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Stamped Concrete vs. Pavers vs. Natural Stone: What's Best for My Lancaster, PA Backyard?

Posted On: May 10,2018 By: Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Flagstone patio and stepsWhen it comes to choosing the best material for your patio, there are a lot of considerations to keep in mind as you explore your options.

Of course, you want to be sure that you don’t overspend but you also may be worried that taking a shortcut with materials could lead to wasted money or aggravation.

You likely want to make the best possible choice in order to be able to get a good return on your investment—and a lot of enjoyment out of the finished product.

In order to help simplify “what’s out there,” we’ll take a look at some of your options and what points to keep in mind. Whether you’re looking at pavers vs. a concrete patio, pavers vs. natural stone, or stamped concrete vs. natural stone, we can help guide you in deciding what’s right for you.

 

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Stamped Concrete vs. Pavers

stamped concreteThese two “man-made” materials often come head to head when homeowners are deciding upon patio materials. Let’s look at how they stack up against each other by comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

Stamped Concrete Patio Advantages

  • Far and away, the biggest advantage of opting for a stamped concrete patio is the cost. If you’re looking at concrete vs. paver cost, there’s no doubt that concrete is the less expensive option.
  • A concrete patio can also be installed more quickly than laying pavers.

Stamped Concrete Patio Disadvantages

  • Durability is the biggest con to using concrete. Truth be told, it’s not a matter of “if” it will crack, it’s a matter of when. Because the Harrisburg, York, Hershey, and Lancaster, PA climate has a lot of thawing and refreezing in winter, it’s inevitable that you will get cracks in a concrete patio.

stamped concrete cracking

  • Repairs for cracks require patching which is almost impossible to disguise.
  • Stamped concrete can get slick making it a poor choice near a pool or for walkways or steps.
  • Colors will fade over time and concrete will need regular sealing to reduce fading.
  • With concrete, there is no way to temporarily pull it up to make repairs, run utility lines, or make any other changes. It can only be cut and then re-poured, and will never completely match.

Paver Patio Advantages

  • paver patio and stepsVariety is a huge advantage. With so many different paver products out there, you can choose the exact look and style to suit your taste. You have the opportunity to create dozens of patterns, use multiple paver colors, add borders, and so much more. There are many more opportunities for customization than with concrete.
  • The mid-point price point makes paver patios affordable, particularly when comparing pavers or natural stone (the latter of which can be more expensive).
  • Pavers are not slippery, making them a good choice near a pool or for steps or walkways.
  • With pavers, it’s very easy to make repairs. If maintenance is needed, you can lift up the paver, make the repairs, and lay it back down without any outward appearance that repairs were made.

Paver Patio Disadvantages

  • If comparing stamped concrete vs. pavers cost, pavers are going to be more expensive.

 

Pavers or Natural Stone?

You might also be looking at natural stone and comparing it to a paver patio. Whether you’re exploring pavers vs. flagstone or pavers vs. travertine, because they must be excavated from a quarry, all natural stone options are going to be more costly than pavers and poured concrete. Natural stone also requires more labor to install.

Flagstone patio with dining table

And therein lies the biggest disadvantage. For some budgets, natural stone may be cost-prohibitive.

But the advantages to using natural stone are plentiful. Natural stone is incredibly durable (even outlasting your time in your home), it is classic and elegant, and, like pavers, it is easy to perform repairs or run utility lines underneath of it if necessary. It can simply be lifted up and then replaced with no sign that work was done.

travertine patio

Natural stone is also authentic. Instead of having a product that is made to look like natural stone, you could have the real thing.

But it’s all about making the right choice to match it to your home or setting. You might even consider mixing and matching products. Many people blend both natural stone and pavers in the same project.

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Some Additional Thoughts on Cost

If you’re looking at natural stone vs. stamped concrete vs. pavers cost, there are going to be big variations in exactly how much you could spend. Put simply, concrete is your least expensive option, followed by pavers at a mid-price point, and then natural stone at the highest price point.

paver patio with natural stone and fire pit

Here are some specific examples on what you would expect to spend, based on a 500 square foot patio that is fairly flat. Site preparation, excavation, and other project elements can all affect the cost.

  • A stamped concrete patio will start around $13,000
  • A simple paver patio in a basic pattern, starts around $15,000
  • A step up, a three-piece pattern paver starts around $18,500
  • A natural stone patio using thermal flagstone starts around $26,000

paver pool patio

Of course, there are a lot of factors that can cause variation in these costs. Everything from pattern to site conditions has an impact. How long you plan to stay in your house is an important factor to bear in mind as you make the choice that you think is best. If you may be moving in the next 5 to 7 years, it might not make sense to go with the most expensive option as there won’t be time to get the return on investment—or return on enjoyment—that would come with longevity.

 

Choosing Wisely for the Best Results

Your patio will ultimately be a space where you spend a large amount of your time outdoors. That’s why you want to be sure to choose a material that is going to be right for you.

You could try to get something in quickly and for the least amount of expense, but you could wind up wanting to replace it in only a short time. Jack-hammering up cracked concrete in order to lay pavers or natural stone adds even more labor cost to your project than had you just done one of these options in the first place.

natural stone patio with stone wall

There’s a lot involved in the decision making process, but when all is said and done, you want a patio that you can truly enjoy to the fullest. You must weigh whether that means investing a little bit more at the onset in order to ensure you have something to enjoy for the long haul. You want to feel confident that you’re going to have a patio space that you love and can use to the fullest.

Reaching that decision can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. By choosing to work with a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA), you’ll have expert guidance from someone who has worked through hundreds of patio projects. Together, you can decide upon the best option for you and your home.

If you’d like to discuss adding a patio to your Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Hershey, or Reading, PA home, then contact us for a free consultation and let us help create the space you’ve been dreaming of.

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Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Written by Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Mary Hatch Dresser is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design. Mary has designed landscapes for 32 years and joined ETW exclusively in 2009. Mary is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); and also serves on the Shade Tree Committee in Strasburg Borough where she resides. Mary prides herself in carefully listening to her clients to professionally meld their ideas and personal criteria with sound, experienced design practice.

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