materials options like loose stone and asphalt. Snow removal is quite easy, and sealing pavers occasionally will keep them looking beautiful for many years, though this is not required. In addition, as long as the pavers are well-installed, a paver project should last for many decades. They thus represent a fantastic long-term investment.

How Much Do They Cost?

Paving stones are of moderate cost, usually ranging from $8 to $15 per square foot for materials and installation by a contractor. The pavers cost can be reduced by installing them yourself or by looking for pavers for sale.

Many paving stones companies will guarantee their products with a warranty, so hoemowners won’t have to worry about the material cracking or coming apart for a long time. If any damage does occur, the offending pavers can be easily removed and replaced with fresh, undamaged pavers.

More information about pavers can be by reading this hardscaping FAQ.