When designing a patio, walkway or driveway, many homeowners have a difficult time choosing between stamped concrete and pavers. In short, concrete pavers are a much better choice for a variety of factors. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each factor.
In most cases, the colors of a stamped concrete design are not integrated throughout the entire concrete slab. Instead, it is a layer or treatment added to the top of the slab. Because of this, the color can wear or chip off. Belgard pavers use sophisticated color blends that are integrated throughout each stone and are more resistant to wear and fading.
Poured concrete is typically around 3,000-4,000 PSI on average, whereas pavers are 8,000 PSI or greater. Pavers are significantly stronger than stamped concrete and more resistant to the effects of freeze-thaw cycles. In fact, Belgard pavers are guaranteed to last the life of the home and are backed by a transferrable warranty. To help make stamped concrete more resistant to cracking, it must be constructed with control (or expansion) joints. But even with the joints, as like any concrete slab, it will eventually crack. Also, joints typically cut through the pattern, which detracts from the overall look. Pavers do not require expansion joints, and should a paver ever be damaged, a single paver can easily be replaced without having to replace an entire section.
From a design perspective, there’s no contest. Pavers come in a much wider variety of styles, shapes, colors and textures. The ability to mix and match pavers and create intricate paver patterns is endless. Whereas, stamped concrete is limited to a handful of stone or brick textures. Intricate stamped concrete designs are very difficult and costly.
Compaction and base prep are key for both, but poured concrete can be radically impacted by daily weather conditions. Rain, heat, cold and humidity can all affect dry times, strength and finish in a big way. Pavers, on the other hand, since they are made in a controlled environment, don’t have to contend with those factors….and because of that, can be guaranteed. Stamped concrete slabs, on the other hand, can only be guaranteed to crack at some point.
Both stamped concrete and pavers should be sealed regularly to increase durability. However, stamped concrete may require sealant to be applied more frequently for comparable durability. Not only does this increase lifetime maintenance costs, sealant can affect the color of stamped concrete and can also make the surface slippery. In contrast, paver sealant does not affect the color (unless purposely using a Color Boost or Wet Look sealant) and pavers retain their slip-resistance.
STAMPED CONCRETE VS PAVER COST COMPARISON
Is stamped concrete cheaper than pavers? Although it varies by market, the cost of a stamped concrete installation is actually very comparable to a paver installations in most cases. With all the negatives, why would someone risk choosing stamped concrete that offers fewer design options, potential slip hazards, additional maintenance, the likelihood of cracks, and a shorter overall life cycle? A stamped concrete patio will likely need patching or replacing at some point, however, a Belgard paver patio is warrantied to last the life of your home. So, even if you do save a couple of bucks on the front end (and not in every case), you’ll end up paying more in the long run.