If you want to use concrete pavers for your next outdoor applications, you are not limited to purchasing the materials directly from manufacturers, mason supply yards, or home improvement stores. In fact, if you want to save money, you can make concrete pavers from the comfort of your own home!
Note, as well, that you can make many other concrete materials with this method. If you want to learn how to make concrete stepping stones, bricks, blocks, statues, and other shapes, read on, as much of the information below will apply.
Warnings and Things to Know Before Making Concrete Pavers
The benefits of making your own paving stones are clear. You’ll save money per stone due to the low costs of concrete. (See below, however, on this point, as you may not save as much money as you think.) In addition, you’ll be able to make the brick to your liking, and you won’t have to get involved with dealing with manufacturers, supply yards, and delivery of the material to your home.
There are a few caveats to keep in mind before you make your own concrete pavers. First, realize that you shouldn’t do this unless you have the experience and skills required to work with concrete. If you’ve never poured concrete before and shaped it in molds, you may not be able to create “reproducible” bricks. In other words, each paver needs to be near identical in order for the project to work. (This is true, to an extent, even with an irregular pattern filled with different sized paving stones.) Thus, if you don’t have the abilities required, you’re probably better off buying them pre-made.
Second, if you have a large installation coming up that will require a lot of brick, this may not be the best method for you. Think about it – if you can only produce 10 pavers at a time, and you need 1000, how long is it going to take you to get the supply you’ll need to finish the project? If the project is small, such as a mini-patio, it may be more doable. You could increase the size of the pavers, making the more slabs or flags, to lower the numbers of total stones you’ll need to make. Of course, if you only need a few of the materials, such as for stepping stones, then you won’t have this problem.
In fact, making tons of pavers may not even be cost effective if you take your own time and effort into account. If it takes you twenty hours to make all the brick you need, how much are you really ‘spending’ through the value of your time? This is true even if the concrete itself is dirt cheap.
One final reason not to make your own materials is that you’ll be limited in your design options. Making concrete pavers is difficult enough without worrying about color, size, shape, and so on. With manufactured pavers, you’ll be able to select from a wide variety of style, color blends, and shapes that you can then use to complement your already existing home design. The most basic do-it-yourself pavers will be an ugly, flat grey – usually not that appealing, especially if aesthetics matter for that particular project.
If none of these warnings apply to you, read on!
How to Make Concrete Pavers
First, you’ll have to obtain molds for your pavers. There are two ways of doing this. First, you can buy molds pre-made. Doing this will allow you to pick the size and shape of concrete paving stone that you want to make.
The second option is to make your own paver molds – click here if you want to learn how.
Once you have your molds, it’s time to make your ‘paver factory.’ Set aside a part of your yard that will stay dry if it rains. Put some ‘mold release agent’ inside the mold to prevent the paver from sticking to the mold when it dries.
Mix the concrete as directed, and pour it into your molds. Spread it to make sure it is level and covers all the corners. Bounce the concrete and mold to get rid of any air bubbles. Let them solidify over the next 24-48 hours. Remove the bricks or the molds when they are done, and prepare the next set.
Note: if you want to add color or texture to your brick, do it during the pouring phase, as it will need to be mixed in with the wet concrete ahead of time. Consider experimenting, as well, with the shapes, sizes, and textures on the paver right after it has been poured in the mold.
Once you’ve created all the pavers, stepping stones, or blocks you need, lay them as needed according to your design. Good luck!