Pavers are one of the most dynamic components of a landscape design. They give you a useable area that bridges the gap between planters, living spaces and unique features like pools. There are many styles and materials for pavers, giving you a wide range to select something that fits your design. Whether you go with concrete, brick, travertine or granite each have their own unique look and benefits.
Let's start with concrete pavers. Their biggest benefit is the cost -- they are cheap. They're easy to
manufacture and the process is simple which keeps costs down. The down side on concrete pavers -- they are cheap. The colors are produced by adding dyes to the mix, which over time will fade away. (Any woman who's colored her hair knows dyes don't last) They also don't have any strength and are effected by freeze/thaw cycles. Which means, given time, the integrity of the paver will crumble.
Brick pavers are next. Their biggest benefit - they are common.The product is available at practically every retail yard that carriers hardscape materials. Clay bricks have the colors baked in which gives them longevity and there's lots of choices for colors. You can also order brick pavers in varying densities, so you can have a very strong end product that lasts a very long time. The downside on brick pavers -- they are common. Everyone has them which means they've lost their wow factor. If you decide to use them for your design and want them to not be the typical brick -- the cost increases dramatically. Adding strength or a unique color starts to add up. Plus they retain heat and in Arizona that can be a nuisance.
Travertine pavers are a popular choice. Their biggest benefit is its looks. Natural stone is gorgeous and travertine gives you a creamy color palette. Travertine is very porous which keeps the heat down and also the weight. The colors available in travertine has expanded in recent years, once lots of color variation and saturation was considered a flaw, now it's sought after. The down side of travertine -- the cost and fragility. Shipping stone in from around the world is going to hike up the cost, so be prepared to see starting prices at least 4x's greater than concrete. Also, all that porosity means fragility. Travertine is easily damaged in shipping and can be very finicky when you're installing it, so plan on ordering over the recommended 10% for breakage. It also means it holds on to staining, so sealing is almost always recommended.
Finally we have Granite pavers. Now granite pavers come in two varieties; recycled and virgin. Both share a lot of the same characteristics and benefits, but differ greatly on the negatives. Let's look at the shared benefits first. The major wow factor!
Granite comes in so many different colors, with many mineral inclusions like crystals, mica veining and even semiprecious stones. When the sun hits them, they sparkle. Granite's coloring goes right to the core, so no fading and it's density means it doesn't absorb stains as quickly as other stone varieties. It's also not effected by freeze/thaw cycles, so a properly built base gives a look that lasts a lifetime. Now for the down sides of each. For Virgin Granite Pavers its biggest flaw is its cost. Let me say that again with emphasis -- its biggest flaw is its cost!!! Granite is heavy, so shipping virgin material across the world really, really adds up. This is why it's relatively new to the paver market, the cost has just been so prohibitive. The colors available are limited, they really only convert granite into pavers if the colors are too bland for countertops.
Now for Recycled Granite Pavers -- they have all the same benefits; beauty, strength and an added eco-friendly aspect. The down side is certainly not shipping cost, the product is manufactured locally, which means you're not paying to get it from China, India or Brazil. The biggest problem is availability -- as a new emerging industry in America, manufacturing facilities are spread around the country. However this gives you a look that no one on your street has and gives you an innovative design.