An Enclosed Patio Guide: What You Need to Know

On other places on this site, we’ve discussed the merits of installing concrete paver patios, along with using other materials to create a backyard getaway. One of the best patio ideas – an amazing way to continue to add to your backyard paradise – is to create an enclosed patio. Also known as enclosed porches or an enclosed decks, these structures allow you to enjoy your patio paving while being sheltered from the elements.

There are a lot of choices and other things to consider when thinking about adding a new patio enclosure. To help guide you in this decision, we’ve assembled a brief enclosed patio guide that will show you the major aspects of your project to consider. Come back often, as we’re always adding new material and updating this site to continue to bring you valuable information and insight.

Types of Patio Enclosures

There are two major kinds of enclosed patios that you can add to your home. The first is a room that is simply part of your house; these so-called sunrooms simply have lots of windows that allow in lots of light. Thus, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful elements, especially the sun, without having to actually be outside and deal with the heat and UV rays and other weather conditions. This kind of project is more of a ‘room addition’ than an enclosed patio, though some may tend more towards a patio than a room given their properties. The main difference that sets them apart from enclosed patios is their expense – because they are added on directly to your house, you’ll end up paying more for the work.

The second is more like a patio in that it is primarily an outdoor structure that has been ‘enclosed’ or ‘covered’ in order to protect the inhabitants from the elements. The degree to which a patio is enclosed varies from design to design. One covered patio may simply be topped off with an awning; thus, bugs and wind and other elements can get inside your covered patio, while the sun and heat will be diminished. Others are more like outdoor rooms, in that they are enclosed with screens or other materials to completely surround the patio and guard against bugs, wind, and even hot and cold temperatures (when the room is climate controlled).

Which one you want depends on how you want to use it and on how you conceive of your enclosed patio. For instance, if you think of your room as simply an extension of your home, and you want it to be climate controlled and comfortable and usable year round, you’ll probably tend more toward the sunroom approach. However, if you see this space more as an enclosed porch, one that is part of your yard as opposed to your home, you’ll want to look into enclosing a patio instead. This patio will only be usable during temperate or hot times of the year and depending on how enclosed it is.

Note that you can also use your enclosed patio for many different purposes. Some simply like to have a covered place where they can entertain guests in the more temperate seasons without having to worry about inclement weather and other worries. Others, however, like to make the space an area to hang out continually; some even turn them into family spaces, exercise rooms, libraries, and dining rooms. Thus, give some thought as to how you want to use your space, as this will largely determine what kinds of materials and designs you’ll use for your project.

If you crave flexibility, you can also buy retractable patio covers that can be deployed when you need them, such as on an especially hot or rainy day. Thus, you’ll have the flexibility to manage how much of the ‘outdoors’ you want to experience.

The Benefits of Enclosed Patios

The first obvious benefit of your enclosed patio is its beauty and aesthetic appeal. Looking outside while inside your patio is one great aspect, but patio rooms look almost as good from the outside looking in. In addition, this beauty and function will add value to your home, both financially and in terms of increased living and working space for you and your family.

Second, you can enjoy the ‘outdoors’ in comfort. How much of the outdoors you feel will depend on if you only have a patio roof or if you opt for the more enclosed structure. Nevertheless, you’ll be blocked out from the sun, deal with cooler and more comfortable temperatures, and not have to deal with mosquitos and other annoying bugs.

You can also enjoy the safety and privacy of your enclosed patio. You won’t have to worry about nosy neighbors watching you at all hours of the day, and you can be sure that you can be safe from the weather or anything that bumps in the night.

Enclosed Patio Designs

The first thing to think about is how enclosed your patio room or sunroom will actually be. At the very least, you’ll have canopies or awnings that will cover the top of your patio and block the sun and rain from reaching the contents of your room.

You’ll then need to decide how best to enclose your patio on the sides, if this is something you want to do. Some opt to have nothing blocking the sides; this makes the room more of a covered patio than an enclosed one. As for enclosing materials, you can opt for many different types, from screened patios to patios with nets covering the side. If you build in walls and windows as part of an extension to your home, it’s more of a sunroof and thus more expensive but also the most beautiful and valuable. You may also opt for glass enclosures to allow the maximum amount of sunlight in, though you will also sacrifice privacy and increase the structure’s vulnerability.

To save money and decrease the time and hassle involved with installing your new patio, some companies sell ‘modular’ systems that are pre-assembled and then assembled on the spot.

Another thing to think about is what the ‘floor’ of your patio will be. If you already have a patio made from concrete or concrete pavers, then you can simply add your patio roof or patio covers, screen porch, etc. and be done with it. Or you can install an entirely new patio surface out of these materials or others; if you want a more ‘indoor’ feel, you can go with tile, carpet, wood, and other options, though keep in mind that some of these materials won’t be viable with particular patio designs.

Your best bet is to get design plans created by a professional architect. They will best know the options available for you and what you can create given your resources. They will also give you an estimate so that you can get an idea of how much this will cost. There are an incredible number of different designs, products, and variations to the sunroom/enclosed patio, so you’ll need to do further research to find what suits your tastes and budget. Look for images of sunrooms that you like and present them to your contractor or sunroom company. They can then use these images as a guide to best create the addition that’s right for you and your family.

Building an Enclosed Patio

While creating these projects may be out of the reach of many homeowners, some may still seek DIY solutions, especially if they are looking to install modest enclosures. For instance, if you already have an outdoor porch or ‘framed’ patio, it’s relatively easy to buy thin mesh screen and put it up around the sides of the patio. This will not be the most elegant solution, but it will serve its primary purpose: keeping out bugs and irritants. You can also buy screen with vinyl attached so that you can easily assemble your enclosed patio to the proper specifications without having to deal with plain mesh.

It is also possible to buy sunroom ‘kits’ that you can assemble yourself. They may not look as great as the professionally installed kind, especially since those will be exactly customized to your taste, but they are great in a pinch. The great thing about these DIY projects, however, is that you can easily take them down and put them up at will, so you’ll have flexibility as seasons and weather changes.

You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t need to get any permits from your local municipality, as some require paperwork to be filed if you’re at all adding on to your ‘home,’ so make sure to check with officials in your area.

Concrete Stamps for Sale: Finding and Using Them

One of the great advantages of concrete is its relatively cheap price and ease of installation. However, its main downfall, besides the problem of cracking, is its looks – concrete is grey, drab, and pretty boring to look at. It goes fine with most decors, but it isn’t the most optimal material to use for most projects.

However, there are ways to spruce up your concrete project so that it will be more stylistically interesting. The most common method is installing stamped concrete. Stamped concrete has particular designs, shapes, and textures ‘stamped’ into the wet concrete in order to make it look like something else. Combined with concrete paints and finishes, an otherwise boring slab of concrete can be made to look like something finer – concrete or natural stone pavers, bricks, and even wood! Luckily, making your own stamped concrete is relatively easy, as long as you can pour it yourself, making installing stamped concrete a viable DIY project for many homeowners who have the skills and time. Note, however, that some stamping projects can be challenging, so when in doubt, go with a professional whose work you admire to ensure that your project turns out right.

If you are interesting in a do it yourself stamped cement project, you’ll need to buy concrete stamps that you can use to create the designs you want. This article will describe the tools, materials, and products you’ll need for successful concrete stamping. It will also give suggestions for how to find and save money on concrete stamps for sale.

The Different Kinds of Concrete Stamps

The number of concrete stamp patterns out there is simply astounding. You can find every kind of designs, from regular patterns like brick and stone to irregular shapes and textures. You can also find interesting shapes and designs that you can use to make your concrete patio, walkway, driveway, pool deck, or other installation uniquely your own.

The following is a list of decorative concrete stamps – it is not an exhaustive list, of course, but it does cover many of the most popular varieties of designs and textures. Using stamps, your concrete can look like:

  • Stone
  • Rock
  • Tile
  • Brick
  • Pavers
  • Granite
  • Cobblestone
  • Wood
  • Pebbles
  • Slate

You can also add the following textures and designs:

  • Seamless textures
  • Beach
  • Borders
  • Fans
  • Circles
  • Animals
  • Names
  • Words
  • and much, much more.

In fact, it may even be possible to make or obtain custom stamps – you are thus only limited by your imagination and your budget.

The Properties of Concrete Stamps

Most stamps are made from rubber and plastic, making them flexible, light, and easy to work with. They can be easily washed and reused from job to job, so you won’t have to worry about having to buy new ones.

There are two main types. For small jobs, you can simply buy one unit stamps or stencils. For instance, if it’s a shape of dolphin, you only need to have a single dolphin stencil that you apply where needed. However, if you have a pattern that repeats, such as a cobblestone, paver, brick, or stone appearance, you’ll need to buy mats. Mats are simply big versions of normal stamps – they contain the “unit pattern” so that you can have it repeat regularly throughout the entire surface of the concrete. These mats vary in size, depending on the pattern, but most are in the 4 square feet range.

Using Concrete Stamps – Some How To Notes

How many stamps will you need? Stamps can be expensive, so you may feel tempted to save money by skimping on the number you purchase, but don’t! You’ll need at least enough to go across the whole width of the project, plus a couple to start the next course. Think about it – you want the texture or pattern to be even and nicely distributed. Any mistakes can be costly to the appearance of the final project. In addition, you want to be able to stamp everything necessary within the time that the concrete is wet and amenable to stamping. If you are too slow, you may have serious problems with the final result.

Note that stamps should only be used on concrete 2 inches thick or more. While stamping and staining may be a potential DIY project for someone with the experience and skills to do it, it can be challenging, and mistakes can make a concrete slab look terrible – this can be a very expensive mistake to make. Unless you have the chance to practice and find out what works, it may be best to leave all this to the professionals. In that case you wouldn’t have to buy or rent concrete stamps, so it may be worth it in the end.

The Cost of Concrete Stamps

The cost of the stamps depends on a number of factors, including the size and pattern of the stamp. In general, expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $250 per stamp. Most of the time, these stamps are bought by contractors who will use them on the job. This is due in part to the fact that these stamps are incredibly expensive for many homeowners to purchase in the quantity necessary. However, there are other options available to these homeowners, including renting and buying used stamps. See the saving money section below.

What Else You May Need

There are some other concrete stamping tools and products you might need to fill out your concrete project. First, in terms of using the stamps, you may need floppies or flexes; a tamper; and other hand tools. If you want to give your concrete a different color or stain, you may need acid stains, colors, release agents, and other materials. You may also need particular forms and molds to properly shape your concrete creations.

Saving Money on Concrete Stamps

One way to save money if you need stamps for a single job is to find stamps for rent. Finding rental concrete stamps may be difficult to do if you don’t have a supply yard or a contractor in your area willing to do this. You may also be able to find used concrete stamps for sale, either from individual homeowners or from professional contractors.

Note that it also may be possible for you to create your own stamps and patterns out of materials and objects laying around your house. Use your creativity and don’t be afraid to test on sample (and eventually disposable) concrete.

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.

Brick Pavers Prices per Square Foot

Brick pavers.

If you’ve decided to use clay brick pavers for your patio, walkway, driveway, pool deck, or other home installation, you’ve made a good choice. However, pricing and budget is probably a big deal for you, and brick pavers aren’t the cheapest option available. Thus, the more work you do to find a good deal on these pavers, the more you’ll save overall, so it should be worth your time to do a little research. To help you out, here is some information on brick pavers prices – what you’ll usually pay and ways to get a good deal or discount on your next paver project.

Note that none of the below takes into account installation costs – this is just a discussion of the cost of the material itself per brick or per square foot.

A General Brick Pavers Price Estimate

Brick pavers are usually bought in pallets, so the cost is usually described in units of per square foot. In general, you’ll pay anywhere from $5 to $15 per square foot; this works out to $.50 to $3.00 per brick or more. Remember, this is just for the material – tack on another $5 – $10 per square foot for installation. In general, you’ll pay more for interlocking brick pavers than you will for concrete pavers, as the material and method to make the brick is a bit more expensive than for concrete.

In addition, this price will depend on the exact kind of brick you select. There are many brands, types, and colors out there, as well as different shapes and sizes that can be used to make certain brick paving patterns. The most common and popular option is the standard brick size that you’ll find with standard red brick in other applications, but other options are available if you’re willing to pay. The color and style of brick paver you select will depend on the designs you have in mind for your next brick paver project, but be open to changing your design if it can save you money in the end.

How to Save Money on Brick Pavers

If you really want to install a brick paving project but have a limited budget, there are ways for you to save money when you buy brick pavers. Most of the time, if you have a contractor come in and do the work for you, he will buy the material for you. However, you can skip this step and purchase the material yourself in order to lower overall costs. Here are some ideas:

(1) Price shop. Obviously, you’ll want to visit as many supply yards and home improvement stores as you can, or at least call, to get a quote on the price per square foot. You might even get lucky and happen upon wholesale brick, which can be significantly cheaper.

(2) Brick paver prices ultimately depend on the specifics of your job – what kind of project you’re building, the design, and so on. Thus, consider making the job simpler or smaller if it will lower your overall materials design.

(3) Don’t rule out going the ‘used brick paver’ route. You may be able to find brick pavers that other homeowners are trying to get rid of for bargain basement prices – or in some instances, even free. Check sites like Craigslist and freecycle for local leads. As always, make sure you personally inspect the material before paying for it – you want to make sure the color and strength of the brick is still good. Of course, you won’t be getting pristine materials, so be ready to compromise, but don’t compromise too far.

(4) Note as well that there are other materials you’ll have to pay for in addition to the brick. Of course, the brick will be the most expensive part, but mortar, sand, edging, and the material to form the aggregate base and foundation will all cost. Don’t skimp when it comes to a base or proper installation, but you may be able to find some cost cutting measures here to help defray the total cost of the project.

(5) Visit home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot and other mason supply yards to see if you can get bricks for sale. They may have salvage or left-over material that you can get for a steal. The more legwork you do, the more likely you’ll find inexpensive materials.

(6) Your last resort is the internet. Since you are pretty much limited by your geographical area, you should use the internet to do research on suppliers in your area that you can call or visit.

(7) When getting bricks from used sources, make sure they are the right kind of brick! Some bricks are not made to go into the ground, as they will not stand up well to water or to the abuse of vehicles, foot traffic, and weather. So make sure you’re getting proper ‘clay brick pavers’ rather than the pavers used to build walls, stoops, and homes.

The Verdict

To get a firm price for your project – which will depend on many factors such as availability, labor, and your area – you’ll need to get an estimate from paver contractors. There are cost calculators out there that can give you an estimate, but since the exact cost is so dependant on many factors, you’ll have to take the cost on a case-by-case basis. Follow the link for a discussion of more brick pavers cost information, particularly those costs associated with installation and labor.

An Asphalt Driveway Cost Estimate

If you want to get a new asphalt driveway installed in front of your home, you are probably going with this material due to its low cost. Let’s face it – blacktop isn’t the most unique material in the world, and it doesn’t look as great as other options like concrete pavers. It is strong and durable, however, and it is very cheap because it is so common.

General Asphalt Paving Pricing Estimation

So how much will you pay for your new driveway? The asphalt driveway cost will depend on a number of factors, many of which will be detailed and described below. Note, in general, that the main paving costs will derive from two main sources: the materials and equipment needed to lay the new driveway, and the contractors and laborers needed to actually do the work. It is these two main factors that will ultimately determine the asphalt driveway cost per square foot.

In general, the price for your new driveway will be between $1 to $5 per square foot. If you get any special type of asphalt, such as stamped or colored, expect to pay more. For isntance, the stamped asphalt driveway cost can be nearly double the unstamped variety. This may or may not include any excavation that needs to be done or any other special preparatory work that has to be done. Prices will be lower per square foot if you have a larger driveway – the more work done, the less you will pay per unit area, as it will be more efficient for the blacktop contractor to come in and do a larger project than a smaller one. (The fixed costs are much the same regardless of the size of the project, and these fixed costs will be diluted more if they are associated with a larger project.)

However, as stated above, these costs will depend on more specific factors. Let’s take a look at some of the important ones.

Factors that Will Affect Paving Costs

The main factors that will affect the blacktop driveway cost estimate include:

*Oil and other commodity costs. Blacktop is an oil product, so as oil prices increase, you’ll pay more for blacktop. That’s just the reality of the chemistry and economics and is largely unavoidable. And with the continually increasing cost of oil, don’t expect this to decrease any time soon!
*The thickness of the asphalt. Some climates may require thicker asphalt in order to protect against frost and other damage. Obviously, this would cost more money.
*The depth of the base. 4 inches of gravel is usually the standby, but more or less may be needed depending on the environment.
*Your location. If you live in a richer area, you’ll have to pay more for the work. But you probably already know that you’re paying more for products and services, so this is most likely expected.
*The contractor you hire. Expect to pay for quality, and be ready to suffer the consequences if you look for and receive a ridiculous bargain. Anyone doing work for bargain basement prices will give you a bargain basement driveway, so buyer beware. However, there is some leeway in the price here, especially if you can team up with your neighbors to get driveways done at the same time. You could get a nice discount this way.
*The square footage of your driveway. This is obvious, but remember that a large project may enjoy lower prices per square foot due to increased efficiency of laying the blacktop.
*The season. If you get your driveway done during the busy season (spring to early summer), expect to pay more due to increased demand.
*The specifics of your job. If you want curves, or if your driveway is sloped, or a myriad of other design features, you may have to pay more for the privilege.
*If any problems or issues pop up during the installation, expect to pay. For instance, if the contractor has to deal with utility lines at all and needs to hire a subcontractor, you’ll be footing that bill. A general rule: The smoother the job, the less you’ll have to pay, so try to be open about any potential issues before the work begins.
*If you want special kinds of asphalt, such as stamped or colored, you’ll pay more.
*If you combine asphalt with other driveway materials, you’ll obviously have to pay for the installation of those materials too. For instance, many people get concrete pavers or natural stone pavers (cobblestones) as an apron and border for an otherwise asphalt driveway. This will cost you more than a plain blacktop drive.

Getting an Estimate From a Contractor

Ultimately, it’s hard to give an exact price given that costs depend so much on local factors. For an exact measurement of your cost, you’ll need to get an estimate done by a local contractor. You can also use an asphalt driveway cost calculator to help give you a more focused estimate, though it won’t always be entirely accurate. Always get more than one bid or quote, as you’ll want to see what different contractors will offer you for the job. Don’t necessarily take the lowest price – balance out the quality of the work with the price you’re willing to pay. Substandard work will always come back to bite you.

Repair, Maintenance, and Other Costs

Note that your expenditure won’t end when the asphalt is newly installed in your front yard. You will also have to pay repair and maintenance costs down the line if you want your driveway to last long. Consider it part of the fixed cost of the driveway – the consequences of not maintaining your driveway could be getting a whole new one, a very expensive endeavor. Periodic sealing, sealcoating, and resurfacing will help keep your driveway looking great. Expect to pay anywhere from 10 to 20 cents per square foot for these services if you don’t do it yourself.

How to Make Concrete Pavers and Stepping Stones

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!

Stamped Concrete Pavers: What You Need to Know

This post is meant as a way to clear up some confusion about the term “stamped concrete pavers.” In fact, this is actually the combination of two different things: stamped concrete and concrete pavers. The confusion lies in the fact that stamped concrete can be made to look like concrete pavers. Let’s explore the differences.

Stamped Concrete vs. Real Pavers

First, stamped concrete. Let’s say you are building a patio, though this may also apply to walkways, driveways, and other projects. After pouring your concrete slab, you then use tools to “stamp” patterns and textures into the surface of the wet concrete. If you want to make the concrete look like pavers, then, you simply ‘stamp’ the wet pour with a pattern that makes it look like you’ve got pavers. You can also get particular textures to replicate the look and feel of other types of materials, such as cobblestones, wood, seashells, and more. Stamped concrete pavers, then, is just stamped concrete that has been imprinted in a way to look like concrete pavers.

Concrete pavers are separate pieces of concrete that have been formed into separate brick. These paving stones are laid by hand on an aggregate base and sand bed. They are then filled in with more sand and compacted to make a whole structure. They are thus made from the same material as stamped concrete but put together in a different way.

Thus, stamped concrete pavers don’t really exist – instead, you can either get stamped concrete that looks like paving stones, or you can by concrete pavers themselves. But what’s the difference? Why does this matter anyway?

Let’s look at stamped concrete. Stamped concrete is really just one huge slab of concrete like any other installation. The only difference is that the surface has been modified. Thus, it enjoys the same benefits and drawbacks as any concrete. It is cheap and relatively easy to lay; it is durable and strong; and it can be incorporated into many different designs and themes. On the other hand, these slabs can crack, especially due to the activity of freeze/thaw cycles. This may be exacerbated by the fact that it’s supposed to “look” like something else, so when it does crack, the illusion is revealed and the overall look is worse than usual for concrete.

Pavers, as opposed to stamped concrete, are more expensive than poured concrete, as they must be purchased and laid individually. This increases the materials and labor costs. However, they are as strong as concrete, and perhaps more beautiful. They are certainly more durable as well, as they will resist the cracking that plagues concrete due to the joint system that holds the project together.

Granite Pavers: What You Need to Know

If you are looking for a very strong material for your next hardscape project – driveway, walkway, patio, and the like – look no further than granite pavers. If you create your project out of this material, you can expect it to outlast you, your children, your grandchildren…frankly, the material is pretty much indestructible. Suitable for any use – for both structures and for decorations – granite goes with nearly any decor, home style, and theme.

Granite is a type of natural stone paver that is quarried in nature. It is made up of three components: mica, feldspar and quartz. This material is actually magma, or lava, that has cooled and hardened. Obviously, since it is a natural stone with durable properties, it will resist all weathering and abuse that it can be subjected to. Think about it – do you often see mountains and other stone structures eroding away in your lifetime?

Indeed, granite has been in use for millenia by many peoples for the buildings, monuments, and other structures they’ve built. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, for instance, were well-known granite users. If you see an old or antique monument or statue, it’s very likely that granite was involved somewhere in its construction.

Types of Granite

Generally speaking there are five types of granite pavers you can purchase. Polished is the standard kind – it gives off a smooth and almost glassy look. The next is honed – this is less shiny and more ‘colorful,’ in that it brings out the natural qualities of the material. Diamond 8 and Diamond 10 change the quality of stone’s external appearance in terms of color and texture. The final type, thermal or honed, creates a rough finish on the granite, making it perfect for applications where people will be walking.

Uses for Granite Pavers

Granite pavers can be used for nearly anything inside and outside the home. From walkways and driveways to patios and pool decks, granite pavers can do anything due to their strength and beauty. Granite can also be used for statues, decorations, and indoor applications. Since these paving stones are not slippery when wet, they make a great pool deck or patio.

Designing with Granite

You can lay these brick in many different patterns, just like you can with concrete and brick pavers. Sample types include herringbone, running bond, and basketweave, all at different angles and with different borders. In addition, irregular patterns are also possible, along with other patterns dependent on the shapes of the stones. For instance, most homeowners use square or rectangular pavers, but other shapes, like octagons, can give other potential paving stone patterns. If you get special kits, you can also create fans and circles.

Benefits of Granite Pavers

As with other stone materials, granite is incredibly hard and tough. Thus, it will not be easily scratched, chipped, or damaged, even by the roughest conditions and abuse. Even if the paver are somehow damaged, you can easily remove and replace them as long as you haven’t used mortar to install them. In addition, the amazing polish given to the granite will also last a long time regardless of the surrounding conditions. Granite is also very prized after for its looks – in fact, you’ll pay more money for granite that looks the nicest since these types are rare. Given the stone’s amazing pedigree, you can be sure that adding granite to your home will add an old-world, ancient, and refined look to your hardscape and landscape.

Granite Pavers Colors

Granite pavers come in a variety of colors, everything from white through black granite. Some colors are rarer than others, and are thus used for statues, decorations, and monuments, and thus may be more expensive than the more common materials. Many of these granite pavers are also given a nice polish that will last for many years, keeping the colors vibrant and deep.

Installation

Installation of granite pavers proceeds just like the installation of other paving stones. A sub-base is laid and compacted, followed by a sand layer, and then by the pavers. Joint material, like sand, is then spread between the joints, edges are placed around the project, and the entire surface is compacted. More details can be found on other parts of this site.

Granite Maintenance

Due to its strength and durability, you won’t have to do much maintenance to keep it looking great. You might consider sealing your granite installation, mostly to protect it against stains and to keep the colors vivid and ‘new’ for a longer period of time, but this is certainly not required if you have neither the time nor money.

Granite Pavers Price

The cost of granite pavers will be quite high – in fact, this is perhaps the most expensive material you can work with, not counting the high installation costs due to their heaviness and bulkiness. Expect to pay anywhere in the range of $10 to $60 per square foot for full installation. The type and cost of the pavers you obtain will depend on the suppliers in your area and what they have available for you, as well as the color and grade of granite you want. New stone is quarried all the time so new colors and new types of granite are constantly appearing, making it difficult to give blanket prices you might expect to pay. Note, of course, that since you’ll never have to install a new driveway, patio, etc. again, you’ll be saving money over the lifetime of the installation. Thus, this savings will reduce the total cost of the project when you consider how often you’d have to replace or repair concrete, asphalt, and other materials. You can also save money by getting recycled granite pavers if they are available in your area.

Ten Cheap Paving Ideas to Get You Started

If you are thinking of paving your driveway or other outdoor project, you probably want to know what cheap paving options exist out there to help save you money and aggravation. While the exact prices, and what turns out to be the cheapest option, will depend on your particular circumstances (such as the area you live in, the particular project you want to work on, etc.), there are a few general cheap paving ideas that can get you started in your research.

By cheap, of course, we don’t mean or want ‘poor quality.’ What we mean is inexpensive price for something that offers good value. If we create a driveway out of poor quality materials and workmanship, we might have to replace or repair it sooner than we like, increasing the overall price we’ll have to pay over the lifetime of the driveway. Thus, go for inexpensive instead of ‘cheap’ in the sense of poor quality. With that caveat behind us, here are some cheap paving ideas that can stimulate your own ideas and thinking:

  1. Perhaps the cheapest option out there is using loose stone or gravel for your driveway. This is easy to install, but it comes with heavy maintenance costs. Even if you put borders around the driveway, stone will get loose and will have to be raked and tended to often. In addition, plowing or removing snow from these driveways is near impossible without doing  harm to the driveway, so don’t get this material if you live in a snowy area. In general, stone can look good with the right driveways and homes, but many people prefer hardscape options.
  2. Macadam, also known as tar and chip, is also quite cheap. It looks like a combination of asphalt and loose stones/gravel. You could also go with asphalt if you’d like, as this is quite cheap and, if installed properly, could last for awhile.
  3. Concrete, of course, is a popular option. This may not be the best choice if you have a huge driveway, but for small projects it works well. Make sure that whoever installs it does whatever it takes to minimize the cracking of concrete, but realize that concrete will eventually crack. Don’t go cheap here with concrete, as you’ll regret it when it starts cracking and looking terrible after one winter.
  4. Any option using bricks or pavers of any kind will be quite expensive as the pavers need to be laid by hand. Of course, if you do the work yourself instead of hiring a contractor, you’ll probably be able to install them relatively cheaply. This is especially true if you are able to obtain cheap paving stones from a variety of sources – for more information on this, see the pages on this website having to do with cheap pavers for sale.
  5. Clay bricks are a particularly good material, as they will handle the rigors of expansion/contraction cycles well due to their flexibility while also imparting some strength to your project.
  6. If you want to go the ‘paver’ route without using pavers, consider using bigger slabs. You can find cheap paving slabs and cheap paving flags more easily than cheap pavers, as the larger size of the material will make the price per square foot lower than pavers. This is due both to the size of the flag and the fact that fewer flags than pavers will be needed to cover a particular area.
  7. Note as well that you can save money depending on the contractor that you hire for the work. If you get a cheap contractor, you’ll lower the overall price of the installation regardless of the material you use. In addition, if you install the paving yourself, you’ll save even more money, at the expense of your own time of course.
  8. Keep in mind maintenance costs when thinking of your options. For instance, a material like asphalt will need to be sealed periodically, while stone or concrete will not. This can add up after awhile, so add the long-term costs to the short-term equation.
  9. If you and multiple houses in your neighborhood are getting new driveways, combine your efforts to receive a lower price for everyone. For instance, if you are installing asphalt, you can often get a much better price if other houses in your neighborhood are also getting new asphalt driveways. Talk with your neighbors to see what can be arranged.
  10. Permeable paving may also be a great option for you if you need something cheap, environmentally friendly, and permeable to water.

Good luck! We hope this gives you some ideas to get you started! If you have any more ideas or thoughts, leave them in the comments below.

Driveway Materials: What You Need to Know

If you’re thinking about or have decided to build a new driveway, one of the big decisions you have to make is which driveway materials to use. Your choice will impact how much you pay, its aesthetics (how it looks), maintenance required, and how long the driveway will last until you have to replace it. Thus, there are a lot of factors to juggle. Here is a brief run down of the driveway materials you may want to consider for your next project. At the end there will also be a brief discussion of some of the other material you may have to purchase or use in order to complete your driveway.

Concrete Driveways

A standard driveway material that has stood the test of time. If installed correctly, it will last a very long time, though cracking could be an issue in certain climates. Can also be colored, stained, and stamped in order to increase the aesthetic options, as the plain grey concrete can be rather boring. This is a relatively cheap material as well, though a homeowner will usually not have the skill to pour all the concrete by him or herself.

Asphalt Driveways

This is a great material for many driveways, as it will not show stains well and it will resist cracking. This is one of the most cheap driveway materials, so pick this if looks and overall durability aren’t your main focus. Do realize that you will probably have to repair, maintain, and eventually replace this project within a relatively short period of time compared to other options, especially depending on how well the project is installed.

Concrete Pavers Driveways

The benefits and advantages of concrete pavers have been explained in many places on this site. Overall, this material is a great balance between value, price, durability, beauty, and design flexibility. If you need truly permeable material, you could go with grass pavers. These are also eco friendly driveway materials, as they allow grass to grow between the honeycomb structure while also letting water easily drain through.

Natural Stone Pavers Driveways

This is a very expensive option, but perhaps the most beautiful out of the entire list. There are many different types of stone that can be used for driveways – such as cobblestone – and they bring the beauty of the natural world to the front of your home – for a price, of course.

Brick Pavers Driveways

Related to concrete pavers, these are not as strong, but they are generally a bit cheaper. They may also require a bit more maintenance. Made out of clay.

Gravel and Stone Driveways

These driveways are cheap and last forever.  There are many different types of stones you can use, from gravel to small stones like bluestone. These stones come in many sizes and colors to fit your design and aesthetic requirements. Combined with borders for the driveway, these stones can be kept relatively well contained in most cases. They require some maintenance when the stone goes astray, however, and it may not work with certain decors. Another idea is to have a plain driveway made out of recycled concrete. This is a great idea to save you money; plus, you’ll be using recycled driveway materials, so you’ll also be doing your part for the planet. The only disadvantage here is that the final product may not look great. If you just need function, though, it may be just fine for your purposes.

Macadam/Tar and Chip Driveways

This driveway type is essentially a mix between asphalt and stone driveways, as stones are poured on top of the hot asphalt. These are alternative driveway materials, as they are not as popular as the others discussed above – there’s not much information out there about this type. However, it is a very cheap kind of material, and it enjoys some benefits over its close neighbor, asphalts.

Other Necessary Materials

When installing a new driveway, there are some other materials you may have to use to complete the project. You may need fill if you need to do heavy excavation. You will need a sub base, such as one made from recycled concrete or crushed aggregate. You may also need sand in order to lay down the material, such as for concrete pavers. You may also need topsoil to fill in your landscaping once the driveway is completed in addition to flowers, trees, plants, and other landscaping necessities.

Further Considerations

Realize that there will be many factors that will affect your final decision. Besides the obvious ones (budget, looks, taste, function), there are some more subtle ones. For example, environment – if you have a lot of water in the area, you will need a driveway that drains well. Solid surfaces, like concrete and asphalt, will not drain as well as more porous ones. Do you need to use the driveway for specific purposes, like playing basketball? Will it see heavy vehicular traffic? How much time do you have to invest in maintenance? How will the chosen material affect the property value of your home? These questions and others will be important to think about when you make your final decision.