What are the Differences Between Stamped Concrete and Pavers?
Stamped concrete and pavers will both be able to be used in many circumstances. They both will work for driveways, walkways, pool decks and patios. They are both great applications when you are wanting to create a new space, or replace a tired, broken surface. They both offer an incredible variety of different shapes, patterns, colors and textures. They can both complement nearly any space. Lastly, they both offer a durable, decorative solution for your concrete problems and can accommodate almost any drainage solution. This is where the similarities end.
Stamped concrete is the more cost-effective option of the two. It is a smaller investment for several reasons:
A concrete slab is poured and finished on-site. In order to create the pattern, the foreman will simply make an impression in the wet concrete with a rubber stamp. Generally speaking, stamped concrete will have a two-color system applied to the surface and be completed in just a few days. Pavers are a manufactured, concrete based product. Not only is the paver itself more expensive, but, included in a standard paver installation, is a concrete toe, polymeric sand, crushed and compacted base material and bedding sand. It is not surprising that with all of these various materials, the labor component of a paver installation is almost always more significant than that of a decorative concrete surface. That said, in many cases you will more than make up for the initial investment with savings throughout the life of the product.
While stamped concrete is almost always poured at 4” thick, a paver application can range anywhere from 7-10” in total. In order to create enough space for a paver system to be laid in your existing area, a significant amount of excavation is required. The depth of the paver application will not only create more stability, but it also allows for the system to withstand greater impacts without major repair costs.
Used on airport runways, a correctly installed paver system is championed as the most repairable surface on the market. The paver’s themselves are usually 8,000-9,000 PSI while standard concrete falls in beneath 3,500 PSI. If you have a concrete slab, it is only as strong as the ground it sits on. If a tree root grows into it or the changing weather causes it to shift, you are often left with an unrepairable, permanently cracked surface. If instead you select a paver system, you can simply pull up the impacted surface and repair the affected area. Installing a paver system will leave you satisfied for years after you have replaced your stamped concrete installation.
A stamped concrete slab will need to be resealed every other year. While this will help the area last longer, it will still need to be re-colored within a few years. Paver maintenance is what you choose to make of it. Though often sealed, it does not require a sealant. Common maintenance issues such as settling and polymeric sand erosion are inexpensive and not-urgent. Also, because of the way a paver is colored, the color will last far longer and not require any color touch-ups along the way.
Is a stamped concrete application a bad decision? No, but it isn’t always a great one. Your goal as a consumer should be to make a sound, informed decision. Often times we rush to make a decision after only considering the initial investment. This can be short-sighted, especially in the case where pavers are being considered. Invite an experienced hardscapes contractor to your home. Weigh your options. All of them. And when you are ready, pull the trigger on the surface that best fits your unique needs.