Stamped Concrete Vs. Pavers: What’s the Difference?
In order to truly appreciate the differences between stamped concrete and pavers, we’ll define each and what makes them unique.
Many people choose stamped concrete for their home projects because it’s generally fast and easy to install, the maintenance is minimal, and the cost is typically affordable.
Essentially, stamped concrete is a slab of concrete that is formed and then “stamped” with a chosen pattern and color so that it can have the appearance of natural stone, brick, wood, tile, or another appearance as chosen by the customer. So, it’s a traditional concrete slab, except it’s spruced up to look nicer. This is why it’s typically a cheaper option.
Even though it can be easily stamped and molded, the concrete work still needs the touch of a professional who can create the right mix and judge the factors of climate, soil, and water management that must be considered during installation.
Stamped concrete is very versatile, and it can be used for projects indoors and outdoors. However, you’ll typically see it used to build patios, pools, and walkways. Stamped concrete can last 25 years or more if properly installed.
On the other hand, pavers, also known as paving stones, are flat-constructed units made out of concrete, brick, or stones, typically used as exterior flooring. Pavers are often used to create patios, walkways, pool decks, and driveways, among other applications.
Pavers can be made out of many materials. One of the popular options is natural stone, which is extremely durable and offers a unique look. There are also brick pavers that are made out of clay. They are first cast in forms and then heated; in the process, they can be mixed and made in different colors. There are also pavers created with concrete, so they are weather-resistant and strong enough to handle heavy loads, making them great for driveways.
Like stamped concrete, pavers are incredibly durable and typically last 30 to 50 years. Pavers typically won’t crack over time like typical concrete. However, if a paver is damaged, you can replace that piece instead of redoing the entire project, like you would with stamped concrete.
Stamped Concrete Vs. Pavers: Cost
Most contractors will agree that laying concrete is an overall easier project than laying down individual pavers because, with concrete, you can lay it all down at once instead of piece by piece. Because there is less labor involved, concrete will typically be more affordable.
Although every company will have its own prices, you can typically expect to pay between $8 to $12 per square foot for stamped concrete and as high as $20 per square foot for pavers. The price may be lower depending on the quality of the materials.
It’s important to think long-term when paying for pavers or concrete. If, down the road, a paver cracks, you can replace the individual paver with minimal effort. However, if you get cracks in your concrete, then the entire slap will need to be replaced, so you may need to pay close to your original installation price again.
Stamped Concrete Vs. Pavers: Installation
The initial work will be very similar when installing pavers or stamped concrete. Both projects will require a flat surface that is well-compacted and properly graded so that work must be done first.
As far as the installation of each type, pavers will take longer because, even though they are made ahead of time, there’s a lot of effort required to lay out each paver. The work can typically take days, depending on the extent of the project. On the bright side, once pavers are laid down, you can immediately step on them, so there’s no wait time.
Although many stamped concrete projects will cover a larger area, the installation process is typically faster. A truck will come in and lay out all the concrete so it can be positioned and laid out flat. Once it’s in place, stamps will be laid down to create the desired effect. The work must be done fast before the concrete hardens.
Even after the stamps are added and the initial work is complete, the concrete still needs to settle, so you won’t be able to walk on it for 24 hours or drive on it for seven days. As a note, ensure you are 100% sure of the stamp you want because if you ever want to change it, you’ll have to replace the entire thing.
Stamped Concrete Vs. Pavers: Other Various Differences
There are other various differences that you will want to consider before choosing between pavers and stamped concrete.
Both pavers and stamped concrete will require occasional maintenance. Both products can benefit from a protective sealant once every few years to minimize surface abrasion and enhance the color.
Although it won’t be too much to handle, pavers will generally require a bit more maintenance as you will likely need to ensure that the joints between pavers remain filled with sand, or you could see weeds pop up between them and occasion erosion. You may need to replenish the sand every 2-3 years.
Although both options are generally safe, stamped concrete won’t shift or move like pavers can if the ground underneath settles. If that happens, the pavers can become uneven, leading to a tripping hazard. This is one of the reasons why it’s not good to install pavers directly on dirt. Instead, proper bedding and planning are necessary.
Although concrete is sturdy and strong, pavers can typically handle more weight than stamped concrete. If constant weight is added to concrete, it is more likely to crack, so keep that in mind if you use it for your driveway and you have trucks, boats, and other large vehicles.
So Which is Best for You?
As you can see, there’s much to consider when choosing between pavers vs. stamped concrete. Considering your project and weighing the pros and cons before selecting the best option is essential. When in doubt, contact a masonry contractor for a professional opinion.