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Concrete Pavers vs. Clay Bricks: Choosing a Material for Your Outdoor Project
Whether on a walkway, driveway, or patio, both concrete pavers and clay brick pavers offer a measure of durability and a variety of style options.
But what are the key differences between the two, and which one should you choose for your project?
In this article, we’ll provide a full breakdown of concrete pavers vs. bricks, and compare the two in terms of style, maintenance, cost, and other key touchpoints.
What’s the Difference Between Bricks and Pavers?
Clay bricks and concrete paving stones differ in a number of important ways, including the way they look and function, the material they’re made out of, and how they’re formed.
Brick pavers are molded out of a natural clay blend and fired in a kiln, while concrete pavers are composed of a cement and aggregate mixture that is molded, and then air-dried.
The Look and Function of Concrete vs. Brick Pavers
When choosing between concrete and clay bricks for your hardscaping project, consider the style you are trying to achieve, and the way the paving will need to function in your outdoor space size.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison chart to help you make your decision:
|Extensive selection of sizes
|Limited selection of sizes
|Wide range of shapes to choose from
|Only comes in a rectangle shape
|Wide range of colors to choose from
|Limited to shades of red, brown, and pink
|Many variations of texture, from smooth to rough
|Versatility in design can accommodate different patterns and applications, including large format concrete pavers being used on pedestals for roof decks.
|Limited pattern styles
|Slip-resistant, durable, and does not require sealing
|Durability depends on the quality manufacturer
|Concrete pavers with polymeric or joint sand require minimal maintenance
|Clay bricks that employ polymeric or joint sand require minimal maintenance
|Average between $5 and $10 per square foot
|Average between $4 and $10 per square foot. Larger sizes of concrete pavers help to reduce installation labor
Concrete Paver Characteristics
Considering concrete pavers? Here’s a more detailed breakdown of size, shape, and other key factors.
Concrete pavers come in many sizes, from small 4″x8″ and 6″x6″ stones to larger 24” x 36″ slabs, as well as long linear planks.
The size of the pavers you choose should ideally match the scale and application of your hardscape project.
For example, if you’re constructing an intimate patio for entertaining guests, opt for small pavers, and if you’re working with a larger outdoor space, like a pool deck surround, opt for large format slabs instead.
From rectangular and hexagon-shaped pavers to concrete that has interlocking grooves, our concrete pavers come in a wide range of shapes you can choose from.
From neutral shades of cream to darker tones with various color blends, concrete pavers are available in an extensive range of colors and shades.
Using two different colors can add creativity and style to your outdoor space.
Concrete pavers offer diverse finishes and textures, from rustic designs like Brussels Block® and Mattoni™ to modern textures such as Series™ and Il Campo®, as well as stone textures that evoke a sense of old-world charm, like the polished Courtstone® or the timeless appeal of textured Richcliff®.
The texture you choose can play a key role in the design of your hardscaping project. For example, when designing your in-ground pool deck, you might opt for a slightly textured paver to help mitigate against slips.
When it comes to concrete paver patterns and styles, the only limit is your imagination.
From traditional herringbone patterns to a modular fan layout, or even an asymmetrical zigzag, concrete pavers provide ample opportunity to show off your style and complement your home and landscaping.
Unlike asphalt, poured concrete, or stamped concrete which tends to crack, expand, or contract with seasonal temperature changes, concrete pavers are resistant to wear and tear, freeze/thaw cycles, and UV rays, allowing you to create a surface that can withstand heavy foot and vehicle traffic.
Concrete pavers require minimal upkeep to keep them looking as good as the day they were installed. Cleaning them with basic soap and water a couple of times a year can help keep these pavers looking their best.
To keep your pavers in tip-top shape:
- Fill a bucket with warm water and add a bit of dish soap until a nice, soapy mixture is achieved
- Pour the solution on the paver surface and let it sit for 5 minutes
- Use a stiff bristled broom to scrub off the cleaning solution
- Rinse clean with water using a hose or low-pressure washer
In addition to cleaning, you may want to consider sealing your pavers to protect the surface and enhance their surface color, or to make the surface a bit easier to clean.
Note: Unilock pavers with EasyClean™ do not require sealing because the sealing is applied to the paver at the factory level.
If your pavers are not manufactured with EasyClean, then sealing your pavers will help to:
- Prevent stains from taking hold
- Enhance the color of your pavers
The cost of concrete pavers varies based on the exact type of pavers you use.
Without installation fees, concrete pavers may cost on average anywhere between $5 and $10 per square foot.
Clay Brick Paver Characteristics
From shapes to colors and overall cost, here’s how clay brick pavers fare against concrete pavers.
Unlike concrete pavers, clay brick pavers do not have an extensive selection of sizes.
Clay brick pavers are typically a simple rectangular shape approximately 4” x 8”. This size may vary based on the manufacturer.
One stark difference between concrete and clay brick pavers is that clay brick pavers tend to be slightly irregular in size, which makes it more difficult for the installer to install them straight, which can increase the cost of installation.
Clay brick paver colors depend on the color of the clay used, limiting your choice to shades of red, pink, and brown.
While you can only select from a few variations, brick pavers do retain their color (even decades in!) despite being exposed to excessive sunlight and UV rays.
The texture of clay brick pavers varies based on their manufacturing process, often featuring a rough and porous surface.
Clay brick pavers are commonly used for driveways and walkways, to create a traditional or rustic look and feel.
Concrete pavers offer a wide range of design options thanks to the variations in shapes and sizes, while clay brick pavers tend to be limited to stacked, running bond, herringbone, and basket-weave paver laying patterns.
Clay bricks have proven their longevity when used on commercial and residential buildings, but when it comes to paving surfaces, opting for high-quality, albeit pricier, clay bricks is crucial. Inexpensive clay pavers will fail in only a few short years.
Clay brick pavers, in most cases, are acceptable for pedestrian-use areas, such as commercial streetscapes and residential walkways.
Clay brick pavers require minimal maintenance and upkeep. A simple soap and water solution can help clear most spills, and stains that may appear on their surface.
Because of their rough surface, clearing snow from a clay brick paver surface can be difficult.
Installing clay bricks may be costly when compared to concrete pavers. This difference comes down to the challenges involved in manufacturing clay bricks, which include the extended time required for drying and firing the clay, as well as installation.
Explore the Highest Quality Concrete Pavers at Unilock
At Unilock, we have dedicated years to building world-class outdoor spaces across Canada and the United States. As a market leader in the retaining wall and paving stones industry, we manufacture the highest class of products along with unrivaled customer service.
The best part? We offer a Transferable Lifetime Guarantee on our concrete paving stones and retaining wall units for residential use.
Whether you’re looking to create your driveway or build an intimate patio to enjoy with family and friends, we have pavers for every hardscaping project.
Some of our most popular pavers include:
- Beacon Hill™ Smooth – Modern with a smooth finish, Beacon Hill Smooth is the perfect pavers solution for contemporary walkways and patios.
- Copthorne® — Inspired by the streets of Europe, Copthorne pavers are ideal for curved walkways and accent borders.
- Courtstone® – The timeworn look of Courtstone brings a luxurious, old-world elegance to driveways and walkways.
- Umbriano® — A favorite for its sleek, modern finishes, Umbriano is manufactured with ColorFusion™ Technology, offering a non-slip surface texture that resembles natural granite.
When you’re ready to start your outdoor dream project, book with a Unilock Authorized Contractor, who possesses the expertise and knowledge of Unilock paver products, and the know-how to get your hardscape project done right.
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