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Use of Today's Hardscape Materials in Residential Applications

By Niles Romano, Pavestone Company

Most pavers are manufactured from a concrete mix, using a 700-ton hydraulic press at intense pressures. This process creates an extremely dense unit paver that possesses exceptional stability under severe loads, and is for the most part unaffected by extremes of heat and cold. They have a compressive strength of around 7000 PSI, which is comparable to that of natural stone.
Photos courtesy of Pavestone

Those fortunate enough to travel in Europe often find their sense of design broadened by its many cobblestone streets and roads. Riding along some of the oldest, strongest, most attractive and most well traveled roads in the world may give them a new vision of what a paving surface can be.

As they connect person to person and village to village, Europe's cobblestone streets exert a charm that comes from their overall design. Impressively well thought out and with a strong sense of pride and purpose, these roads are woven into the cultural fabric of the people who created them.

Now compare European with American culture as to our choice of street materials and design concepts. How might things look and function differently, if American designers could somehow pay a little more attention to the creativity of their developments, to the details of the streets and driveways within their neighborhoods? Could they then re-create some of Europe's beauty on this side of the Atlantic?

Concrete pavers provide a functional and less difficult way for conducting maintenance to the under base, irrigation repairs, and underground utilities. Simply remove and reinstate the same pavers with no ugly patches after the repairs are completed. This makes pavers an excellent "green product," minimizing hazardous effects to our ecology and environment health.

This article will show how the use of today's hardscape materials in residential applications makes it possible to do just that. Although some of the modern driveways, patios and walkways that are being installed in new construction neighborhoods today may not be as laudable as the Appian Way, the increased use of interlocking concrete pavers is creating definite improvements in their design.

There are many enhanced paving options to explore for builders, developers, landscape architects or even residential homeowners. All of them go beyond the ever-so-abundant standard broom-finished bland concrete that is destined to turn gray and crack. Enhanced residential hardscape paving typically includes use of the following products:

  • Option 1: Concrete Pavers - These have many available shapes, colors, and laying patterns. They give a diverse range of surface finishes, from smooth to textured. All of these options can be controlled to complement the architectural flavor of your home.
  • Option 2: Asphalt - This has limited color options. It is hard to achieve clean looking edges, and cracks will likely occur. Stamped and colored asphalt does not look attractive.
  • Option 3: Ordinary Concrete - This comes in light brown or gray. It can be colored on the surface (subject to shipping), or, if color is added throughout at the time of pouring, the process is called "integral coloring."
  • Option 4: Stamped Concrete - The surface is often colored. Patterns look good from a distance, but up close the surface looks artificial. It has a short lifespan, and its extremely low flexibility leads to cracking. It can be very slippery when wet and expensive to repair; it's not a green product.
  • Option 5: Cobble Stone - This gives an elegant, permanent, yet informal "Old World" feel. However, it is costly and has a narrow choice of shapes and colors.
  • Option 6: Clay Pavers - These are mostly only offered in earth-tone shades of red, gray, light brown, or reddish brown. They have a limited number of shapes available - this limits the laying patterns.
  • Option 7: Crushed Stone or Gravel - This look changes with shape and color of the stones. It is most commonly used to create a modern look with contemporary style houses. It may be used in conjunction with paving slabs.

Builders, developers and landscape architects will consider interlocking concrete paving systems for the following important reasons:


Concrete pavers are an ideal choice for both residential and commercial applications, including surface coverings for driveways, parking lots, promenades, sidewalks, pool decks, patios, streets, golf cart paths and even roof gardens. Interlocking concrete pavers are a pragmatic and aesthetically attractive choice for all outdoor surfaces. On both vehicular and pedestrian applications pavers have a non-skid surface. Even when the pavers are wet, they are safe to walk on or drive a vehicle over.

In colder climates where snow is a common element, concrete pavers are the ideal choice. The beveled or chamfered edges of pavers prevent plows or shovels from catching on the edges. Other methods of snow removal can also be applied to these pavers such as de-icing products since calcium chloride or salt will not harm the pavers.

Relatively Low Material and Installation Cost

The cost of concrete pavers is much less than other types of paving products since they are manufactured with machines as compared to products being quarried from the ground. Concrete pavers are usually less expensive than clay pavers, granite pavers or sandstone pavers. When considering maintenance and replacement costs, concrete pavers offer an economical long-term alternative to other types of paving options.

Variety of Shapes and Colors

Concrete pavers come in a literally endless number of styles and color possibilities. Concrete pavers are manufactured to look like naturally occurring paving materials. Some of the different styles include stone-like pavers and clay brick-like pavers. Light-colored pavers offer a cooler surface around patios and pool decks. The earth-tone colors harmonize with any decor, blending naturally into the landscape, and providing elegance, grace, beauty and functionality. The same project can use two or more different colors of concrete pavers. Additionally, a project could allow for different textures.

Custom Design Flexibility

Designing a custom look is made easy by the many shapes, patterns, and colors of concrete pavers. The designs are ideal for pavement areas, such as patios, patio decks, pool decks, roof decks, driveways, walkways, sidewalks, parking lanes, cross walks, and intersections. The beauty of pavers adds value and visual appeal to any property by adding flexibility that is not possible with other paving materials. Concrete pavers can complement the existing landscaping to deliver beauty to any home.

Low Maintenance

Pavers are relatively low maintenance. They offer the lowest life-cycle costs in comparison to other paving products such as asphalt, poured concrete, and stamped concrete. Pavers are easily maintained by regular sweeping and occasional rinsing. In the case of tough stains, pressure washing with appropriate cleaning solutions or a simple spot treatment with a brush, cleaning solvent and water is usually effective. Pavers can be repaired by lifting the affected area, re-grading and re-compacting the base and bedding sand, and reinstalling the same pavers. It is an inexpensive procedure that leaves very little if any unsightly repair patches.

Weather Resistance

Pavers can be used in any climate and can be walked on immediately upon compaction. Cracking, which is common with traditional asphalt and concrete pavements, is not an issue with interlocking concrete pavers due to the joints between the pavers. Interlocking concrete pavers are a flexible system and allow for movement. They are almost indestructible, as the pavement system moves in unison with the earth’s usual tendency to swell and contract over the long term, thus avoiding any serious damage.

In colder climates where snow is a common element, concrete pavers are the ideal choice. Concrete pavers resist deterioration of freezing and thawing cycles and de-icing salts better than asphalt and ordinary poured-in-place concrete. Snow can be plowed, blown or shoveled just like on asphalt or concrete pavements. The beveled or chamfered edges of pavers prevent plows or shovels from catching on the edges. Other methods of snow removal can also be applied to these pavers. De-icing products such as calcium chloride or salt will not harm the pavers. Electric or liquid snow melting systems work well under concrete pavers, facilitating snow removal while reducing slip hazards. Darker-colored pavers can also aid in accelerating the melting process.

For all of these reasons, interlocking concrete pavers should be considered for the following residential applications:

  • Driveways
  • Patios
  • Pool decks
  • Community entrances
  • Clubhouse amenity centers
  • Fountains
  • Playgrounds
  • Streets within residential subdivisions


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February 26, 2020, 9:45 pm PDT

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