Concrete vs. Pavers For a New Patio

When constructing a new patio, the two most popular materials used are concrete and pavers. When you’re considering building a new patio, you might be wondering about the differences between them and the benefits of each. While both concrete and pavers offer advantages and are attractive choices, you’ll likely want to make your decision based on criteria like the overall finished look, cost, and how you plan to use your new patio. Here is a tutorial on the pros and cons of concrete vs. pavers, along with answers to frequently asked questions. 

What is the Difference Between Concrete and Pavers?

Concrete is mixed and poured on-site in uniform grey slabs for strength. Fairly drab aesthetically, people sometimes upgrade to a stamped concrete finish which adds texture and a little more appeal. 

Pavers, usually made from natural stone or porcelain arrive in individual blocks or bricks which are then arranged to create a unique layout or space. Design options are virtually unlimited because they are offered in a variety of patterns and colours, allowing you to create a personalized feel for your space. 

Durability: Concrete vs. Pavers 

To resist the freeze/thaw cycles typical of Canadian winters, concrete must be poured to a depth of 4-6 inches over a prepared base. If the ground beneath your patio shifts, concrete slabs can crack or split, and at some point in the future you will need to replace it. Concrete can stain due to its porosity and repairs are obvious, impacting its appearance. 

Alternatively, the durability of a paver stone patio comes down to your installation process, in particular, the base underneath them. Pavers themselves can last a lifetime and can withstand weather, heavyweight, and almost anything you can throw at them. If pavers are installed with a thermally protected product such as GatorBase beneath, your patio will remain level year after year, resisting the ravages of Canadian weather. Should a paver somehow become stained or damaged, simply replace the individual paver and no one will be the wiser? 

When it comes to load-bearing strength, pavers are the clear winner. While concrete is indeed strong, pavers can withstand up to 4X the weight that concrete can handle. 

Safety: Concrete vs. Pavers 

Concrete slabs can be very slippery when wet or icy and both pavers and concrete are easily damaged by rock salt. This presents a safety issue. If your concrete patio will receive foot traffic during the winter months, you will need to consider upgrading to stamped concrete to add texture for safety or apply products for slip resistance. On the other hand, pavers have built-in texture making them a safer choice. In wet conditions, pavers have inherent drainage, while concrete needs to be properly graded to avoid pooling on its surface. 

Ease of Installation: Concrete vs. Pavers 

Installing a concrete patio requires an advanced skill set to ensure a proper base and grading. The space needs to be accessible by a large truck, and minimum order requirements may necessitate ordering and paying for more concrete than you need. 

Installing pavers is relatively straightforward and most DIY’ers have no trouble installing them, particularly when using an uncomplicated base product like GatorBase underneath. No large components or equipment are required, and a patio constructed of pavers can be installed nearly anywhere. As a bonus, easier installation results in lower labour costs too. 

What Types of Pavers Can I Use For My Patio?

Pavers are offered in an assortment of styles and materials, colours, and shapes. Porcelain pavers are incredibly versatile, offer unlimited design options, and are ideal for projects that demand total visual continuity. Natural stone pavers are a popular choice for patios and decks and are available at a variety of price points. Interlocking pavers offer a structured look and are often the easiest to install, however, these are more expensive. Concrete pavers, constructed of a blend of materials including concrete, are topped with a sealant. You may also find pavers made of marble, brick, and other materials.

Whether your preference is pavers or concrete, a patio is sure to enhance your enjoyment of your outdoor living space, while simultaneously improving your home’s value.