One of the big dilemmas home DIYers face when it comes to outdoor entertaining areas is choosing the right materials. At Adbri Masonry, we’re big advocates for DIY, and we want to help homeowners complete their home projects to a high standard.
When it comes to paving materials there are a few considerations, but most people would consider concrete, stone or wood decking. Wooden decking is an option, but that requires a high level of woodworking skill and experience, so for most DIYers, this isn’t an option. But with paving, so long as you plan ahead, use the right materials and take your time, you can build a fantastic looking paved area that stands the test of time.
But how do you choose between concrete and stone pavers?
We’ve broken it down into a few key considerations you can weigh up when making a paver selection;
There are a few things you can’t change whether you’re using concrete or sandstone for an outdoor area;
Firstly, make sure the pavers your using are designed to be used outside. There are plenty of stone tiles and lots of concrete designed to be used inside that won’t stand up to the sun, rain and change of weather conditions from hot to cold. You don’t want to be laying something outside and going to all that effort, only to see it quickly deteriorate when exposed to the elements.
Secondly, you do need to do some preparation to get your job right. Laying the pavers is actually the easy bit – it’s what’s underneath it that keeps it in place forever. So don’t cut your corners, use the correct roadbase, sand, mud it all in and it will stay there for a generation.
You can find more information about how to lay concrete pavers in our “everything you need to know” guide.
And thirdly, your entertaining area or courtyard is going to be a very visual part of your home, so aesthetics is an important consideration. It’s great when you have friends or family members commenting on how good it looks, but you’re going to be there every day looking at that surface. So picking something that you really like is what’s most important.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. A concrete paver is made out of sand, aggregate, cement, oxides and water. Now some of the pros for this are pretty good; they’re made in a mould with specific machines and they’re engineered. Why should that matter?
Unlike a quarry where stone is extracted, when the quarry runs out or gets shut down, there’s no more stone to match, so if you want to extend on a paving job it could end up looking quite mismatched or patchwork. With concrete pavers, there’s a formula for the colour, so it can be made pretty much the same every time.
Because concrete pavers are poured into a mould, they’re all the same thickness and the same width. So when you prepare your base properly and lay with a string line, you get nice straight lines and a beautiful flat floor.
Stone paving can look really beautiful, and a generation ago if you wanted something to look sophisticated, stone was your only practical choice. But with that choice comes limitations, because you had to choose between light colours like sandstone, and darker colours like granite, without many options in-between.
When making coloured concrete pavers we use oxides, which gives us a wide colour palette to work with. And let’s face it, when you’re creating something aesthetically pleasing, getting the right colour is pretty important.
In addition to concrete colours, we also have a wide range of paver sizes and textured finishes. From the traditional brick sized Havenbrick, to our large format Euro 600×400, standard smooth concrete finishes, shotblast for added texture, and even honed and exposed aggregate finish options available as made to order items (quantities and lead times apply).
Why is paver size important? A larger paver can make a small space appear less busy and more sophisticated, while smaller pavers over a large area allow you to create patterns and even unique designs.
Why is the texture of ‘finish’ important? Our stone finish involves lightly shotblasting the paver to create a slightly rougher surface and exposing the stones and aggregate within. This creates an extra layer beyond the colour as you can see the light reflect on the small stones beneath the surface, while also giving it better grip so you’re less likely to slip.
The next thing to consider is how DIY friendly are concrete pavers compared to natural stone pavers.
Adbri Masonry pavers are made to a minimum thickness of 40mm which meets Australian standards for laying on a bed of compacted roadbase and sand for courtyards, patios and pathways around your home.
A lot of imported stone these days is light because it has to be transported overseas, and it’s somewhere between 15mm and 30mm thick. If you lay a stone paver of this thickness on sand and roadbase, the first time something heavy goes over it you’re likely to experience cracks, breaks and damage. Keep in mind, repairing this damage by replacing the broken pavers is then likely to be difficult if you can’t find stone sourced from the same quarry.
These thin stone pavers really should be laid like a tile on a concrete base, and the skill level for doing the concrete and laying the stone with an adhesive is actually quite high. It’s a job for a professional, and that drives the price up. Even Jason Hodges, an experienced award-winning landscaper, hires a tiler when he does projects involving stone pavers adhered to a concrete slab.
In the end, the concrete pavers are a lot more DIY friendly as it’s something you can do without a high level of skill. Just check out our paving guide for all the steps to laying a beautiful paved area in your own yard.
When you’re laying a solid paved area it’s important that the work you put in lasts a long time, so you have to consider the durability of both concrete and stone pavers. With both you’re pretty much covered – both stone and concrete have been used for building for thousands of years, so you know they’re going to last when installed correctly.
But are concrete and stone pavers considered sustainable by today’s standards?
The good news for both is that any energy spent making or obtaining them early in the process is captured because they last for generations.
Although stone is natural and comes out of the ground, this process involves large machines to cut the stone, and that uses lots of energy. And do you know where your stone pavers are from? Often it’s anybody’s guess. Lots of stone product in Australia comes from all corners of the world, which means heavy products on ships, moving for months to get here, which also uses a good deal of energy.
When it comes to Adbri Masonry concrete pavers, we can guarantee they’re made in Australia, using Australian materials, creating Australian jobs.
With the manufacturing of our concrete pavers our footprint is pretty good. Although we use cement in the mix, which does have a high energy use to make, to actually pour and cure the pavers our energy use is quite low. This is because we use humidity and steam, rather than a great big fire like you would to manufacture clay brick.
So on sustainability, concrete and stone pavers are usually about the same, depending on where they’re sourced.
The social impact of the material you use
Another important thing to consider is the social impact of the material you’re using. Adbri Masonry products are made in Australia, which creates jobs. Our staff operate under Australian working conditions where it’s incredibly important that everyone’s safe, there’s no products that are going to damage the staff and everyone works in an environment where they’re going home at the end of the day. Because that’s the number one important thing to us.
There are lots of stone companies in Australia, providing beautiful bluestone and sandstone. Those companies operate under the same Australian safety standards which is really important.
This should help you make the right choice for your next paving job. Remember to choose the right materials for you job, in colours that suit the look you’re going for, consider the durability, sustainability, and how DIY friendly they are if you want to take on the job yourself.
If you’re ready to get started you can browse our full range of concrete pavers, find plenty of resources on designing your outdoor spaces, as well as installing and maintaining pavers. If you ever have any questions about paving, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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