Pavers vs Concrete Patio: What Are the Differences?

The first use of cement dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Our ancestors mixed lime, volcanic ash, and water to create a hard substance resembling stone suitable for building structures.

In our modern world cement, and stone-like substances such as pavers, are used widely in the construction of courtyards, patios, driveways, and walkways.

Given our bevy of choices when constructing a patio, driveway, or walkway, we typically choose between poured concrete or concrete pavers. In this article, we will specifically talk about patios. Read on about pavers vs concrete patio and decide which option would work best for you.

Pavers vs Concrete Patio: The Basics

A concrete patio can be constructed in any shape or size, as can a patio made of pavers. A concrete patio can also be stamped and colored with patterns that resemble the intricate designs that can create with pavers.

The installation costs vary, with pavers costing more upfront. Pavers also involve more materials and labor than a poured concrete patio.

Although maintenance and longevity of each will come into play in your decision on which to choose when constructing a patio, both types of patios add value to your home.

Installation Steps of a Concrete Patio

The following concrete patio guide describes, in brief, the typical steps involved in creating a poured concrete patio.

  1. Excavate the area
  2. Grade the area to slope 1 inch for every 4-8 feet
  3. Build the form around the edges
  4. Place in the base gravel, rebar, or rebar mesh
  5. Mix the concrete
  6. Mix in the color (optional)
  7. Pour the concrete into the form
  8. Flatten the area using a leveling tool
  9. Stamp in the design (optional)
  10. Round the outside edges
  11. Float the surface to make it smoother
  12. Cover with plastic sheeting

Remove the plastic sheeting after 48 hours and the cement will be cured enough to walk on.

Installation Steps of a Concrete Pavers Patio

While concrete paver patios involve many similar steps, you will notice a few significant differences in the process. A key difference is the need to have base layers – 4″ of gravel and 1″ of sand.

  1. Calculate the depth of the excavation area
  2. Excavate the area of soil and grass to the calculated depth, including a slope of 1″ for every 8′
  3. Add 6″ of gravel evenly throughout the area
  4. Tamp gravel down to 4″ thickness
  5. Pour in the sand to a depth of 1″ uniform thickness
  6. Level the sand
  7. Starting at a corner, lay out paver stones, cutting to size as needed
  8. Add in edge pavers or another form of patio edging material
  9. Fill paver gaps with paving sand
  10. Compact the entire paver patio one more time

A paver patio takes more time to install, but in many cases, the results can be more beautiful and interesting than poured concrete patios.

Pavers vs Concrete Patio Pricing Differences

If you guessed that the added labor and materials involved in installing a concrete paver patio add up to a higher cost, you would be right. Consider also that pavers are created from forms, another step not needed for concrete patios.

Pricing and quality of work vary for these types of projects, and not all contractors price their products and services fairly, so shop around and make ample comparisons between available contractors to get a fair price and quality service.

Concrete patios cost from $6 to $12 per square foot, installed. Concrete paver patios can cost from $8 to $25 per square foot, installed, and with fancier concrete pavers it could reach $50 per square foot.

I recommend breaking this down into percentages since prices change over time. That means concrete pavers cost from 25% to 50% more than concrete patios.

Pros of Concrete Paver Patios

Generally, a concrete paver patio enjoys better aesthetics and results in more interesting designs than concrete.

If a crack develops in a concrete paver, you only need to replace that paver instead of an entire section of your patio.

Pavers last up to 50 years, whereas concrete exposed to the elements typically lasts up to 20-25 years. Pavers can also withstand a greater weight load of up to 8000 PSI vs 2500 PSI for concrete patios.

Cons of Concrete Paver Patios

The base gravel and sand can wash out from under pavers, leaving them uneven and dangerous to walk on, likely requiring a re-do of the entire installation.

Gaps in the pavers can grow over time and allow weeds to sprout up between the pavers.

Pros of Poured Concrete Patios

Poured concrete patios have lower installation cost and need less maintenance. When poured correctly, these kinds of patios provide a durable and long-lasting surface.

Concrete patios stand up well to harsh weather and environmental conditions. A deluge of rain will not wash out the base of a concrete patio like it can a concrete paver patio.

Cons of Poured Concrete Patios

When wet, a concrete patio gets slippery and poses a safety hazard.

If the ground sinks, swells, or moves in any way, cracks may develop in the concrete. This might merely affect aesthetics, or the crack could grow large enough to create a trip hazard.

Color concrete can fade over time unless you apply a sealer periodically.

Maintenance of Concrete vs Concrete Pavers

Other than the obvious tasks of cleaning your patio, there are other maintenance needs that both types of patios will require.

For concrete patios, you want to fill in cracks that develop in concrete patios to eliminate water from seeping down to the base of the patio, undermining it.

When cleaning pavers, use a cleaning solution. If you do not have a specific cleaner at hand, you can use dish soap diluted in water.

Seal pavers regularly to keep up their appearance and make cleaning easier.

Lastly, replace broken and chipped pavers, and repair damaged grout to keep out weeds and keep the pavers in place.

No Wrong Choice

When considering pavers vs concrete patio options, you cannot go wrong with either one and you will add value and extend the living space of your home.

You can even mix the two types depending on the area and the use.

Remember to always hire reputable contractors for patio materials and installation. In the San Antonio, TX area, reach out to Diamond Decks by contacting us here. We are a trusted installer and have received many awards for our exemplary service from the BBB, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and others.