Landscapers are keeping pace with growing demand for outdoor living space by providing more and more paver choices to accommodate expanding hardscape design. When it comes to adding or expanding a hardscape in your Madison WI area home there are two basic choices for pavers – natural stone and man-made materials. Within the man-made category paver choices are varied and numerous.
Among the man-made choices are a wide variety of paving blocks and common bricks. While bricks are made from clay and sand, today’s pavers are created using concrete. Color is added to provide additional creative options or to provide the look of natural stone. The use of pavers goes back to the cobble stone streets of colonial days. Today, a paver is any thin, flat “stone” designed for walkways, driveways, patios and elements of hardscape design.
Separate Paver Choices
Bricks are the most common of the man-made pavers. Used for decades, they are easily recognized and equated with colonial architecture. Brick walks, patios, stoops and driveways are popular. In recent years as technology made creating with concrete easier and more flexible a series of “landscape pavers” has been developed. Both have their distinctive qualities and a few drawbacks.
Bricks are made from clay shaped and cured by baking in a kiln just like pottery.
TIP FROM A PRO — Be careful when selecting “brick pavers.” The word brick is often used to describe the shape of the piece and not its true material. You may find “concrete bricks” that aren’t real bricks at all.
Consider the Classic Look of Brick
Real bricks have their advantages for hardscape design, including:
- Color – bricks are naturally colored by the mix of clay used when they’re created so there are many paver choices within this category. Bricks hold their color better than concrete, resisting the effects of UV rays.
- Long Lifespan – Bricks can chip and crack over the years but they will last for decades with proper care.
- Require Little Maintenance – proper care doesn’t mean hard work. These paver choices resist stains so need less cleaning than other options.
- Classic Style – real brick walks, patios and other creations have a look and appeal that never goes out of style.
- All Natural – real bricks are environmentally friendly. Today’s choices are frequently salvaged from old structures and reused.
Using bricks for your hardscape design does have drawbacks, including:
- Cost – real bricks can be more expensive than concrete pacer choices.
- Limitations – Because they come from natural clay, color choices may be limited. Basically rectangular, the shape offers fewer creative options.
- Require Experience/Skill – bricks aren’t uniform in size or shape and they break more easily than concrete copies. They are harder to cut, shape and install. It takes time and experience to complete a demanding brick patio or walkway.
- Not for Every Design – bricks are more likely to crack with the heaving action of the Madison WI freeze/thaw winter especially when used for driveways with heavy vehicle traffic.
Concrete Paver Choices Offer Many Options
Made from concrete poured into forms, landscape pavers offer far more options than any other choice. If you can make the form, a paver can be created to mimic it. Texture and color pigment is added to make basic gray concrete come alive. The choices go well beyond color, size and shape. Consider style options:
- Smooth, non-tumbled
- Tumbled – weather-look
- Embossed/Dimpled – reflecting a natural quarried stone finish
- Combinations – tumbled and embossed/dimpled
- Stone copies – resembling slate and flagstone
With more and more hardscape design incorporated into outdoor living spaces, landscape pavers are in great demand. These paver choices have their advantages:
- Lower Cost – concrete pavers are usually less expensive than real brick or stone.
- Many, Many Choices – the paver choices include colors, sizes, shapes and textures.
- New Technology – better blends of concrete and new coloring agents just for starters.
- Installation Options – concrete pavers are easier to install than most other choices because they are uniform in size and easier to cut and shape. Size and shape options make them ideal for walls as well as other hardscape design elements.
Concrete pavers aren’t perfect. There are features perceived as disadvantages, including:
- Fading – since the color is an added pigment instead of a natural part of the piece, it can fade with exposure to the sun.
- Erosion – are likely to chip or crack while concrete wears away gradually. As the topside finish wears away, more of the aggregate underneath is exposed.
- Maintenance – To protect the surface from erosion, wear and fading concrete pavers may require sealing and that will have to be repeated from time to time. The joint sand (the compound between the pavers that bonds them) will also have to be replaced from time to time.
- Variations – the quality of concrete varies widely and that dictates the strength and durability of the pavers it creates. Because it’s hard to tell just by looking, working with a hardscape pro stands behind its work is a wise investment.
Using Natural Stone In Hardscape Design
Natural stone provides a unique look to a backyard makeover. Choices range from flagstone to granite. Stone pavers are carved from pieces quarried from the earth. They are one of a kind pavers. Advantages of natural stone pavers include:
- Extremely strong – far more durable than concrete or brick
- One of a Kind – each stone is unique and original
- Available Locally – stone sourced from local quarries create landscapes that blend with Southern Wisconsin’s surroundings
- Low Maintenance – basic sweeping, rinsing and snow removal
There are drawbacks:
- Extremely Heavy – large real stone pieces are heavy and require special tools and skill to move and put into place correctly (and safely)
- Costly – because of the labor involved in obtaining and installing natural stone, it can be more expensive than other options
Maximize Your Investment With Expertise
Contact Marvin Martinez at Martin’s Brick Pavers, 608-630-8855 or email us at www.marvinsbrickpavers.com for professional ideas to for creative installations, hardscape design and a wide range of paver choices for your home in Madison WI and throughout Dane County.