Concrete vs Pavers

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Concrete vs Pavers

Post by mjdaniel » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:20 pm

Hello Bogleheads, I have a long asphalt driveway, then about 1700 sq ft. of colored concrete right around the front of the house and garages. The concrete is about 18 years old, faded badly by the sun, chipped and worn pretty good. We had it pressure washed and treated and it really didn't help. It still looks pretty bad. We hate to put in new concrete, since we will face the same issues over time. I have read about pavers and this looks like it might be the answer. I was interested in anyone who has done the same and how did it work out. I have not gotten an estimate yet, so it is early in the game.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by Mike Scott » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:27 pm

If the concrete is in good structural condition, also get an estimate on a new textured surface treatment.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by pshonore » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:29 pm

Pavers look great, but for a driveway you will need a much more substantial base (than for a walkway) and heavy duty pavers.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:35 pm

We had honest-to-goodness cobblestones installed. Supposedly they were originally from the West Side Highway in NYC; I don't know, but they look the part. It was expensive and I can't have our drive plowed (have to use a snowblower), but I love them.
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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:27 pm

While I like pavers they are usually concrete pavers. They will suffer the same slings and arrows as a concrete slab. It is easier to repair chips or dips, but mostly people think worn, faded pavers look charming, while a worn faded slab looks like a worn, faded slab.

Fixed grammer and typos.
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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by MikeWillRetire » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:34 pm

Pavers can be made of concrete too, and they will also fade in time. I prefer the clay brick pavers. They don't come in as many shapes, but they are more durable, stronger, and they don't fade. I built my patio 23-years ago, using brick pavers on top of concrete with a thin sand layer in between, and sand in the joints. I built it to last! With the occasional cleaning, it still looks the same. Although I do have to occasionally use roundup to kill the weeds that will eventually grow in the joints.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:09 pm

1. Pavers may actually cost more than concrete. You will need to investigate to know.

2. Pavers will shift somewhat over time, especially for a driveway. Could be a continuing maintenance issue. They look great, however.

3. Concrete if well done will last for decades, even centuries. Not all contractors are equal, so don't go by lowest bid. Look for the driveways or sidewalks with a stamp showing the year and the contractor's name.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by baconavocado » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:29 pm

I've noticed that most of my neighbors who've replaced their concrete and asphalt driveways are using pavers. They look fantastic, sort of like cobblestones, and I think the city is trying to encourage their use because when they're installed a certain way, on top of a thick, porous base (sand plus aggregate?), they allow water to percolate into the ground rather than run off quickly into streams. This helps recharge aquifers and protects the health of our streams.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:55 pm

baconavocado wrote:
Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:29 pm
I've noticed that most of my neighbors who've replaced their concrete and asphalt driveways are using pavers. They look fantastic, sort of like cobblestones, and I think the city is trying to encourage their use because when they're installed a certain way, on top of a thick, porous base (sand plus aggregate?), they allow water to percolate into the ground rather than run off quickly into streams. This helps recharge aquifers and protects the health of our streams.
During the renovation where we replaced asphalt with cobblestones, we also increased the SF of the house by a small den. The city insisted that we install catch-basins (or whatever they call them) for our downspouts, at considerable expense. I argued that we were massively increasing our property's ability to absorb water with the large area of cobblestones, not to mention the large, thirsty, weeping willow; they weren’t having it :oops:
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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by gtd98765 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:00 pm

we had our 50-year-old brick driveway replaced with concrete pavers about 5 years ago. They still look great. had to have a gas line replaced underneath - they just came out, the line was replaced, then they were put back down, and it looks the same. Concrete with a pattern would have been half the cost, but all bidders admitted that it would eventually crack no matter how carefully it was done. We live in the Washington area so there is definitely a freeze/thaw issue. Weeds do grow up between them, of course.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:48 pm

I have nothing but concrete pavers in my yard and not driveways, it was done by the builder, but one thing I noticed, I can easily fix any cracks. My husband and I laid our own pavers, no cracks so far. But we just fixed my sister’s pavers because we hired somebody to do it. No more concrete for us ever. That was so 90s.

Edit to add, I used polymeric sand or joint sand to fix these concrete pavers. Weeds can easily grow between them. That's what I meant by fixing. They are solid, nothing cracks. They also are 2 inch thick. But for driveways, I recommend something else.
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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by snowox » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:25 pm

I use to install and do many many paver driveways and in bad winter climate area. If pavers are done right you wont have any issues that wont take minutes to fix. Heck they use to do the city streets with them. Can be a better look especially as an accent for what it seems your talking about. Stay away from concrete pavers unless they are really treated from releasing efflorescence. Yes they do make good concrete pavers and they have a treatment you apply to limit the efflorescence as well. The base is the key. I would put down 3- 4" of TB wet it, compact it and the next day repeat and that gives you about 5- 6" of as strong as concrete base as you can imagine. And if you dont want shifting and or weeds growing between them don't use sand. Use Polymeric sand. This will harden and form a seal rock hard between the pavers. You will need a hammer and flathead screwdriver to separate the pavers if you use the right products. The benefits of pavers besides the look is if you get a crack here or there just pop it out and install a new one. Oil spills, rust you name it. And there is so much variety these days. Can you tell i like pavers? awesome patterns you can do as well.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by likegarden » Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:03 pm

You might be living in a warmer climate. I live in the Northeast and in my area all driveways up to the garage doors are asphalt. At my house also walkways to the house entrance and to the gate to my backyard are asphalt. Black asphalt helps to melt ice and snow faster, which is important to prevent injuries. In my backyard, the main patio is bricks, the other small one is pavers, walkways are pavers, all are on sand.
My problem with bricks and pavers is that algae and moss will grow on it and in the cracks, and then I have to put some chemical on it. Asphalt is easier to handle, simply call a guy who will reseal the asphalt.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by acs02001 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:17 pm

Do pavers work well for a heated driveway? We have a contractor who mentioned installing a hydronic heating system with the first part of our long driveway consisting of stone (this is on an upward slope) and the remaining 2/3s consisting of pavers. So far, it sounds like staying away from concrete pavers may be a good idea... Anything else to watch out for with regard to having a contractor install a paver driveway with a hydronic heating system? Thanks!

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by bumblebh » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:31 pm

My mother put in a paver driveway about 10 years ago to replace asphalt that she disliked. She has a very large semicircular driveway and a portion that goes up by her garage. It is very labor intensive since they are all hand layed. They dug down about one foot and placed gravel and then sand then paver. They have held up extremely well. I don't notice any fading over time, but maybe it so gradual I don't notice it? They are fairly easy to change if there is oil spot. From a drainage standpoint it is so much better than full slab concrete or asphalt. I think pavers are more expensive up front but possibly less costly in long run, but maybe not. They look much nicer than concrete or asphalt though.

We decided to put in paver patio in back of our home after we put on a sunroom addition. Did it ourselves. Not difficult, just labor intensive. Love it, would absolutely do it again.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by lthenderson » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:38 pm

I would never install pavers for a driveway but I also don't live in southern California. We get ice and snow for three to four months a year which makes them extremely difficult to keep clean and safe. Frost depths can go as deep as 18 to 24" deep so unless you put down 18" of base before six inch thick pavers, it will heave. Every city that I have driven on old brick or cobblestone streets is like driving on a rollercoaster. Yes concrete cracks, however from many years of experience, controlling the cracks is key. When I pour driveways, I cut the concrete so that it cracks in predetermined spots and isn't visible. Re-rod in the concrete prevents it from heaving so that one piece is higher than the next. I have re-poured many piss pour concrete jobs. Properly done, concrete is a lifetime investment.

In southern California, it is probably quite possible to use pavers and get good results. Just not here in the land of four seasons.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by forgeblast » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:49 am

When I was working landscaping on the weekends I helped install a paver stone driveway. There will be an expense to you for removal of the old concrete, once that is gone making sure it has a proper base and drainage. This will depend on your area, You also want it to slope away from the house so water does not get sent to your basement. Once that base is done correctly then normally we would put an inch of sand and then put the pavers on. Once the pavers were on we compacted them. There are different ways to hold the pavers in place on the edge. There are plastic strips that are hammered in but we use cement. It looks great, if your in a winter area there you want to avoid rock salt and go with something else to help with ice removal.
With that work being done think about anything else that you want done for example a vehicle alert chime can be put under the pavers, or running conduit for lights, or for a powered gate. Its easier going in with a plan so that those things can be laid down when the ground is ripped up.

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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by mrc » Wed Dec 06, 2017 6:48 pm

When I replaced an asphalt driveway concrete and pavers were about the same price. The old driveway had to be broken up and removed. The substrate for concrete was pretty much already there. The contractor installed reinforcing mesh and poured in sections. The 20' or so adjacent to the road had to be a different mix per county regs.

To use pavers required more excavation, and back fill with crusher run. Then the cost of the labor to place the pavers. The county wouldn't permit pavers by the road.

Normally, the decision might have been pay someone to pour the concrete or lay the pavers myself. But the driveway was just too big for me to take on by myself.
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Re: Concrete vs Pavers

Post by quantAndHold » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:24 pm

A concrete driveway should last more than 18 years pretty easily. Is it just a cosmetic problem, or is the concrete cracking and heaving?

If it’s just cosmetic, get it resurfaced. If it’s a larger problem, you might want to get help resolving the problem before spending a bunch of money on new concrete.

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