What’s the difference between brick and concrete paving stones? We want to build a walkway and are trying to decide between the different kinds of paver materials. -Anita
The term “paver” refers to thin, flat stones designed for use in paving projects such as walkways, patios, and driveways. Both brick and concrete pavers are installed the same way, and both offer years of use and durability.
The choice between brick and concrete pavers largely depends on your personal taste. However, here are some tips to help you make your decision:
Bricks are made from clay that’s formed into shape and cured by baking in a kiln (like pottery). However, be careful when shopping for pavers, since the word “brick” is sometimes used to describe the shape of the stone – rather than the material – so you might see “concrete bricks” that aren’t technically bricks at all.
Advantages of Clay Brick Pavers:
- Color Retention: Bricks are naturally colored by mixing in various types of clays, so they retain color better than concrete, particularly when exposed to UV rays.
Bricks are made from natural clay.
- Last Longer: Bricks may chip or crack over time, but they last for generations. Bricks tend to break in response to stress (such as ice, traffic or moisture) while the surface on concrete pavers can erode and fade over time.
- Less Maintenance: Clay bricks resist staining and require less maintenance and cleaning than concrete pavers.
- Timeless Style: Bricks have a distinct edge in looks and style. An aged, worn brick walkway retains its charm while cracked or chipped concrete merely looks worn out.
- Eco-Friendly: In addition to being made from all natural materials, bricks are frequently salvaged, cleaned, and reused, making them a more sustainable choice.
Disadvantages of Brick Pavers:
- Higher Cost: Brick can be up to 15% to 20% more expensive than concrete.
- Limited Choices: Because they’re colored with natural clays, bricks have more limited color choices. They’re generally rectangular in shape and only come in a few sizes.
- Size Variance: Due to the variables of kiln firing, bricks vary slightly in their dimensions, making them a little trickier to install.
- Increased Labor: Bricks are harder to cut and may cost more for labor to install.
- More Breakable: While all pavers are durable, bricks are more likely to crack under heavy vehicle traffic. They’re also more likely to chip or shear, but the solid coloring makes small blemishes less noticeable than on concrete pavers.
Concrete pavers are made from cement and aggregate that is poured into forms, compressed, and air cured. Concrete can be formed into all sorts of shapes and sizes and pigmented in a wide range of colors.
Advantages of Concrete Pavers:
- Less Expensive: Concrete pavers are less expensive than brick, due to the lower cost of raw materials.
- More Choice: Concrete offers far more design and color options than brick. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen with concrete pavers.
- Innovation: New and better concrete pavers are being designed all the time, so you might even find choices that correct the known downsides of concrete.
- Easier to Install: Concrete pavers are precisely uniform and easier to cut, so they’re a popular choice for DIY projects.
Disadvantages of Concrete Pavers:
- Color Can Fade: Since they’re dyed with color pigments rather than natural clay, concrete pavers can fade over time, especially in sunny areas.
- May Need Sealing: Optional sealants can help prolong the color in concrete pavers but add to maintenance.
- Surface Erosion: While brick tends to wear by chipping or cracking, concrete wears more gradually, eroding away the smooth finish and exposing more of the aggregate underneath. Over time, the surface of concrete pavers might look worn while brick stays retain their surface.
- Varying Quality: Concrete varies widely in strength and durability depending on the manufacturer’s recipe, and sometimes it’s hard to know what kind of quality you’re getting. I’ve seen gorgeous concrete pavers that looked like natural stone, and I’ve also worked with cheap ones that crumbled and cracked before I even got started.
- Shorter Life Span: While initially holding up better to traffic than brick, concrete pavers have a shorter lifespan (a couple of decades vs. generations).