The Benefits of Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

When planning a paver project, it’s important to know that not all pavers are equal. When comparing concrete pavers versus brick pavers, it’s particularly essential to understand the differences between the two, and the multiple benefits of choosing concrete pavers over traditional clay brick.

Paver Sizes & Shapes

Size and Shape Benefits Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

Concrete pavers come in a tremendous variety of shapes and sizes –- from small 4″x8″ and 6″x6″ all that way up to 24” slabs, as well as irregular and plank shapes.  Clay brick pavers typically only come in 4″x8″ sizes.

Paver Finishes & Styles

Finishing Benefits Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

While brick pavers all have a similar face, concrete pavers are available in an endless array of finishes — including smooth finishes, natural stone textures, cobbled looks, antique tumbled looks and more.  Most concrete paver finishes incorporate blends of colors, and many have unique faces created with specialized aggregates.

Paver Colors

Color Benefits Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

Clay brick pavers are typically only available in a limited number of shades or color blends. However, concrete pavers are available in a wide array of hues and color blends — including warm color tones, cool color tones, deep shades, and variegated color blends. This allows for greater design flexibility and the ability to create more coordinated outdoor designs. Unlike most brick pavers, some concrete pavers also have built-in protectants to help prevent the color from fading over time.

Consistent Paver Sizes

Sizing Benefits of Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

Concrete pavers are made in a highly controlled environment, allowing for more uniformed and consistent shapes and sizes within a particular style. This allows for more efficient installation. Brick pavers can often be warped as part of the firing process, which can make installation more challenging.

Coordinating Design Elements

Coordinating Elements of Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

Concrete pavers are often designed to specifically coordinate with adjacent vertical products — such as retaining walls, outdoor kitchen and fireplace kits and fire pit kits — in terms of style, texture and color.  This makes it easier to plan coordinated outdoor living spaces. Although clay bricks can be used to construct vertical design elements, doing so is a longer, more complex masonry process.

Paver Design Flexibility

Design Benefits of Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

With brick pavers, designs are limited to running bond, herringbone and basket-weave paver laying patterns. However, with concrete pavers, the design options are endless. You can mix and match various shapes, sizes, finishes and colors to create unique outdoor living designs.

Paver Durability

Durability Benefits of Concrete Pavers vs Brick Pavers

Clay is fairly unpredictable, and some clay bricks are prone to cracking in freeze/thaw environments. Belgard concrete pavers are manufactured to handle extreme weather conditions and come with a lifetime transferable warranty against cracking or breaking.

Outdoor Living Tips for Colder Months

When the days get shorter and the nights get colder, don’t retreat indoors!  With a little planning and simple touches here and there, your outdoor living areas can continue to be a favorite gathering spot during colder months. The following compilation of blog topics offer tips on making your outdoor spaces more usable this time of year, as well as winterizing do’s and don’ts that can help extend the lifespan of your fire features, appliances and hardscapes.

Outdoor Fireplace and Fire Pit Maintenance Tips

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Outdoor Fire Pit Winter LivingIt’s important to properly maintain outdoor fire features to ensure safety and functionality, both this season and for many years to come. Improve the life expectancy of your fire features with these simple maintenance tips.

 

Winterizing Your Outdoor Living Spaces

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Winterizing Your Outdoor Living SpacesExtreme temperature fluctuations can take a toll. Keep your outdoor kitchens and living rooms as beautiful and functional as the day they were installed with these simple do’s and don’ts for winterizing your outdoor appliances, fire features and brick ovens.

Preventing Deicing Downfalls

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Outdoor Patio Fireplace PaversDeicing agents can often have a corrosive effect on paved surfaces. Get tips on how to diminish ice buildup on your patios, walkways and driveways without diminishing the look and lifespan of your pavers.

 

Project Profile: Heated Permeable Pavers

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Heated Permeable Pavers Outdoor Living Tips WinterReady to ditch deicing salts altogether? Check out this contemporary permeable paver driveway and walkway constructed with heating coils beneath the pavers. The coils are activated by temperature and precipitation settings, heating the pavers to immediately melt snow and drain it through the joints.

Protecting Pavers from Debris

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Outdoor Living Fire Pit KitWarmer climates that aren’t subject to snow and ice can still be affected by falling leaves. Decomposing leaves and other debris can stain pavers that aren’t properly sealed. Learn how to protect your pavers and keep them looking beautiful.

Decorative Ways to Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Space in Colder Months

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Outdoor Living Tips for Colder Months FireplaceCreating a sense of warmth is the key to increasing the functionality of your outdoor spaces during colder months. Learn about multiple decorative ways to increase both the visual and physical warmth of your outdoor entertaining areas.

 

Festive Backyard Lighting Ideas

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Outdoor Living Tips for Winter FireplaceWith shorter days, proper lighting is another aspect to increasing the functionality of your outdoor entertainment spaces during this time of year. However, overhead porch lights can often be too bright and diminish the ambiance. Get ideas for creating a more festive and welcoming atmosphere.

Brick Oven Recipes

A growing trend in outdoor kitchen design is to incorporate multiple cooking surfaces, which adds to a kitchen’s functionality. Wood-burning brick ovens make a stunning addition to an outdoor kitchen, yet some shy away under the mistaken assumption that brick ovens can only be used for cooking pizza. Although, wood-fired pizza definitely has a far superior flavor to pizza cooked any other way, the truth is that brick ovens create even temperatures for balanced cooking and add an amazing layer of flavor to practically any dish that can be prepared in a standard indoor oven. Here are a collection of brick oven recipes to get you started.

BABY BACK RIBS

Baby Back Ribs Brick Oven RecipeBaby back ribs are typically a crowd favorite. The down side is that they normally take hours to cook, since the standard method for getting the right texture and moisture level is to cook them “low and slow.” However, the high consistent temperatures that can be created in a brick oven seals in the meat’s natural juices and cooks ribs in a fraction of the time.

Ingredients
  • 3 Racks of Baby Back Ribs
  • French’s Yellow Mustard
  • Dry Rub – your favorite recipe or store-bought
Preparation
  1. Fire up your brick oven to 450-500°F — use an infrared temperature gun to check temp when ready.
  2. Cut full rack of ribs in half (to fit a rib rack). Coat both sides of ribs with mustard.
  3. Rub in dry spices on either side. Place ribs in rack with drip pan underneath in middle of hearth.
  4. Roast ribs for 35-40 minutes. Spin the rack around (front to back) midway through the cooking process.

NOTE: Cooking times will vary with size and thickness of ribs.

FRENCH ONION SOUP

French Onion Soup Brick Oven RecipesFrench onion soup is one of those comfort foods that just warms the soul. Savory, cheesy, brothy goodness in a bowl. Just make sure the bowls you use are rated to withstand 500-degree temperatures. The directions call for the first few steps of this recipe to be prepped on a stove, but you could also use a gas grill. The soup will, of course, be finished in the brick oven.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Onions – sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves – chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
  • 1 Cup Sherry (or your favorite wine)
  • 3 Heaping Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Quarts Beef Broth
  • 1 Baguette – sliced
  • 1/4 Lb. Each: Grated Gruyere & Swiss Cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Preparation (serves 4)
  1. Fire up your brick oven to 500°F — use an infrared temperature gun to check temp when ready.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat on stove. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until onions are caramelized — about 20 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Make sure to reduce heat and simmer until wine has evaporated and the onions are dry — about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
  3. Dust the onions with flour and give them a stir. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add beef broth and bring back to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes more and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange baguette slices on the very front of the oven hearth and cook for 3 minutes to toast.
  5. Pour soup into 4 oven-safe bowls with the ability to handle 500-degree heat. Add baguette slices on top of soup bowls and load each with cheese. Place soup bowls at the very front of the oven hearth and watch the cheese melt!

FIRE ROASTED VEGETABLES

Fire Roasted Brick Oven Veggie RecipesIf you like roasted veggies and typically cook them in the oven or on the grill, wait until you taste the difference! Using this brick oven recipe, you’ll never want them prepared any other way. The super-high temperature used for this recipe optimizes the flavor, sealing in moisture and adding a slight crispy texture to the exterior of each vegetable.

Ingredients
  • Red, Green, Orange and Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Small Spanish Onion
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 8 Small Portabella Mushrooms
  • Olive Oil and Sea Salt
Preparation
  1. Fire up your oven to 700°F – use an infrared temperature gun to check temp when ready.
  2. Cut vegetables to desired size and thickness and place in vented grill pan with a drip pan underneath. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and add sea salt to taste.
  3. Place in middle of hearth. Roast veggies for 5-10 minutes. Make sure to stir from time to time while cooking; watch closely to avoid burning. Cooking times will vary per desired crispiness.

NOTE: When cooking with oil, marinades and sauces, always use a griddle, skillet or drip pan.

BASIC PIZZA DOUGH

Pizza Dough Brick Oven RecipeYes, this blog post is about the fact that brick ovens are not just for cooking pizza, but since a wood-fired brick oven is the absolute best way to cook a pizza, we just had to give you a dough recipe. And although you can certainly make wonderful pizzas using prepared crusts or store-bought dough, if you want an authentic brick oven pizza experience, homemade dough is the way to go.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water (about 110°F to 115°F)
  • 1/4 Ounce Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 3 1/2 Cups All–Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Semolina Flour (or fine ground yellow corn meal)
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil (and extra for coating the bowl)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
PREPARATION (makes 2 pizza crusts)
  1. Combine yeast, water and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir. Let sit until foamy on top.
  2. Add 1/2 cup flour, the semolina, and 1/3 cup olive oil with the salt. Mix and continue working in the flour a 1/4 cup at a time until completed.
  3. Put the dough on a lightly-floured work surface and knead until smooth and tacky.
  4. Prepare a large mixing bowl coated in olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with wax paper or wet towel. Place in a warm area and let double in size; usually takes over an hour.
  5. Knead the dough a little and separate into two equal portions. At this point, store in airtight bags; it’s ready to use as directed in recipes.

Note: You can freeze and store this dough up to four months. Make sure before using to thaw for several hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

FOR MORE RECIPE IDEAS: Visit the Recipes for Company section of the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog.

Brick oven recipes and photos courtesy Chicago Brick Oven®.

Introducing the Chiseled Stone Look of New Coventina Coping

Belgard’s newest hardscape product answers the call of two major design trends for outdoor living spaces: large-format materials and natural textures. Coventina™ Coping features chiseled edging, a lightly textured surface and unique color blends that emulate the look of large pieces of natural slate for a fraction of the cost. The perfect accent for a variety of trim applications, Coventina Coping can work with both contemporary and traditional designs and complements a variety of paver styles.

Stone Pool Coping

Coventina Stone Pool CopingCoventina Coping works well with traditional pavers, plank-style pavers, and contemporary porcelain pavers as an elegant chiseled stone trim for swimming pools, spas and water features. The large-format shape creates a clean stone look with a minimal number of seams.

Wall and Step Trim

Conventina Stone Wall Trim, Stone Step TrimCoventina Coping can be paired with a variety of Belgard landscape wall blocks to add a stylish finished look to multi-dimensional outdoor living design elements such as fire pits, landscaping walls, seat walls and built-in planters. Coventina Coping can also be used to create stair steps and terrace transitions. This versatility allows Coventina to be used in trim applications throughout an outdoor living design to pull the entire look together.

Natural Stone Looks

Natural Stone Coventina CopingChiseled edges, a gracefully textured stone top surface and variegated color blends combine to mimic the aesthetics found in nature.  A cost-effective alternative to natural stone, Coventina Coping emulates the look and feel of slate with the added benefits of uniform sizes, durability and slip-resistance.

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Coventina™ Coping is currently available in various markets along the East Coast and the Gulf South. Plans to expand distribution to other regions will be announced at a later date. For more information regarding availability in your local market, visit the Belgard contractor and dealer locator page.

2018 Fireside Memories & S’mores Recipes

In August, we reached out to our audience and asked you share your personal fireside memories and unique s’mores recipes as part of our annual National S’mores Day Fire Pit Giveaway. We had an overwhelming response and received more than 3,000 stories and recipes from across the nation!

CONGRATULATIONS TO:

Elaine P. from Daytona Beach, FL

Winner of a beautiful Belgard Ashland Fire Pit Kit and a year’s supply of delectable artisan chocolate from Chuao Chocolatier®.

Belgard Ashland Fire Pit Kit

Thanks to Elaine for sharing her family recipe for Greek S’mores:

Being Greek, our family always make s’mores using Phyllo dough. Take 10 sheets of Phyllo and layer with melted butter. Cut into 3” squares and bake at 350º F for 7-10 min. When cool, place 4 squares of Hershey’s chocolate and one marshmallow on top of a square of baked Phyllo, and too with another layer of baked Phyllo. Allow to melt, and eat! Kali orexi! (Bon appetite in Greek!)

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We’d also like to thank the thousands of others who shared their special memories and recipes with us. Here are a few of our favorite submissions. For more stories and memories from our contest, be sure to visit the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook page, where we’ll be sharing more of these throughout the month.

FIRESIDE MEMORIES

Outdoor Living Blog

Although I’m pretty sure I had s’mores prior to going to 4-H camp, it was at 4-H camp around a campfire with s’mores that I got my first kiss.  –L. Cobb (Phoenix, AZ)

My late husband and I finally after 40 years of hard work were able to build a beautiful new home on our farm! My then 9-year-old grandson really wanted to build a fire pit, so he and his Papa made one — very primitive because it was my grandson’s “design”! His Papa passed away a few months later! 3 and 1/2 years later, it’s still there — a sweet memory, but not too functional!   –Anon (Tulelake, CA)

When we were little, my mom’s parents would often have family BBQ nights with our family and cousins. Our grandparents had bamboo growing wildly in their backyard and had an open fire pit. When we would arrive, we got to select a bamboo stalk, and my grandpa, dad or uncle would cut our choices down and sharpen one end with a large knife. All of us cousins would then huddle around the fire pit to roast hot dogs. Then we would move on to roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. Fun times!  –Anon (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)

My favorite s’mores memory was traveling from the city in New York (Harlem) to the mountains with my family and grilling s’mores by the campsite. My Dad died when I was 9 years old, and this was one of the very few cherished memories of him I had left. My mom raised the 8 of us by herself and always tried to maintain this campsite visit and s’mores tradition throughout our childhood.  –G. Clarke, Atlanta GA

We used to go to a hayride every year, and at the end of the night, we would sit around a fire and sing songs and eat s’mores with the marshmallows toasted to a crisp so that they were super gooey.  –Anon (Rock Glen, PA)

On my birthday a few years ago, we were camping and didn’t have a cake. We did have candles, so we put one on a marshmallow and tried to light the candle in the campfire! We went through several candles before one was lit long enough to sing “Happy Birthday!”  –R. Drew (Reserve, KS)

My cherished memory was when my boys wanted to start making s’mores on their own. I was like, they don’t need mom anymore. They were like, we want to make them for you mom, so just let us treat you, but you can still buy the items :). I felt needed again, lol.  –K. Jefferson (Arlington, TX)

Every summer we rent a cottage and take the grandchildren up North for a week. We have a bonfire almost every night, we make s’mores, and then play campfire games. One of our newest recipes is a “walking s’more.” Take a small bag of teddy grahams, crush the bears, then slice open the bag. Drop in a Hershey’s bar that’s been broken into pieces, and finally, a hot toasted marshmallow. You need to eat this treat with a spoon or a fork, but you can take it down to the dock while you eat and listen to the loons. Wonderful summer fun and hopefully a lifetime of memories.   –K. Lewis (Sandwich, MA)

MORE S’MORES RECIPES

S'more Recipes Outdoor Living Blog

Graham crackers, strawberry marshmallows toasted golden brown and semi-sweet chocolate.  –Anon (Monroe, MI)

1 coconut shortbread cookie, 1/2 pineapple ring, 1 chocolate bar, 1 melted marshmallow, 1 coconut shortbread cookie. Layer as above and enjoy!  –Anon (Spanish Fort, UT)

Heat oven to 350°F. Place 9 graham squares in single layer on bottom of 8-inch square pan; top with 36 marshmallow halves. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate. Top with remaining marshmallow halves, cut sides down. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes and cut into squares.   –Anon (Nashville, TN)

Graham crackers, dark chocolate, marshmallows, 4 blackberries. Yum!  –D. Griffin (Farr West, UT)

Graham crackers drizzled with caramel, then chocolate, topped with a roasted cinnamon marshmallow.  –Anon (New Richmond, OH)

Chocolate graham cracker, Hershey’s mint chocolate bars, Smash Mallow mint chocolate chip marshmallows.  –S. Coleman (Cottonwood Heights, UT)

Regular s’mores, but put peanut butter on the graham cracker. It’s great! –T. Campbell (Northville, MI)

We used to roll our marshmallows in Jello powder before roasting them! Chocolate strawberry s’mores!  –B. Westfall (Rochester, MN)

Try using a peanut butter cup with a chocolate graham cracker. –R. Kinkaid (Ballston Lake, NY)

S’more Pie: Graham cracker pie crust, cold chocolate pudding filling with chocolate chunks — set in fridge to chill. Add Marshmallow Creme topping spread on top and return to fridge to chill. Ready to slice and serve after 1 to 1.5 hrs.  —H. Hansen (Desert Hot Springs, CA)

Hollow out the toasted marshmallow and drizzle in some Bailey’s liqueur.   –J. Cloward (Bar Nunn, WY)

Virtual Tour of the Sunset 2018 Idea House

As the exclusive hardscape sponsor of Sunset Magazine‘s 2018 Idea House in Los Gatos, California, Belgard is excited to offer our readers a virtual tour of the outdoor spaces on this lovely 2,900 square foot 3-bedroom home that offers a modern take on traditional craftsman style architecture.

Landscape designers Tamura Landscapes and Sycamore Design took the contemporary-meets-traditional theme to heart and took a number of novel approaches to the outdoor design elements. Instead of a traditional brick or cobble driveway, the designers chose to use a staggered running bond pattern of Melville™ Plank pavers. Another unique design choice was to eliminate the traditional border and incorporate asymmetrical garden insets with low-maintenance drought-tolerant plants.

Paver driveway.

Another design theme used throughout the home was the concept of seamless indoor/outdoor living. This was facilitated in a number of ways and is immediately evident in the transition from the driveway to the front walk, which was constructed using Sundeck Porcelain Pavers. These durable wide-plank outdoor pavers emulate the look of wood and mirror the current trends in indoor flooring. Asymmetrical garden insets and a staggered running bond pattern create a coordinated look with the driveway.

Entrance walkway.
Stepping-stones walkway.

Branching off from the entrance walkway around the front porch and along the side of the home, the designers transitioned to a stepping-stone walkway of Stones 2.0 Porcelain Pavers interspersed with gravel. The gravel extends towards the home into a rock garden to facilitate adequate drainage from downspouts. Angular landscape light fixtures and warm woods add to the juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary design elements.

Folding glass doors create open flow between the indoor and outside spaces on both the front and back of the home. The front parlor completely opens to the front porch, and the living room completely opens to the back porch, allowing the residents to take full advantage of the temperate California climate.

Back porch and outdoor dining area.

A contemporary fire pit patio flows from the porch like a natural extension of the home. Sundeck Porcelain Pavers on the patio and Quartziti Veneer on the gas fire pit help emulate the look of an indoor space.

Fire pit patio.
Staggered patio transition.

Similar in concept to the asymmetrical insets on the entrance walkway and driveway, the patio incorporates a staggered transition into the yard, which is constructed of artificial turf to minimize water usage.

In addition to the contemporary outdoor living design choices, a number of ultra-contemporary touches were used throughout the interior of the home, including glass staircase rails, a minimalist kitchen design and smart-home technology that is integrated throughout the home. The Sunset 2018 Idea House has been open for tours throughout September and will be featured in the October issue of Sunset Magazine.

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All photos copyright 2018 Sunset Publishing Corporation, photos by Thomas J. Story. SUNSET is a registered trademark of Sunset Publishing Corporation and is used with permission.