Choosing Pavers

Putting down pavers can be a wonderful do-it-yourself project. Pavers are widely

Putting down pavers can be a wonderful do-it-yourself project. Pavers are widely available, relatively inexpensive, and their installation requires very few tools. In addition, they can add a beautiful finishing touch to your home.

When choosing your pavers, first consider what their primary use will be. If they will be placed in a location where people will be doing a lot of walking, relaxing or playing, you’ll want smoother surfaces. If you’re simply trying to create an accent or border in a lower-traffic area, it’s fine to use uneven, jagged, rough-textured pavers.

There are several different materials to choose from, and the type you select will depend on a number of factors: your budget, the degree of difficulty you desire, the size of the area to be paved, and the overall look you’re going for.

Clay (or brick) pavers are made from a combination of clay and shale and fired at high temperatures to make them extremely durable. They come in a wide variety of colors ranging from light to dark shades, and because their colors are naturally occurring - not made with a dye or pigment - you’ll never have to worry about them fading. Clay pavers are very low-maintenance and only require an occasional spraying with a hose and perhaps a mild detergent. Their cost ranges from $5 to $15 per square foot ($17 to $20 with professional installation), and maintenance costs are virtually nonexistent.

Concrete pavers are durable as well, and can be dyed to a specific shade, if you’ve got a color in your house that’s difficult to match with natural materials. They are easy to move and reinstall. Price-wise, they’re close to clay pavers, running anywhere from $5 to $10 per square foot ($15 to $25 with professional installation). However, their lifetime maintenance costs are higher; color retention is often a problem due to the gradual erosion of dyes and pigments in the concrete, and they may have to be stained, sealed, or replaced entirely.

Stone pavers have the widest price range, anywhere from $9 to $28 per square foot. They are beautiful and come in the largest variety of colors, textures and variations (even pearlescent and metallic). You’ll never have to worry about their color fading or changing. They do, however, require an initial sealing and periodic resealing to enhance colors and maintain luster. Cleaning stone pavers only requires water and mild detergent. One caveat: They are more labor-intensive to install and better left to professional installation. They are also not as durable as the other options, making them a bad idea for heavy-traffic areas, and are not suitable for driveways and areas exposed to vehicles.

Choosing the proper pavers for your home isn’t just about one factor. Consider not only the startup price, but the long-term costs, the amount of required maintenance, and the desired aesthetic effect - it will be to your benefit in the long run!