Brick Pavers Vs. Colored Concrete Pavers

trouper(11)August 3, 2004

My apology if this has been asked before but I searched through the postings and didn't see anything about it so I am going to ask. I am puting in a small paver area (4 feet by 7 feet) in my backyard. I've always thought pavers were made of brick, but at the homecenters Lowes/HomeDepot all the pavers they carry are actually colored conrete that just looks like brick. Is this what everyone uses? I can buy regular brick, but since it's not an actual paver I assume it would break quickly. Or is there a place to buy real brick pavers that I should be investigating.

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windy_meadow(5 SW_PA)

Brick pavers are made of clay. They are not the same bricks that you would use to encase a house. These are not made the same way and the moisture in the ground will make them fall apart. The clay pavers are not as uniform as the concrete pavers. The concrete pavers are easier to lay and this is what most people use.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 12:08PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

Make your selection between clay and concrete brick based on the *look* you want. You may want to seal concrete pavers as they will will get a white powdery substance on them over time.

The difference between a clay face brick and a clay paver is the dimensions. A paver is designed with the length about twice the width so it can be layed in various patterns. Also clay pavers have the spacers formed into the side of the brick as do concrete pavers.

I have never heard of face brick deteriorating when exposed to soil. I know of some very old face brick patios that are still in good shape.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 10:58AM
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windy_meadow(5 SW_PA)

We have freeze thaw cycles up here and it may be because of that that the face brick will deteriorate over time. The bricks aborb moisture and in the below zero winters it will freeze and crack the bricks.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 6:47AM
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Fori is not pleased

I believe many of the concrete pavers are only colored on the surface (technology may have advanced since I last checked though). Brick pavers are solid all the way through and chips won't show as much. Colors in real brick won't change much over the years, either.

I wonder if the differences between windy meadow and zeuspaul's brick experience is based on the age of the brick used. They don't make em like they used to! (Well, the region might also have something to do with it!)

If you can't get old used brick from a demolition project, ones made specifically for pavers would probably be a good idea.

And bricks look nicer.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 1:35PM
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windy_meadow(5 SW_PA)

"I believe many of the concrete pavers are only colored on the surface (technology may have advanced since I last checked though). Brick pavers are solid all the way through and chips won't show as much. Colors in real brick won't change much over the years, either."

The concrete pavers today are colored all the way through as are the clay pavers. I agree that the clay pavers will look nicer and last 100 years longer than the concrete pavers. The clay pavers are not as easy to obtain as the concrete pavers. I believe the clay pavers will be slippery when wet and are prone to algae.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 6:56AM
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Just to follow up, I was able to get some salvage clay brick pavers, about 35 or so, and with about 125 of the concrete ones from Lowes (47 cents a piece) I just mixed them all up and got a nice looking install. The concrete ones are infact colored all the way through and are a bit easier to split with a chisel. The clay ones are a touch smaller but look nicer.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2004 at 9:28AM
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Has anyone ever used pavers from a company called Paver Systems they have a color called Oak Run which is made up of white tan and charcoal colors. I am interested to hear if anyone has ever used this around a swimming pool deck or as a garden pathway. The pavers are made up of two sizes of concrete pavers one around 9 inches and the other around 6 inches. They use both sizes usually in a T pattern. I would appreciae any help.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2004 at 8:22AM
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Here on Long Island a very nice concrete paver that is popular is Cambridge. I am still investigating another called Techno-bloc. It is more interesting to put down pavers of different sizes in an area rather than the same size.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 7:45PM
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I've been collecting brick pavers for a couple years(I say this because it's taken me this long to find them) I made a patio out of them. I would think they would last longer we have quite a few streets in our city that are still paved with brick. They look wonderful and the city hasn't had to tear them up to resurface them like all the other city streets...

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 8:39PM
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i learned a lot going to a professional brick establishment. I went to Belden Brick and Supply in Grand Rapids, and they know a heck of a lot more than the Lowes and Home Depot. check them out at

I learned that clay is twice as strong as concrete pavers, and clay will never fade!
they have come so far with clay pavers that now there is almost no size variation anymore! they did tell me that concrete pavers will shrink over time and fade.

the one trump concrete has over clay is that they can achieve various shapes and sizes, where clay is limited to 4x8 and 8x8 shapes.

I like the rich color of clay, and i think it looks much more classy than the concrete.

I hope this helps

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 10:00AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

There is also the option of granite pavers, something that is quite expensive but, in my opinion, magnificent to look at. The link below shows the types available at our local landscape supply yard. Cost is about $13 Canadian per square foot.

Regarding the information Carter reports from the brick yard, I think you have to take some of that as biased information, however big the grain of truth on which it is based. I mean, if the concrete shrinks it is unlikely to be much, and since most of these pavers are not mortared in, at worst you might have to sweep more sand between the cracks. Not necessarily a big problem. I mean, if you like clay better I can't blame you, but there's no need to unnecessarily criticize the competition.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tumbled Granite Pavers

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 1:00PM
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I just stumbled upon this discussion and felt compelled to make my contribution. I know brick because I work for a brick manufacturer. However, I will try to keep my personal bias at bay.

The first issue to address is durability. When installed properly, either option will provide many decades of service. Both materials have the compressive strength and moisture absorption ratings to withstand the harshest climates nature can throw at them. There is actually another factor affecting cement pavers, but since it doesnt actually cause failure of the unit, I will address it in the appearance section.

Either way, make sure your bricks/pavers are designed to go in the ground. Not all cement materials, nor are all bricks designed to do this. It was mentioned that the deterioration of house bricks in a patio was unheard of and that it would actually be an advantage to find reclaimed bricks from a demolition project. DO NOT DO THIS! For a segmental paving material to withstand Mother Nature, it must have a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum absorption rate of 7% after a 24 hour soak in cold water. I have seen historical test data from the mid 1900Âs that showed that many solid house bricks (which were often used mistakenly as pavers) had compressive strengths around 5,000 psi and absorption rates in the double digits! Needless to say, those ill-fated patios are either long gone or a horrible eyesore now.

Now that you can be comfortable in choosing a durable product, the second issue to address is appearance. Additional factors besides just the look of the brick/paver should be considered. For instance, do you want your pavement to match the colors of the bricks on your house? Will you be incorporating any retaining walls in your project? No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot match a clay color in a cement product and vice versa. Brick makers do not currently make a dry-stack retaining wall system; therefore a brick retaining wall will require more work. However, if you are trying to create a stately atmosphere it may be worth the additional work (or hiring of a mason contractor) to build your retaining wall.

The first factor of appearance, the look of the actual brick/paver does speak pretty much for itself. However, I do want to address some comments from the thread. To my knowledge (I have not researched this) cement pavers have always had their colors mixed throughout the paver. (End lack of research warning.) What is actually happening is fading due to ultraviolet radiation. This can be mistaken for the coloring only being on the surface because with time cement pavers will actually wear down. This is evident in a cement paver project once it has been installed for about 10 years. Because the erosion is visible (you can actually see the aggregate) it is commonly believed that coloring is superficial as well. I do not see the issue of erosion as a durability factor since the units will still be in one piece and the pavement system as a whole will not fail. (Personal bias warning in effect)However, after all your hard work and money put into your project, wouldnÂt you want it to look the same as it does now in ten years? (End bias warning.) To be fair, cement pavers can be sealed on an annual basis to ensure their color retention. However, when you add up the cost of initial construction and yearly maintenance over ten years, you could probably install solid granite for about the same cost. (I havenÂt done the math and may have exaggerated, so research it for yourself and see.)

There are advantages for both products (Although one list may be longer than the other!) and your unique concerns and application should be considered. In addition, other pavement options such as bluestone and granite are worth researching and considering as well.

I know this has been an extremely long reply, but I sincerely hope it helps you make an informed decision. While there are not as many "genuine clay paving brick" retailers as paver retailers, we are out here. Do your research and you will find us!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 3:56PM
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I forgot to address 2 other comments from the thread. First, KarinL is correct that the shrinkage of cement pavers is a non-issue for sand joint installations. So much so that that additional sweeping sand will not even be required due to shrinkage.

Second, Carter was correct that size variations in blended color brick pavers (i.e. reds and blacks mixed together) have been eliminated now. However, this is not true for all brick manufacturers, nor for different types of pavers from the same manufacturer. Variation in size in color blended brick pavers can make installation move painfuly slow, so be sure to view actual pieces of the brick paver you are considering.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 4:08PM
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bindersbee(6a UT)

Thanks for that input everyone. I hadn't even thought about this. Happily for me, I'm lucky to have a very large CLAY brick manufacturer here in town so the ones I've already laid are the clay brick. I went back there the other day and they helped me decide how to upgrade the work I've already done by making my simple one brick wide edge into a 6-brick wide path.

Oddly, they sent me to Home Depot the other day to get more of the brick I already have as they said they sell it cheaper there but it comes from this manufacturer. SO, I guess whether your local big box carries real brick pavers along with concrete pavers depends in part on the supply of real brick in your area. I assume they buy local because of the expense of shipping such a heavy product.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 3:51PM
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