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Choosing the right material for your backyard redesign is important. The wrong choice can not only look in your outdoor space, but won’t serve your needs. The two main choices in outdoor hardscaping are pavers and concrete. While both selections can be great, understanding the pros and cons of each will help you make the right choice for your outdoor living space. 

Pavers

A paver is a hardscaping option that has gained popularity in the last decade. Pavers are individual tiles or pieces that fit together to form a solid surface. Pavers can be interlocking or spaced, and can range in material makeup.

Stone or brick pavers are two of the most popular options. That said, pavers are also made from bluestone, clay, travertine, porcelain, and even concrete. Concrete pavers consist of poured concrete mixed with aggregate to create a custom paver which is sealed upon installation.

The rise in popularity of pavers has become notable in recent years as homeowners have turned to more updated styles. Many feel pavers offer versatility and an upscale feel to the outdoor space. However, there are cons to pavers that should be discussed before choosing them for your next patio.

Pros of Pavers

Many landscape designers love pavers for their long list of benefits. Because they come in so many different materials, the design options are unlimited. You can choose from a long list of shapes, colors, styles, and designs not available in poured concrete. This offers versatility to your space, and a customized visual appeal that is hard to achieve in concrete.

Paver maintenance is also much lower than that of concrete. This is a big draw for homeowners who don’t want to endure much upkeep over the years. Because pavers are individual units, repair is simple. Unlike concrete, only the broken tile or paver would need repair or replacing, rather than the entire hardscaped area. This makes them a cost effective option over the long term.

Over the years, pavers age well when maintained. A well tended paver patio has a lifespan of nearly 50 years.

Concern for environmentally friendly landscaping options is rising. With it, pavers offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to concrete. Due to their spacing, the tiles allow rainwater to sink into the ground instead of becoming harmful runoff. Some cities will even offer compensation for homeowners to install pavers in their driveway or back patio area.

Pavers are very durable, and not very susceptible to cracking. This makes them a good choice for homes that undergo regular freezing and seasonal changes. And when it comes time to resell your home, they offer a higher resale value than poured concrete.  Ultimately, many homeowners just feel they are the best investment they can make for a new hardscaped area. 

Cons of Pavers

While pavers may seem like a catch all to everything commonly disliked about concrete, no solution is perfect. The main drawbacks of pavers come during installation, or are related to their cost.

Because pavers take more work to make, and are often more intricate, they are a pricier investment. Pavers tend to cost anywhere from $10 to 30$ per square foot. For smaller patios, cost may not be a drastic influence over your choice. However, if you are looking to install pavers in a driveway or pool deck, the elevated price can quickly add up.

More complicated installation demands also contribute to higher pricing. While concrete pours should still be done by skilled professionals, pavers demand more intricate masonry. Aligning each tile is necessary for a seamless finish. Done incorrectly, this can result in an uneven surface, and may be prone to breaking or loosening with time.

Besides cost and difficulty of installation, pavers also offer a few lesser drawbacks. Because many pavers maintain a space between them, cleaning can be a pain. If you’ve ever attempted to clean grout in the tiles of your own home, you may have a good idea of the experience. It’s important to clean pavers properly to keep them looking their best, and to ensure longevity. 

Concrete

Once the leader in the hardscaping industry, poured concrete has experienced fading popularity in recent years. However, it is still a popular choice for many homeowners due to its simplistic look, strength, and affordability. 

Poured concrete is immediately recognizable, and can be an efficient choice for many homeowners. Upgrades to concrete installation and composition has allowed the material to become more versatile over the years.

Despite these improvements, it continues to be outpaced by pavers in new landscape design projects. 

Pros of Concrete

Concrete didn’t rise in popularity without a good reason. As hardscaping goes, concrete is one of the most affordable materials you can use. You can cover large areas like driveways and pool decks quickly and cheaply, and attain a seamless, level finish.

Done right, concrete is durable and bares weights well. It’s strength to cost is attractive to homeowners looking to get a good bang for their bucks. The affordable nature of concrete is largely due to its ease of install, and price of the material.

Concrete itself is cheap to mix, and relatively easy to install. As opposed to pavers’ expensive cost per square foot, the price tag on concrete is usually between $5-10 per square foot. Maintenance and cleaning are both straightforward. If sealed correctly, poured concrete can do very well in freezing climates.

Cons of Concrete

There is a reason that pavers are outpacing concrete. This is due to concrete’s notable lists of drawbacks, especially in the long term. 

While the upfront cost of having concrete poured is relatively cheap, this cost in the long term may not remain so low. If not maintained, concrete will shift and even crack due to settling and changing temperatures. Homeowners may look at having their concrete resurfaced every five to ten years.

Unlike pavers, concrete repair is a more extensive project. Pavers may only need replacement on a tile by tile basis. Concrete repairs entail removing the entire slab, repouring, resealing, and resurfacing the entire area. For those who are looking to enjoy their patio, pool deck, or driveway for decades, this can be a discouraging prospect.

An additional issue with concrete is that it is vulnerable to staining. Car oil, paint, and other solutions can leave unsightly stains on concrete that are hard to clean. Concrete may also become slippery when wet, which can be a safety concern for some homes. Additionally, concrete is not permeable. This means runoff is created from rain water, which can be a concern for environmentally focused homes. 

What Makes Sense For Your Space

All outdoor design should be specific to your space and your budget.If you’re trying to choose between concrete or pavers for your space, it is best to take time to assess what you are looking for in hardscaping. 

If you are looking for the most affordable option with high functionality, concrete can be a great choice. However, if you are looking for something with more aesthetic appeal, that will serve as a good investment throughout the year, pavers could be a better choice.


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