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Are you considering what you should be installing for your clients, how to bring them the best end product and the most value possible? If this is your thinking, then you have the right mindset to grow your business long term into a trustworthy company that wants to create beautiful outdoor spaces for their clients. When it comes to building these spaces, you will have to choose between stamped concrete or pavers to build something that will last.
In our opinion, pavers are the best choice for any outdoor space. Though there are pros and cons to both, the advantages of using pavers for your landscape definitely make them the best choice for your clients and to build your business. This article is dedicated to highlighting the pros and cons of each of these options and why you might choose to opt for poured concrete or pavers for an outdoor space.
Ultimately these are two different products that appeal to different budgetary requirements and aesthetic styles, so take this article for what it is. Highlighted here are facts that will help you make your decision if you are considering whether or not to go with stamped concrete or pavers, as well as what you would need to consider personally.
Cards on the table, I own a hardscaping business that specializes in the installation of paver products. So I definitely do have a bias. That being said, there is a lot to unpack here.
Pavers vs Stamped Concrete
Both stamped concrete and pavers are made with concrete. Though there are distinct differences between the two of them and their advantages and disadvantages. As manufacturers of concrete pavers continue to develop new technology, styles, colors, shapes, and sizes, the product continues to improve well past what stamped concrete can provide. The customization available with pavers and the value that it can provide clients is the most important factors when considering which of the two you should adapt in your business. There is still a place in the market for stamped concrete, but in terms of building a hardscaping business that will flourish there is no doubt that pavers are what you should be installing.
The one major downside to installing pavers is the cost. This can be something that causes some hesitation in some clients when it comes to signing up a project. That is why this article was written. To provide you with some ways in which you can describe the differences and value that pavers will provide them over a stamped concrete project. This is important to remember, as it is a way in which you can verbally describe where the extra money is going and why they should be investing that extra money for a superior product.
Pros and Cons of Stamped Concrete
- Large Format Appeal
- Cost Effective
- Color Control
- Limited Selection
- Lack of Customization
There is no doubt part of the market that prefers the larger format appeal of a poured concrete pad as opposed to the smaller format paver project. Though a poured concrete pad still requires control joints to prevent unwanted cracking in areas of the surface of the concrete, it still allows for a pad that is not pieced together the same way that pavers are. A stamped concrete project cannot be beaten, but pavers or slabs are coming a long way by creating thicker units with larger surface area to stand up to traffic which provide a larger format appeal.
Stamped concrete will definitely be more cost effective for clients to have installed. Maybe about half the price, but this largely depends on the business that is doing the installation and the region you find yourself in. In the case of a budget project, this material definitely has a space in the market.
Being able to control the color of the final product on site right up to the moment of drying is a major positive for this product. Something that is not achievable with a paver product as this is done in a factory and shipped out.
Repairs to stamped concrete do not come easy. It is a process that requires a damaged area to be patched, to have a larger area to be cut out and re-poured, or to replace the entire project if need-be. Patches and replacing areas is a difficult task as the new concrete that is poured needs to match the existing concrete. Over time the concrete will have faded and traffic would have worn it down. This makes the patch or replacement of an area difficult to perfectly match the old concrete causing it to stick out like a sore thumb.
Ultimately proper control joints should be sawn into the concrete to ensure that any movement allows for cracks to be hidden by those control joints. In some cases these joints are just not enough. Whether it be the installation of the concrete, control joints, or improper base preparation, concrete eventually cracks and it is an unpleasant sight. Not to mention the hazards that these cracks can cause on high traffic areas.
Compared to pavers, stamped concrete is limited to what it can offer. There are some pretty interesting stamps that create some appealing patterns, but it still does not compare the possibilities that pavers will offer in terms of design. Combine that with a control joint running through the patterns awkwardly and it just throws off the stamp completely.
Because of this limited selection, there really is a limited number of projects that you can choose from. Ultimately as a business owner this can be a good thing. Limited options can make dealing with your customer a breeze and allow you to really scale your business. However, the creativity is limited in doing so and you cannot fully customize an outdoor space for your client.
The cost on replacing a poured concrete area is more than if you were to have had pavers installed. This usually involves bringing in a jack hammer or attachment on a machine to be able to chip away at the concrete into pieces and removing the rebar in order to dispose of it properly. It is not a fun process for the contractor and it is not an inexpensive process because of that. The cost you save in choosing poured concrete over pavers is lost on the back end if it ever needs to be replaced.
In comparison to pavers, the strength of a stamped concrete pad is not comparable. This is simply because a poured concrete project is poured in an uncontrolled environment and is subject to the elements. Pavers on the other hand are manufactured in a controlled environment to meet certain standards before they are installed. Due to the nature of this manufacturing process, pavers are created to be much more durable than that of a concrete slab poured in place.
Pros and Cons of Pavers
- Stamped Concrete vs Pavers Cost
- Smaller Format
Pavers are made in controlled environments, tested, and ensured that they are meeting standards before they are shipped to a job site to be installed. They are formed, compacted, and dried in a factory setting whereas poured concrete is formed and dries in the elements.
Because of this controlled environment, pavers are created to be much more durable than pouring concrete in place. In a controlled environment the manufacturers can get the ratio of cement to water perfect, whereas on site this can be a little bit more difficult to do.
Most paver manufacturers have a minimum compressive strength of about 7,000 psi (pounds of force / pressure applied per square inch) or greater. In comparison, pouring concrete provides around 3,500 to 4000 psi. This is why pavers offer a better option for driveways and other projects under significant traffic. Pavers distribute weight much better allowing them to bear more weight than a stamped concrete project. Pavers also keep their color and age much better than stamped concrete.
The options are endless for the customization of a paver project. This customization allows you to choose limited options that appeal to a broad part of the market so that you can make dealing with clients a breeze like poured concrete allows. Or you can get into the design build space and create some unique and creative spaces that really help your business stand out from the rest. Creativity can also help you charge more which will increase your bottom line while adding more value to your clients.
Repairs of pavers is easy. For the most part, you will not get the same cracking that you would get from poured concrete because of their durability and minimal surface area in comparison. Any units that do crack can be lifted out simply and replaced with others. If there is a problem with a larger area that needs to be replaced and you are worried about bringing in new stone that may not match, these pavers can be mixed into the entire project or used along the borders to free up other pavers to be used to replace the old.
There are many more ways in which you can work to repair a paver project. If the base has sunk in a small area, it is a much simpler repair with pavers to remove and build up as opposed to stamped concrete which would have likely cracked under pressure over time if the base had sunk.
Something that stamped concrete cannot achieve is permeability. The ability to allow water to permeate through the joints is something that only pavers can achieve. This provides numerous benefits in commercial and residential settings.
In comparison to stamped concrete, the cost of installing pavers could be as high as double. This really depends on so many factors that it is not a good comparison, but ultimately in the cost of pavers vs stamped concrete analysis, pavers cost more. That specifically comes down to the cost of the materials themselves and the labor involved in the installation of those materials. When it comes to pouring concrete, the same work will go into preparing the base that would be for pavers with the addition of setting up the forms. However, with pavers there are more processes involved in levelling, laying, sanding, and the final work compared to pouring a stamped concrete area. In addition to that, a mid-range paver will retail around $4 per square foot. The advantages of choosing pavers over stamped concrete do come with an added cost for the project.
One of the advantages of stamped concrete was that it offers a large format design for clients, though there are still control joints sawn into the concrete in the final product. With pavers, part of the appeal is with the small format. So even though this is listed as a disadvantage for pavers, there is most definitely part of the market that finds this to be more aesthetically appealing.
Additionally, paver manufacturers are increasing the size of pavers or slabs to suit the needs in the market for such large format products. Though not comparable to a poured slab, these slabs can be used in some cases for driveways and appeal to that modern style that those who may have traditionally opted for poured concrete will now be able to lean towards.
Choosing Stamped Concrete or Pavers
The decision between pavers or stamped concrete for your clients really comes down to that of budget and aesthetic. Some people think that there is more of an aesthetic appeal for the stamped concrete and just prefer the larger format despite having the control joints cut in. Also, their budget just may not be able to fit that of a paver project which can be nearly double the cost depending on the design.
Pavers are definitely the better choice for the long term as they age better and can be picked up and re-laid. That does not mean that by the time they need to be repaired that the particular block will still be in style and the client would still like to stay with that style, but it definitely guarantees a longevity that cannot be achieved with stamped concrete which could also go out of style.
The choice is simple in our business, as we were first introduced to installing pavers and never really found the appeal in pouring concrete. Not to mention all of the advantages and value that we can deliver to our clients with installing pavers for their outdoor space.