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#1
Old 03-13-2011, 01:48 PM
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Pavers vs. Concrete?

Hi all. My husband and I want to install a large patio in our backyard this winter, and we've been looking at both paving stones and stamped concrete. As far as we can tell, they're about the same price in our area, so we can't decided which one we want to go with.

Searching online we're getting conflicting reports--landscapers who do paving stones say concrete cracks with cold weather, is expensive to repair, and when it is repaired is ugly.

Landscapers who do concrete say paving stones move too much, get weeds in the cracks, attract ants (not sure why on that one), etc.

Anyway, any Dopers have any experience with this stuff? What do you recommend?
#2
Old 03-13-2011, 01:54 PM
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Concrete won't crack when it's cold if you put proper expansion joints in, and pavers don't move very much or get weeds when you dig down deep enough and prepare the soil properly.

The issues arise when a contractor you don't have an ongoing relationship with does the bare minimum to make it look good for the first 6 months.

I personally prefer stamped concrete, but that's mostly because I am clumsy and the smoother the surface the less likely I am to end up on my ass.

Choose whichever you like the looks of the most but do as much research as possible into your selected contractor and ask for older (2-3 years prior) customers for references.
#3
Old 03-13-2011, 02:21 PM
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if there is sand between pavers then weeds and ants will find their way there eventually even if put on a weed barrier lined sand base.

grooves are cut into concrete so to allow cracks to occur there straight and hidden. a base should be prepared to form a stable place for the slab.
#4
Old 03-13-2011, 02:27 PM
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If you think there's any chance of you renovating/adding on to your house in the area of the patio, or if there's any pipes (water, sewage) or power lines run underneath that area, pavers can be moved and replaced (either there or in a different place) whereas concrete will have to be destroyed.

Not a huge concern if you're pretty stable and there's no plans for moving stuff around - if done correctly, both look well and don't require much maintenance.

I prefer pavers for aesthetics, but if I were making a deck, I'd probably use brick over a concrete pad for stability and less chance of people tripping/catching their feet (lots of old and child relatives - I really don't want to be memorized as the aunt who's patio gave Jimmy the 4" scar on his forehead.)

Maybe save the pavers for a walkway and use the concrete for the patio itself?
#5
Old 03-13-2011, 02:39 PM
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If you prepare the base layer correctly, either should work. If you live in an area fraught with frost heaves, I suggest going with the pavers. They can be removed to smooth out the base and then you just put them back. Concrete will crack and need to be replaced entirely after several years. Pavers can crack too BTW.
#6
Old 03-13-2011, 02:40 PM
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Thanks for the advice, everyone. Sounds like our main concern should be with making sure we work with a good contractor. I think that's doable for us--we have a family friend who works with contractors a lot for his job, so I'm sure he'll be able to recommend someone trustworthy.

And good advice about future plans, Lasciel. We don't have any plans to add on to the house, but we were thinking about putting a doorway onto the patio from the Master Bedroom, and also putting a pergola up over one section of it. We'll have to look into how that factors in...

Also, winter should be spring in the OP. Stupid lack of brain-fingers connectedness!

Still interested in hearing anecdotes and advice from people, keep posting!
#7
Old 03-13-2011, 02:45 PM
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The concerns about cracking/frost have been covered, but I prefer pavers to stamped concrete. Stamped concrete is really neat, but you can still tell that it is concrete. Paveing stones aren't just nice aesthetically, but creatively and professionally installed there is no doubt they look more 'refined'.
#8
Old 03-14-2011, 05:53 PM
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I'm looking at this thread with interest, too - we have a long, curved walkway in front that we're thinking about re-doing in poured concrete someday, but maybe we'll stay with pavers after all - frost heave is definitely a concern here (you should see our roads - every spring, they're just totally beat to shit).
#9
Old 03-14-2011, 06:07 PM
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I have pavers in the back patio. We're not in a frost area. They're about 3 years old now. There has been no movement (probably because we're not in a frost area). We do get weeds, but Round-Up takes care of that. I have not seen any ant problems specifically related to pavers.

Oh, did I mention? We're not in a frost area.
#10
Old 03-14-2011, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarus View Post
I have pavers in the back patio. We're not in a frost area. They're about 3 years old now. There has been no movement (probably because we're not in a frost area). We do get weeds, but Round-Up takes care of that. I have not seen any ant problems specifically related to pavers.

Oh, did I mention? We're not in a frost area.
We're not in a frost area either. Instead we're in a deep freeze area. We don't believe in namby-pamby frost. 40 below keeps the riff-raff out, doncha know?
#11
Old 03-14-2011, 06:38 PM
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Our house came with a paver patio in back.
Weeds are definately a problem. I have to either hand pull them or use Roundup, and than hand pull the dead plants.
We also get ant colonies in our yard. They seem to like being under the pavers even more - "Hey look - someone left us this great big roof".
All of that said, I'd pick pavers over concrete, because of cracking. Cracked concrete is just a major pain and expensive to repair. Pavers can be reset, with a little work. I'd also suggest buying a few extra, so when one does break, you can replace it.
#12
Old 03-14-2011, 07:00 PM
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I like the look of stamped concrete better. Pavers look sloppy to me, maybe I've just never seen them done well.

We have a concrete walkway and it has cracked, drives me crazy. For that reason alone, pavers might be the better choice.
#13
Old 03-14-2011, 09:01 PM
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We have billions and billions of ants under our pavers, too - just lift one up to find out.
#14
Old 03-14-2011, 09:14 PM
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The prep necessary to keep either in good shape is about the same, but if you screw up, it's easier to fix with pavers.

As for weeds, find a step-able that works well and seed the cracks in early spring and late summer/early fall.
#15
Old 03-14-2011, 09:32 PM
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I have have concrete..but it's not stamped. They drew the "stones" into it. They textured the surface. And then painted them to look good. The president of the company I used started as an artist.

I'm really impressed with the look. It has all the irregularities you'd expect from pavers to give it a little charm.

For the record, I'm not in a frost area either.


-D/a
#16
Old 03-14-2011, 11:03 PM
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We had a good-sized paver patio installed about four years ago. It's held up fairly well.

This year during our brutal winter with record snowfall, I first noticed a significant frost heave. It was quite noticeable. However, when the ground warmed back up, it disappeared. A concrete patio would have certainly cracked, so Im glad we went with pavers.

One think I do dislike is some minor differential settling due to inadequate compaction of the subgrade by the contractor who installed it. This has resulted in a low point in the center that pools with water during rain events.

On the other hand, if the contractor had done the same thing and then poured concrete instead of installing pavers, it would have likely resulted in another crack in the concrete when the subgrade settled.
#17
Old 03-15-2011, 01:04 AM
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We went with sand and split pavers for our patio. I have moved the patio three times. 1st two times with doing a addition on the house. The third time when we descided to increase the size of the pation and could not get matching pavers. Moved the pation to the other side of the house. Built a new larger pation using bricks and sand. My wife loves the brick. You can always make a change to the shape or size.

WeedsYes ther has been some problems. But week killer solves the problem. And as time goes on there are less and less weeds to deal with.

Ants Yes the ants do like them. Every now and then the ants push some of the sand up from underneath. I just spray the pation with a line spray, it slows them down.

Tree roots I used brick and sand out front on the parkway strip. Some of the bricks are being lifted up by tree roots. If it was cement it would be jack hammer time. But with bricks I will beable to remove some some bricks cut the roots and replace the bricks.
#18
Old 03-15-2011, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chopper9760 View Post
Pavers look sloppy to me, maybe I've just never seen them done well.
These guys did ours, they look SWEEEEET!
#19
Old 03-15-2011, 08:32 PM
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I have pavers as my front driveway-to-porch walk and a stamped concrete patio out back. Pavers were installed three years ago, patio, two years ago.

The patio is maintenance free (though I think I'm supposed to put some finish on it yearly for appearances). The pavers require the addition of sand into the cracks every great while (it's easy, you dump out a bit of sand and sweep it around - I've only done it twice so far).

They both still look fantastic, and I like each in the location it's in. I did a lot of research before selecting a contractor, including checking references. This, I think, is the key.

And get references that have had the work done at least 5-7 prior.

mmm

ETA: I'm in Michigan, btw

Last edited by Mean Mr. Mustard; 03-15-2011 at 08:33 PM.
#20
Old 03-15-2011, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarus View Post
These guys did ours, they look SWEEEEET!
Small, coloured/textured pavers in patterns look incredible. We have the large, boring grey pavers making up our front walkway right now - I would like to have small patterned pavers for the walk at the side of our house that is just bare earth and rubber pads right now.
#21
Old 03-16-2011, 10:39 AM
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We put in our own raised patio with a retaining wall and pavers. The prep work is a bitch, but vital - do not skimp on the prep. Our gravel layer goes down 8" (I am most definitely not in a frost free area. See carnut's -40 comment above).

We put it in two years ago, and it still looks fantastic. I haven't re-sanded, but I need to do that this spring. Yes, we have ants and weeds, but bug bomb and weed-killer are easy and quick to apply. Add in the ease of fixing errors, and I'm totally sold on pavers. There's lots of different products with varying brick sizes, so you needn't worry about the surface looking boringly uniform, if that's not what you're after. We have a random pattern of four different paver sizes, and love it. There's others that look like flagstones. Or you can do the uniform herringbone pattern or whatever, if that's your thing. There's tons of options.

Last edited by Snickers; 03-16-2011 at 10:41 AM.
#22
Old 03-17-2011, 12:05 PM
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When I put my patio in a few years back (in a frost zone), I was counciled to use polymeric sand instead of just some regular fine-grain sand. It really makes a big difference in both weed and ant control.

When you put that stuff down between the cracks, you then mist it, and it settles into almost a cement. I still touch it up every spring, but really only in a few spots.
#23
Old 03-17-2011, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoke View Post
When I put my patio in a few years back (in a frost zone), I was counciled to use polymeric sand instead of just some regular fine-grain sand. It really makes a big difference in both weed and ant control.

When you put that stuff down between the cracks, you then mist it, and it settles into almost a cement. I still touch it up every spring, but really only in a few spots.
I used this too. Didn't want just sand and didn't want to mortar the joints, with the resulting cracks, either. So far so good.

For the OP. I would have gone with poured concrete except that my patio was very difficult to access. It was easier for me to haul in the sand and pavers by hand than it would have been to build the access for a truck. To me, the question is how regular you want the patio to look. Poured and stamped concrete would be more smooth and regular, I think. Pavers would have a more rough look, especially years from now after settling.
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