Building Your Look Block By Block
Creating an outdoor space that looks fantastic, yet is also usable and durable, and is really within everyone’s reach can be accomplished by installing pavers. Although pouring concrete continues to be a traditional way of making a patio or enclosed outdoor space usable, homeowners are turning more and more to installing paving stones as a viable alternative.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about paving stones is that they are especially susceptible to shifting, sinking and being uneven over time,” says Todd Sparby, Owner of Images of Green. This perspective is supported by what happens every winter when freezing and thawing ravage roadways, sidewalks and parking lots. People assume that individual paving blocks are more likely to shift and sink. Given that often do-it-yourselfers install paving stones incorrectly, it’s easy to understand the perception that stones are affected overtime by weather and wear.
Choices, Choices, and More Choices
Before you even begin installation, the first thing that you want to do is to go online and/or to your local paving stone store and take note of the styles and types of stones that you like. Look at patterns and identify the various stone materials that you like best. There are numerous options, the most common are:
Brick: Probably the most popular of all stone pavers, brick gives you a traditional, classic look. You can create various patterns with brick – side-by-side, on a diagonal, and other intricate patterns. Brick pavers are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. They are known to wear exceptionally well over time.
Marble, Slate, and Flagstone: If you are looking for a fancier, more sophisticated look then consider selecting marble, slate, or flagstone. Unlike brick, these materials come in odd shapes and sizes, allowing you to create a really unique and exciting space! This can be a very cost effective option if you acquire your stone from a local area quarry.
Concrete Pavers: Concrete pavers are available at almost all national home and garden and similar types of stores. There are also companies that specialize in selling concrete pavers. Due to advances in technology, concrete pavers come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. One of the most popular types are the interlocking pavers that simply “lock” together so that you can create a variety of patterns.
It’s Not What You Do, But How You Do It
The keys to being successful with installing paving stones are planning, preparation, and execution. Once you have decided on the type of pavers that you want to install (and remember that you do not need to just use one type, but can mix-and-match paver types), obtain instructions on how to best install the pavers you are using. This will include:
- Measuring the area where you want to do the installation
- Preparing the base for the type of paver you are installing
- And, dry laying out the pavers to make sure that everything fits before you start
Without proper preparation of the base beneath the paving stones, sinking and settling of individual stones can happen quite easily. Proper base preparation is essential.
Proper installation will allow paving stones to move as needed to adjust to freezing and thawing, where both concrete and asphalt will simply crack. After cracking, messy patches will help maintain the surface, but it won’t look pretty.
Other Things to Consider
It is a good idea to obtain answers to the following questions when considering installing paving stones:
- For a patio-Do you need to use 8″-12″ of gravel for a base?
- For a sidewalk-Do you need to use 6″-8″ of gravel for a base?
- Do you need to use a fabric overlay to help support and further stabilize the gravel base on which the blocks will be installed?
- Do you need to use a polymeric sand mixture between the stones to stabilize the blocks and eliminate any weed and insect activity?
Paving stones are a great option for homeowners and are affordable for most. The cost to install paving blocks is actually less than a wood deck. It’s about the same expense as stamped concrete and about double the cost of plain concrete. Each job is unique, but those general comparisons hold true.
The fact is the paving stone option delivers a classic look that sets your home apart from others and when installed correctly, will last the lifetime of your home.