The outdoor space of your home, particularly the patio, can be an asset or a liability, depending on the materials, the installation, and the ease of maintenance. If you are in a dilemma about whether to use pavers or stamped concrete, here is a point-by-point comparison when it comes to cost, design, installation, and maintenance.
Pavers or Stamped Concrete Patios?
As of 2019, pavers cost about $20 to $30 per square foot. This does not include labor, which likewise costs an additional $10 to $30 per square foot.
Stamped concrete costs $16 – $18 per square foot, though a more complex design can cost up to $20. Do the math and it will tell you that stamped concrete will cost you less.
A typical 1000 square foot paver patio will take about four to five days to complete with about a team of four to five working on it as it is more labor-intensive.
The first layer is a layer of gravel, then sand. They must be packed tightly so that the surface of paver stones will be even. After which the paver stones are placed one at a time.
With stamped concrete, installation is easier, faster, and less labor-intensive as it is a matter of mixing, pouring and stamping. It does, however, start with a proper compacting of the subgrade.
Once the concrete is poured, the workers have a narrow window of time before fresh concrete starts to harden. Aside from stamping concrete, they must apply the color hardener over the surface.
The only advantage of paver patios at this point is it can be used immediately after installation, while stamped concrete takes three to five days to dry. Also, newly installed stamped concrete should not be exposed to rain for the first 2 days.
Over-all stamped concrete is faster hence, labor cost is lower.
Pavers and brick stones can loosen and settle, causing an uneven surface. This can cause tripping hazards. When the ground starts to become uneven, the stone pavers need to be removed and the bed of sand leveled again before reinstalling the paver stones.
It is also important to note that, even if you have prepared the gravel and sand layers well, and in spite of the use of herbicides, weeds can still grow.
The truth is, the biggest culprit for spreading weeds is the wind, so once the seeds of these weeds settle in the crevices of pavers, with water and humidity, they will grow.
Compared to paver stones, stamped concrete requires less maintenance, which can add up to big savings over time. It just needs a sealer every 3-5 years.
Pavers have limited designs compared to stamped concrete. With stamped concrete, it can mimic marble, wood, even bricks. Why go for pavers when you can have the same brick-like design with less cost and maintenance?
The Downside of Stamped Concrete
Stamped concrete, when not done right, will crack especially if the mixture of concrete and water is too dry.
Also when not sealed properly, the occurrence of efflorescence is likely to happen. Efflorescence is a chalky white salt stain that can happen with any product containing cement.
As moisture rises to the surface of the concrete, it carries along with it the calcium salts from within the concrete. On the surface, they react with carbon dioxide in the air and form insoluble calcium carbonate.
These issues can be avoided if installing stamped concrete is left to the professionals. Besides, there is only a narrow window of time to work on the concrete and only professionals can install it right.
When deciding on your patio, stamped concrete wins over pavers patios point by point. You want a patio that takes little to maintain, adds curb appeal, and increases the value of your property.
Stamped concrete though is not really for DIYers, you only have one chance to get it right so best to leave it to the pros to get the dream patio you want.