Pavers are a wonderful hardscape element, extremely popular and sought after by many homeowners. For people who have never worked with them, though, things can seem complex at first. For example, we have many times heard the question: “Is concrete stone?”
Those questions are justified, as hardscape is a surprisingly complex industry. There are many elements, with many options of materials, and an astonishing number of variables to consider in an installation.
It is impossible to talk about everything that there is to talk about in a single article. So our focus today will be to tackle this very basic question about concrete being stone.
More specifically, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each material and some of their recommended applications.
So let’s start by making a very important distinction.
Is Concrete Stone?
No. Knowing the difference between these two elements is the first step to better understand their uses.
Stone is a naturally occurring mineral. It can have different origins and be formed from different compositions, as we’ll see more in depth later.
On the other hand, concrete is a man-made material. Surprisingly, forms of concrete have been used for thousands of years. The earliest form of concrete was used in 6500 BC by traders in the region that today composes Syria and Jordan. Throughout history, some form of limestone has always been used in the fabrication of early versions of concrete.
Concrete, as we know it today, was created in 1824 by Joseph Aspdin, who developed a method to burn a high-quality form of chalk and clay until the carbon dioxide was removed from the mixture. This became known as Portland Cement, and it is a method that has been used to this day.
So, although a form of stone is used in its fabrication, concrete is not stone.
So let’s talk a bit about stones in the paver business.
Stone Pavers: The Basics
Stone pavers are a category of their own. Inside the stone category, we have many options for stones that have different characteristics and applications.
Stones can be divided by their origin and composition.
- Metamorphic: These are the stones that were formed through extremely high pressures and temperatures. They suffered alterations in their structure through time, so they present specific and unique patterns. Marble and slate would be examples of these stones.
- Igneous: As the name suggests, these stones were formed from melted lava that slowly cooled down underground. They have consistent constitutions throughout their structure, which makes them extremely hard and dense. Granite and basalt are the most well-known stones belonging to this category.
- Sedimentary: These are the stones that were formed by the compaction of small grains over millions of years. The reason why they were compacted might vary – from volcanic eruptions to the movement of the tectonic plaques themselves. All sandstones and limestones belong to this category.
- Silicates: These are the stones that have silica in their composition. They are the hardest ones, extremely durable, and resistant to acidic substances. Granite, slate, and all sandstones belong to this category.
- Calcium Carbonates: Stones belonging to this category were formed over millions of years by the pressure submitted to fossilized creatures. They are not as dense as silicates and can react with acidic substances. All the limestones, including travertine, its most famous representative, and marble are examples of these stones.
Choosing the right stone paver for your project is not a trivial decision. Of all the available materials, stone is the most expensive, so it needs to be very well-handled and applied.
With proper maintenance, though, stone pavers can last several generations. Part of this maintenance routine includes sealing the pavers, a very important step that should not be skipped.
Regular sweeps to keep it free from debris are pivotal, as well as deep cleanings with specific commercial solutions about twice a year.
Concrete Pavers: The Kings of Hardscape
In case you didn’t know, concrete pavers are the best pavers available – even if they’re not stone. Period.
Porcelain pavers, a relatively recent contender in the market, are giving them a run for their money, but concrete pavers are still on top as the best paver you can purchase.
The reason for it is that concrete pavers are very resistant, even more than some natural stones, and incredibly versatile. In fact, they are the most versatile pavers in the industry, fitting in almost any project without problems.
Concrete pavers are made, evidently, out of concrete that is premolded into very sturdy and dense blocks. These blocks work as individual pieces of a larger structure on what we call a dry installation.
The idea behind a dry installation is that the structure itself is malleable – meaning that it can shift and adapt to ground movement, both from above and below. That, in combination with the strong individual pieces, creates a strong structure that can last centuries.
This idea is also viable with other forms of pavers, including stone ones. But concrete pavers really shine above all else.
The maintenance is basically the same as with the stone: sealing, regular sweeps, and occasional deep cleanings. With concrete, however, you don’t need any specific products, as a simple solution of warm water and dish soap already does the trick.
Concrete or Stone? What should I Choose?
Once again, the choice of paver for your project is not trivial. It all depends on what exactly you want to achieve with your project and what are the characteristics of your terrain.
If you can afford them, stone pavers have a visual impact unmatched by any other. But from a functionality perspective, concrete pavers are the most cost-beneficial ones.
But that choice should be left to professional hardscape contractors. Find one in your area that can help you – don’t risk making any decision without consulting someone with expertise first.
Here at SS Pavers, we have worked with countless installations over our 12 years of activity. As such, we have seen many installations with mistakes that could have easily been avoided if only a professional were involved.
That’s why we always recommend people make the smart choice of protecting your investment and hiring a professional. And if you’re around the Sarasota and Manatee counties, in Florida, we would gladly help you with your project!