Need info paver brick patio vs cement, draining, etc

mangomoonMay 24, 2009

I can't find an appropriate forum for my question, so hopefully someone here can give me a good answer.

I have a small area that is nothing but foxtails and weeds, possibly crab grass as well. I would like to convert it to a patio area. Money is very tight, and my dream of a brick patio would be my first choice, but the labor is likely to cost me more, so now it is between ordinary pinkish-red pavers vs. cement.

My concerns are, doesn't cement trap heat during hot days? Won't drainage from rain or other be an issue? When comparing brick pavers to cement, is one softer (as in walking over it) over another? Somehow cement seems hard. I know it feels harder when driving over a cement highway compared to an asphalt paved highway, so I have to ask if it is the same in a patio?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Hi Mangomoon,

I'm not an expert in this stuff but i did build 2 concrete paver walkways a few years ago. Here's what I remember from my research back then and my experience.

"Traditional" brick is made from clay. Good for walls and fireplaces but has some drawbacks for walkways and patios. One thing is that they can chip pretty easily.

Modern "pavers" are made from concrete and are designed for strength and durability as walkways and patios. They are available in many different shapes, sizes and colors, even "brick" look-a-likes. There are many manufacturers and costs vary widely.

Poured concrete is a relatively inexpensive way to create a patio or walkway but doesn't offer many design options. However, one can add color to concrete and there are concrete "stamps" that can be used to create a faux stone or brick look.

Bricks and concrete pavers are usually installed on a base of sand and gravel. Sand is usually used to fill the gaps between joints. As such, they do allow some water permeability. Still, it is recommended that the project be gently sloped to allow water to run-off away from the nearest building structure. This will be more critical with poured concrete.

Heat retention will depend largely on the color chosen. Lighter will be cooler. I'd be surprised of there is much of a difference between similarly colored bricks or concrete but I don't know for sure.

I think brick and concrete will have the same "hardness".

The skill level required to build a simple square patio with pavers isn't too high. It is more physically demanding than anything else. And, most of the work is in the base preparation. i.e. excavating, getting it level, put in a gravel base, then put in a level sand base. Indeed, the better the base preparation, the better the final job. If you use a concrete paver, installation is easy. If you don't have to make any cuts, no special tools are required.

I'd suggest looking at some of the manufacturer sites for concrete pavers, if you think you might like to go that way. I used Unilock brand (others are Bolduc, Belgard, Nicolock...just Google "interlocking pavers").

Good luck...

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 10:39PM
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I agree with the information "ptony 101" has provided.

Personally I prefer pavers over concrete because settling cracks usually appear within a concrete slab. Such settling can easily be corrected with a paver patio.

Are you a DIY'er, fit and willing? If yes, you can build the paver patio of your dreams for only the cost of materials.

Stake out your patio area. Set a grade of 1/8" to 1/4" per foot away from your home for watershed. You can do this with a string - first level, then drop for the distance.

Excavate at least 6" of soil and possibly a trench within that daylights away from the patio for french drainage.

Fill the first 4" with crushed limestone. Rent a plate compactor and compact at 2" increments. Then a layer of limestone screenings screeded smooth with your grade. Set the pavers atop, sweep fine sand between and place edging or berm soil against the outside edge of the patio. Then run the compactor over the pavers, sweep more sand and spray with water to wash the sand well between the brick.

It sounds like alot of work and it is. I had never undertaken a project like this prior. I built a 750 sq. ft. patio with footings for a pergola, deep base to support a hot tub plus submerged conduit for electricity and natural gas for less than $2,000. It took me a summer of evenings and weekends. Minimal maintenance in ten years since.

The link below shows the results. Good luck with yours.

Here is a link that might be useful: Patio

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:53AM
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Thank you for your valued information. I had almost forgot that the store bought pavers are concrete and not clay.

I do have one more question and I hope you can answer this.

I have an iron trellis right now in the middle of the proposed area in which vines grow up and around the trellis. I do not want to move the trellis nor cover the ground to prevent the vine from growing. In the event I went with poured concrete I could design a circle around the floor of the trellis with oxford bricks and cement the rest, but if I go with ordinary 12" x 12" pavers, how would that work around the trellis area?

To better give you an idea, the trellis is a 15" diameter at the bottom. Could store bought pavers be cut or what else could be done?

I won't be doing this myself, but hiring someone to do this. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 1:11PM
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Concrete pavers can be cut but you need a wet saw with diamond blade. I'm sure your contractor will have this equipment. Just about any tool rental store will carry them too.

However, there are an infinite number of ways you can accommodate the trellis, many without cutting. As I said before, there are a huge number of shapes of concrete pavers available. They even make them so you can form a circular pattern. You should consider combining different shapes and/or colors, which is not only possible, but actually desirable, as it can add a lot of visual interest to the project. Again, I would encourage you to visit the paver company web sites. They have lots of pictures and design will be amazed at the number of options available.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:05PM
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