Concrete Staining: Do It Yourself!

Concrete is a great material for both outdoor and indoor applications. It is strong, durable, and long-lasting, as well as quite cheap for most projects. Its major downfall is its looks – concrete is simply boring to look at and doesn’t match with many home themes and indoor decors. Luckily, it is possible to change the outward appearance of the concrete through concrete staining. Concrete staining do it yourself is very doable for many homeowners, though there are things to keep in mind to do it economically, safely, and effectively.

Benefits of Staining Concrete

As already explained, staining concrete will add a nice color to your floor, patio, walkway, etc., one that you can match to the other features of your home to have a more integrated design. Another benefit of the stain is its sealing properties, as it will help protect the concrete from unwanted stains, dirt, and damage. Note, however, that you may want to lay down a layer of sealer before you stain the concrete to further protect the surface.

A further benefit has to do with the texture of the concrete. Over time, even the hardest concrete will show signs of wear and tear, including cracks and blemishes and rough textures. Concrete stain will help smooth and even out the surface. This is an advantage over painting, patching, and polishing, as these will have to be redone every once in a while.

There are two main types of stain. The first only lays a thin layer on the top of the concrete. It worms its ways into the pores and imperfections of the surface. This is the acrylic stain; it works best with old concrete, though it can also work with new as well. It is good for hiding these imperfections. While this is less serious and cheaper, it will not last as long to weather, traffic, and abuse. The other kind reacts with the surface of the concrete to provide a deeper, and thus more hardy and long lasting, stain. This is the acid stain – it reacts with the calcium carbonate and lime of the concrete. The acid concrete stain will actually accentuate any imperfections on the concrete and works better with new concrete. The stains you use will depend on the properties of your concrete and the effect you’re going for, as well as the traffic and weathering that you expect the stain to experience. A harder concrete surface will require deeper penetration of the stain, while a rougher and/or more porous concrete surface will require stain that will ooze into the holes best.

Concrete Stain Do It Yourself Tips

In general, if you have the skills and are open to staining concrete, do it yourself. You’ll save money and do the job the way you want it to be done. Of course, if you don’t have the skills or the confidence, you can always hire a contractor. Note, however, that a improperly applied stain will look terrible, so make sure you do your research and potentially practice on a less visible area before attempting this. Note that the stain is permanent, so be careful with your design and installation decisions!

Before applying stain, make sure to have safety equipment in place, as this material can be very harmful to your skin and lungs. Whenever engaging in acid stain concrete do it yourself activities, wear goggles, thick clothing, and a mask. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation so that fumes don’t build up.

Next, clean the surface of the concrete as best you can to remove all blemishes and debris that is removable. Get concrete cleaner or use a sandblaster for this step. At this point, you may apply one layer of sealant with a paint brush and paint roller. Allow the sealer to dry before continuing with the next steps.

Follow the instructions on the staining package to determine how to prepare the stain. You may have to experiment here to find the texture, color, and other features of the stain that you want for your concrete. You can do this by finding other concrete, either blocks, old patches in your yard, or concrete slabs you create just for testing. The more you dilute the stain, the different the color will appear; you can also experiment with different ways to create designs and patterns on your concrete, if desired.

How you apply the stain will depend on the effect you’re looking for. If you just want an even coat, apply it with paint brushes and rollers. However, if you want special patterns, you’ll have to be more creative. Consider covering certain objects with the acid stain and then laying them on the concrete to create the patterns you like. Allow the stain to dry, and add a second layer if you want.

Never rush when applying your stain. Properly applied, concrete acid stain can look great. However, if you rush it, it will end up looking terrible, perhaps worse than it did before, and you’ll regret your efforts. Take your time, put in the effort, use your creativity, and it will turn out great.

Ten Tips for Finding Concrete Molds for Sale

Homeowners are not limited to basic concrete structures – recent innovations allow homeowners, contractors, and DIYers to produce concrete creations that look professionally done. Finding the best concrete molds for sale, however, can be challenging. Here are ten tips to consider:
  1. First, consider the feasibility of making your own forms before looking for concrete molds for sale. This is especially viable if you are making a large structure like a patio, walkway, driveway, slab, etc. where the shape is regular and doesn’t require especially skillful craftsmanship. With these, some boards or foam walls are all you need to create the flat, thick structures you need. However, for more complex molds and shapes, like statue molds and bench molds, you may not be able to make them yourself and thus will have to buy them.
  2. When purchasing your molds, you need to know the kind of project you’re working on, as there will be different molds and forms for different jobs. There is literally a mold or form for anything you can imagine – paver molds, block molds, wall molds and facings for walls, veneers, statues, sinks, tubs, benches, bird baths, stepping stones, balusters and balustrades, and more! There are literally too many different types of molds available to list them all here. In general, if you want to make something out of concrete, you will likely be able to find one for sale or at least be able to make one. Ask a local contractor, manufacturer, concrete expert, or homeowner supply store for more information and advice on specific projects.
  3. There are many different types of materials that the molds are made from. The most basic ones use wood or foam. The more advanced and complex molds will use special kinds of plastic, latex, or rubber.
  4. First check local supply stores, mason yards, contractor supply stores, and home improvement stores. These places will have concrete forms for sale, or at least the items you’ll need to construct your own forms.
  5. For more specialized or specific molds, you may have to go online and look at ecommerce and specialty sites. The offerings online are nearly endless, as you can get various functional and decorative pieces for a good price. You may have to pay more for shipping, especially if they are large, but it may be worth it to get the molds you want.
  6. There are also certain molds that let you ‘mass produce’ smaller pieces that you can put together into larger structures. This includes paver, block, and brick molds. The more bricks you can produce, the quicker you can install your project. These molds may be a great alternative to purchasing concrete pavers, as it’ll be cheaper (though slower) to make them yourself.
  7. Consider as well adding colors and materials to the concrete itself. This can expand the design options available. Don’t forget to get sealant for your concrete creations too.
  8. Consider buying your concrete molds and forms used. If you buy used concrete molds for sale, you will save anywhere from 20 to 50% on the price. You can buy them from homeowners and other people who may be selling them. Check online for cement molds for sale at sites like craigslist and Ebay for leads. As always, be careful when entering in any transactions with individuals you don’t know. There are no guarantees that the products you buy will be in great condition – in fact, there are no guarantees you’ll get your products at all! Always use caution when entering in these transactions to avoid scams. However, if you can deal with the risk, you’ll be able to get molds for low prices.
  9. The cost of the molds you buy will depend on their size, complexity, and so on. For simple shapes, you will pay anywhere from $10 to $40. For more complex designs, such as baluster molds as an example, you can pay hundreds of dollars. Sets will also cost more, as there will be more molds included in order for you to complete all the pieces of the project.
  10. Consider the design possibilities that you can achieve with concrete molds for inside and outside your home – you no longer need to hire a sculpture to chip away at stone or concrete to get you the structures you want, nor do you have to have the structures shipped to you at great cost.

Limestone Pavers: What You Need to Know

Limestone pavers are a natural stone paver and have been very popular for construction for over a century. It is a sedimentary rock made of calcium carbonate and sometimes silt and clay. This stone, like all natural stone, is quarried and cut into the shapes necessary for construction. The material enjoys its place as a favorite for builders of many kinds – the rock is used for buildings, roads, and even for residential paver applications whenever a very hardy and durable material is needed. The material is also used inside homes for various unique applications. most notably floors in many residential and commercial buildings. Limestone is actually a component of other building materials, like cement, concrete, and plaster.

Using Limestone Paving Stones

Since limestone can be customized to order for whatever project you conceive, you and a contractor and/or designer can work closely to create the limestone installation that’s right for your needs. Homeowners use the material for many purposes. Aside from pavers, other people use limestone for curbs and veneers.

Many homeowners like to create hardscape projects with limestone, creating walkways, patios, pool decks, and pool coping with the material; limestone goes well with many landscaping designs and styles. Additional outdoor structures, like arches, fire pits, seats, tables, and fountains can also be made out of the material. Other builders and homeowners use them indoors for tables, fireplaces, and vanities. Since the material can be cut and shaped however needed, the design possibilities are truly only limited by imagination and budget.

In terms of aesthetics, limestone pavers and building materials give off a natural, elegant look, much like other natural stone products. Because they are not manufactured, each brick will be different from the next. While this is a strength for the material and a source of its unique beauty, others may desire a more regular look for their materials and thus be better off with manufactured options. Some may have ‘natural impurities’  that cannot be prevented. This includes ‘veining’ and ‘speckling.’ These specks are what give the material its charm, but for others it can be annoyance. If these types of impurities bother you, make sure you see what this material looks like in person before committing.

Limestone mixes and matches well with nearly any other hardscape and landscape materials, so go ahead and see how your natural stone can mix with concrete pavers, brick pavers, other natural stones, and poured concrete.

Limestone Pavers Designs

One of the important decisions to make when using this material is deciding what shape of limestone pavers you want to use. Of course, the standard sizes are available, but if you use your imagination and creativity, you can come up with others. For example, hexagons, octagons, circular shapes, and even irregular shapes can all go well when perfectly coordinated with the project’s dimensions and design specifications. One way to get ideas is to find pictures of patios and other hardscape projects that you like. Take these pictures to your nearest limestone suppliers or contractors and see what they can do for you.

In general, the large the area you’re paving, the larger bricks you should use. Similarly, the smaller the area you’re paving, the smaller bricks you should use. This will ensure that the paved area will look right no matter what the size.

The colors of limestone pavers also vary depending on the manufacturer and type you purchase. Colors include blues, greys, tans, and whites; some even have tints of red and pink and orange and brown! Truly you can get limestone in any color depending on what other substances are contained in the stone. It’s very hard to put natural stone, including limestone, into color categories for this reason. It’s better to take a lot at actual product samples with a general ‘class’ of colors in mind that you may be interested in using. Always look at real life product samples before committing, because even the best images may not faithfully translate what the brick look like in real life. If you want pavers that are guaranteed to be more regular in color and consistency, you’ll want to go with manufactured options like concrete pavers.

Limestone Pavers Installation

Note that one must use a mortar bed and joints in order to properly hold together. This material does not interlock like concrete paving stones do. If you are not experienced with working this material, it’s best to hire a contractor to do the job right. If you have the skills and experience, installing limestone pavers is certainly something that a DIY homeowner can do.

Limestone Pavers Maintenance

Because the stone is porous, limestone does well with heavy amounts of water, allowing the water to drain easily. In addition, these pavers are slip-resistant, so they are great for pool applications. Limestone does not stand up well to acidic materials and environments, so they should be sealed if you expect they will come in contact with any of these substances.

Limestone Pavers Cost

Limestone is a very heavy duty stone, and as such it is expensive, again like all natural stone pavers.

Brick Paving Patterns: Some Information

When using brick pavers to create a patio, walkway, driveway, pool deck, or other creation, there are many patterns you can lay the brick in depending on your taste and goals. Note that the following article is based on the standard size of bricks. Differently sized bricks offer further options for design, as do irregularly shaped bricks.

There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to designs for brick pavers or any pavers. If you make the brick paving patterns simple, they will blend into the environment more. Other features of your home and landscape will thus become more apparent; the hardscaping will simply complement these features.

If you want to have your hardscape – patio, walkway, etc. – draw the eye more, or be the centerpiece to your yard, pick more complex brick paver patterns. When a pattern is complex, or different from the other parts of the yard which it goes with, it attracts more attention.

Brick Patio Patterns

Let’s take, for example, the possible patterns you could use for patios. These same patterns can also be used for driveways and pool decks or any other area that is wide and long. Some of these patterns can also be used for walkways, but more specific examples are discussed in the below section for that hardscape type.

First, you can decide whether to lay the pattern in a 90 degree or 45 degree pattern. If you lay it 90 degrees, either perpendicular or parallel to other lines in your yard, it will blend in more and even make the area look larger. If you lay the pavers at a 45 degree angle, the area will look more complex and thus attract the eye. It will also make the install area look smaller.

The first major pattern to think about is stretcher pattern, also known as the running bond. This is essentially laying the pavers is straight lines and is the easiest to install. The direction that the brick pavers are laid will determine which direction looks ‘longer.’ For example, if you lay the pavers in a stretcher pattern across the width of a patio, it’ll look longer in that direction, and the same for length if you lay it in the other direction.

The next type of brick patterns for patio is the basket weave pattern. This is an old fashioned look and works best with these brick pavers that already look ‘old’ or ‘used.’  They are laid in units of two vertical pavers side by side and one horizontal paver covering either the top or bottom. Another kind of basket weave is two vertical pavers followed by two horizontal pavers and two vertical and so on.

The final type of brick paver pattern is the herringbone pattern. This is a very popular pattern, but it is complex to install compared to other options. It is essentially the alternation of vertical and horizontal patterns in a ‘diagonal’ like shape. If laid at 45 degrees, this paving pattern is very noticeable and will attract a lot of attention. If laid at 90 degrees, it will be a little more understated but will still dominate the hard and landscape.

Another thing to keep in mind is the kind of traffic to expect on your installation. This applies mostly to driveways. Certain patterns do better with certain traffic on your driveway. For instance, herringbone works best with parked cars, while stretcher pattern is for places where high acceleration or deceleration is expected.

Keep in mind that you can pair any of these major patterns with borders of various types, using the same or different paver shapes and colors.

Brick Walkway Patterns

Many of the same patterns can be used with walkway pavers. However, since these walkways are often thinner in one direction, care must be taken when deciding upon a pattern. For instance, a running bond laying across the width of the walkway may help make it look thicker than it is. In addition, an overly complex pattern may require a ton of cuts in order to fit the bricks into the pattern correctly. This will raise the materials and labor costs of the project and is generally not recommended.

Another general pattern for any installation is a random mix. This can be tricky, however, especially when different sized bricks are mixed together. This should only be attempted by someone experienced with installing pavers, as properly installing them will require good ‘mixing’ of patterns, shapes, sizes, and colors sot hat the pattern will appear ‘random’ to the observer.

More information on concrete paver patterns can be found by following this link.

Patio Steps: What You Need to Know

If you are building a new patio out of any material, you may want to add patio steps to your creation. There are a number of places where and reasons why you will want to install these steps. Some enjoy putting them as an entrance to the home. Others like putting them as an entrance to another part of the yard, or towards a lower, pool area. Some patio steps allow movement to different areas of your backyard, perhaps to a walkway or the backyard itself, if the patio is raised above the rest of the year. Other patio steps will allow you and your family and guests to comfortably and safely enter and exit your home, especially if your doorway is high above the ground. It can also help you keep your home clean, preventing people from dragging in mud and dirt.

Whether or not you have to install steps depends on the grade of the area. If your backyard slopes, and you want to install a flat patio, you will need to install steps to get to the other areas of the house and yard. This means that you are in essence installing a raised patio.

Patio Steps Ideas

The types of materials you can use for your patio steps are many. The material you choose will depend on the height, dimensions, specifications, and requirements of your stairs. Obviously, aesthetic considerations will also come into play – you want to pick the stairs that look the best given your home style and theme.

The first decision you have to make is what material to use for your patio steps. Your decision will be affected by the material already in place for your patio, your home’s general theme and design, and your budget. One popular choice for materials is the concrete patio steps. These are quite generic, and can go with nearly any patio and decor. However, aesthetically they are a bit bland, and are more functional than anything else. Homeowners may also have trouble building such steps themselves, especially if they don’t have the skills and experience.

Another popular choice are paver patio steps. These offer more opportunities for patio steps design, as you can lay them in different patterns and in many different colors. There are also special patterns, like circles, that you can add to your steps to give them a unique flair. Paver patio steps are very durable and can withstand weather and foot traffic. They go best with concrete paver patios, but can fit with any decor as well. They are a bit more expensive than concrete, but they also can be laid by a homeowner who is committed to learning how to do it and to doing the job right.

Another option are brick patio steps. These are also quite cheap, and can be laid in many different patterns. However, they do not look as nice as concrete pavers, and there are fewer color and shape options. Thus, if you have a lot of patio steps ideas that you want to play around with, your best bet is to select paving stones for your steps.

If you have a small drop off, you may only need to lay a few brick or concrete block down to act as a mini-step. Don’t get more complex if you don’t have to!

You can also go with wooden steps. Though they are cheaper than stone steps and may look nice at first, over time they will not hold up as well as concrete, brick, and paver options. You could also purchase metal steps that you simply lay in the area you need them, though these don’t look as nice as customized options do.

There are also a number of different materials you can use to face or veneer the steps. First install concrete steps, and then you can put a number of materials on top of it, including pavers, stone, and other material.

When picking the material for your application, you will also want to consider how much maintenance you want to put into your stairs or stoop. Some materials and installations will require more maintenance than others. Wood, for instance, will need periodic sealing, where concrete and concrete pavers will not need it as much, if at all.

Consider also the weather factors and other wear and tear that may be put on the steps. If you expect to use the steps for work or to bear heavy loads, go with heavy duty materials.

Patio Steps Installation Tips

If you want to know how to build patio steps, you first need to know what the design of your area is. You need to measure out the dimensions in all three ways – length and width of the entire installation as well as each step, and the height of the entire project as well as each step. You need to figure out how big the landing will be and how big the steps will be. There are certain minimum safety requirements you will need to consider, such as the length, width, and depth of the individual steps. Most people are used to a 6 inch height for steps and a 15 inch width, so change them at your own peril – people are ‘used’ to walking up and down steps a certain way, so don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Then, you need to determine what material you will use for the steps, some of which are detailed above.

If you have DIY experience, you can install the steps or stoop yourself. However, you may find it necessary to contract some or all of this project, as installing steps can be tricky. You can easily combine this project into another project, such as a patio, walkway, pool deck, or other application to save money and time.

Most installations will require poured concrete regardless of the surface or veneer material. Many will also require the use of mortar to keep the bricks together. If you have no experience with these materials, don’t mess around with stoops. Since many people will be walking on them, and safety will be a primary consideration, don’t skimp on this.

Keep in mind that you may also have to install hand rails if the height of your steps is big enough. This will prevent people from falling if the steps are obstructed or slippery. There may also be other codes and regulations that you need to follow, so it may pay to consult with a contractor or other professional to find out before attempting any installation yourself.

Tips for Finding Cinder Blocks for Sale

There are many uses for cinder blocks at home or on the job. Using these blocks is so easy that finding cheap cinder blocks for sale might be the hardest part of the project! The most common use for cinder blocks is creating a wall or retaining wall. However, if you use your creativity, you may find other good uses for the block. One use is creating temporary or permanent steps or stoops. You can use the holes in the block for creative options, such as planter borders in your garden or shelves and storage units in your garage. You could make a barbecue or fire pit out of your blocks, or add other concrete slabs to make a bench. Add some cement or mortar and you can make these structures strong and permanent, or leave out the mortar if you’d like the option to take them apart later.

We know there are plenty of uses for cinder blocks, but where can you find them? And how much are you going to pay when you do?

(Note that there is also a type of block called ‘concrete block.’ While they are largely the same for most purposes, you might find that concrete block are heavier and stronger, and thus more suitable for certain jobs. The price you’ll pay for these concrete block will reflect this difference. This article only considers the cinder variety.)

Where to Buy Cinder Blocks for Low Cost

If you are looking to buy cinder blocks, there are a number of places you can look. The traditional places to look are actual stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and other home improvement stores. You could also check mason supply yards if you are comfortable going to those places, and if you do you might find a great deal.

The less traditional places to find cinder blocks are online. The best place is probably sites like Craigslist. Many people offer their block their for $1 or less. Some may even let you have them for free if you come and remove them yourself! However, there are some cautions when dealing with Craigslist. Some people will not e-mail you back, or they might try to take advantage of you. You need to avoid scams or dangerous situations – always bring someone with you when you go to pick up the blocks to make sure everything goes smoothly. In addition, you’ll want to verify the condition of the block in person before 100% agreeing to the transaction. Some people may be less than forthcoming concerning the condition of the block, so you want to make sure you get a good look at them before agreeing to any deal.

Cinder Blocks Cost

Cinder block price will depend on a number of factors. The general price of cinder blocks will range from less than a dollar to two dollars or more for each block. How much you pay will sometimes be random, but often there will be a connection with the quality of the block, so don’t settle for something cheap if you need to make sure they’ll hold against the weight and forces you’ll be subjecting it to. The cinder block cost at home improvement chains like Home Depot will run you around $1.00 to $1.50, though you may get a better deal if you buy in bulk or if you find a sale.

Brick and Concrete Pavers for Sale: How to Get A Great Deal

One of the greatest expenditures you need to make when installing your next driveway, patio, walkway, pool deck, or other paver project is the cost of the pavers themselves. The price of the pavers will vary on a lot of factors, but the more you can save, the better the price per square foot that you’ll have to pay. This can truly add up if you have a large project or multiple projects that you want to install. In fact, the more square footage you install at a time, the more overall you’ll save, as you’ll make the installation process more efficient than if you have contractors come back multiple times to do separate jobs. Note that the same pavers can be used multiple projects – driveway pavers are the same as pool pavers and so on.

Some Tips to Buy Pavers

Often the contactor will offer to buy pavers for you, with you paying the materials cost.  However, you may have more motivation to find a better deal for the pavers, as the contractor will probably just buy from wherever he or she normally purchases pavers, and may not try hard to get you a deal. For this reason, it may be prudent for you to purchase concrete pavers yourself. This is true regardless of what kind of paver material you are looking for. Finding natural stone pavers or brick pavers for sale follows the same logic as described below. However, you may have no idea where to buy pavers if you’ve never had to do it before. Thus, here are some places to find cheap pavers for sale:

  1. First, consult with your contractor, if you have one. He or she may be able to get you a good deal on pavers, such as wholesale, or from their own sources, especially if he or she has any leftovers from a previous job. You might be able to get used pavers for sale in this way. However, always compare prices with other contractors to see which one gives you the better offer. Some may give you a break on the total price if you buy materials through them, so don’t automatically assume that you’ll get a better deal on paving stones by getting them yourself.
  2. If you’d like to try buying pavers for sale by yourself, find the local mason supply yards and home supply stores in the area. You’re more likely to get a good deal with a local mason yard, though you might also get lucky at a chain store occasionally. See if the yards have any deals available, such as damaged or ‘seconds’ product available. If you’re more concerned about function, and not necessarily about looks, you may be able to get a great deal. Otherwise, shop around and see which yards and stores will give you the best deal on the quantity you want to order.
  3. If you’d like to go off the beaten path to look for patio pavers for sale or any other product, journey to the internet. There are plenty of resources available there that can guide you in the right direction. Here are some of the major ones:
  4. First, check sites like Craigslist and other classified ads. You may find that local individuals are selling leftover or used pavers for a great price. In fact, you might even get them for free, as long as you go to their home or business and remove them yourself. Other places for free stuff are sites like Freecycle. You might be surprised at what you find, actually. Of course, you’ll want to see the material in person before you agree to take it, because it may be in very poor condition, and you’ll want to make sure you’re satisfied before making a commitment to remove it.
  5. You can also check out online dealers for paving stone products. This may be a good way to learn about the concrete and brick pavers for sale, different brands available, and the local dealers that supply them, just in case you may have missed some in your initial search. Overall, however, you’ll probably have more luck sticking locally than trying to use the internet to find paving stones from official manufacturers.
  6. Check around your own house or your friends’ and family’s houses. You may find pavers that you can ‘recycle.’ The only cost you’ll have to pay is the time needed to move the pavers to their new location.
  7. Note that the above also applies if you’re looking for other materials, such as grass, landscape, and thin pavers for sale.

If you have any other ideas or sources, leave them in the comments!

A Rough Estimate of Driveway Paving Cost

If you want to install a new driveway at your home, you are probably most concerned with the cost. Due to the high square footage of most driveways, and the need for a base that can handle vehicular traffic, driveway paving costs are usually higher than for other hardscape projects (like walkways, patios, and the like). However, this large square footage can decrease the total cost per square foot, simply because it’s more economical to install the driveway over a larger area (the fixed costs are more widely distributed.)

Before we draw out all the different costs for different materials, there are a few general factors that will affect the driveway paving cost estimate.

Factors that Affect Driveway Paving Costs

  • Your location. If you live in a more expensive area, your price will be higher, and if you live in a lower cost area, your price will be lower. This is a factor that’s obviously out of your control. However, if you are able to combine with other homeowners on your street to get multiple jobs done, you may be able to save money as a whole due to the convenience you offer a potential contractor.
  • The contractor you hire will have an obvious effect on the price you’ll pay. If you consult with different contractors, you’ll get different bids for the job. Usually, quality will correlate with cost – in other words, you’ll get what you pay for. When searching for contractors, make sure to get three bids. Most people default to the middle bid, but don’t necessarily do this without carefully evaluating what the contractor is offering – and, more importantly, what he may be leaving out!
  • The driveway materials you choose. This will be discussed in more detail below, but your driveway paving cost will depend on what kind of material you want to pave your driveway. In addition, there can be some variation even within materials, depending on the manufacturer and type of material you choose within a certain category. Don’t forget that there may be maintenance costs associated with the material and project. For instance, asphalt will require periodic resealing to look nice; concrete pavers, on the other hand, are near maintenance free.
  • Obviously, square footage will matter. The more you want to get paved, the higher the price, of course. (See the note above about large v. small jobs and the effect on the prices per square foot.)
  • The design/pattern. The more complex the design, the higher the price, as it will require more skill on the part of the contractor. Let’s take concrete pavers, for instance – the more complex the pattern, the more cuts need to be made (usually). Cuts take FOREVER to complete, just because they need to be marked, cut, and replaced individually. This will add to the expense of your project.
  • Time of year. The paving driveway cost will be lower if you get the work done during non-peak times of the year. Shoot for the fall and winter if possible, as the spring and summer are quite popular (especially after tax season when everyone is flush with checks).
  • Details of installation. If there are some difficulties in excavation, or if something else makes the job more difficult than a standard job, you may have to pay more. For instance, if your driveway area needs to be regraded in order to prevent flooding, this will be an extra expense on top of what you’d normally have to pay.
  • How much you do yourself. If you are able to do steps of the process by yourself, you’ll save on labor costs. In addition, if you can obtain the materials yourself, you might be able to get a better deal on the materials, thus saving you money overall.

Given these general factors, a number of estimated conclusions can be drawn about the price of driveway paving:

First, you’ll have to pay to have the sub base excavated and installed. This will cost anywhere from $1 to $3 USD per square foot, obviously with some regional variations. This is also subject to how difficult or easy this step of the process is. This does not include any other work (like grading) that may have to be done in special circumstances.

The next major factor that determines the price is the material you select. The more expensive materials will look nicer and will also require much more labor on the part of the contractor and his or her team. The most expensive kind of driveway paving material is cobblestones or other natural stones. These are very expensive to purchase individually, and also must be laid by hand. These can run you anywhere from $10 to $50 USD per square foot or more!

Brick and concrete pavers are next. Driveway pavers must also be laid by hand, but since they are manufactured they are cheaper, running about $8 to $20 a square foot.

Next comes concrete, both regular, stamped, and colored. If you go with regular concrete, you could pay anywhere from $3 to $10 a square foot. If you want to get the concrete stamped or colored, expect to pay a few dollars more.

Asphalt paving driveway cost is next – look for around $1 to $6 per square foot for this.

Finally comes stone and gravel driveways. These are the cheapest, running from $.50 to $4.00 a square foot. (A more detailed discussion of the pros and cons of different materials, such as stamped concrete vs pavers, may be found here.)

You also need to factor in replacement and durability. If a driveway cracks easily, requires heavy maintenance, and needs to be replaced more often, it may still cost a lot of money even if the initial installation is cheap due to all this additional work down the line. It may be worth it to pay more up front for a product that will last a long while.

The Verdict

The final estimate you get will have to come from a contractor, as there are too many factors involved (as you see above) for me to give you a specific price on your job. A cost calculator can help you get a rough estimate, but it’s not something to totally rely on.

In addition, a funny thing often happens when you want to get a simple driveway installed – other things and projects have to be done sometimes in order for the original project to be completed. For instance, the installation of retaining walls, changing of grades, and other adjustments may have to be done to ensure that the project is done right. This is impossible to predict without being able to see your particular job. That’s also why it’s so important to get a honest contractor who will be up-front with you on this – you don’t want to find out that you have to add a retaining wall before it’s too late!

The Facts About Bluestone Pavers

One great choice for a home hardscape project is bluestone pavers. Bluestone is a natural stone paver, mined directly in the United States. Natural stone pavers and building supplies add a natural, ‘ancient’ appeal to any indoor or outdoor space. This article will discuss some of the properties of bluestone pavers, how they are used and installed, and their cost.

The Properties of Bluestone Pavers

The natural color of the bluestone is, of course, blue, with some grey mixed in as well. Bluestone pavers do also have other hints of color in them beyond blue and grey, depending on where the stone was found, but all colors give a nice natural feel to a project. Though there is some uniformity in some types of bluestone in terms of size and texture and shape, they are still not totally uniform like manufactured bricks like concrete pavers. Thus, since each stone is different, every installation made using this product will be different and unique. The paving stones are so nice and versatile that they can be made to fit in with any home style, theme, or design, and can match or complement other features of your land and hardscape.

Like other natural stone products, bluestone pavers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This is because the stone is obtained whole in the ground, and it is then transported to manufacturers and factories which cut it down to specified sizes. This is, in part, what makes bluestone so useful, as it can be customized to fit any job or desire. The possible shapes of these pavers range from rectangular, triangular, oblong, diamond, and irregular. The shape that you select will ultimately impact the paver patterns that you can lay the bluestone in – for instance, Holland stone pavers can be laid in Herringbone patterns, while diamond pavers have fewer pattern options available.

Uses for Bluestone

Due to their strength and versatility, bluestone pavers can be used for a variety of projects and uses aside from hardscaping. Some use bluestone paving stones as veneers for homes, businesses, or gardens. Some even build houses or other buildings out of bluestone. Many people also use bluestones for paving purposes, such as a new walkway, patio, driveway, or garden area. Some use them for steps, retaining walls, and pool decks and copings. They can be used nearly for any purpose, making bluestone a very popular product. It can be the main ingredient in a new project, or it can be used to add accents and flairs to a project made from a different material, indoors or out. Bluestone can be found in very flat and smooth “slate” varieties to large brick or coping shapes, depending on the wants and needs of the homeowner.

One popular use for bluestone pavers is for landscaping. Due to the flexibility and variety of stone shapes and sizes, bluestone landscape pavers can be used to spruce up any back or front yard, as well as incorporated into a garden or other landscape.

There are a number of varieties and modifications of the bluestone paver. For those looking to install bluestone in an area with high foot traffic, look for thermally treated bluestone that will make them less slippery. Another variety is ‘natural cleft,’ which makes the pavers look not uniform and thus more ‘natural,’ rather than the smoother, more uniform finish found in the standard kind.

Installation of Bluestone Pavers

A great benefit of the bluestone paver is its strength. Because it is made of stone, it will resist damage both from extreme weather and from the environmental stresses you put upon it. Still, it may be necessary to apply sealer to it every once in awhile, as weather and other erosion effects can wear away some of the natural colors of the stone. Water, in particular, can have damaging effects on the color of the pavers. Sealing your installation will also help guard the structure against other stains and dirt, maintaining its beauty for years to come. The integrity of the material, however, will not be compromised by these effects.

Bluestone pavers are installed much like concrete pavers are installed – they are laid on an aggregate base and a sand bed. The joints between the pavers are then filled with a joint material, usually sand, and they are then compacted. Like concrete pavers, bluestone can be a viable DIY project for many homeowners, though many will benefit from hiring a contractor to do the job right.

The Cost of Bluestone Pavers

Bluestone pavers price can be somewhat prohibitive, however. This is true for all stone pavers, whether sandstone, travertine, slate, or whatever. Manufactured pavers, like concrete and brick, are less expensive because they can be mass produced in house, while bluestone pavers must be quarried. However, if you can handle the cost of bluestone pavers, you will be sure to enjoy the beauty and strength of your new installation. You can expect to pay around $20 to $30 per square foot installed, though this price depends on so many factors it’s impossible to list them all here.

Tips for Finding Bricks for Sale

Perhaps you are looking to build a stoop, walkway, or other masonry project, and you’re looking for bricks for sale at an affordable price and easy availability. Where do you turn? There are many places that sell brick of different materials, quality, colors, and designs, so do your research before making your final choices. Hopefully this article will give you ideas and tips to help you make the selection that’s right for you.

Picking Your Bricks

First, you need to decide what kind of brick you want to purchase. Looking for paving bricks for sale, for example, will require different research and questions than looking for concrete pavers or natural stone brick. Each type of material has its advantages and disadvantages, many of which are covered in other places in this website.

Start Searching for Sources

Once you’ve decided what kind of material you’re looking for, you can start checking the different sources available locally and over the internet. The first obvious choice to look for bricks for sale is at your local hardware store, such as chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s or more mom-and-pop locations. While you may find some  brick here, the selection and prices may not be great. However, it’s usually a painless place to visit, is homeowner friendly, and you can easily find customer service to help you out.

For those who want more options and better prices, a mason supply yard may be another good bet. These yards cater primarily to business owners like masons and other contractors, but homeowners can also buy materials from them. These places carry more selection at better prices than hardware stores, and you can often get certain types of brick ordered from the manufacturer through the supply yard. They will also deliver the material to your house for a fee. However, mason supply yards can be somewhat intimidating for the homeowner, but don’t sweat it – just ask for help and you shall receive.

Using the Power of the Internet

Another popular option is to resort to websites like craigslist to find brick pavers for sale and other materials. The advantage of this option is that the supplies will be local, plentiful, and often in good condition. Best of all, you can get a great deal on these pavers; sometimes you can get them for free as long as you remove them from their home site on your own dime. There are some disadvantages, though. These bricks will often be used, and thus could be in questionable condition. Also, you have to be careful about dealing with scammers and other questionable people on sites like craigslist. As long as you are OK with the risks, you may be able to get an excellent deal.

If you are buying used bricks, always find out what they were previously used for, their current condition, and their age. You need to make sure you are getting quality material if you want to build a quality project.

You can also check general internet sites for bricks for sale. There are some websites that purport to sell bricks and slabs of various types, but it’s usually better to deal locally whether you go the offline or online route.

Some Final Tips

In general, it’s a good idea to get recommendations from friends and family. If someone you know has recently bought brick, ask them for recommendations or help. You can also call a local mason or contractor for help; they will often deliver brick to you and help you obtain what you need, for a small fee, even if you are installing them yourself. You may find, though, that you would rather have that contractor install your bricks too!

Always make your final selection after looking at the product in person. Pictures can be deceiving no matter how much the manufacturers try to make the images match the products. Make sure you buy extra brick for cuts and waste, so add some extra brick in to your calculations when you figure out how much material you’ll need for your stoop, patio, walkway, steps, driveway, pool deck, barbecue pit, garden, landscape, retaining wall, or some other project.