Concrete pavers are a popular choice for driveways, sidewalks, patios, and pool surrounds. The pavers are manufactured to high standards, creating a durable, uniform product that can actually create a stronger driveway than poured concrete. Concrete pavers often carry a lifetime warranty for integrity.
Concrete Pavers vs. Poured Concrete
Concrete pavers are available in a variety of shapes, styles, patterns, and colors, giving the homeowner plenty of choices to create a unique driveway that complements their house and landscape. Pavers used for driveways are usually interlocking, which both speeds the installation and strengthens the surface. Another benefit of concrete pavers is that individual pavers can be removed and replaced, if necessary.
Unlike poured concrete and asphalt driveways, concrete paver driveways do not require a curing period. Once installed, they are ready to use. They also offer more traction when wet than poured concrete.
Finally, because they are small and easy to handle and don't require heavy equipment to install, concrete pavers are a great material for a DIY driveway. The project is labor-intensive and time-consuming, but the savings can be significant over paying someone else to install your driveway. Even if you choose to hire out the work, make sure they leave you with a supply of extra pavers as you will almost certainly be able to handle small repair and replacement jobs yourself.
What Are Concrete Pavers?
Though they are often referred to as "cement pavers," that term is a bit misleading. Cement (usually Portland cement) is a primary ingredient in all concrete, but it is not the only one. Concrete also contains sand, aggregate (such as gravel), and water as well as various additives for color and specific performance characteristics. Concrete pavers are made with a dry concrete mix containing cement, sand, gravel, and pigments. The wet mix is poured into a mold, which is vibrated to compress the concrete, and the concrete is allowed to cure. The resulting paver is capable of withstanding at least 8,000 psi of pressure, compared to about 3,000 psi with standard poured concrete.
How to Maintain Concrete Pavers
Concrete paver driveways require very little maintenance. An occasional sweeping or hose rinsing will keep them clean enough. If weeds find their way through the surface, just remove them as soon as they appear. Stains can usually be removed with a concrete cleaner, but you should check with the manufacturer for recommendations.
Should tree roots, frost heave, or settling damage a section of the driveway, it is easy to remove the affected pavers, fix the underlying problem, and put the driveway back together.
How Long Will a Concrete Paver Driveway Last?
A properly installed and maintained concrete paver driveway can be expected to last 25 to 50 years.
What Does a Concrete Paver Driveway Cost?
Costs for a concrete paver driveway can vary significantly. A professionally installed job using top-quality pavers can run as high as $30 to $40 per square foot. The pavers themselves may cost $3 to $10, depending on the size and style. That difference between the pro job and the paver cost can give you some idea of how much you could save doing the work yourself.
How Is a Concrete Paver Driveway Installed?
The first step in installing concrete pavers is to excavate the grass and loose soil. Then, a gravel base is laid down and compacted thoroughly, followed by a layer of sand. A basic driveway will have 1 inch of sand over 4 to 6 inches of gravel, but for driveways that need to handle heavy vehicles, a base of 10 to 12 inches is recommended. The base is also graded to facilitate water runoff.
Once the base is ready, edging is installed along the sides of the driveway to contain the pavers and keep them snug. To install the pavers, they are simply set in place and fitted tightly together, using a string line to keep the rows straight. The pavers can be cut with a masonry saw to fit at edges and corners.
When all of the pavers are down, the entire surface is compacted with a plate compactor to set the pavers into the sand base. During the compacting stage, sand may be swept across the surface so it gradually fills the small cracks between the pavers, tightening them into a rigid, more monolithic structure.