Pavers are a type of building material used to create patios, walkways and other exterior surfaces. They are made from concrete or brick formed into a tile-shaped units that are several inches thick. Pavers are very strong and durable and offer a high level of versatility to builders. When comparing brick and concrete units, consider factors such as cost, appearance, maintenance and installation.
Brick pavers are made from natural clay, sand and water. They are formed into blocks or rectangles, then baked at a high temperature to remove excess moisture. Because they are made from clay, these pavers may have some variation in size and appearance.
Concrete pavers are made from Portland cement, sand, water and aggregate. They are cast in metal dyes to create the desired shape, then dried to remove excess moisture. These pavers are fairly uniform in size and appearance.
The primary benefit to brick pavers is their rich terra cotta coloring, which extends throughout the paver. Brick will not fade over time, making it easy to match them if repairs are needed. If a brick paver is chipped or cracked, the color will still be consistent, which helps to mask the appearance of damage.
Concrete pavers are typically stronger and harder than brick, making them more appropriate for driveways or heavy-traffic applications. Their consistent, uniform shape also makes them easier to install than brick. Concrete is usually less porous than brick, which can reduce damage caused by freezing and thawing cycles.
Brick pavers are more susceptible to cracks and chips due to wear and tear or sharp impacts. They are usually not considered durable enough to withstand vehicle traffic, and their inconsistent sizing can create an uneven appearance. Brick is also about 15 percent more expensive than concrete in most areas.
The biggest drawback to concrete pavers is their coloring. Some of these pavers are only colored on the surface, so chips or cracks are very obvious. Sun exposure can fade the color of concrete pavers over time, which can make it difficult to match and repair structures formed of these units.
One of the best ways to choose between these two materials is to consider the different color and appearance options. Brick pavers have a terra cotta coloring that is difficult to duplicate with dyes or pigments. They are available in several different shades of red, brown and orange. Concrete pavers can be found in almost any shade, with pigments and dyes added to the mixture to create these colors. Concrete units tend to have a smoother texture than brick and can be found in many different shapes and sizes. Brick pavers are only available in square or rectangular shapes.
Both of these materials require fairly little maintenance. Brick pavers should be sealed to help set the sand joints and hold the bricks in place. Installers who use polymeric sand grout will not need to add sealer. Seal coats should be reapplied every two to three years, if used. Concrete requires an acrylic sealer to help minimize fading and chipping. This sealer must be reapplied annually, or even twice a year in areas subject to extreme weather conditions.