Costs of installing stamped concrete and concrete paver projects are generally comparable, depending on the materials used and how involved & elaborate the design of the project.
Stamped concrete has the advantage when it comes to variety. With so many stamp patterns available, concrete surfaces can be made to look similar to brick. Patterns are also available to mimic natural flagstones or slate at a fraction of the price of those materials. Stamped concrete is often colored by mixing colorant into the concrete or by staining the surface with an array of color choices.
Even though stamped concrete offers wider variety of colors and patterns, some people prefer the look of authentic traditional pavers. Pavers are also available in a wide variety of colors and styles. Pavers can be arranged in a variety of patterns to suit your taste. In addition, incorporating different styles and colors within a project can create a very unique look that would be difficult to accomplish with stamped concrete.
The choice between the two is a personal preference and the finished look will many times be the ultimate determining factor.
Many people are looking for ways to enhance the beauty of their home, as well as, adding to the amount of usable space that they can enjoy, while increasing their property value. Upgrading a driveway, walkway, or patio are great ways to accomplish this. The trend when considering these types of projects is using different surface materials. Popular choices are stamped concrete and concrete brick pavers. Both are affordable and attractive alternatives to plain concrete and asphalt, and considerably less expensive than flagstone or slate.
Stamped concrete is created by pouring concrete and then applying a stamp pattern or set of stamp patterns and, often, a series of colorants to create a customized textured surface.
Concrete pavers also called paving stones, are pre-cast concrete blocks that are laid in a variety of interlocking patterns.
Both materials have their own benefits, as well as, disadvantages. Here are a few of things you may want to consider, to help determine your best option.
Interlocking Brick Pavers vs. Stamped Concrete
Durability & Maintenance
Stamped concrete is still poured concrete, so settling and cracking are to be expected, no matter what you do. A good contractor will minimize cracking with expansion joints, reinforcements and properly compacted base but, sometimes concrete just cracks where it wants to. Cracking is also to be expected when used around trees. Crack repairs are expensive and usually involve replacing the entire slab. This becomes an issue for a couple of reasons. The first is matching the existing colors/blends and finding the exact pattern that was used previously (sometimes years prior) can prove to be very difficult. The other is the additional expense of minimum purchase requirements by many concrete mixing plants.
Stamped concrete is usually sealed to protect it from the elements. You will need to reapply sealant every 2-3 years to maintain the level of protection.
Unlike poured concrete, concrete pavers are molded under extreme pressure so they have 3 to 4 times the compressive strength and are more durable. Concrete pavers will not crack, they resist damage from freeze-thaw cycles, and when installed correctly they will not settle or heave. If heaving or settling occurs, they easily can be pulled up to re-grade the sand bed and the same pavers installed. Using quality polymeric sand in the paver joints should also prevent weed growth and insect activity. Sealing the pavers, with specially designed sealers, every 2 to 3 years, will help preserve color and prevent staining.
The Bottom Line
So which is the best for you? The answer to that question will be different for everyone.
Based on our experience, we feel concrete brick pavers offer better overall long-term value for your money. They are more durable and require less maintenance. They can be used for many applications including driveways, patios, walkways, around fire pits, in outdoor kitchens and are perfect for even seating areas. Pavers also offer many creative design options for that unique look everyone wants.
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Installation of stamped concrete is labor-intensive and involves a substantial amount of precision. Liquid concrete is poured and leveled into forms over a prepared compacted base, then quickly stamped and precisely before the concrete sets. Once the concrete is set, there is no way to correct a mistake. Mistakes will be expensive to correct because the entire slab section will need replaced, which takes time and money. Once the concrete is set, it needs to cure before it can be walked on or driven on. It’s important to remember that stamped concrete can be slippery! An application of an anti-skid agent is highly recommended to prevent potential accidents when the stamped concrete gets wet or icy, especially if it is installed around a swimming pool. Be very careful when considering stamped concrete for a driveway! During the winter, salt from the streets (which is not concrete friendly) can transfer to your driveway and will cause pitting and possibly staining, no matter how the finish has been sealed or how careful you are with snow removal.
A significant amount of experience and skill is also very beneficial for proper installation of concrete pavers. While it is not uncommon for the do-it-yourselfer to tackle this project, a skilled contractor will usually deliver superior results. The finished product appearance, quality and long term durability difference, often times, are night and day. This involves excavating the ground, filling the base and sub grade with required size aggregates while ensuring the base has been correctly compacted to proper density. This will minimize settling and shifting through the freeze-thaw cycles that occurs from change of seasons. Once installed, pavers are ready to walk on immediately, and require no waiting for them to dry and cure. Pavers have a natural non-skid surface, so they are safe to walk on even when wet. Also consider light colored pavers, which provide a cooler surface, for bare feet on hot summer days. An additional benefit of pavers are if you think you may want to enlarge the area of your patio or walkway in the future, you can easily expand a paver area with more paving stones.