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.

How to Make Concrete Pavers and Stepping Stones

If you want to use concrete pavers for your next outdoor applications, you are not limited to purchasing the materials directly from manufacturers, mason supply yards, or home improvement stores. In fact, if you want to save money, you can make concrete pavers from the comfort of your own home!

Note, as well, that you can make many other concrete materials with this method. If you want to learn how to make concrete stepping stones, bricks, blocks, statues, and other shapes, read on, as much of the information below will apply.

Warnings and Things to Know Before Making Concrete Pavers

The benefits of making your own paving stones are clear. You’ll save money per stone due to the low costs of concrete. (See below, however, on this point, as you may not save as much money as you think.) In addition, you’ll be able to make the brick to your liking, and you won’t have to get involved with dealing with manufacturers, supply yards, and delivery of the material to your home.

There are a few caveats to keep in mind before you make your own concrete pavers. First, realize that you shouldn’t do this unless you have the experience and skills required to work with concrete. If you’ve never poured concrete before and shaped it in molds, you may not be able to create “reproducible” bricks. In other words, each paver needs to be near identical in order for the project to work. (This is true, to an extent, even with an irregular pattern filled with different sized paving stones.) Thus, if you don’t have the abilities required, you’re probably better off buying them pre-made.

Second, if you have a large installation coming up that will require a lot of brick, this may not be the best method for you. Think about it – if you can only produce 10 pavers at a time, and you need 1000, how long is it going to take you to get the supply you’ll need to finish the project? If the project is small, such as a mini-patio, it may be more doable. You could increase the size of the pavers, making the more slabs or flags, to lower the numbers of total stones you’ll need to make. Of course, if you only need a few of the materials, such as for stepping stones, then you won’t have this problem.

In fact, making tons of pavers may not even be cost effective if you take your own time and effort into account. If it takes you twenty hours to make all the brick you need, how much are you really ‘spending’ through the value of your time? This is true even if the concrete itself is dirt cheap.

One final reason not to make your own materials is that you’ll be limited in your design options. Making concrete pavers is difficult enough without worrying about color, size, shape, and so on. With manufactured pavers, you’ll be able to select from a wide variety of style, color blends, and shapes that you can then use to complement your already existing home design. The most basic do-it-yourself pavers will be an ugly, flat grey – usually not that appealing, especially if aesthetics matter for that particular project.

If none of these warnings apply to you, read on!

How to Make Concrete Pavers

First, you’ll have to obtain molds for your pavers. There are two ways of doing this. First, you can buy molds pre-made. Doing this will allow you to pick the size and shape of concrete paving stone that you want to make.

The second option is to make your own paver molds – click here if you want to learn how.

Once you have your molds, it’s time to make your ‘paver factory.’ Set aside a part of your yard that will stay dry if it rains. Put some ‘mold release agent’ inside the mold to prevent the paver from sticking to the mold when it dries.

Mix the concrete as directed, and pour it into your molds. Spread it to make sure it is level and covers all the corners. Bounce the concrete and mold to get rid of any air bubbles. Let them solidify over the next 24-48 hours. Remove the bricks or the molds when they are done, and prepare the next set.

Note: if you want to add color or texture to your brick, do it during the pouring phase, as it will need to be mixed in with the wet concrete ahead of time. Consider experimenting, as well, with the shapes, sizes, and textures on the paver right after it has been poured in the mold.

Once you’ve created all the pavers, stepping stones, or blocks you need, lay them as needed according to your design. Good luck!

The Asphalt Driveway: What You Need to Know

One of the more popular options available for paving a driveway is asphalt. These types of residential driveways are ubiquitous throughout the world due to their cheap price, durability, and relative easy of install. This article will describe what you need to know about the asphalt driveway – what it is, its benefits, its drawbacks, its prices, and what to look for when getting a driveway installed.

More information on other driveway materials, such as driveway pavers, can be found at these links.

The Benefits and Drawbacks (Pros and Cons) Of Asphalt

The major benefit of asphalt is its durability and resistance to vehicular traffic. You can park and drive on it with no problems. It is also very easy to install, as long as the company or contractor knows what they are doing, and the material is also cheap. Thus, prices for the installation of asphalt driveways are usually low, especially if you get contractors to bid against one another. The installation can be finished quickly, so you won’t have to wait for days for the project to be completed. (In theory, at least – see the ‘Scams’ section). Another benefit is that you won’t have to worry much about stains, even of oil, because they will usually blend in with the black of the asphalt. Maintenance is usually quite easy, too.

Asphalt also does well in many climates, as it can resist cracking due to cold and be flexible in hot environments due to the composition of the driveway. It is easy to remove snow from, with shovels, plows, and deicing salts, and absorbs the sunlight in the winter, helping to melt snow and ice.

There are some drawbacks to asphalt, however. Though maintenance is easy, you will still have to seal the driveway once a year, or at least get someone else to do it. While it’s not necessarily required, the proper application of asphalt sealer will help keep the driveway looking great and being strong for years to come. A little investment now could spare you the costs of replacing the driveway well before its time.

Another drawback of asphalt is that it doesn’t look as good as other driveway options. It is certainly outclassed by paving stones, and even concrete, especially if it is stamped or colored, can be more interesting to look at than asphalt. Indeed, asphalt is kind of generic, but this may not be a problem for you if you just want the job done and don’t want to invest into the looks of your home. Just know that your design options will be limited – in the patterns, shapes, and colors you’ll have (or rather lack) at your disposal. If you are looking for more flexiblity and creativity in designs, go with concrete, paving stones, natural stone, or brick pavers.

Like concrete, asphalt may crack due to freeze-thaw cycles. This is a common problem in areas with cold and wet climates, but it can happen anywhere. Whether or not this happens depends on a number of factors, including random chance, but the most important factor is the quality of the base on which the asphalt is installed. When looking for a contractor, make sure he or she knows the importance of the base, and is willing and able to put in the time necessary to prepare it properly. You may want to subcontract out that part of the work to someone who is great at preparing bases if you don’t trust your contractor’s ability to deliver on this.

Asphalt may also have issues in hot climates. If it gets too soft and too much weight is put on it, it may form ruts or dips that can be unsightly.

One other disadvantage is that you can track in oil and grime from the driveway into your home and other clean areas if you are not careful about taking off your shoes. For instance, it’s totally possible to track in seal coating into your home, especially if it’s a hot day and the asphalt is soft or just recently sealed.

If you are concerned with the environment, asphalt may not the be best choice, as chemicals and oils will leach into the ground. However, if you use recycled asphalt, you will help save the environment by using fewer fossil fuels. You’ll also save a few bucks, too!

Finally, you will not be able to install asphalt yourself unless you have the tools and experience to do so. Thus, if you are looking for a DIY driveway project, asphalt may not be the choice for you. If you do want to get asphalt done, you’ll have to hire a pavers contractor – and that comes with the obvious drawbacks of that process.

Asphalt Driveway Cost Estimate

Asphalt is usually one of the cheapest options out there, though the price will vary depending on many factors. One of these factors is the price of crude oil. Components of oil are actually important components of blacktop, so as oil increases in price, blacktop increases in price. Other factors include the size of the job, the season, your location, the contractor you hire, and the specifics of the job itself. In general, however, the cost per square foot for most driveways will range from $1 to $6. The exact cost will depend on the estimate you receive from a contractor; you may also be able to find a cost calculator as well to give you a more specific, but still rough, estimate.

If you get an old asphalt driveway resurfacing, you’ll pay much less in the short term than if you got a new driveway. However, realize that many of the flaws, like cracks, may come through the new layer, despite the contractor’s best efforts, so it may pay in many cases to get a totally new installation.

A more in depth look at the asphalt driveway cost can be found at this link.

Asphalt Driveway Maintenance and Repairs

Asphalt benefits from periodic sealing, though it is by no means required. If you want to extend the life of your driveway, or if you want to protect it from water damage, have it sealed every year or two. However, wait at least a year before sealing a new asphalt driveway. You will want to to do this when the surface turns a bit more grey and when you can see the small stones coming to the surface. If you don’t want to hire someone who specializes in sealing asphalt driveways, it is possible for you to do the work yourself as long as you follow the “how to” directions listed on the sealant product you purchase.

If your driveway does get cracked, chipped, or otherwise damage, it is possible to hire someone who does asphalt driveway repair; you can also do the work yourself, if you know how. Simple crack filler or patches might not look great, but they will look better than the unfixed alternative; they are usually relatively easy for you to DIY.

How Do These Driveways Compare to Other Materials?

What about concrete vs. an asphalt driveway? These are two of the most popular options for driveways, not counting concrete pavers and stone.

Asphalt is very similar to concrete, in that they are both a mixture of sand and stones, but asphalt is bound together with asphalt cement instead of Portland cement. Asphalt is, in a sense, “concrete asphalt,” in that it contains similar components to concrete and is bound together in a similar manner. Despite the minor differences, both are strong, and asphalt has the added bonus of being quite flexible.

Whether you pick asphalt or concrete is up to your budget, design ideas, and home style and theme. Concrete is usually slightly more expensive than asphalt, but this may not be true all the time. You’ll have more design options with concrete, even if you do pick special colored or stamped asphalt, but the installation and maintenance of your asphalt will probably be easier.

Note that asphalt and concrete are both different from a crushed asphalt driveway, also known as tar and chip or macadam. Instead of mixing the stone, sand, and binding agent before laying the driveway, the stone and sand are laid on the driveway first and then ‘sprayed’ with the cement.

A more in depth comparison of hardscape materials can be found here.

What About Asphalt Driveway Scams?

Asphalt driveway paving is big business in the home construction niche, so you’ll have no shortage of people willing to do the work for your home. However, many people report having many problems when dealing with contractors, everything from delivering substandard work to excavating an old driveway and then waiting for months to finish the job, leaving the homeowner with a dirty and dusty driveway throughout that time.

One of the main reasons this happens is that certain unscrupulous contractors will wait until they score multiple jobs in one area before laying down the asphalt. This is because asphalt must be hot in order to be laid, and it is more convenient and efficient to lay more than one driveway at a time. Thus, they will often excavate a driveway, wait for more homes, and then finish the job days, weeks, or even months later. This is why it’s so important to get reviews of contractors’ work before you commit to them. You need to make sure you are getting good value, and not getting scammed, so do your homework and ask for referrals from friends and family who’ve had good work done in the past.

When picking a contractor, the most important factor is how much attention they pay to a base. The base of the driveway should be around 8 inches of well compacted gravel or aggregate base. In addition, this base should extend farther than the actual driveway in order to give a little edging around the structure. Don’t let the contractor install the new driveway without assessing the thickness and the strength of the base – if you are getting a new driveway because the old one cracked, you’ll want to make sure you get a full checkup, even if this will cost you more in the short term.

Stamped Concrete Pavers: What You Need to Know

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

Stamped Concrete vs. Real Pavers

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

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

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

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

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

Granite Pavers: What You Need to Know

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

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

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

Types of Granite

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

Uses for Granite Pavers

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

Designing with Granite

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

Benefits of Granite Pavers

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

Granite Pavers Colors

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

Installation

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

Granite Maintenance

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

Granite Pavers Price

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

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.

Limestone Pavers: What You Need to Know

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

Using Limestone Paving Stones

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

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

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

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

Limestone Pavers Designs

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

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

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

Limestone Pavers Installation

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

Limestone Pavers Maintenance

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

Limestone Pavers Cost

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

Tips for Finding Cinder Blocks for Sale

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

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

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

Where to Buy Cinder Blocks for Low Cost

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

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

Cinder Blocks Cost

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

The Facts About Bluestone Pavers

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

The Properties of Bluestone Pavers

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

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

Uses for Bluestone

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

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

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

Installation of Bluestone Pavers

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

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

The Cost of Bluestone Pavers

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

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.