A concrete slab driveway eventually will crack or discolor. Dirt or gravel driveways wash away. When it is time to upgrade your driveway, it is important to choose a material that will bear heavy weight, handle the changing temperatures and harsh weather conditions and still look good in the process. A very viable solution is the use of driveway pavers. There are two options with these pavers.
- Mortared pavers have a special mortar between each of the pavers creating a hard but inflexible surface that has some major drawbacks including cracking and breaking. Repairing or replacing single pavers is much more difficult.
- Mortarless pavers use a special blend of sand instead of mortar which allows the pavers to be strong but flexible. In addition, it is easy to pull up and replace a cracked or broken paver as you need.
Pavers of concrete that are installed and maintained correctly should last at least twenty years while stone and brick pavers should last twenty five years.
Some Pavers to Choose From
There are dozens of materials that you can use for your pavers; however, the top three choices are concrete, brick and natural stone. Here are some of the special features of each of those choices.
- Concrete Pavers are made of concrete and other materials but are designed to look like stone. It is less expensive than stone and has unlimited design potential. These pavers are three times stronger than poured concrete.
- Brick pavers are meant to support heavy loads without cracking. However, if they do crack they are easy to repair or replace. Brick pavers have a no slip surface which makes them safer in wet or freezing temperatures. They require very little maintenance.
- Natural stone pavers are the most expensive option because of the way they are mined and the cost of setting them in place.
There are dozens of other types of pavers that can range from reasonably priced to very expensive. There are even some that are designed to look like a cobblestone pathway.
Step By Step to Your Driveway Pavers Project
Here are the basic steps that you should consider if you are planning to upgrade your driveway using pavers of any kind.
- Choose the material of the pavers, the design that you intend to use and the overall size of the project that you are working on. Keep in mind that when you are using pavers for your driveway, you might need to add sidewalks or other features in that same material/ pattern.
- Prepare the area that you are going to be working in. If your current driveway is completely flat, you need to grade or slope it so that water is diverted away from the house and the lawn as well as allowed to run out from under each of the pavers. Accumulated water may potentially warp or crack your pavers.
- Following the directions for the type of pavers that you have selected and the design you are using, lay your pavers, adding the material between each.
- Clean the surface of the newly installed pavers.
- Seal the surface of the pavers. This should be done once again every two years. However, if you live in an area with extreme weather the sealing process might need to be done more frequently.
During the rest of the year, you should be able to just hose off the pavers to keep them looking good. Because it is sand between them, grass or weeds should not grow up between your pavers.
Professional Installation of Driveway Pavers
If you are unable to handle this task on your own, it might be easier to hire someone. Pavers can be heavy, depending on their size and their material of choice. In addition, it requires a lot of bending and stooping as you set the stones in place. The more intricate the pattern, the longer the job may take. There are several ways to find and hire a driveway contractor in your area.
- Ask for referrals from friends or neighbors who have had similar work done.
- Ask for referrals at the building supply stores
- Call for estimates from local contractors, getting at least two estimates (in writing) to compare with one another. Make your choice based not only on price but other factors including the person who appeared to be most confident in their abilities, had the most experience and was able to talk with knowledge about the widest range of materials.
- During the estimate, find out how long the project should take. A professional may be able to handle even a difficult or complex job in half the time that you could do on your own.
Dos and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor
- Do set a time frame including what time the work crew should be arriving at your home before the job gets started.
- Do know how many people are involved in the crew.
- Do know whether you are granting toilet access to the crew.
- Do restrict the movement of people and animals in the work area. If you usually tie your dog out in the front yard but you know he is a barker (or potentially a biter) tie him somewhere else to protect everyone.
- Do park your vehicles somewhere else so that you do not have to move them once the crew arrives.
- Do pay your contractor on time and as agreed on.
- Don’t get in the way of the contractor.
- Don’t change your mind once the job gets started – once they deliver the pavers and start the project, it is not time to change your mind about color, style or pattern.
Before your contractor leaves the project on the final day, take a quick look as an inspection. Ask about sealing products and recommendations as well as asking about how to maintain your new driveway. And one final thing to do: do recommend someone who has done a very good job for you.