Concrete Paving Slabs: What You Need to Know

If you are looking to create a new hardscape creation in your front or backyard, one great material to use is concrete paving slabs. These are similar to pavers in that they are precast and made from concrete, and they are both very strong, but there the similarities end. Paving slabs, also known as paving flags, are flatter, longer, wider, and thinner than pavers – they thus cover more square footage per slab than pavers but less thickness and depth.

Paving slabs combine the strengths of concrete with some of the benefits of concrete pavers. Because there are ‘joints’ throughout the structure, the concrete will resist cracking, especially if dry (sand bed) methods are used to install the pavers. In addition, you’ll enjoy the strength and durability of the concrete, which will stand up to years of weathering and traffic. All in all, your investment in paving slabs will last you for decades.

Types of Concrete Paving Slabs

Precast concrete paving slabs come in many sizes and shapes; the most popular include square and rectangular shapes. However, you can get interestingly shaped slabs, such as hexagons and octagons, though you’ll sometimes have to get these custom ordered, as they are rather unusual. Typical sizes of slabs range from one square foot (1′ x 1′) and up (such as 24 x 24 concrete pavers), but other sizes are possible. Very large sizes, up to a square meter, are also possible, but these require special installation by a professional due to their large size. As for color, slabs most often come in the standard color of concrete, grey-white, but you can get them artificially colored if you’d like to match them to your home’s style and theme. You can also get them with a variety of finishes and textures, so your design options are quite good, especially when compared to normal concrete slabs that are poured on site.

The type of slab you select will have a profound impact on the designs you can build for your project. Paving slabs can be cut, but it is more likely that they will be laid in a more rectangular and regular pattern – if you want curves for your project, you’re better off with smaller options like paving stones. You can also get paving slabs of varying thicknesses, and you will need thicker slabs if you want to drive on your new project, such as for a driveway.

Note that you can also get paving slabs made out of other materials, most commonly stone. These slabs look different than concrete, giving a natural look, but they are usually much more expensive than the concrete variety.

What Projects Can You Use This Material For?

Paving slabs are most commonly used for walkways and patios, though in some situations they may be used for driveways as well. They have also found a home in garden and landscape applications as well. Note, as stated above, that different sizes, shapes, and thicknesses of slabs will be needed for particular applications. Driveway slabs, for instance, need to be a bit more robust to handle the rigors of driving.

Be creative – you can uses the slabs for a variety of other options as well. Don’t ignore the possibilities of garden paving slabs and other uses. For instance, you can use them as a path through a flowerbed or through a garden. They can serve both aesthetic and functional purposes, though note that their rigid and square construction will work better with certain decors than with others.

Laying Concrete Paving Slabs

Paving slabs are similar to concrete pavers in that they must be laid individually by hand. Luckily, their simple installation means that homeowners can do it themselves; they don’t necessarily need to hire contractors to get the job done. However, since wet applications, using mortar, are usually used to install these slabs, you should not attempt this type of installation unless you are skilled in working with this material.

Concrete Paving Slabs Prices

The cost of paving slabs is relatively low compared to other paver options, most notably because they are larger and thus are more economical to purchase and install, especially if you can find cheap concrete paving slabs to install in your home and garden. You will pay around $4 to $10 per square foot, or more, depending on the type of slab, color, texture, finish, and so on. It is also possible to find cheap paving slabs if you know where and when to look. For instance, you can usually find concrete paving slabs for sale on classified ad sites like Craigslist – local homeowners may simply want to get rid of old material, so all you’d have to do is show up and take it. You can often get decent quality material through this method.

Note as well that you can get very cheap slabs if you make them yourself. All you need to do is find concrete block molds or any other concrete molds for sale and pour the concrete – or, with the right materials, you can make your own molds and forms.