Concrete pavers: add pattern, color, and texture to patios and driveways
Peter O. Whiteley
Just as an area rug can pull a living room together, so can interlocking concrete pavers tie a house to its setting. The most popular pavers resemble cobblestones and add an instant patina of age and refinement. Some pavers look like quarried stone; some have the color and shape of bricks; and others have angular, multifaceted outlines that meet in intricate geometric patterns. Paver colors are warm and earthy, with subtle variations between hues.
What are they?
Interlocking pavers are cast individually in multiunit molds, then vibrated and compressed under extreme pressure. They’re laid piece by piece in sand atop a compacted, crushed stone base, just as if they were cobblestones or brick–the sand locks them together. The ones used in residential installations are 2 3/8 inches thick and are strong enough to bear the weight of cars. After the pavers are set in place, they can move with soil expansion, which causes cracking in poured-in-place concrete. “Plus they’ll last a lifetime and are easy to fix,” says landscape contractor Bill Healy, who installed the driveway above, in Belmont, California.
According to the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, pavers perform well in climates that freeze. Visit www.icpi.org to find the widest range of pavers and manufacturers in your area.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION: Healy Landscape Construction, Belmont, CA (650/631-8078)
Working with pavers
Home centers and landscape supply yards sell pavers by the individual piece or by the pallet, which holds about 100 square feet. Prices vary with paver style, and generally range from $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot. Installation by contractor is $12 to $14 per square foot. To install path or driveway pavers, you must do the following:
1. Remove the existing slab.
2. Excavate about 11 inches below the finish grade.
3. Compact the soil and lay a weed-inhibiting geotextile, a fabric that doesn’t rot and thus prevents soil migration.
4. Top with an 8-inch layer of compacted base rock.
5. Add a 1 1/2-inch layer of sand, then level and roll it.
6. Add restraining barriers along edges.
7. Place and cut the pavers to fit the space.
8. Sweep fine sand into cracks, then settle the surface with a flat-plate vibrator.
RELATED ARTICLE: Six popular options
As this collection shows, concrete pavers range from precise geometric forms to the more casual look of tumbled stone; they also come in a range of colors. Both www.icpi.org and www.concretenetwork.com offer more information on pavers.
Chiseled stone. Pavestone’s Granette Setts (about $3.30 per sq. ft.) have the look of tumbled stone. www.pavestone.com
Radiating patterns. Circle Cobble (about $2.70 per sq. ft.) lets you create curving designs. www.calstone.com
Brick shapes. The look of brick and strength of concrete are in Calstone’s Holland pavers (about $2.70 per sq. ft.). See website above.
Interlocking scallops. McNear Brick and Block’s Tango Pavers (about $2.60 per sq. ft.) come in several colors. www.mcnear.com
Kaleidoscopic patterns. Pavestone’s Bishop’s Hat (about $2.70 per sq. ft.) uses two shapes that create ornate grids. See website above.
Permeable pavers. Pavestone’s Uni Eco-Stone (about $4 per sq. ft.) leaves openings for gravel so water can filter through to the ground. See website above.
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