Pavers are a type of hardscape that allows you to design your path through your front or backyard. They offer a natural beauty that is less austere than wood or concrete but also requires less maintenance than brick or tile. In fact, pavers are even more durable than concrete.
Paving stones are installed snugly to create paths or flat surfaces in your yard or near your patio. They are made out of different materials and offer different finishes, but each offers a natural beauty difficult to find in any other type of hardscape material.
Ready to learn more about choosing the perfect pavers for your project? Keep reading to learn more about the different products available and how to install them.
What Are Pavers?
Pavers, or paving stones, are flat surfaces made of brick, concrete, or stone and are used to create flat, hard surfaces during landscaping.
People like pavers because they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, which allows you to create flat surfaces without covering an entire area with the same kind of paved surface.
For example, you can use pavers to create a winding path across gravel hardscaping that doesn’t cover the whole area and is easier to install than concrete.
Pavers are more durable than other types of hardscaping because although they lock together to prevent weeds or grass from growing, they’re also flexible enough to move with the ground. Essentially, they grow with your yard, so you don’t need to worry about your ground degrading all your hard work.
Paver Materials: Stone vs Brick vs Concrete Pavers
Pavers are made out of stone, brick or concrete.
Stone pavers are a popular material because unlike concrete or brick, stone doesn’t come in a uniform setting. While paving stones often come in rectangles or squares, these hardscaping tools don’t always come in the same size.
Unlike other pavers, which are made from molds, stone pavers are quarried, which means they have a more natural and thus more varied look. Some homeowners prefer this look because the variation in size, color, and texture adds creates a natural beauty that’s otherwise hard to mimic.
Stone pavers can be used to build surfaces in driveways, patios, pool decks, and other walkways. However, they’re best suited for medium to low-traffic areas. Some stone types may break under long-term or sustained pressure, especially if you live in a climate prone to freezing and thawing.
Stone pavers are typically made of:
- Limestone (primarily for edging)
Additionally, you may find that home stores or paver providers make stone pavers out of stones local to your area, so you may find unique stone types at your local stores.
Stone is almost always more expensive than brick or concrete by nature: it is quarried then processed then distributed. Expect to pay more for rare stone or stone that has traveled a great distance to reach you.
Brick pavers are a cheaper option than stone because they can be made almost anywhere. Most of these products are made of concrete or clay and then dyed to resemble brick as a way of creating a more durable product.
Because the product is dyed, you’ll find it available in many different colors as well as shapes and textures and you’ll be able to choose a more uniform look. This makes them ideal for those looking for a uniform and classic look and who struggle with the unpredictability sometimes found in stone pavers.
In addition to offering different styles, brick products tend to be stronger than stone over the long term and are also stain resistant, which sets them apart from even cheaper products like concrete.
If installed in areas with high sun exposure, brick may begin to fade or become discolored. This is natural, but it can also be prevented to a certain extent with the use of sealants, which discourage fading.
Concrete pavers are made of a combination of concrete and often combined with aggregate. These are by far the cheapest available pavers and like brick pavers, they also come in a number of colors, styles, and finishes. In fact, it’s possible to purchase concrete pavers painted to mimic brick products.
If you have a concrete driveway or patio, then you already know concrete stains. However, you can avoid some of this by sealing the concrete to help keep the color and prevent staining.
Though it is possible to remove the stains, but using bleach and other stain removers may impact your color.
Concrete pavers, like brick, also come in interlocking patterns to help you create a unique, cohesive look for your house. It makes also them ideal for use in driveways or across the larger pathways.
Styles of Pavers: Smooth vs Textured vs Tumbled
In addition to the use of different materials, manufacturing processes produce different styles of pavers. The three primary styles are:
Smooth pavers include a smooth surface for a polished and clean look. These pavers are ideal if you’re looking for a very smooth surface and are well-suited to homes owned by or frequented by those who are beginning to grow older because they provide fewer trip hazards. However, they may be more slippery during the winter.
Textured pavers are processed in a way that creates a texture on top of the stone that is both visible and tangible. These pavers are commonly used in backyard pool areas or patios to provide extra grip in areas that might get regularly wet. Textured pavers can be used on driveways, but the surface may wear down over time and eventually lose its grip.
Tumbled pavers are the most common finish and are what you’ll find when you visit an average home or DIY store. These pavers look more like they’ve been worn and are less polished than the smooth style, but they also look more natural, particularly when you purchase pavers made of rock.
Don’t worry if your tumbled pavers have edges appearing chipped or even broken – it’s by design.
The kind of pavers you choose is primarily up to your vision for the aesthetic of the space. There’s no one design that is better than another. Though, you’d do better to steer clear of using smooth pavers near pools or jacuzzis, as they’re slip hazards.
How to Install Pavers
One of the best things about choosing these building materials is that whether you’re installing interlocking patio pavers or flagstone pavers, you’ll be able to install them all on your one by following brief instructions.
However, keep in mind that while brick and concrete pavers are generally simple to install, some stone pavers are more of a challenge.
Here’s a simple guide to installing your pavers:
Choose the Appropriate Paver
The right paver depends on the use, aesthetic, and of course your budget. Remember, you can choose a style of paver that mimics more expensive pavers, so there’s not necessarily a need to go with a more expensive style just because it’s more expensive.
Once you’ve chosen the style you want, make sure you’re using a product suitable for purpose. Don’t confuse paving bricks with normal bricks or fire bricks because those bricks will break quickly.
Measure and Mark Out the Site with Sticks
If you’re building a pathway, 3’ is generally a suitable width. Anything more narrow is difficult to use normally. If you’re building a driveway, be sure you’re building a path that is at least as wide as your car with extra room for manoeuvring the car and for people to manoeuvre around the car.
Then, mark those measurements out with sticks to ensure you’ll meet those measurements. If available, consider painting the grass to use as a guide.
Before picking up your shovel, call your gas company to make sure you won’t hit any lines.
Once you have the all clear, you’ll begin to dig a hole across the entire area of the surface to be paved.
The depth of the whole depends on the type of pavers you’ve chosen, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
After digging, you’ll often need to install layers of gravel and sand and ensure those layers are both compact and level. These layers provide a base for the pavers to keep them in place. Keeping them compact and level creates a flat surface that won’t shift over time.
Lay the Pavers
Once the area is compact, level, and completely prepped, all you need to do is lay the pavers according to the design you’ve chosen, but typically close enough together to lock them or prevent tripping hazards.
Depending on the pavers chosen, you may choose to create edges to keep them in place or to add sand between the spaces to further bond the pavers.
Pavers Are Economical and Easy to Install
Pavers are a no-fuss way to add hardscaping to your front or backyard. With many options to choose from, you’re bound to find a style you love.
Have you used pavers for your own home projects? What is the most creative use you’ve found? Share your stories in the comments below.