Winter’s Coming…Are You Ready?

Winter is coming – that means the holidays are here, and fun times will certainly be had by all. But is your pavers installation ready? Of course, we know that concrete pavers are incredibly durable, especially to freezing and snow and sleet and ice, but you should still keep your eye out on the projects during these potentially harsh months.

For instance, if you live in an area with snowfall, will your pavers be ready to be shoveled or plowed? This is especially important with driveways that will be plowed – if they have any uneven spots, the plow could potentially do serious damage to the installation.

You also have to be ready to know how your pavers will react to deicing salts if you use this material to deal with salt that forms on your walkways, driveways, and patios. Some paver brands deal fine with this salt, others will not – it’s all up to the brand that you’ve got installed. Either call the manufacturer if you know the brand and are unsure of the damage potential; if you don’t know the brand, call the contractor who did the work for you to find out more.

After the season is over, you should check to see if there are any spots that have settled in the winter. If so, all you have to do is pull up the offending bricks, reset the base, and then put the bricks back down. This will make the area as good as new!

Getting Ready for the Next Season Too!

In addition, it’s not just about having your already existing installations ready for the winter – you also have to start thinking about if you want more work done coming in the spring! It’s good to call contractors before or during the winter if you’d like some work done on your house – this will ensure that you’ll get the project done according to your schedule. If you wait til the spring or summer, you may find that your favorite contractor won’t be able to help you until later in the season. Or worse, he may be all booked up, and he won’t be able to help you at all!

It’s even better if it’s relatively warm where you live – your contractor will still be able to do work around your yard, and they will be relatively slow during the winter. This usually means that you can get a great deal on your paver installation if you get it done at this time as opposed to during the peak spring and summer months.

Your Other Projects

You’ll also want to watch the other projects around your house that aren’t made from concrete pavers. For instance, if you have concrete patios or asphalt driveways, you will want to watch them during the cold months to keep your eye out for cracks and fissures due to freezing water beneath the project. Of course, there’s very little you can do to stop it once it starts, but you can at least be on the lookout if you’re considering replacing these projects with more durable paving stones that won’t have these kinds of issues.

21 Awesome Front Yard Landscaping Ideas

This article will discuss some of the best landscaping ideas for front yards that you can implement. Of course, you don’t have to do them all, or any of them for that matter. They’re here to get your mind moving, to give you an idea of the scope of possibility and to serve as a catalyst to your own creativity. Even if you are getting someone to design your landscape for you, you will want to have ideas of your own, just so at the very least you will know what you like.

Front Yard Landscape Design Ideas and Generation

  1. One of the best things you can do to get your creativity flowing is to see what others have done with their front yards. A quick drive around your neighborhood or other parts of your town can accomplish this; you can even snap some photos to bring home (as long as you aren’t obnoxious about it). The benefit here is that you can see what people with similar home designs and property sizes have done with their yards; plus, if you really like how someone did something, you can ask them for advice or for the number of their landscaper. You can also see what supplies may be readily available in your area. However, don’t get ‘stuck’ into what your neighbors and fellows townspeople have done – you may want to try something totally unique, and fitting in with what everyone else has done and limiting yourself to that worldview won’t help you.
  2. Thus, a great way to get past this is to find some front yard landscape photos or pictures in magazines, books, on TV shows, and on the Internet. Having this supply of ‘foreign’ ideas can really help stimulate your noggin; the only drawback here is that the homes you’ll be seeing in the images will have a totally different design and specifications than your home. (You can also use this technique to get backyard landscaping ideas, though that is a different topic altogether!)
  3. The main objectives with front yard design flow around a few things: curb appeal, creating an inviting nature, and allowing for people to come and go as necessary. For instance, you’ll want to have the general ‘skeleton’ of the yard, in the form of your driveway, walkway, stoop, etc., formed or at least planned before you can figure out your landscape design. (More on the hardscape in a bit.)
  4. Note that if you have a limited budget, you can do a cheap front yard landscape design without sacrificing the beauty or uniqueness of your project. This is because you really won’t be spending much time in the front yard, and most people who will be looking at the front yard will not be spending time gawking at it. Thus, you want something that’s simple, effective, easy to put together and maintain, and easy to navigate. Beauty and value are of course important, but as long as you have the first members of this list, you’ll be satisfied with your project. The topic of front yards is relatively easy, then, when compared to backyards – since we spend a bunch of time there, such as in and around a pool, we’ll want to make sure that we’ve created something truly beautiful and functional. However, that investment of time and energy and money can wait until another day and another article.
  5. As part of your design, you may want to come up with some kind of “theme” as a general guiding system to help you design your project. Your design and theme will depend largely on the climate and general appearance of your space, but you’ll still have some freedom to explore different ideas if that’s your game. For instance, tropical themes may work well in lush environments, while desert themes may work better in drier and more arid locales.
  6. Don’t be afraid that you’ll have limited freedom if you have a small front yard. In fact, you may have more freedom, because you won’t have to maintain a huge amount of green life and can focus on really getting the major details right instead of worrying if all the major components are in place.
  7. Work with what you’ve got. If you have an interesting or unique feature of the surrounding terrain, or even a body of water to play with, you can either a) downplay and try to hide the feature or b) bring it out and make it a focal point.
  8. A good general point: make sure your yard and garden has some kind of focal point. This is perhaps the most important front yard landscape idea – you want to draw your eye somewhere, and you wan tot draw it to where you want it to go. The alternatives – the eye finds nothing to look at, or it focuses on something ugly – are to be avoided at all costs!

Creating Your Green Space

  1. The first major decision you’ll have to make is how much ‘green space,’ or lawn, you’ll want to keep and maintain. Note that the more you have of the lawn, the more you’ll have to maintain. You may also consider working in designs for automatic irrigation systems or sprinklers so that you can at least keep that part of the maintenance pretty easy for you. If you need new grass, you can either use grass seed or lay down sod. The type of grass is up to you as well, though you may be limited in your choices due to local ordinances and the like.
  2. Next, sketch out the areas where you’d like to add some special landscaping touches – your flowerbeds, planters with beautiful flowers, areas for new shrubs and trees, and places to put other interesting objects (such as bird baths, water fountains, statues, and more). Don’t forget to add curves wherever possible, especially if your walkways allow you to do this. Curves are generally pleasing to the eye and a bit more ‘artistic’ than ordered straight lines. I don’t want to denigrate the straight line though, as it has a certain beauty to it all its own.
  3. Note that picking certain kinds of flowers and plants to fill in your beds and planters may require certain obligations of maintenance and upkeep. For instance, some plants may need frequent watering, while others won’t need much attention at all. Thus, make sure you find out all the properties of your flora before you go ahead and install them – you can save yourself a lot of hassle!
  4. Consider having ‘mobile’ landscaping in your front yard. This means using pots and planters and other containers that you can move, mix, and match at will. This will allow you to be flexible and adaptable with your landscaping as your mood and taste changes.
  5. There are two major kinds of plants that you can use: annuals and perennials. Annuals will only last you for one year, but they will give you an amazing burst of color and beauty for your yard during that season. Having to replace them year after year is both good and bad. The bad side of it is that you’ll have to remake your front yard landscape every year, but this can also be seen as a good thing, because then you’ll be able to ‘remake’ your landscape every year. This can allow you to experiment and play around with different landscape features.
  6. Perennials will last you for many years – each year they will bloom anew. These will be more expensive than annuals, but they will be the ‘centerpieces’ or focal points of your yard for years to come. Thus, it pays to choose carefully and make your big investments here. Once they’re planted, you’re stuck with them unless you want to go through the hassle of removing them. Thus, your best bet is probably to get a good mix between these two kinds of plants.
  7. Don’t forget to consider the kinds of topsoil and mulch you can use for your yard. You could also use landscaping rocks as well. Each will have their own benefits and drawbacks, so make sure you do your research before you commit to one or the other.

Some Warnings and Other Notes

  1. Note that some landscape installations will require more maintenance than others. Large lawns, for instance, have to be watered, fertilized, and mowed and trimmed regularly in order to keep it look healthy and beautiful. Huge flowerbeds, on the other hand, will require their own maintenance, such as periodic weeding and trimming to keep things looking nice. Thus, don’t just think about the short term benefits of whatever material you’re using – think also about the long term costs, i.e. how much time and energy you’ll have to sink into upkeep. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to put in effort into maintaining your front yard, that will significantly affect your landscape choices.
  2. Don’t go overboard. You don’t want your home to be absolutely overwhelmed by your landscaping. Sometimes less is more – having the perfectly selected or designed element can be much better than have dozens of different things in a complex arrangement.

Other Options and Accessories for Front Yard Landscaping

  1. Even though we are talking about front yard landscaping ideas here, we don’t want to forget the other important aspect of your design that goes hand in hand with the landscape – your front yard hardscape design! Your driveway, walkways, patios, stoops, retaining walls, and other stone accessories to your yard are perhaps just as important as the landscaping itself, since this hardscape gives shape and structure to your yard and interacts with the organic components in interesting ways. Thus, consider using concrete pavers or other hardscape materials as part of your total project – walkways are a particularly good use for this material, as are garden pavers and landscape pavers interspersed through your organics.
  2. Another thing to think about is using stepping stones as a pathway through various parts of your yard – more information on different kinds of stepping stone can be found in articles here: Large Stepping Stones, Round Stepping Stones, and Slate Stepping Stones.
  3. If you’ve spent this much time and money and energy on making your beautiful front yard, why not increase its curb appeal by adding outdoor lighting? This will make it so that everyone will be able to see your beautiful landscaping even at the darkest of night. There’s a lot I can say about this topic, so check out the articles on outdoor lighting and garden lighting for more information on this vast topic.
  4. Don’t forget the possibility of installing outdoor rooms in your front yard area. Whether an enclosed patio or a gazebo or whatever, this may be the ticket to a nice place to relax during a beautiful day or evening. However, this will work best only with large yards, as small yards may get cramped. Still, you could even install some kind of hardscape seating in yards of any size, so you can at least have a place to sit if you don’t have a deck or porch of some kind.
Some other articles you might enjoy related to this topic include articles on garden paving

8 Wonderful Patio Ideas

Installing a new outdoor patio is one of the best investments you can make into both the financial state of your home and the satsifaction you can gain out of it. Obviously, a new patio is an important investment, one that cannot be overlooked. I want to help you avoid regret when you finally get that patio installed a realize that you don’t like what you got, whether that’s 10 minutes or 10 years down the line. Thus, here are eight outdoor patio ideas that will hopefully inspire you and educate you about what is truly possible when it comes to an outdoor patio. I cover nearly every facet of your choices, the patio’s design, installation, and extra features that can make your patio even more beautiful.

Location of Your Patio

Obviously, the first decision you need to make is where to install the new patio. The standard location is in your backyard, perhaps just outside the back entrance of your home, but don’t limit yourself to this location. While it’s a classic for sure, there may be other interesting places to install your patio. For instance, think about combining your patio with a pool deck, especially if you have an in-ground pool, as you’ll enjoy a well-integrated backyard. (There could be a whole article on pool patio ideas as well!)

While you are planning out your back patio, don’t forget that you can add other features to the installation, such as a new stoop or garden area – indeed, there are many patio ideas for small gardens that can combine the beauty of your organic garden life with the man-made beauty of your new patios.

One final note – don’t just limit yourself to the back patio! Many people have begun adding patios to their front yard. Obviously, this will depend on the dimensions of your property, but front patio ideas are at least something to consider during this phase.

Choosing Patio Materials

Another decision you need to make about your patio paving is picking the right patio material. There are tons of materials you can choose from, and many different designs and patterns (more on that in a sec), so the major factors for you will probably fall more along the lines of budget than anything else. At the lower end of the price spectrum is gravel, asphalt, and concrete – they are strong and durable, but don’t offer much in the way of design choices. You can spruce up this traditional slab look with stamped and colored concrete patio options.

The next level are concrete paving slabs, large square or rectangular cuts of precast concrete. The next paving level up are pavers – concrete pavers, grass pavers, and brick pavers. Each type of patio pavers has its own qualities – I go over bricks and paving stones in other areas of this site, linked here. Finally, there are the natural stone options, such as flagstone, both in paver and slab form. These are by far the most expensive options.

Other factors that you have to consider are your project plans, the climate (cold areas may crack patio slabs), and possibilities for expansion (i.e. are you considering adding on to your project at another time).

Patio Design Ideas

Next comes the hard part – actually determining the design of your patio. A lot of your design will be determined by the material you select – for instance, pavers may be easier to form into curves and allow you to play around more with colors and patterns, moreso than traditional options like concrete. You’ll need to determine the dimensions of the patio, the pattern (if applicable), color scheme, add-ons (like walkways and steps), and more. Create a picture if you can, or get a contractor or designer to do it for you.

Don’t forget about possibly adding a system of walkways around your new patio as well! The best part of using materials like concrete pavers is that you can use the material for all your backyard projects, even if you decide to add on to the installation years down the line. Still, it makes the most economic and efficiency sense to do as much work as possible at the same time.

One way to get ideas is to be inspired by what other people have done. Look around to your friends’ and family’s patios and see what you like and dislike about their projets. You can also seek out photos to get more patio ideas. Your material manufacturer or contractor may be able to supply you with these pictures as well. (I will be adding some images soon to this page, so check back.)

Hiring a Patio Contractor

This is an important step – all your well-laid plans could go to waste by missing this step. I’ve written extensively on how to hire paver contractors here – much of what I wrote applies to hiring any contractor.

Do It Yourself Patio Ideas

One way to save money is to do it yourself – forgo hiring a contractor and install that patio with your own efforts. This will save you much money that you would have had to pay in labor costs, but you will of course pay with your own time and labor.

If you are considering this option, make sure to think about DIY patio ideas, ones that will fit with your skill level and budget. For instance, certain materials are harder to handle than others, and require more skill and experience. You may also have a difficult area to install your project in (for instance, issues with grades or soil settling/composition) that necessitate the help of an expert. Still, you may be able to do a lot of the work yourself, especially if you’re using easy to install materials like pavers and slabs.

One quick trick here is to try installing a small patio somewhere else in your yard as a ‘practice run.’ It can be a simple design where you can test out different materials, ideas, and so on. Then, when you feel more comfortable, upgrade to a larger application.

Landscaping and Your Patio

Improving the look and feel of your backyard is not just about the hardscape! Consider how adding landscaping can enhance your newly installed patio. Doing so is an easy and cheap way of increasing the beauty of your project, especially when you can’t afford high-priced materials like sandstone paving. For instance, integrating a garden with a backyard patio may be a great way to showcase your hobby while enhancing the beauty of your backyard retreat. This site doesn’t have too much information (yet) on landscaping, but consider these articles on landscaping rocks and garden pavers for some preliminary ideas.

Adding Extras to Your Patio

Once the patio has been installed, you can also add other features to your patio that can increase its beauty and utility. For instance, if you’re looking for more privacy, you can get a screened in or enclosed patio. A covered patio is also good if you want to enjoy your project in any weather – extreme rain or extreme shine. Other ideas include getting a raised paver patio, adding patio furniture, outdoor lighting, barbecue pits, fireplaces, fountains, and much more!

Even if you are not installing a new patio, or you don’t own your patio (like if you live in an apartment), you can still use these ideas to spruce up what you’ve got to make it a more enjoyable and relaxing living space.

Saving Money

Finally, there are plenty of ways to save money on your next patio. Cheap paving doesn’t have to be low quality as long as you make the right shortcuts. First, you can look for inexpensive materials – I discuss some ways to find pavers for sale and paving slabs for sale on this site. As already mentioned, you can make use of patio ideas on a budget by doing the work yourself. For a more in-depth discussion of costs associated to different materials, see the Costs & Saving Money section of this site, including articles on such topics as the cost of pavers and a concrete patio cost guide.

Building a Paver Patio – Hints and Tips

A new driveway is probably the best investment you can make in your home’s hardscape and landscape. But a close second is a new patio, as it’s both a great financial investment and an investment in your enjoyment of your home and backyard. In addition, the best material to use for this purpose – the material that will maximize the beauty and value of your new patio – are concrete pavers.

Best of all, if you have any sort of home improvement skill, you can install these patio pavers yourself! Note that if you don’t think you can handle building a paver patio, there are plenty of paver contractors who you can hire to do the job for you. Still, you should consider giving a DIY patio a try. This article will give you some tips and tricks to help inform you how to build a paver patio for the lowest cost and the lowest hassle.

In addition, we want you to get the job done right! So some of these tips will be essentials when it comes to properly installing your new paving stone project, so listen up!

Picturing and Designing Your Paver Patio

The first step, after deciding to install a new patio, of course, is to plan and design your new application. Of course, you have near limitless options here, both in the size, shape, pattern, and color scheme of your new patio, so we can’t go into all those options here. The key is, of course, getting all of those features down in a sketch, or at least in writing, so that you can move on to the next stages in your building project.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, or don’t have any ‘eye’ for design, you can outsource this step. At the same time, I’d advise you not to underrate your own abilities – you know what you want and what you like better than anyone else. This site can give you plenty of ideas for sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns, so there’s a start for you at least. Check out our section on design ideas!

You should also tailor your design to your skill level. In other words, adding fancy curves and dips and steps to your project will be an unfortunate proposition if this is your first DIY concrete pavers project. Thus, sticking to the basics (rectangles and squares) is a good idea for most homeowners. While curves are nice, some patios may actually be better designed when they stick to the ‘basics.’

Your Material Choices – Pavers for Patio

This article assumes that you’re using concrete pavers, or paving stones, for your next project. In truth, natural stone or brick pavers will be similar to concrete pavers in many ways, though there may be some tips specific to those materials as well.

Once you’ve figured out the plan for your next project, you need to pick the brand of paver you’ll use, the type, and the colors. Of course, picking one of these options will, in some ways, require adhering to another choice. For example, if you pick one brand of pavers over the others due to price, you’ll be limited to the colors and types of brick that that company sells.

You’ll need to order your brick, crushed aggregate, and sand according to the square footage of your project. Before you call the paver manufacturer or mason supply yard, make sure to have the dimensions and square footage, along with any other special needs, at hand. They will tell you how much material you’ll need to complete the job. The exact amount will vary on so many factors that it won’t be very helpful if you were given an estimate here.

If saving money is your game, there’s plenty of information on this site on how to find pavers for sale.

Beginning Your Paver Project

This section will just be a brief overview of the important factors that you need to consider when installing your new patio. For a more detailed discussion of the steps needed to install paving stones, see this CPG article on paver installation.

One thing you’ll want to do is ‘simulate’ using your patio. This means laying down your furniture in the dimensions of your new project. This is done to ensure that the space is ‘liveable’ and that no conflicts between the size of the patio and your furniture will develop.

Another thing to keep in mind is grading, or pitch. You want to make sure that your patio is sloped away from your house or other sensitive areas of your yard. This will make sure that water doesn’t flood your basement, garden, or other areas of your home.

Before digging in your backyard, make sure that you note the location of any utility lines. It can be both messy and dangerous if you split a wire or water line. You can call your utility company to do this for you; many will do the service for free, so don’t worry about the expense.

The most important thing, bar none, when it comes to the quality of your project is the foundation, or sub-base. Spend most of your time on this aspect of the project – it will be time well spent. A poor base will mar even the strongest patio installation for years to come.

When installing your patio, make sure your family members know not to step in the area while construction is under way. Disturbing the base or sand bed is obviously a good thing, but they should not even walk on the pavers until they have been properly edged and compacted. This includes pets, too – having Fido do his business in your freshly prepared base is a headache and a half!

Don’t feel compelled to do all this work in one sitting or one weekend. In fact, for large patios, this may not even be possible. Dedicate one weekend, for example, to properly preparing the base. Spend the next on laying the pavers and applying the finishing touches.

The Verdict

In the end, installing a new paver patio is within the ‘wheelhouse’ of more homeowners than may be normally assumed. Pavers are relatively easy to work with a forgiving to newbies – unlike poured concrete and asphalt, as their drying process is a “one shot deal.”

In addition, if you want some more outdoor patio ideas, go ahead and read this CPG article that will give you ten great ones to get you started on your next project!

Want to Buy Brick Pavers? Read This First

If you are starting a new DIY paving project in your front or backyard of your home, such as a patio, walkway, driveway, and more, and you are using brick pavers, you are probably here because you are interesting in buying brick pavers for your project. However, before you buy brick pavers, there are a few things you should know. This includes the prices you’ll pay, how to save money on your pavers, and other options that are available to you if you find brick to be too expensive or not appropriate for your project.

Types of Brick Pavers

Unlike their cousins (concrete pavers and natural stone pavers), there aren’t as many options available when it comes to colors, shapes, and sizes of brick. Most will come in the ‘standard’ brick size. As a result, your patterns and designs will be somewhat limited, especially when compared to other options. Due to the hardness of the clay, it is difficult to cut them into the shape you want, so you should use brick pavers only if you want the traditional look of laid brick.

In addition, there are fewer colors of brick available than what’s available in concrete and stone. If the brick goes with your decor, then this probably doesn’t matter to you, but keep in mind that there are other options available to you if you want to explore other designs. (See the discussion below for some leads.) You will see red brick as the most common, though browns, blacks, and other colors are possible.

However, you might also find that these limitations are useful in that they make it easier for you to make your selections. Before you begin your research, you should narrow down the shape, size, and color of the brick you want. This will help you during the research process, though you will not be that hindered if you go into it unprepared.

The Costs of Brick Pavers

Note that much of this discussion of costs depends on the square footage of your project, so be sure to measure that out before you do your research. Realize as well that you’re going to be buying more brick than you need, both for cuts and for wasteage.

For the material, you will pay around $5 to $15 per square foot. The exact pavers cost relies on so many factors that it’s hard to pin down an exact one for you given your different areas and needs. Just know that if you get pavers on the low end of this scale, you’re getting a pretty good deal. Note that concrete pavers are a cheaper option, so if budget matters, consider looking into these.

How to Save Money on Clay (Brick) Pavers

When it comes to saving money on clay pavers, it’s all about knowing where to buy brick pavers in the first place. Here’s a listing of the best places, both offline and online, to do that.

You should always start with the usual suspects when it comes to home improvement – stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. They will have a limited selection in types and colors, though, and you may not get the best prices through these sources. Thus, just use these bricks and prices as a guideline.

If these places don’t have the brick you want and need, you should try mason supply yards next. This is a requirement if you need a large number of brick. If you just need a few for some stepping stones or garden border, a home improvement store is probably fine. But if you are constructing a patio or walkway and need them by the pallet, you will definitely need to go with a mason supply yard or other materials supplier.

You can also check with online companies for discounts and other good deals. Note, however, the importance of geography here: you might find a great deal on brick pavers but actually end up paying more due to high shipping costs. In general, it’s best to stay as local as possible, since the shipping costs will be lower and already factored in to the price you’ll pay. Note though that you’ll also have to pay a delivery charge to have the brick brought to your home, though if you have a big vehicle you could transport them yourself.

Probably the best ‘underground’ option is to check out classified ad sites like Craigslist. Many homeowners rip out old brick walkways, driveways, and other projects, but don’t want to pay for the disposal of the brick. They then post them for free, or at least a nominal charge, on craigslist. As long as you can come and pick them up, they’re yours. Granted, you’ll have to get lucky with the color, type, and condition of brick you get, but this is a phenomenal way to get an amazing deal on used brick.

Another way to save money is to get ‘thin brick’ and lay it over an existing concrete slab. Thin pavers over concrete should only be done  if the slab below is in good condition; if it cracks, you may have a problem with the surface of the paver project over time.

Finally, the other major way to save money on your pavers is to install them yourself. If you pay a contractor for installation, you will pay much more for the project above and beyond the materials costs. Thus, if you have any skill and willingness to do the work yourself, consider doing as much of hte work as you can. Of course, if there are certain parts of the project that are beyond your skill, consider hiring out subcontractors for those portions of the project.

NOTE: Don’t buy regular bricks that you’d use for walls or facing! These are actually different than ‘brick pavers,’ which are made to withstand soil and water. Regular brick will fall apart if you use them for these ground applications.

Other Options

If you have your heart set on interlocking pavers, realize that there are other types out there beyond brick, types that may actually turn out to be better for your budget and your project. Check out concrete pavers as the main alternative option when it comes to paving stones. If budget isn’t an issue, than natural stone pavers can be a wonderful addition to your home.

10 DIY Patio Ideas

Among all the outdoor projects that you can build to enhance your own, the patio is among the most fun and valuable. Having a comfortable and beatiful place to entertain friends and family is worth the price of installation, and it will pay itself off many times over the years of use you’ll get out of it.

Best of all, if you have the skills and desire, you can make your own patio without needing to hire a contractor and bear the brunt of that expense. In fact, a DIY patio is a great first project, as it is hidden in your backyard and doesn’t have to deal with vehicular traffic. If you messed up a new DIY driveway, for example, you’d have much more of a headache on your hands.

To help you with your DIY paving project, we are giving you ten DIY patio tips to stimulate your creativity and get you thinking about your next project.

Note: You can also find 10 DIY concrete pavers tips here.

  1. The first major decision you have to make is picking your material that will use. Some are more appropriate for homeowner installation than others. Concrete pavers, for example, are highly recommended here, as they are easy to work with and install. The only difficult aspect of a DIY patio pavers project is preparing the base – this is the most important part of the project, so the utmost amount of care should be taken to make sure it’s right. Your other options are brick pavers and natural stone pavers – these are similar to install, but they are more expensive, so are usually not recommended for beginners. Concrete is easy to work with if you know what you are doing, but difficult if you are unskilled.
  2. When designing your new patio, don’t be hemmed in by the old shape and size (if you have an old patio that you’re replacing, of course). Be creative and aggressive – expand your DIY patios beyond their original borders and outside of their previous shape.
  3. Even if you want to do the entire project yourself, you have a backup plan if things go sour – you can subcontract out pieces of the project that you can’t handle or are having problems with. This way you can still save money while making sure the job is done right. An example of this is with the paver patio – you might want to have someone come in and excavate the old base and install the new one. You can then lay the pavers on the sand bed yourself and complete the finishing touches.
  4. Speaking of finishing touches, don’t forget them. Many little tweeks are easy to do yourself and can add much beauty and value to your patio. For example, when laying your pavers, your do it yourself patio can be fashioned into an interesting pattern with a good color scheme. If you are installing a concrete patio, you can use concrete patio paint or outdoor patio tile to help spruce up the appearance of the plain concrete slab.
  5. If you want the look of pavers without the expense, go with stamped concrete for your DIY patio. You can find concrete stamps for sale and concrete patio molds to make the shapes and designs you want; simply press them into the surface of the still wet concrete. You should only do this, however, if you live in a mild environment that doesn’t experience regular freezing and thawing in the winter.
  6. Don’t forget the accessories. You can also DIY your own enclosed patios, patio doors, awnings, canopies, and other aspects of your patio that will add both form and function. Don’t forget the furniture or barbecue, either.
  7. If you are having trouble coming up with a unique and effective design for your patio, you can hire a contractor or designer to create the plans for you. This is often worth the investment, as the designer can give you suggestions as to what works best with your backyard, home style, and landscape theme.
  8. Think big. Just because you’re working on a patio doesn’t mean you can’t add other pieces at the same time. Consider building walkways, driveways, and pool decks at the same time as you’re making your patio. It will be easier and more cost effective to create all of it at once than to split up the projects across many months and years.
  9. Be free with your design. Don’t stick to straight (perpendicular and parallel) lines if you want something more. For example, if you are using pavers, consider adding circle kits and curves to your design.
  10. If you want more information on how to build a patio, consult with resources pertaining to your particular material. This website deals especially with pavers and paving stones of all kinds, so you might have to find other resources on concrete and other materials.

A General Paving Cost Breakdown

Determining the paving cost you’ll have to pay for your new installation is difficult because it depends on many factors. The general factors that will vary from area to area include: where you live (some areas have higher standards of living and thus higher prices), the time of year you get the work done, the contractor you hire and his or her bid, and so on.

In general, the price you’ll get from a contractor’s estimate will be on a ‘per square foot’ or square unit area basis. Any additional work required, such as excavation and removal of debris, may require extra costs that are added on to the project estimate. Thus, what you’ll ultimately

However, a general estimate of paving costs can be made according to a number of factors. If you know the type of project, its size, its design, the materials used, and the labor required, you can at least get a ballpark range for your project. The more specific price you’ll pay will have to come from a contractor or from your own calculations if you are installing the project yourself.

Here is a general breakdown of the main factors that will affect the paving price you’ll pay.

What Kind of Project?

First, determine the type and extent of your projects. Most home paving is done to new driveways, though walkways and patios are also quite popular. Other paving projects may also be possible, including pool decks, garden paving, and retaining walls are not uncommon.

Though most projects are similar to each other, there may be enough differences between project types to warrant a discussion. For instance, given the same amount of square footage, a driveway paving cost may be different than that of a patio or walkway due to the specific requirements necessary for driveways (due to the need for the driveway to withstand vehicles) versus these pedestrian applications.

Which Paving Materials Will You Use?

Next, you need to determine what kind of material you’ll use. This will be one of the most significant factors in the price you’ll pay, matched only by the labor necessary to install the material. The most popular paving materials are loose stone, asphalt, concrete, concrete pavers (paving stones), brick pavers, and natural stone pavers. The general price you’ll pay for these materials is contained in that above list from cheapest to most expensive. Thus, you’ll pay the least for loose stone and the most for natural stone pavers (like flagstone pavers).

Incidentally, this is also the order of expense when it comes to installation costs. The further into that list you get, the more extensive, expensive, and intensive is the installation, either for you or a contractor. For instance, asphalt and concrete is simply poured and spread in an area as one slab. Interlocking pavers, however, must be installed individually by hand, making the installation process more expensive and time-consuming.

Another important factor related to materials is the base or sub-base you may have to install before laying the top layer. This can also be expensive or cheap depending on how robust the base needs to be. For instance, a paver project requires a base made of both crushed aggregate and a layer of sand. This can cost anywhere from $1 to $3 per square foot or more, depending on various factors such as depth, materials choice, location, durability, etc.

Design Decisions and Pricing

The design of your paving project will also have an impact on how much you’ll pay. The more elaborate, extensive, and complicated your decorative paving, the more you’ll have to pay in time and money. Thus, if you want to keep costs down, keep your projects simple and to the point. However, don’t settle for plain designs, as simple tweaks and tips can spruce up any hardscape design without breaking the bank.

Installation Cost

Obviously, if you install the driveway materials (or other project) yourself, you’ll pay less in financial terms. However, don’t forget that your time is technically ‘worth’ something, as are your efforts and your peace of mind at a job well done. In addition, you may not be able to actually do the DIY paving project due to its difficulty or expense; for instance, blacktop is usually best left to the pros. Most people, then, will want to hire a contractor; as an investment, it offers a high ROI.

The Verdict

The total cost you pay will thus be based on these factors. You’ll always want to get bids from multiple paving companies and contractors; don’t necessarily go for the lowest bid, but don’t settle for the highest, either. Find the bid that best balances value and quality.

For a closer breakdown of paving costs per square foot related to driveways (and indeed, by extension, all other projects), see this article on a driveway paving cost estimate. (You can also see a more detailed breakdown of pavers cost and asphalt driveway cost at these links.)

Ongoing Costs

One final note. Don’t forget that certain materials and projects will require more ongoing maintenance than others. For instance, your asphalt paving cost will be higher than the initial price over the term of its life, as you’ll have to pay for sealing and resurfacing to keep it looking nice.

In addition, if you have to replace your driveway, patio, walkway, etc. due to poor installation or poor materials, your overall cost will be higher than if you picked a more durable material. Cement, for instance, will crack, perhaps requiring you to repair or even replace the concrete well before its time. Thus, it’s usually better to pay more in the short term than to have to deal with more expense in the long term.

10 DIY Concrete Pavers Tips

If you are thinking of trying your hand at a DIY concrete pavers project, there’s a lot you should know before you begin. Whether you’re building a driveway, walkway, patio, or some other project, the more informed you are, and the more effort you put into the project, the better the final results.

While we can’t give you every piece of information you’ll need – though much of it can be found in other articles on this website – we can give you the top 10 most important pieces of information that you can use for your DIY pavers project. Some of them have to do with cutting costs, others with making sure the project is built correctly, and still others about paver designs and project ideas. All together, these tips represent the most important things you should know (and think about) before attempting your own paving project:

Ten DIY Concrete Pavers Tips

(1) Plan ahead – don’t wing it and expect that the project will turn out brilliantly. Think about the project you want to make, its dimensions, its patterns and designs. For instance, if you’re laying a DIY paver patio, sketch out its dimensions on paper and then use spray paint, stakes, and string to lay out the dimensions of the project in your yard. The more you plan, the better you’ll be able to anticipate potential problems. Plus, it will tell you how much material you’ll need.

(2) The key to any paver project is its base. The more effort you put into the sub-base – made of crushed aggregate and sand – the better the project will turn out and the longer it will last. Don’t take shortcuts here – it may be tempting to lay the pavers over concrete, but this will be a suboptimal solution. You might consider contracting this part of the process if you don’t feel comfortable in your abilities.

(3) Though DIY paving projects are a great way to save money, don’t go too cheap, both in the amount of time and money you spend. You don’t want substandard materials, especially the brick, as these will fade and break over time. You want to use quality material and quality tools in addition to quality processes to ensure that the final product will turn out to be of professional grade.

(4) Speaking of grades, pay special attention to making sure the slope of your project will permit water to drain in the right places. The project should slope away from the home, flowerbeds, or any other sensitive area; if possible, have it slope towards a drain of some kind so that the majority of the water will leave your property (this is most appopriate for driveways that are close to the street). Having a flooded basement or landscaping can ruin what was otherwise a successful project!

(5) When digging, be careful not to dig up any utility lines. This can be both expensive and dangerous if you cut or damage these lines. If you don’t know where they are, hire a utility expert (or ask the town) to find out where the lines are.

(6) If you are thinking about installing more than one project (such as a paver walkway and patio), consider doing them at the same time. “Chunking” them in this way will be the most efficient, both in terms of time and money, as you’ll be able to order materials and pavers in bulk and use your own time and labor more efficiently than if you separate the installations of the projects in time.

(7) To that end, do think about adding other additions to your projects. If you started out thinking only of doing a DIY patio pavers project, for instance, you may want to consider adding a walkway, driveway, pool deck, garden project, or other application to the schedule. If you already have the materials and the time, it may not be that much more expense to expand the project and have more of your yard look integrated within the overall design.

(8) Though we advocate concrete pavers here, do realize that there are other hardscape options at your disposal, such as brick and natural stone pavers. While these materials are more expensive than concrete, you will at least be able to install them yourself, removing labor costs from the equation.

(9) Use the right tools for the job. This will save you both time and aggravation. You don’t have to buy these paver tools, either – you can rent a plate compactor and diamond blade wet saw, for example.

(10) If you are unsure, ask for help. Your paver manufacturer is the first source to go with specific questions about your project, as they will be able to offer you free advice that may help. For more specific, urgent problems, lean on the advice of paver contractors, even if this means you have to pay one for the help. Paying a little up front for good information may save you a lot of money and hassle down the line.

A Definitive Driveway Paving Guide

The first thing visitors and passerbys will see when they look at your house – besides your house, of course – will be the driveway. A well designed and well installed residential driveway, made from quality materials, will accentuate the fine appearance of your home, even taking a modest home and turning it into something more. A pathetic driveway, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect – a crumbling mess can make even the nicest home look less valuable.

So, you’re probably considering a new driveway paving project, either for functional or aesthetic reasons, or perhaps both. Fortunately, and unfortunately, there are plenty of driveway paving materials available for you to choose from. Fortunately, insofar as you’ll be able to pick the perfect driveway for your home, given your budget, but unfortunately because the inexperienced homeowner may feel overwhelmed by choice. Paving a driveway is a complex affair: Which material should you use? Should you install it yourself as a DIY paving project? How do you hire a contractor? These and many other questions might be going through your mind right now. To help you out, this driveway paving guide will help you sort out the various aspects of this process, both to help answer questions you have and to better inform your ongoing research process.

A driveway is a huge investment in your home, both in your time and financial resources, so you’ll want to spend time doing your due diligence. The more research, the better. We hope that this article reveals and guides you in your quest!

BUDGETS AND COSTS

Before going further, you’ll need to sketch out your basic budget. Obviously, you’ll want to have a range, as sometimes costs can add up faster than you expect, especially if your job will require special work.

Which material is the cheapest? This is a different question from “which material is the most valuable?” You may pay more money, in absolute terms, for one material, but end up making more in the long run given the quality of the material and the potential to increase your home’s value. Thus, don’t necessarily think only in terms of sheer prices per square foot, but rather in short and long term costs and value.

If you’d like a general cost estimate to get you started, here is a general scale for price for the most common driveway materials for both materials and labor, all other things being equal: To

Stone < Asphalt < Concrete < Concrete Pavers < Brick Pavers < Natural Stone Pavers

To get a more specific estimate, you can read this article on driveway paving cost or you can find  a cost calculator for these products for a decent guide, but the only true measure will be an estimate from a local contractor.

Let’s talk about the relative merits of each material.

WHAT DO YOU WANT IN A DRIVEWAY?

After budget, the next questions you need to ask yourself are about performance and looks. First, performance – you’re going to be driving and parking on this surface, so you want to make sure it won’t break apart. Most driveway materials will have no problem standing up to this kind of abuse – as long as they’re installed in a proper manner. This is why it’s critical to find a skilled contractor – if you look for a bargain, you may get a disaster instead. Go with quality.

Next, aesthetics. This may be a very small concern of yours after the above two – paving cost and how well and long the driveway holds up – but it’s still important, especially considering you’ll be living with the driveway for many years. In general, go with the materials that have more design options – usually, these are your paving stone materials, as they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and thus give you more freedom to create.

Depending on your project and circumstance, you may have other concerns to consider. For example, you may have environmental concerns to balance; in this case, you’d want to avoid materials like asphalt that damage the environment or any driveway material that isn’t permeable in order to allow for proper water drainage. A good material to look into in this case are grass pavers or other permeable alternatives.

DRIVEWAY PAVING MATERIALS

As stated in the cost section above, the most popular materials for your driveway include loose stone (gravel, for example), asphalt, concrete, concrete pavers, brick pavers, and natural stone pavers. The material you choose will depend on a large number of factors, not least of which is your budget. This will probably be the main determinant of your final selection. Truth be told, if you had an unlimited budget, you’d surely go for one of the pavers options, and probably with the most expensive option – one of the natural stone pavers. However, most of us need to settle with more affordable options, which is why concrete and asphalt, in particular, are so popular.

For a long discussion of the relative merits of each material, check out this discussion on the merits of stamped concrete vs pavers and a comparison of all the other materials mentioned above in terms of strength, durability, maintenance, price/value, and more. Note, however, that there also other materials out there, from paving flags and concrete slabs to macadam and block paving and everything in between. Thus, this discussion isn’t exhaustive, but it will at least highlight the most common and popular material types available.

Even if we go with these inexpensive options, we still shouldn’t settle for “cheap” necessarily. There is a big, big difference between high quality and low quality asphalt driveway paving, for example, so keep this in mind when shopping around with potential driveway paving contractors.

MAINTENANCE AND YOUR DRIVEWAY

The sticker price you pay at first installation may not be the only money you lay out over the lifetime of the driveway. Consider what maintenance costs, both in dollars and in your time, may also come with that material. It may be prudent, for example, to invest more now for a low-maintenance material (concrete) than to pay a little bit now for a material that won’t hold up as well over time and will require more maintenance and repair (e.g. asphalt).

Blacktop, for instance, will require periodic maintenance to keep it looking fine. Over time, it will fade and crack, showing the aggregate within the structure, and will thus not look as nice. To keep it looking great, you’ll probably have to get some sealcoating or resurfacing work done; if you don’t, that’s fine, but be ready to deal with a less than optimal driveway. Even paving stones will require occasional concrete paver sealer; usually homeowners will be able to go on sealing pavers themselves, so it usually is not much more of an added expense aside from the time spent working on the project.

TEN DRIVEWAY PAVING IDEAS

To finish this article, we’d like to leave you with ten design ideas and construction tips that you may want to consider when getting your new driveway. Of course, these are just suggestions, but hopefully they’ll spur your own ideas and thoughts when it comes time to craft designs and plan your own outdoor creation.

1. If you’re going with the traditional materials, like concrete or asphalt, don’t limit yourself to the standard iteration of these materials. For instance, you can get stamped concrete to look like paving stones at a fraction of the cost. You can also use stains and finishes to make your concrete look totally different from the typical drab, grey appearance.

2. Consider adding a walkway, patio, or pool deck at the same time as your driveway. You can have an integrated project while also saving more money overall if you get it all done at once.

3. Watch out for scams, especially for companies that will come in, excavate your old driveway, and leave you hanging for weeks or even months while they get other jobs in the area, all just to save them a few bucks. Read reviews, do your research – for instance, here’s some information on how to hire the best paver contractors. These questions can be asked of any contractor, as well.

4. Consider matching your new driveway with new landscaping.

5. Don’t just automatically copy the old design for your new driveway. Consider making the driveway bigger or smaller, depending on your needs, and think about the design flairs you can add, such as curves and sections.

6. You can mix and match options – if you can’t afford driveway pavers, for instance, consider mixing an asphalt or concrete driveway with a paver apron, border, or walkway. Thus, you can capture some of the beauty of this material without the full expense.

7. Don’t balk about hiring professional design services if you need the help. For a small investment up front, you can have a driveway created for your that will go best with your decor and your home’s style and theme.

8. Consider adding other flairs to your driveway, such as fans, circle kits, benches, retaining walls, and more.

9. Pick a color that complements, not necessarily matches, your home’s colors.

10. Finally, if you really need to save money but want to use a brilliant material, consider the driveway a do it yourself project. If you know how to pave a driveway yourself, and have the skills and experience and tools to do the job safely and correctly, you can save money on labor, making a job more affordable, though of course you’ll be paying some of the ‘cost’ of the driveway in your time.

Cleaning Pavers and Removing Stains

Pavers can be beset with all kinds of dirt and stains. Oil, mud, salt, tire marks – these and more can mar a patio, driveway, walkway, or other paving stone application. Luckily, pavers are very easy to clean and repair when necessary. This article will describe how to clean pavers as well as how to prevent any further damage to your installation. Following these steps will ensure clean pavers for the lifetime of the project. (NOTE: Before using any cleaning product or technique, consult with your contractor or paver manufacturer to ensure that it is safe for your pavers. Also follow all instructions carefully and take all proper safety precautions.)

Prevention of Stains

Of course, limiting your installation’s exposure to potential stains is key to preventing stains, but sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially with driveways. As we’ll discuss below, there are ways to help protect your project against stains, but here’s another way: make them blend in. This all comes down to the paver colors you’ve selected. If you go with a single color, a stain or blemish will stand out. If you go with a blend of some kind, stains will often blend in to the pattern, making them harder to see. In addition, some types of pavers will do better against stains than others, so keep that in mind when you do your brand research Still, you may want to remove them anyway even if they are hard to see, so read on for more tips!

The Nuclear Solution for Cleaning Pavers

The ultimate solution for cleaning concrete pavers is simply to remove the offending paver and replace it with a clean one. This is usually necessary when one paver (or at most a few) is severely damaged or stained. It is quite easy to remove the paver, fix the base as necessary, add a new paver, fill in with sand, and compact if needed. While this is a radical solution, it is sometimes required given the circumstances, especially if the paving stone is chipped or broken. This is why it’s important to have some spare brick on hand for replacement and repair. Ask your contractor to leave you some left over brick when the job’s done for this purpose; otherwise, see if any local contractors or manufacturers have some spare material in your blend available. You can learn more about the paver tools needed to build and maintain a  installation by following the link.

Clean Your Paving Stones Regularly

Less radical solutions are possible for cleaning concrete pavers besides simply removing the paver. The general rule for all stains is that the longer you wait, the more the stain will seep into the stone, making it harder to remove it as time goes on. You should attack the stain as soon as you notice it before it “bakes in” to the paver.

A good general regimen for keeping your pavers clean is to do some periodic cleaning. While pavers can be maintenance free, the more care you take of them, the better they’ll look for longer. For weekly or general cleaning of pavers, water is the best choice. A hose with an attachment can easily move dirt or grime from the surface of the pavers, restoring their beautiful looks. For more stubborn dirt, you can try a pressure washer. A pressure washer may also be useful for many other kinds of stains. When using this washer, be careful not to remove too much sand from the joints; you may have to sweep sand back in to the joints to replace any that has been lost.

Even if there are no stains on your paver, it is important to begin paver cleaning if you intend to seal your pavers. Doing so will improve the performance of the sealer. Once you do seal your pavers, cleaning them in the future will be much easier, as a sealer will literally guard the surface against future stains. This is probably the best preventative measure you can take, especially for driveway pavers. For a sealing pavers guide, follow the link.

Targeting Specific Stains

Before using soaps or any other cleaning product, it is best to ‘test’ it on an isolated, hidden part of the paver installation. Check this test spot to ensure that it does no harm to the color or structural integrity of the paving stones.

There are many general products for cleaning pavers. One example is PaveTech. This paver cleaning product is applied to the patio, driveway, walkway, or other application and allowed to sit for 10 minutes. It is then rinsed off with a pressure washer, leaving behind pavers that look like new.

Another general cleaning pavers product is muriatic acid, also known as hydrochloric acid. Be very careful with this substance, at it is highly toxic and damaging to the skin, eyes, throat, lungs, etc. Make sure you sufficiently dilute it and test it on an inconspicuous part of the installation before moving to the larger scale.

Below I’ve listed out some of the more common stains that you will find on your outdoor pavers. Here are some specifc plans to help you deal with specific concrete paver stains:

Asphalt: Chill the area with ice and scrape as much away as you can. Then scrub it with an abrasive powder and rinse with water.

Blood, candy, ketchup, mustard, grease from food: Let liquid detergent set on the stain for 20-30 mins and then rinse with hot water. Clean these stains immediately after they happen!

Caulking: Use poultice of Denatured alcohol, followed by hot water and detergent.

Chewing gum: same as caulking.

Efflorescence: This is the normal residue of a white, chalky substance that can appear on the surface of the paver. It should disappear over time, but if it really bothers you, there are way to clean it, such as with muriatic acid or dedicated efflorescence cleaners.

Mortar: Let the mortar harden and then remove it with a chisel.

Moss and Algae: If your pavers are on the shade, you may have plant growth on the pavers or in the joints. The best cleaning product is anti-algae and moss solutions that can be purchased specifically for this purpose.

Oil or grease: Mop up any excess oil and cover the rest with an oil absorbent. Leave it on stain for a day and then remove it as directed.

Paint: Don’t let this stain settle in – attack it immediately! Do not wipe it as you will spread it and make it sink into the paver deeper. If it is latex paint, soak and scrub it with hot water, scouring powder and a brush.

Rust: Can be removed by using muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid).

Dried paint: Scrape it off and apply commercial paint remover for 20-30 minutes. Then do gentle scrubbing.

Tire skid marks: Scrub them with water, detergent, and scouring powder.