Over the past decade paver driveways and paver pool decks have become pretty popular. Especially on custom homes and many new subdivisions, making them standard for driveways opposed to concrete. A lot of homeowners see other homes with them, they look fancy and are relatively affordable and decide to get them to replace concrete.
They are great looking and make an average looking home stand out, or a standard pool area look like a vacation oasis. They have many different colors, patterns and designs and are a good substitute for concrete. But! They are very high maintenance. Unlike a concrete driveway that has 2 or 3 joints on average, pavers have hundreds if not thousands of joints depending on the size of the driveway. Those joints create a hot bed for weeds and for heavy mold to build up in a rope like fashion, as we like to refer to the mold as rope.
Concrete driveways and paver driveways will at one point need to be cleaned. The price difference for a standard concrete vs a paver driveway can vary from a 25% to a 50% difference in cost. The pavers are always going to cost more to clean them because they are more time consuming, depending on the extent of weeds in between the pavers and how much mold rope is in the joints. A standard surface cleaner running off of a 6000 psi machine cannot even get all the weeds out and hand picking them is the only option after the wash is completed. Chemically cleaning them, aka softwashing will get the pavers clean just as good but you will still have to do some hand picking as well. The softwash will kill all the mold, mildew and algae, it will also soften up certain weeds and dissolve them for an easy rinse and will last 10 times longer than pressure washing. Using a pressure washer with a wand and a turbo nozzle, fan tip or orbital on pavers will also clean them, but it will blow all the joint sand out creating deeper crevices for pollen, dirt and other debris to settle in the cracks creating the perfect growing grounds for weeds and mold, not to mention that high pressure also pits and fades the pavers as well as the cleaning will only last a few months at best as water is usually the only thing used. Without a cleaning solution containing bleach and algaecide applied afterwards the mold spore is still there, it will in a short time grow back thicker and darker and after repeated cleanings using high pressure techniques it will literally destroy the top layer of pavers to the point that there is nothing that can be done to restore them except for a complete demo and installation of new pavers.
Weather, UV rays and heavy rain by itself will cause erosion, factor in mildew breaking down the material they are made of and you will more than likely regret getting them a year or two later. See, paver stones look good when they are brand new, shiny and solid. They almost look indestructible. Pavers are actually made out of concrete that has a pigment color added during the production of them, some are of very high quality while majority are not.
There are products and techniques out there that will preserve them and there are companies who specialize in paver restoration, sanding and sealing. But just like the roof cleaning and pressure washing industry, paver sealing is unregulated and anyone with a pump sprayer and a can of Thompsons water sealer can seal pavers, but only a handful can and will do it the correct way. There are a lot of clowns, jacks of all trades, handymen out there that will give you a great price and do the job, the first few months, weeks or even days after they may look perfect. Then the white spots show up, the sealer fades or starts peeling or chipping off and the guy who promised you the same results as the guy with the higher price and knowhow is no longer in business or they just ignore your concerns and calls. I see it all the time and hear about it from my customers who decided the guy I referred was too high in price and went with the lowest bid only to have to now pay to have the guy I referred originally to strip, resand and reseal the pavers all over again to get the results they were looking for saving absolutely no money.
Another problem with paver driveways, walkways and pool decks. They are not all built or installed correctly. The coping always shifts due to foot or vehicle traffic, water erosion, poor installation. Dips and low spots start showing up in areas all over, causing standing water to collect and trip hazards. It is caused by poor grading. The ones who are actually installing the pavers are 9 out of 10 just employees getting 10 to 15 per hour by bosses or owners pushing them to be fast so they can move on to the next job and they can care less about the long term quality of the install, that the owner expects them to do so when looking for a company who installs pavers make sure you do your research first.
So what is there to consider before getting pretty pavers: First, the cost of having them cleaned annually because of how porous they are they will get moldy once a year, especially if they are not properly sealed. Second, having them sanded and sealed every 2 years, no matter how good of a job or the quality of the products used they will always need to be stripped, new joint sand put in and new sealer applied. Third, repairs are inevitable with pavers, they separate, get low spots, break, get up rooted by tree roots and many other issues will arise. Fourth, all the weeds and mold in the joints will always be a player when you have pavers.
Simply put, if you want to spend lets say on an average sized pool deck or 4 car driveway 300.00 per year cleaning them if done properly, 2500.00 every 2 years to have them refinished if done properly, 500.00 in repairs done every 5 years if done properly you are looking at spending roughly 1650.00 average per year just to have a paver driveway after the cost of installation. If you have the desire and you do not mind spending money on a parking pad, pavers are the right thing for you. They are beautiful and nice to have, but just like anything nice and to keep it nice is going to mean paying to maintain them.
As for the same sized driveway made of concrete or pool deck with texture and cool deck coating. Annual cost to clean, around 150.00 to 175.00, no high pressure required just a treat and rinse, no sanding or sealing required and sealing is not recommended for concrete surfaces as it will in time make the surface look blotchy and it will be slippery if it is wet. Repairs are usually only if tree roots bust through or push up on the slab. And if you ask me, I think concrete looks ways better as long as it is kept clean and pool decks look better with a textured cool deck. No weeds, no mold rope very low maintenance, no brainer if you want to save money or are on a budget.
Two great alternatives I have seen over the years and I always recommend to my clients over concrete pavers is one, stamped concrete. It has the classy pattern look, you can tough coat them any color and there are no joints for weeds and mold to grow, plus they are very low maintenance. The other is real travertine, get the kind that is smooth and not rough or very pitted. Make sure they underlay it and grade it properly if not doing veneer over an existing slab or deck.
I clean around 100 or more paver driveways and pool decks a year alone, majority of my clients always say they regret getting pavers and a few have even had the pavers taken out and went back to traditional cool deck pool decks or concrete driveways. They all pretty much said that they were tired of dealing with them. Hence the nickname for pavers “stones of regret”.
Hope this helps you if you are planning of getting pavers, not all companies who install them do shoddy work and pavers can and will add curb appeal and value to your home as long as they are kept maintained and installed properly.
Thanks for reading!