Left image: Photo: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images
Right image: Photo: jnnault / E+ / Getty Images
Pavers and concrete are both solid choices for patios, pathways, driveways, and pool surrounds. While both materials provide a durable, long-lasting surface, there are a number of key differences in terms of cost, appearance, maintenance, resale value, and more. Explore the pros and cons of pavers and concrete to decide which one is right for your project.
On This Page:
- What’s the Difference Between Concrete and Pavers?
- Concrete vs. Pavers: Which Is Better?
- Concrete vs. Pavers: Which Is Best For Your Home?
- Concrete vs. Pavers vs. Asphalt
What’s the Difference Between Concrete and Pavers?
Concrete and pavers are similar in that they’re both hard-wearing construction materials, strong enough to withstand the movement of vehicles in a driveway. Concrete is the more affordable of the two, but pavers offer the best resale value and are more visually appealing. Concrete is easy to install and maintain, but pavers don’t crack and offer more design options.
Concrete can be poured, come in prefabricated slabs, or prefabricated blocks that mimic pavers. There are a few different finish options, too. The most common are plain smooth or lightly textured concrete or stamped concrete. Stamped concrete is the same as poured concrete, but has a stamped or textured finish that provides traction and a more pleasing aesthetic. It can be stamped to look like wood or stone or have a pattern stamped into it.
For pool decking and pathways, prefabricated concrete slabs are popular. These are often pre-stamped and some are interlocking for easy installation with minimal visible seams.
Pavers offer many more design options than concrete and have a more appealing and longer-lasting finish. You’ll find pavers made from a variety of materials from bricks
Usually, pavers are also heavily textured, providing better grip than concrete, particularly when wet.Ready to Start Your Driveway Installation?
Concrete vs. Pavers: Which Is Better?
When deciding on which to use for your project, there are a few aspects to consider.
Concrete is less expensive than pavers, both in terms of materials and the price of labor. The cost of a driveway varies considerably based on size, gradient, how much excavation is required, whether you’re having a new driveway installed or are replacing an existing one, and more. The same goes for the cost of installing patios and walkways.
Concrete costs between $6 and $12 per square foot, installed. On the other hand, pavers typically cost $8 to $25 per square foot, including installation. For some high-end pavers, you can pay as much as $50 per square foot.
Most budget-friendly: Concrete
Pavers come in a range of colors and shapes. They can be arranged in different patterns for endless design options. And, when installed correctly, have a more refined, higher-end appearance than concrete. Additionally, concrete looks incredibly unsightly when it cracks, which doesn’t happen with pavers. You can get dyed concrete slabs, which is a good compromise between cost and appearance, but properly laid pavers still have a more appealing look.
Most attractive: Pavers
Photo: nicolamargaret / E+ / Getty Images
Concrete is the easiest to install, whether you’re installing poured concrete or prefabricated slabs. Compared to pavers, the installation of concrete is much simpler and faster. The only exception to this is the installation of poured concrete on a steep gradient, as this can be difficult to get right because concrete is a viscous, runny mix that wants to run downhill if given the opportunity. If you want a stamped or colored installation, be sure to hire a local stamped concrete specialist.
Pavers are laid individually, either set in mortar or using an interlocking design that doesn’t require any mortar. This individual placement is the only way to achieve the desired finish but is considerably more time-consuming than pouring concrete. Make sure you go for a local brick paver installer with plenty of good reviews and recommendations to ensure you get the best results.
Easiest to install: Concrete
Both materials are reasonably durable, but pavers can withstand approximately four times the weight that concrete can tolerate. Additionally, concrete is prone to cracking in unfavorable conditions, with too much weight, or if the ground beneath the area shifts or erodes. If there’s more than a minor crack, extensive work needs to be undertaken to fix the problem, and in many cases, the old driveway needs ripping up and replacing with a new one. This is both difficult and expensive.
Comparatively, if, in the unlikely event that some of the pavers receive intolerable damage, you can simply replace the offending pavers without having to replace the whole area.
Pavers, depending on the material they’re made from, can last from 50 to 100 years, even when laid in a driveway that receives regular use. On the other hand, concrete only lasts 25 to 30 years.
Most durable: Pavers
For general maintenance, concrete is easier to clean as it can be tough to effectively clean between the pavers. Pavers, however, do not require sealant, but concrete does. Sealing concrete prevents it from soaking up stains. But it’s important to remember that the sealant needs a fresh application every year or two, so there’s a little more regular ongoing maintenance necessary with concrete compared to pavers.
Easiest to maintain: Tie
The resale value of pavers is higher than that of concrete because of the enhanced appearance and because of the longevity of pavers. If you’re not planning to sell your property for many years, the resale value of concrete drops and may even be negated entirely, because you’ll likely need to pay for a full replacement every 25 to 30 years. Therefore, pavers offer better resale value short or long-term.
Highest resale value: Pavers
Concrete vs. Pavers: Which Is Best For Your Home?
Photo: slobo / E+ / Getty Images
So now that you know more about the materials, how does each hold up to your specific situation?
Best for Extreme Temperatures
Pavers are the best option for very hot or very cold climates. Concrete can withstand exposure to temperature extremes, particularly if the right sealant is used. However, it is at far greater risk of cracking or buckling because there’s no flexibility in poured concrete.
Pavers, on the other hand, have a tiny amount of room to expand and contract with the changes in temperature. At worst, the occasional paver may loosen and require resetting or replacing with regular expansion and contraction.
Best for Patios
Pavers are the best option for patios because they’re more decorative than concrete as well as being more durable. And, while your patio won’t have to tolerate the same amount of weight as your driveway, it will likely receive the most foot traffic of all your outdoor space, so it makes sense to choose the most robust option if it’s within your budget.
Best for Driveways
For driveways, pavers are the best choice because of their curb appeal, longevity, and durability. While concrete is more affordable, it can crack over time or if the ground beneath shifts. If this happens, it’ll need replacing, requiring a second substantial outlay. With pavers able to cope with four times more weight than concrete, fewer issues are likely. Additionally, if a paver does get damaged, that single paver can be replaced, rather than having to tear up the whole driveway. A concrete driveway typically costs $1,800 to $6,000, while a paver driveway costs $6,000 to $30,000.
Concrete vs. Pavers vs. Asphalt
In terms of cost, asphalt is on a par with concrete but doesn’t last as long as either pavers or concrete. Pavers have the longest lifespan of up to 100 years, concrete lasts 25 to 30 years, and asphalt lasts 15 to 20 years if properly maintained.
There are many differences between asphalt, concrete, and pavers. While all three are solid surfacing options for driveways, asphalt wouldn’t generally be used on patios or pool decking. It should also be noted that asphalt requires more regular maintenance and sealing than either concrete or pavers. However, it is easy to install and many people find the black, uniform finish appealing.Start Your Concrete Driveway Installation Today