No hardscape design is finished without a beautiful set of pavers. In fact, many of said designs are often built around them. But what if you want to use concrete instead of pavers? Is stamped concrete cheaper than pavers? Is it a better option?
When talking about something being cheaper or not, is important to make a distinction from the starting point. The short term and long term investment. Sometimes something that requires less investment at first ends up being costly in the future.
That is precisely the situation when comparing stamped concrete and pavers. So, besides the sheer cost, we will discuss the pros and cons involved in each choice. Let’s first start by discussing the dynamic of working with each material.
Is Stamped Concrete Cheaper Than Pavers? What are the differences between each one?
Basically, pavers and stamped concrete are both concrete, but in a different form. A paver is a pre-built block of concrete. Its process of fabrication creates an incredibly sturdy and resistant block. Stamped concrete is simply concrete mixed on-site and poured on the ground.
There is a wild variety of pavers in the market, so you have a lot of options to choose from and most likely will find one that fits your needs. The installation involves some excavation and other materials, this article can help you with the installation process.
Stamped concrete however can go even further when it comes to design. You can mix the color on-site until it reaches the perfect hue and there are virtually no limitations when it comes to the way you can “stamp” it. You can literally draw on it if you feel daring.
With the basic dynamic of each material out of the way, let’s move for the pros and cons of each one.
Stamped Concrete – Pros and Cons
As we mentioned, stamped concrete is the variance that can be mixed on-site, poured on the ground and stamped to the design of your liking.
Again, the limitless variation of what you can design with it is very attractive to many people. You can even reach a look of natural stone if you want to, all that without altering the cost.
And talking about the cost, it is indeed a slightly cheaper alternative to pavers and other paving materials.
Something we can tell you for sure: eventually, stamped concrete will crack. There’s no way around it. When going for it, know that it won’t last for a very long time.
In fact, relating to resistance and cracking, if you plan to install it in a driveway, forget it. You can’t drive on top of stamped concrete. If you do regularly, it will crack for sure in less than a year. You would be throwing money away in that situation.
When first installed, stamped concrete comes sealed, but be ready to reseal it every 2 or 3 years. And even when sealed, stamped concrete will absorb moisture. The sealer protects it from most weather elements, but not against the freeze-thaw cycles in cold places.
Stamped concrete can also be very slippery when wet, so is a big no no for poolsides.
Pavers – Pros and Cons
A quick disclaimer: there are other options of materials for pavers in the market, from brick to natural stone, but in this article, we are exclusively comparing stamped concrete with concrete pavers.
For starters, pavers are way more resistant than stamped concrete. Approximately three times more resistant, actually. If installed correctly, they will never crack and can actually last a lifetime.
Even in the worst-case scenario, if some pavers get damaged in an accident, they are easy to replace. Whereas for the stamped concrete, there’s kinda no way around it. You have to cut around the damaged area and hope you can get the same look when fixing it, which will be practically impossible.
They also don’t need to be sealed. The design of pavers allow for a natural flow of liquids on their surface, so they won’t absorb any moisture. That makes them resistant to the harshest weather conditions.
And unlike stamped concrete, they are not slippery, so are safe to use on pool patios.
The only downside of pavers is that, in fact, they are initially more expensive than stamped concrete, having prices starting at $6-7 sqft, installation included.
Other than that, all the problems you can have with pavers involve a bad installation, so be sure to do a very good one if going for it. Even so, these problems, like weeds growing between pavers, are mild in comparison to the ones you can have with stamped concrete.
Also, while there is a lot of variance in pavers to choose from, they can’t compete with the personalization of stamped concrete. Sometimes, if your dream design is very outside the box, you won’t find the pavers for it.
As you could see, stamped concrete has a lot more cons than pros when comparing to pavers. The only thing going for it is the price, that is if you don’t consider maintenance. Concrete slabs, stamped or not, will always crack sooner rather than later.
Pavers are the clear winner if you think about the long term investment.
If you invest on pavers, you can be sure that, if properly cared for, they can last for years and years. And, as we mentioned, all that potential problems can be solved by a good installation.
If you happen to be around the Sarasota and Manatee counties, you’re in luck, because you can always ask for help at S&S Pavers. With more than 10 years of experience, the professionals at S&S Pavers are ready to tackle your project and help you build the hardscape design of your dreams.