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.