Considering a Concrete Paver Patio? 

What are pavers anyway?

Simply put, pavers are manmade molded stones. The most common pavers are made from concrete mixed with aggregates and pigment. They are formed into many different sizes, thicknesses, textures and finishes. Paver manufactures such as www.unilock.com produce paver stones that are up to 4x the strength of poured in place concrete and pigments that will withstand both the elements and the test of time. You will be hard pressed to find this type of quality in a big box store.

Advantages of Concrete Pavers

The ability to match your personal and architectural style of your home to your outdoor areas is unmatched with the use of pavers. The visual appeal, wide range of colors, shapes and sizes, results in a limitless array of design possibilities.

Quality concrete pavers are virtually maintenance free. Quality manufacturers produce pavers that are high strength, using low absorption concrete that are resistant to freeze-thaw cycles and de-icing chemicals.

They arrive on the job as a finished product, and require no curing, allowing traffic immediately after installation.

Pavers vs. Other Options

Poured in place concrete seems to be the most obvious alternative. Streets, curbs, driveways and sidewalks are mostly concrete here in the Midwest. We are surrounded by concrete! It makes sense too because it costs less than pavers…initially. Due to our climate however, concrete will heave, settle and crack. Concrete also stains easily.  More importantly, or at least in my opinion, concrete is overused and boring. The plain grey color makes a patio or entryway feel cold rather than warm and inviting.

Stamped concrete will initially look better than plain ‘ole concrete. I personally don’t like the unnatural look of stamped and stained concrete. Repairing chips and cracks is not easy and the maintenance of having to re-tint and seal every few years does not appeal to me.

Wood Decking is often a maintenance nightmare. Cleaning, sanding, staining, sealing and repair costs add up. When compared to pavers, decks have a fairly short lifespan; usually only 10-15 years or so. You could choose to upgrade to composite deck boards but be prepared for sticker shock. You could further upgrade to cedar or an exotic hardwood such as Ipe but again, make sure you are sitting down when the material list is tallied up. Decks also typically require a permit which, depending where you live, can be an added cost.  

Natural Stone is beautiful but often the most expensive option. Although the material cost for locally available natural stone is similar to the cost of quality pavers, it’s the labor costs which can be extreme. Working with natural stone is challenging and time consuming. Ultimately, the outcome of the finished product is highly dependent on the artisan installing it. When looking at a project that was installed incorrectly or by an inexperienced installer it’s more than obvious. Fortunately, in many cases, we can use pavers to replicate the look of natural stone for less.

Installation & Pricing

Typically, the proper installation of pavers is not a DIY project. The experience necessary, specialty tools, heavy equipment and labor required is extensive. Like other flooring in your home, there are drastic cost differences between the options of hardwood, laminate, vinyl, tile and carpet. Some contractors will offer flat square foot pricing for pavers. Often the total cost of the project ends up costing much more than the customer had anticipated. We believe that square footage pricing is not a good business practice. It doesn’t consider the variables of each project and every paver project we design and complete is unique. Green Acres Landscape & Design, Inc. provides a detailed proposal and, unless the customer requests additions, the price quoted is the price you pay.

 

Let’s look at an Example

For this example, I’d like to share with you our process and approximate costs for a typical concrete paver patio. The designed patio below measures 12’ x 16’. The selected paver for the flooring is Unilock Beacon Hill Flagstone unilock.com/products, Color: Alpine Grey, and the soldier course (border) is Unilock Copthorne unilock.com/products, Color: Basalt.

 

Paver Patio

Green Acres Landscape Design – 3d Paver Patio example.

 
 
 

The patio is in the back yard with a gate large enough for our equipment. The existing grade is flat which requires no steps, retaining walls or additional support. There is no demolition needed i.e. an existing patio or deck. There are no irrigation lines in the area we are working, and we have had all underground utilities marked prior to installation which have no impact on construction.

Layout & Excavation

Although this patio design is pretty basic, it still requires that it’s laid out correctly, true and square.

Excavation for this project will be completed with our compact track loader asvi.com/compact-track-loaders. The excavated soil is to be hauled away and disposed of. The size of the patio is 192 square feet however the excavation area (overcut) is appox. 232 sq.ft. We will remove approximately 8-9” of soil. (This will allow for 5-6” gravel, 1” bedding layer and 2-3” thick paver)

Total amount excavated of soil = 8-9 cubic yards or approximately 20,000-23,000 lbs!

Once the excavation is complete, we will use a plate compactor to compact the subgrade. Geotextile fabric is then installed.

The base material is now to be installed. We use open-graded crushed limestone and this project will need approximately 8 tons. The base material is then compacted, screeded and leveled.

The 1” of bedding layer is then installed. We use a smaller open-graded crushed limestone and this project will require approximately 1-2 tons. The bedding layer is then screeded and leveled.

Note: The preparation of the base is the most crucial part of installing concrete pavers. If this is not completed correctly, the patio will fail. It’s also important to make sure that the patio is sloped away from the home for proper drainage. We build with a 2% slope which equals 1/4 inch per every lineal foot of patio.

Time to install the pavers!          

This project will require approximately 2 ½ pallets of pavers. Each pallet weighs 2,720 lbs and will be moved with our larger skid steerer jcb.com/en-us/products/compact-track-loaders/300t. Laying the pavers is usually a two-man operation and completed by hand. The laying pattern has been determined prior to ordering the materials. Cutting the stone will be necessary. We use a 12” masonry chop saw and a 14” masonry table saw iqpowertools.com/professional-power-tools for precision cuts and less exposure of silica dust for our installers.

Edging is the material that hold the patio together. This project has three edges that must be restrained (the homes foundation is the fourth) Commercial grade plastic paver edging with spikes is one option. We, however, choose to install Perma Edge permapaveredging.com

As soon as the edge treatment is installed, we can begin repairing the lawn. Due to the heavy equipment traffic, topsoil seed and straw is usually necessary.

The final step of the concrete paver patio is to lock it in by sweeping sand into the joints and compacting. We install polymeric sand. alliancegator.com Masonry sand is acceptable, but the benefits of polymeric sand are worth the added expense.

Cost

With our team of experienced installers, proper equipment and dedication to quality work; this patio could be installed in your back yard in as little as two days. The approximately cost would be $7,000.00.