4 Types of Driveway Pavers and How to Choose One

Brick, Concrete, Stone, or Permeable Pavers

Two-story home with tan-colored brick paved on driveway flanked with two trees

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Driveway pavers add a look and feel to your home that paved concrete and asphalt driveways can't give you. They elevate your home's curb appeal; they're easy to repair, stand up to the weight of cars, and are low maintenance. The catch is they are more expensive. The cheapest pavers will cost about $10 to $15 per square foot, while a paved asphalt or concrete driveway costs significantly less, about $3 to $8.

Learn more about the pros and cons of driveway pavers, the different types, how to choose the best one for you, and what's needed for installation.

What Is a Driveway Paver?

Pavers are slabs or blocks that are interlocked or connected and used to make a flat or even surface for driveways, patios, pool decks, and walkways. Pavers can be made of various materials, such as brick (clay), concrete, natural stones like flagstone or granite, and rubber.

Paver materials suitable for driveways are brick, concrete, stone, or a permeable surface. All driveway paver installations begin with a good base, typically composed of compacted gravel and sand.

Pros and Cons of Driveway Pavers

Driveway Paver Pros

Pavers offer many benefits in appearance, durability, and maintenance.

  • Durable, long-lasting, and weather resistant: Strong, not prone to breaking; if necessary, easy to repair or replace one paver; stands up to weathering and climate changes better than a paved driveway
  • Curb appeal: Can elevate appearance; have many options for materials, colors, and designs
  • Home value: Can increase the value of a home if done well
  • Environmentally conscious: Allow rainwater and other runoff to soak into the ground; brick and stone are eco-friendly since recyclable and reusable
  • Low-maintenance: One-time protective sealer can be applied to seal it from stains and wear; easy to clean
  • Some are less hazardous: Poured concrete tends to be slippery in wet, icy, or snowy conditions; some brick and stone pavers may offer traction; important consideration if your driveway has a slope
  • Doesn't require curing: Poured concrete or asphalt driveway requires one week to dry before use

Driveway Paver Cons

Driveway pavers have a few drawbacks that might be dealbreakers.

  • Installation time: It takes a little longer to install a paver driveway, but unlike a concrete or asphalt driveway, it can be used immediately without waiting for drying or curing time
  • Cost: Poured or paved driveways are cheaper. An asphalt driveway averages about $3 to $5 per square foot installed, and the average lifespan is 12 to 20 years with proper care. Installing a concrete driveway averages about $6 per square foot nationally and may last 40 years with good maintenance.
  • Weeds: If not sealed correctly, weeds can grow in the joints between pavers
  • Replacement pavers might not match: When installing your paver driveway, buy extras if you need to replace them. If you don't, you might have to source new ones that don't match up and may look out of place. Remember that even if you have extras, your driveway will have weathered, and your replacements may look comparatively "new," not perfectly matching up.

Types of Driveway Pavers

Brick Pavers

Brick pavers are formed from molded and baked clay. Brick pavers have a strength rating of about 12,000 pounds per square inch, making this one of the stronger options. A brick paver driveway can last several decades, but bricks are still fragile, as weather and wear can cause bricks to flake and disintegrate. Fortunately, replacing a brick or two is easier and less expensive than replacing an entire driveway. With some upkeep, a brick paver driveway can last more than 25 to 30 years.

  • Best for: Can withstand heavy weights of cars; most durable
  • Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot, including materials and labor

Concrete Pavers

Perhaps the most popular option for paver driveways is to use pavers made from concrete molded into the shapes of bricks. Concrete paver driveways usually have better longevity than clay bricks; lifespans of 25 to 50 years are typical. Concrete pavers are slightly less strong than brick paver driveways, although their 8,000 pounds-per-square-inch strength rating is sufficient for everyday use. Concrete paver driveways are more durable than solid concrete slabs.

  • Best for: Most economical, may be more affordable for a larger driveway; many different patterns and shapes
  • Cost: $10 to $40 per square foot, including materials and labor

Stone Pavers

When paving materials are made from blocks of natural quarried stone, they are known as cobblestones. Cobblestones are one of the most durable paver options; cobblestones should last for at least a century. The driveway base usually gives way first; the cobblestones are usually made of granite or basalt and are practically indestructible.

Many natural stones are suitable for driveway pavers: limestone, granite, slate, flagstone, and bluestone. Although, limestone, flagstone, and fieldstone aren't recommended for high-traffic areas or car traffic since they are prone to cracking.

A cobblestone driveway is beautiful, but the surface is somewhat rough, which may limit how you use the driveway. You can't play basketball on a cobblestone driveway, for example. They are also problematic if shoveling snow since natural stone is not perfectly flat.

  • Best for: Ornamental uses, curb appeal; cobblestones are one of the most durable
  • Cost: $40 to $70 per square foot, including materials and labor

Permeable Pavers

For environmentally conscious consumers, permeable pavers are a great option. Permeable pavers look nice and are designed with drainage in mind. They allow water to penetrate and seep into the ground to enter the base underneath the paver. Rather than accumulating on the top of the pavers, the water is slowly absorbed through the permeable system and into the soil. They prevent rainwater from pooling and creating waste or toxic water that would otherwise drain car fluids into sewer systems. They are also not likely to shift over time and can hold up to the weather.

  • Best for: Environmental considerations; an economical option
  • Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot, including material and labor

How to Choose a Driveway Paver

Considerations when choosing a driveway paver that is best for your projects should boil down to several factors:

  • Size of the project: How many square feet of surface are you looking to cover? This consideration goes hand-in-hand with cost.
  • Cost: Often, budget is a limiting factor. Operating within a budget will dictate what types of pavers you can afford and which may not be an option. However, when considering cost, look at the longevity of the paver and the price down the road with maintenance.
  • Maintenance and durability: Do you have time to spend on DIY sealant projects on your home and planned upkeep for a driveway? For example, you might find that brick is costly upfront, but it doesn't require to be resealed every two years like a poured concrete driveway. Also, if considering a permeable driveway that allows grass to grow in the seams, consider the time you need to trim that grass regularly.
  • Aesthetic: Match the driveway choice with your home; design details from your home should help inform your decision and look harmonious with the driveway. Take some style cues from the colors and lines in the home's architecture.
  • Weathering and erosion: Cobblestones are the most durable, but they are challenging to shovel if you live in a wintery weather zone. Brick and concrete pavers can handle the weather, but the freeze-and-thaw action seeps between pavers and can loosen bricks or cause the pavers to expand and contract. Pavers are still a better option when considering poured asphalt or concrete, which are more prone to cracks that might be costlier to remediate.
  • Environmental concerns: Does your driveway have a slope and create pooling issues? Would you rather have a permeable driveway that helps the ground absorb the water? Permeable driveways help relieve your neighborhood's sewer and storm drain issues and feed the natural water table.

DIY or Pro Installation?

While paver driveways typically are considerably more expensive than concrete or asphalt, intrepid DIYers can radically cut those costs by doing the work themselves. While the work can be time-consuming and physically demanding, it is not complicated to install pavers yourself. The process looks like this:

  1. Lay the base: Most installations use crushed stone as a base material.
  2. Build edging forms: Plastic or metal edging is used to create a form for containing the pavers at the edges of the surface.
  3. Compact and level the surface: A motorized plate compactor or hand-held tamper is used to compress and flatten the gravel base, and a layer of sand is added and flattened out to form the base for the pavers.
  4. Place the pavers: The pavers sit directly atop the sand surface. Ornamental patterns can be created through varying arrangements of pavers. This is the most challenging part of the job since precise leveling is required as placement proceeds.
  5. Fill in the paver gaps: Mason’s sand is now used to fill in the gaps between pavers. A plate compactor vibrates the pavers to pack the joints with sand fully.
  6. Seal the surface: Many pavers require sealing to protect the materials from stains and weather. Sealing may need to be repeated every few years.

If you plan to hire a contractor to handle the job, it helps to do some homework first. Never hire one without interviewing several and receiving bids. Most contractors will do an estimate for free. If you get one estimate that is substantially lower than others, it should raise a red flag. Remember that the lowest cost is not necessarily the best choice. Customer satisfaction is the best indicator that a contractor is worth hiring.