Stamped concrete vs. Pavers. (A paver installers perspective.)

When determining whether to get a stamped concrete patio or a paver patio, it is important to think about long term value and risk reduction as well as aesthetics, versatility and cost.


The most important difference between pavers and poured concrete is a difference in flexibility. Poured concrete is a rigid paving surface. This means that the surface is unable to shift or flex without breaking. On one hand, assuming the rigid concrete patio doesn't crack, there will be no problem with the patio becoming uneven over time. On the other hand, all concrete patios crack (hopefully on score lines) when they cure and the vast majority will crack in undesirable areas over time if not right away.  When the concrete does crack, it is susceptible to movement. When this happens, leveling the patio can be difficult and it will be impossible to completely repair the patio to its original state.


A paver patio is a flexible pavement surface. This means that if any shifting or settling occurs, the surface will flex through the movement of individual pavers. Of course an uneven flexible patio surface is not ideal but corrections can be made by removing and reinstalling individual pavers. Because of this, flexible paver surfaces can be completely repaired without the permanent visible concrete cracks which are unrepairable in rigid pavement surfaces.


For both stamped concrete and paver patios, quality of installation is paramount. A properly installed stamped concrete patio will likely crack over time but it will still function as a pavement surface. A properly installed paver area will need minor maintenance but it will withstand the test of time. (My company backs up this claim with a 5 year warranty on patios with a maintenance program.)No other patio surface can offer this level of long term lasting quality.


Another major advantage pavers have over stamped concrete is versatility. Stamped concrete has a variety of stamp shapes and color options and has limited vertical application.


Pavers on the other hand have almost limitless versatility both in aesthetics and function. Pavers not only have a huge selection in visual aesthetic but also in long term durability. The classic pavers we are all familiar with are at the low end of surface quality. Paver surface technology has come a long way in the last 10 years. Now mid level pavers have concentrated cement and pigment with small aggregate in the surface for a tough long lasting surface and larger aggregate in the rest of the paver for increased strength. High end pavers give the homeowner many unique highly durable options. Some of which include granite and quartz in the paver surface, easily washable surfaces, and extremely strong and durable wet cast face mix pavers.


The topic of function is one that I am just going to touch the surface of. The primary function for most paver patios is pretty clear. Whether it is an area with a full outdoor kitchen and entertaining area or a fire pit area out in the backyard. Pavers can be used to build the vast majority of outdoor areas and structures but that is not where function ends for pavers. Permeable paver areas can be used for decreasing pollutant runoff. They can filter water and reintroduce it I to the soil or the water can be harvested for other use on the property. Pavers can be heated from underneath for to eliminate the need for snow removal. Lights can be installed in the surface of the pavers for different desired effects. Complex banding and inlays can define areas or incorporate any desired design into the patio surface.


To sum it up, comparing stamped concrete to pavers is an apples to oranges comparison. Properly installed pavers will last almost indefinitely as long as basic maintenance is performed. The home owner can have peace of mind that the project will never crack in a way that can not be repaired. Pavers also offer almost limitless options including possibilities which many people aren't even aware of. Cost is an issue with any project but your stamped concrete project is more of a gamble then an investment. If the stamped concrete becomes aesthetically or functionally undesirable  through cracking in 1 to 10 years, pavers just might be the best financial decision you can make for your outdoor space.