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.

Concrete Paving Slabs: What You Need to Know

If you are looking to create a new hardscape creation in your front or backyard, one great material to use is concrete paving slabs. These are similar to pavers in that they are precast and made from concrete, and they are both very strong, but there the similarities end. Paving slabs, also known as paving flags, are flatter, longer, wider, and thinner than pavers – they thus cover more square footage per slab than pavers but less thickness and depth.

Paving slabs combine the strengths of concrete with some of the benefits of concrete pavers. Because there are ‘joints’ throughout the structure, the concrete will resist cracking, especially if dry (sand bed) methods are used to install the pavers. In addition, you’ll enjoy the strength and durability of the concrete, which will stand up to years of weathering and traffic. All in all, your investment in paving slabs will last you for decades.

Types of Concrete Paving Slabs

Precast concrete paving slabs come in many sizes and shapes; the most popular include square and rectangular shapes. However, you can get interestingly shaped slabs, such as hexagons and octagons, though you’ll sometimes have to get these custom ordered, as they are rather unusual. Typical sizes of slabs range from one square foot (1′ x 1′) and up (such as 24 x 24 concrete pavers), but other sizes are possible. Very large sizes, up to a square meter, are also possible, but these require special installation by a professional due to their large size. As for color, slabs most often come in the standard color of concrete, grey-white, but you can get them artificially colored if you’d like to match them to your home’s style and theme. You can also get them with a variety of finishes and textures, so your design options are quite good, especially when compared to normal concrete slabs that are poured on site.

The type of slab you select will have a profound impact on the designs you can build for your project. Paving slabs can be cut, but it is more likely that they will be laid in a more rectangular and regular pattern – if you want curves for your project, you’re better off with smaller options like paving stones. You can also get paving slabs of varying thicknesses, and you will need thicker slabs if you want to drive on your new project, such as for a driveway.

Note that you can also get paving slabs made out of other materials, most commonly stone. These slabs look different than concrete, giving a natural look, but they are usually much more expensive than the concrete variety.

What Projects Can You Use This Material For?

Paving slabs are most commonly used for walkways and patios, though in some situations they may be used for driveways as well. They have also found a home in garden and landscape applications as well. Note, as stated above, that different sizes, shapes, and thicknesses of slabs will be needed for particular applications. Driveway slabs, for instance, need to be a bit more robust to handle the rigors of driving.

Be creative – you can uses the slabs for a variety of other options as well. Don’t ignore the possibilities of garden paving slabs and other uses. For instance, you can use them as a path through a flowerbed or through a garden. They can serve both aesthetic and functional purposes, though note that their rigid and square construction will work better with certain decors than with others.

Laying Concrete Paving Slabs

Paving slabs are similar to concrete pavers in that they must be laid individually by hand. Luckily, their simple installation means that homeowners can do it themselves; they don’t necessarily need to hire contractors to get the job done. However, since wet applications, using mortar, are usually used to install these slabs, you should not attempt this type of installation unless you are skilled in working with this material.

Concrete Paving Slabs Prices

The cost of paving slabs is relatively low compared to other paver options, most notably because they are larger and thus are more economical to purchase and install, especially if you can find cheap concrete paving slabs to install in your home and garden. You will pay around $4 to $10 per square foot, or more, depending on the type of slab, color, texture, finish, and so on. It is also possible to find cheap paving slabs if you know where and when to look. For instance, you can usually find concrete paving slabs for sale on classified ad sites like Craigslist – local homeowners may simply want to get rid of old material, so all you’d have to do is show up and take it. You can often get decent quality material through this method.

Note as well that you can get very cheap slabs if you make them yourself. All you need to do is find concrete block molds or any other concrete molds for sale and pour the concrete – or, with the right materials, you can make your own molds and forms.

Ten Cheap Paving Ideas to Get You Started

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

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

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

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

Driveway Materials: What You Need to Know

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

Concrete Driveways

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

Asphalt Driveways

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

Concrete Pavers Driveways

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

Natural Stone Pavers Driveways

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

Brick Pavers Driveways

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

Gravel and Stone Driveways

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

Macadam/Tar and Chip Driveways

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

Other Necessary Materials

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

Further Considerations

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

How do Interlocking Pavers Work?

The first reason that concrete pavers – and any paver that interlocks – has to do with the material that they are constructed from. Concrete pavers are rated multiple times stronger than poured concrete. This is due in part to the way the pavers are formed, but it’s also due to the ‘interlocking nature’ of the material.

The Secret: The Interlocking Action

Interlocking pavers remain durable and new looking even after years of abuse and weather precisely due to the ‘interlocking action’ of the paving stones. Interlocking concrete pavers are designed specifically to leave gaps in between each brick – in other words, they do not sit exactly flush to each other. It is this space, paradoxically, that gives the entire structure its strength as soon as these joints are filled with an appopriate joint material, such as sand. The pavers are laid in a particular pattern (the pattern really is just how the joints are arranged), leaving a bit of space in between each and every paver. Mortar is not used to bind these joints together, as this would destroy the benefits of the sand-interlocked paver.

Though sand is the most popular material used for the joints, it is not the only one – special joint material is put out by the concrete paver companies for this purpose, but it’s generally quite expensive. Bluestone screenings are another popular material, though there may be problems with this material when the surface is compacted, as the small stones may scratch the surface of the brick. Thus, sand remains the most popular joint material for most projects and contractors.

How the Interlocking Works

When the sand fills the joints, it helps hold the pavers together in two ways. First, the small pits and holes in the stone interlock pavers through friction. The small gaps ‘join together’ and help the paving stones cohere. The sand also fills these holes, increasing the friction between  the pavers even more. Second, the sand itself, when compacted, gets very tight. Thus, not only does the sand help the pavers stick together, it actually helps all the sand stick together as well, as the closely packed grains of sand cannot move without great force (this movement is resisted by friction). When the entire structure is surrounded with edging and compacted, it holds together as a whole even though the paving stones are not directly touching each other across their entire faces.

The material doesn’t matter here, either. Interlocking brick pavers or natural stone work the same way as their concrete brethren. It all has to do with the roughness of the bricks, the joints, and the sand that fills the gaps between them.

It is this strength and toughness that makes paving stones such a great option for homeowners. For instance, interlocking patio pavers withstand the constant pitter-patter of feet and the damaging effects of weather due to this cohesion. They are so strong that they will withstand the actions of vehicles – parking, sitting, accelerating, and so on. The surface is also quite flat, so it’s easy to plow or shovel snow off of it as needed.

Best of all, these types of installations are strong yet flexible. As water drains through the patio, for example, it collects in the base underneath. If it is cold out, the water will freeze. In other applications, such as concrete or asphalt, this freezing would expand the base, putting extreme pressure on the structure above and perhaps causing cracks or fissures. However, paving stone applications bend and flex with this freezing due to the flexibility of the joints and the sand. There is no “solid” structure above, but one that shifts and changes with the elements. Thus, the concrete paver project resists damage as the ice thaws, returning the structure to its original position, freezes again, thaws again, and so on.

The only disadvantages to this system lie in the fact that there is sand in between the pavers, and sometimes this sand escapes. Whether it’s due to the action of water or wind, or the action of ants building anthills, or your own power washing of the surface, sand levels will lower with time. This can weaken and even damage the structure. Luckily it’s quite easy to put sand back into the joints to replace the lost material. In addition, one of the benefits of sealing pavers lies in the fact that the sealant can help keep the sand where it belongs.

Grass Pavers: What You Need to Know

Original photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmr/3485316730/sizes/m/in/photostream/

The installation of a grass paver driveway.

If you have an area that requires detailed water management and drainage, needs to withstand heavy traffic and abuse, and doesn’t need to be aesthetically exquisite, grass pavers (also known as turf pavers, pervious pavers, and porous pavers) may be the best choice for you. The grass paver  differs from concrete pavers in that they are hollow and “grid-like,” as you can see in the picture to the right.

There are many different uses, both residential and commercial, for turf paving stones. They have been most commonly used in commercial applications, particularly in places where lots of driving and parking occurs. However, they have also recently gained in popularity for uses in the home. At home, these pavers can be used for driveways, walkways, garden applications, landscaping projects, patios, and many other ideas. Commercially, grass pavers can be used anywhere high vehicular traffic can be expected, such as parking lots or construction sites, or anywhere soil or grass erosion can occur. Other common uses include:

  • trails
  • emergency access paths
  • golf cart paths
  • sewer access roads
  • barn flooring
  • drainage channels
  • parking lots
  • and more.

For those with environmental concerns, grass pavers are one of the best ‘green’ options out there.

The Benefits of Grass Pavers

Grass pavers are primarily used in areas where soil erosion or water drainage is of paramount concern. For example, grass driveway pavers help stabilize the soil in an area where lots of vehicular traffic may unsettle and damage it. Water can also drain easily in between these paving stones, putting less pressure on water draining systems that would otherwise have to accept all of this rainwater running down grade. This can help with containing and controlling water pollution, as runoff from asphalt driveways can be very polluting due to all the chemical it carries. Grass pavers, however, allow water to drain free and clear, and thus represent an environmentally friendly driveway and paving solution.

Another example of where this material may be used is where there is a hill, slope, or other slight grade that might run off or erode due to wind, rain, or other inclement weather or abusive forces. Grass pavers keep the area secure and stable while also providing a sleek look.

A final example is any area that is flooded often. Normal paving options – concrete, asphalt, or even concrete pavers – do not drain water as well as regular ground, as the water will often slide down the grade. However, turf pavers provide both the strength and durability of concrete pavers with the drainage capability of grass or soil – a useful combination for some applications.

Another benefit of these permeable pavers is how they support and protect the grass roots system. Constant driving and parking on the grass can easily tear it apart and damage it beyond repair. This can look ugly and require work to replace if you ever want to have grass in the area again. Well-installed grass pavers will help protect this grass and prevent major damage due to ruts and tears caused by moving wheels.

Different Kinds of Grass Pavers

Grass pavers are made out of many materials depending on the needs of the project. One common option is concrete, much like standard paving stones. Another choice is plastic; this is often used for applications that don’t need as much strength and need more subtlety instead (i.e. so they can’t be seen as easily by the naked eye). Plastic grass pavers are often used for areas like backyards that need the soil protection and water management but not the strength intended for vehicular applications. These “lawn pavers” actually leave more space for the grass in between the plastic, letting you get the benefits of the permeable paving system without the robust quality of the concrete variety.

Grass Turf Pavers and Design

Grass pavers, because they are functional, do not focus much on looks, so you won’t find much variety in color, shapes, or sizes as you will with other concrete paving stones. If looks are a concern to you, you may want to look elsewhere, though there is certainly something to be said for the simplicity and utility of these grass paving stones. However, some people do enjoy the natural ‘grassy’ look of these pavers, especially as the grass grows over time. It can also help you blend in different areas of your yard regardless of whether or not you park on those areas – instead of installing a concrete or stone driveway to accommodate extra parking, for example, install grass pavers and you won’t have to have a jarring concrete blob on your property.

Installation of Grass Pavers

Luckily, installing grassy pavers is quite easy compared to other options, and can often be completed by the homeowner. You should still consult your local contractor or paver manufacturer for assistance with your particular project. Maintenance is also easy, and you can often still mow the areas where these pavers are installed to keep the grass in check. Overall, grass pavers are often the most environmentally conscious and functionally effective paving material you can purchase.

The concrete grass pavers ‘honeycomb’ is laid first on a graded, properly excavated area. Even though it drains well, it should still have a slight grade away from the home to ensure that the water doesn’t pool or flood. Depending on the volume of water you expect, you may have to install a drainage system and catch basin to help channel the water to where you want it to go. The base will want to be made up of 3/4 to 1″ of gravel or crushed aggregate. You’ll want to compact this surface.

If the grass pavers are the concrete variety, they are laid much like concrete pavers are – by hand, one by one, in the pattern and shape as needed. Plastic grass pavers may be laid in the same fashion, or they may come in a roll (such as EZ Roll), in which case they are ‘unrolled’ around the area as necessary.

Next, sand or aggregate is spread over the system. This material helps keep the grass pavers in place and keeps them strong while also allowing for proper drainage of water. Next, the grass paver blocks are then filled with a top layer of topsoil to allow for grass to grow; however, more aggregate or stones can be used instead of grass isn’t desired given the desired look of the installation. Then, grass may be planted in the area, if desired. You can also roll sod over the top of the pavers as well. Eventually, the grass will grow between the pavers, creating a mixed grass/concrete look that is also quite permeable and durable. (Or, simple stone or sand will fill in the hollow grass pavers network.)

After the paving system is installed, homeowners should check on it over the next few months to make sure water is draining properly and that there are no problems with the installation. After everything checks out, normal lawn and grass maintenance may go on as if the paving system weren’t in place.

Grass Pavers Cost

Best of all, the grass pavers cost is quite low compared to other paving options, and will depend on the usual factors (location, size, complexity, etc.). You can expect to pay somewhere around $2.00 a square foot. For plastic rolls, you can pay anywhere around $250-$300 per 4′ x 24′ roll – this translates into about $2.50 to $3.00 per foot. Installation may be extra for both of these depending on the project. All in all, you’ll probably pay more for grass pavers installation than for other materials options like concrete, asphalt, and the like. Note that you can save money on these projects by finding the material for sale or by laying it yourself – it is definitely a possible DIY project, within the skill of many homeowners.

The Fundamentals of Outdoor Pavers

Outdoor pavers can add beauty and functionality to any home or business. Also called concrete pavers, paving stones, or pavers, they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes that complement any landscape or hardscape theme or design. This article will describe some of the fundamentals of the outdoor paver, including information on varieties of paving stones, hardscape design, and installation and maintenance tips. (Note: Other pavers, including brick pavers, flagstone pavers, and other natural stone pavers will not be discussed here.)

While this is a solid introduction to the topic, I’d also suggest that you search around this site for more specific information on many of these topics, not only for concrete pavers but also materials as diverse as bluestone pavers to paving flags and everything in between. This will ensure you that you are making the right decision on the material to use when it comes time to install your next driveway, walkway, patio, pool deck, or other project.

The Strengths of Outdoor Pavers

First, outdoor pavers are very strong and durable. You won’t have to worry about installing a new application for many decades, if at all – as long as they are installed correctly, of course. Second, these stones are very beautiful and unique – they will add more elegance to your home than other, more typical hardscaping materials (such as poured concrete and asphalt).

Another of the strengths of outdoor concrete pavers is that they come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. The shapes and sizes you select will depend on the particular installation you are pursuing. For instance, outdoor patio pavers will require certain properties that may or may not differ from driveway or walkway pavers. Depending on the size and shapes of the brick selected, many different patterns and layouts are possible. The color of the outdoor pavers – either single, double, or triple blends – will depend on any other projects installed in the area and on the general theme, style, and design of the home or business itself. We go over a discussion of paver patterns, paver colors, and more on these pages on this site.

One of the best aspects of outdoor paver installations is that they are nearly maintenance free. Their flexibility and strength resists the rigors of freezing and thawing cycles. They will thus rarely crack (though they may settle). If any pavers do crack or chip or fade over time, they can be easily replaced: simply remove the damaged paver from the area, fix the base, reinsert a new paver, and fill in the joints with sand. It’s that easy!

Outdoor Paver and Hardscape Design

Many different interesting designs can be incorporated into an outdoor paving stone application. For instance, curves or circles can be added to give the project a more luxurious look and feel. Borders (called ‘soldier courses’) can be added to highlight particular aspects of the area. Fancy patterns and layouts can be used to draw attention to a walkway or patio, or a simpler design can be used to make the project blend in more with its environment. Whatever your intention, you can be sure that these pavers will meet your needs.

There’s not enough room in this article to describe all the various kinds of designs that you can build. For more specific information, such as patio ideas, front yard walkway ideas, and others, check out the articles by following the links provided.

Installation Procedures of Outdoor Paving Stones

Installation of outdoor pavers can be rather challenging, however. In most cases, it is probably best to hire a contractor with experience in this field. For the adventurous do it yourselfer, paving stones can be installed with the proper effort and preparation. The most important part of the installation is preparing the proper aggregate base (6″ or more, depending on the project) on which the patio, walkway, driveway, etc. will sit. This includes as well around one inch of fine sand that will act as the main bed for the stones. The area should be correctly graded (sloped) to ensure that water drains away from the home or business and to prevent flooding. Homeowners should also be mindful to obtain the proper equipment, such as plate compactors, necessary to complete the job right. These compactors can be rented for the day. For more installation information, always contact your local contractor or paver manufacturer. You can also check out our pavers installation guide here on this site. Note, however, that the particularities of your project may significantly alter the proper installation discussions – this is why you either need to have the experience to tell what is different or the guidance from a professional.

As for other installation/DIY projects, sealing pavers is something that you can do to increase the beauty and lifespan of your pavers, though it is certainly not required. In general, outdoor pavers do best when sealed once every one or two years. More information on sealing pavers can be found by following the link. They can be easily cleaned with pressure washers or other cleaners, especially if any stains appear. They are also easy to remove snow and ice from, either with plows, shovels, or de-icing salts. More information on cleaning pavers and removing stains can be found by following the link.

Costs of This Material

Though outdoor pavers are more expensive than other options, they more than pay off the investment over time. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $15 per square foot for your next project. The exact cost you’ll pay depends on so many factors that it’s impossible to list them all here – instead, check out this discussion of pavers cost for more guidance. In the end, though, nothing will replace an individual inspection by a local contractor.

The range quoted above may seem kind of expensive to you, though. However, the important thing to remember here is that an outdoor paver project should be seen in part as a financial investment as well as simple consumption. These brick projects last longer than other materials (like concrete and asphalt) and they add more to the beauty and value of a home. Thus, if a house with paving stones is sold, the selling price will be higher if it has an outdoor paver patio, driveway, or walkway than if it doesn’t.

Concrete Paver Patterns

Once the plan has been set and the relevant preparations (installation of the base and sand) have been completed, it is time to lay the concrete pavers. There are many different paver patterns available, all depending on the shape of the pavers and the size of the project. The number of patterns keeps increasing as new paver shapes are designed and as the creativity of contractors and landscapers continues to produce new ideas. Still, there are some patterns, like the running bond and herringbone (described below), that are classics. Picking your paver pattern may not seem as important as picking the brand of paver or the color, but you’d be surprised as to just how important it is.

The Basics of Picking a Paver Pattern

The major factor that determines what kinds of patterns are at your disposal is the shape of the paver you select. The shape and patterns of pavers go hand in hand – when you pick one, you in some sense pick the other. Thus, when you are thinking about patterns of laid pavers or their sizes, you must (by necessity) think of the others as well. You will want to make sure that the size paver you select is appropriate both to the space it will be installed in and to the implementation of the actual pattern you’ve selected. In general, smaller spaces do better with simpler patterns; larger spaces can use either simple or complex patterns.

When considering different designs for a paving stones application, such as patio paver patterns, considerable attention should be brought to bear on the optical effects that the particular pattern will bring. A simple pattern, like running bond, where the pavers are in a straight line, will simply make the project ‘blend in’ to its environment. It will not draw the eye, and perhaps this is what you want.

However, other patterns will draw the eye more and make the paving stone project the center of attention. For example, the project will look different if the pavers are placed at  a 45 degree angle to the house than if they were parallel or perpendicular. Still another feeling may be evoked with a more complex or a random pattern. The more complex and eye catching a pattern, the more people will pay attention to the area itself over anything else, so you need to consider the aesthetics of your space. What do you want you and your guests to look at? Some complex patterns also make the space look smaller than it is, so keep this in mind when designing your project. Other patterns may make the area look longer or wider, larger or smaller. This consideration is especially important when laying walkway pavers, as the pattern will affect the relative width or length of the project according to an observer’s eye.

How Patterns Affect Paver Price

Keep in mind as well that one paver pattern may be more expensive than another due to size considerations and the amount of cuts required. A pattern at a 45 degree angle, for example, or one that incorporates curves, will require more cuts and thus affect the overall time to completion (and thus price!). The more pavers that have to be cut by hand, the more time spent on the job by contractors, and the more brick that are required. Thus, the project may be more expensive. It may pay to select a simpler design just to reduce the costs of the project.  Another feature that could increase the time and cost is any curves or special patterns (like circle kits) added to the design. While it will certainly improve the looks of your project, it will come at a rather steep pavers cost.

Other Minor Considerations

Some concrete pavers patterns are more complex than others and require more skill to install properly. A novice installer may make a mistake in the pattern and only notice it when a lot more of the interlocking pavers have been installed. If a contractor is installing the paving stone application for you, this may not matter as much, though you will want to make sure your contractor has the experience working with the design you’ve chosen. This is why it’s important to pick the right pavers contractor – follow this link for some some tips.

Keep in mind that some patterns are stronger than others. Herringbone patterns, for example, provide more interlocking than others, and may be a better choice for projects that need to withstand a lot of traffic (such as driveway pavers).

Some Example Paver Patterns

Here below we detail some of the patterns possible with bricks of various shapes and sizes. All of these patterns apply to pavers regardless of the material – concrete, brick, or natural stone (i.e. flagstone pavers). They are organized according to the sizes and styles of brick available with Nicolock pavers. Nicolock usually has the standard brick sizes available in other brands, so it’s a good stand in, but we eventually want to expand this page with more examples and, eventually, images of the most popular patterns that you can use – so stay tuned!

Note that you can also mix and match pavers patterns, adding a straight border to a herringbone or running bond pattern, for instance. We are also not considering some of the more rare and unique patterns due to uniquely shaped brick – i.e. anything outside of the ‘quadrilateral’ family. Don’t forget, also, that a ‘random’ or ‘irregular’ pattern can also be laid with particular kinds of paving stones.

Always consult with your designer, contractor, or paver manufacturer for more ideas and suggestions!

Holland Stone

Borders: Soldier Course with Herringbone Pattern, Soldier Course with Running Bond Pattern, Sailor Course with 45 degree Herringbone Pattern, double sailor course with double basketweave pattern;

Patterns: Double Basketweave, Single Basketweave, Running Bond, Stack Bond, 90 Degree Herringbone, 45 Degree Herringbone, Single Offset Herringbone, 45 Degree Running Bond, Double offset Herringbone

Cobblestone:

Runner, Parquet or Basketweave, or Herringbone

Multiweave:

45 Degree Herringbone, 90 Degree Herringbone, Running Bond Pattern, Basketweave Pattern, Stack Bond Pattern

Roma 1:

Running Bond, Herringbone, or used as border for Roma 2

Roma 2:

Running bond, installed in random pattern with Roma 1, can have circles installed as well.

Rustico Series:

6×6 Running bond, 6×9 Running Bond

More Articles

The Concrete Pavers Guide also has more articles on this and related topics, listed here:

Brick Paving Patterns: Some Information

Tools and Materials Needed to Install Concrete Pavers

Having the right tools and materials for the job is incredibly important when it comes to installing a new paver project. To help you out with your next DIY paving project, here is a listing of both the paver tools that you need as well as the materials you will need to do the job right. Don’t skimp on any of this list – quality of the project over quantity of money saved is what I always say!

Paver Tools You Need

Here is a general list of the paver tools necessary in order to install concrete pavers on your own. Eventually we hope to provide links for more information, such as where to get the product, how much it will cost, reviews, and more!

Shovels: A very important paver tool. You will need both flat and pointed shovels in order to dig out fill and spread top soil and sand.

Gloves: Use these to protect your hands while shoveling, wheelbarrowing, and carrying and laying brick. Bricklayer gloves are the best option – these are cloth gloves covered with paint on the hand portion. This gives you both grip and protection while digging, carrying and laying brick, etc.

Tape measure: Needed to measure out the length and width of your installation, as well as the necessary depths.

Wood stakes: Used with string line to mark out the dimensions of your project.

String line: With wooden stakes, used to mark out the dimensions of your project. Can also be used to mark relevant heights.

3 lb. hammer (aka mini-sledge, lump hammer):Used to drive in wooden stakes; metal stakes for edging; can be used to lightly tap pavers into place or to forcefully bang brick into line. You can also use a rubber hammer for this as well if you want to avoid potentially damaging the paving stones.

Levels: Used to check grades and make sure concrete pavers are level and laid straightly. Either a hand level can be used or a laser level can be purchased, though obviously the laser level is more expensive and a bit more tricky to use. A laser level may be required, however, if you have to do significant grading work (i.e. make sure the project pitches water in a safe direction).

24” square: Used to make sure corners are square, edges are straight – in other words, to make sure everything is straight and laid properly.

Rake: Used to rake any debris out of the way; also used to level out recycled concrete or to backfill with mulch or topsoil.

Broom: Sweeps off sand and dirt when project is complete; also used to sweep in sand/joint material into the spaces between the brick before the final compacting.

Wheelbarrow: Used to transport material (pavers, sand, recycled concrete) from place to place, if necessary. Hopefully you will be able to move the materials needed as close as possible to the project, because the more wheelbarrowing you have to do will significantly slow down the work process.

Pick: Use this to break up any solid ground.

Marking Crayon: If cuts need to be made, this crayon (or pencil) can be used to make the cut lines.

1″ PVC Pipes: Very important pavers tools. You will probably need two 8′ long pipes. These are laid down on the compacted aggregate base, covered with sand, and then used to screed the sand to a level 1″. The pipes should not be left in, but instead sand should fill in their holes when they are removed from the sand bed.

Screed: Either a long wooden or metal (aluminum) board, this is used to make sand (and sometimes, if needed, crushed aggregate) very precisely level. Use with 1″ PVC pipes.

Utility knife: Used to cut the bands on the pallets of paving stones and for other miscellaneous purposes.

Mason’s chisel: Used to cut pavers (with lump hammer) or for other purposes.

Wooden Board: When laying pavers, it is important not to disturb the sand bed or the already laid pavers. Leaning on the pavers with disproportionate weight and pressure will cause some pavers to sink and get knocked out of place, potentially causing dips and other problems. Thus, when walking on pavers before they are compacted, and when kneeling while installing pavers, lay down long planks of wood to more evenly distribute your weight.

Spray Marking Paint: Can be used to paint lines (of the design) onto grass, dirt, etc. or for making general markings (such as locations of utility lines).

Knee Pads: Because you will be kneeling on pavers and the ground while installing them, these are very important.

Safety Glasses: When cutting brick, wear these to protect your eyes.

Metal Spikes: Used to nail in edging.

Powerwasher or hose: Use the hose to clean down the area and remove excess sand that can’t be swept up. A powerwasher would be overkill for this in the first few months, but eventually you may need it to help remove stains.

Stain remover: There are many different kinds of stain removers out there. Muriatic acid is very harsh but effective. Have some on hand just in case you need to clean pavers.

Additional “Tools”

This is a list of some other stuff you may need on the job site to make the process more fun or less hazardous.

Radio: Listen to music while you work!

Sunscreen: It gets crazy hot when you are on the ground laying the brick. Avoid a nasty sunburn and other harmful effects by applying this liberally.

Drinks: Along the same vein, make sure you have plenty of beverages to keep you hydrated during the day. Water and Gatorade work the best here, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages not so much.

Materials Needed to Install Pavers

Here is a general, and certainly not exhaustive, list of materials you will need for your project. Note that some projects may require other materials, and thus other tools, depending on the kind of work that needs to be done.

Aggregate (base for pavers): Also known as recycled concrete or ¾ modified crushed stone, this is used to provide the paver base on which the paving stones will lay. This type of pavers base is both solid, resisting settling, while also being flexible enough to deal with freeze/thaw cycles and prevent cracking.

Bedding sand (concrete sand, fine sand, paver sand): Pavers sand on top of the aggregate to be the bed for the concrete pavers to lay. Sand for pavers can can also be used in between the joints.

Concrete Pavers: Obviously the most important material for the job. They come on pallets of varying numbers of brick. It’s good to keep some extra ones lying around just in case you need to replace a stained or broken brick sometime down the line.

Edging: Comes in different varieties and materials. The best is aluminum edging, though it’s a bit more pricey. Poured concrete is NEVER a good edging material! All edging products share the same goal: keep the paving stones together and border the new installation. This must be laid down before compacting, otherwise you risk ruining your hard work.

Mulch or Top Soil: Used to back fill around the pavers, especially to cover up the edging or for replanting grass that had to be excavated for the project. Also useful for garden applications.

Fill: Only needed if major grading work needs to be done (that is, leveling out major holes or humps).

Sealer: You will not need this right after installing the pavers, but after a few months you may consider sealing the pavers to protect them from stains and the effects of your climate.

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.