Two opposing means created to yield a common goal—this is how we described stamped concrete and concrete pavers. They are designed to make an elegantly-patterned surface area, but each material underwent an entirely different process of installation. Perhaps, when it comes to installing a pool deck or any other outdoor flooring project, these two are the most popular hardscape choices used for comparison. Both materials can surely bring a homey, visually-appealing ambiance to your home’s exterior, but it might differ in terms of pricing, design options or functionality. They might be intended to enhance your property’s curb appeal, but there is a lot more to this than meets the eye.
We know that the pool deck is even more important as an element in pool design than the pool itself. According to studies, we also spend more time on our pool decks than in the swimming pool itself. So, if you are planning whether to install stamped concrete or pavers on your pool deck, then continue reading. We have outlined key differences between these two attractive outdoor options, hoping to help you with a better decision. Let’s identify how they can stack up against each other with factors we are about to mention below. But, before we start off, let’s have a grasp of what they really are.
Which is Which: Pavers or Stamped Concrete?
Pavers have been used in any outdoor and floor projects for hundreds of years. These are multi-colored pieces of interlocked concrete designed to create a sturdy, long-lasting surface for patios, driveways or walkways. For many years, pavers make a good hardscape for residential structures, European village pathways or monastery courtyards. With this, we can tell that pavers have already endured the test of time and proven its reputation when it comes to the outdoor project.
Stamped concrete, on the other hand, is relatively new-comer as compared to pavers. However, with some limitations in using pavers, stamped concrete (or decorative concrete) is becoming a trend and popular choice for homeowners and businesses alike. Decorative concrete is poured as a uniform, solid surface, which are then embossed using stamping equipment to mimic almost any hardscapes such as flagstones, brick, slate, wood grains, or tile floors. Giving us complexities of patterns and design ideas makes the stamped concrete a better alternative for interior flooring system as well as outdoor projects like pool deck, patio or driveways.
Both hardscape materials offer advantages to boost the charm of your pool deck or any exterior projects. However, each has drawbacks that you need to find out, too. Before you even embark in sprucing up your pool deck, let’s dive into the most critical factors, and we’ll let you decide which one is better: a paver or stamped concrete pool deck?
The amount of time it needs for installation significantly varies on the concrete materials used. You should also consider labor cost before deciding which is which.
Pavers. If you’re a big fan of DIY projects, concrete paver installation is an ideal choice for you. However, you must consider time-obligation. Installing pavers usually takes three to five days or even more, which is longer as opposed to stamped concrete. Also, you need to be meticulous enough to position and lay these stones piece by piece on the pool deck’s base material. The good thing about pavers is you won’t race against the clock before the base material dries up completely—allowing you to make more rooms for mistakes.
Stamped Concrete. As compared to pavers, decorative concrete installation for pool deck is less labor intensive. You don’t have to position any bricks one by one because stamped concrete is a continuous form of a slab. Using a ready-to-mix truck makes the process much quicker because it mixes and pours the concrete directly into the project area. Unlike pavers, the installation does not require you to do any subsequent flooring system. And with the help of stamping tools and templates, you can have the patterns or designs of your choice.
Stamped concrete pool deck project, however, is a bit challenging for do-it-yourselfers. You should ask a professional or licensed contractor to install a concrete pool deck. Timing is everything to prevent any mistakes during installation; thus, it requires professional help to build the project correctly the fastest time possible.
2. Appearance and Variety
There is no doubt that both landscape materials can enhance your home’s exterior, thereby increasing its marketability. However, in choosing the right concrete for your pool deck, think about the limitless option you can get. Ask yourself: How would this concrete material complement the style and color of my main house? What variations and pattern options will I have?
Pavers. Concrete pavers are timeless. It has already proven itself for more than a hundred years and provides options in terms of style and designs. Plus, there is more flexibility in using concrete pavers as compared to stamped concrete because it is easy to move them out if you want to change the design. In decorative concrete, it is more permanent so you need to make sure that you pick the correct texture.
Though pavers are time-tested, it only offers limited color and selections. Keep in mind that these are precast patterns or blocks. With this, you can just choose whatever options presented to you. It may usually run out of stocks from your landscape supplier or warehouse because of its limited variation.
Stamped Concrete. Giving us a world of options in distinctive textures, colors and variation, choosing stamped concrete brings you with so much potential for customization. With decorative concrete, the sky’s the limit! It provides more ornate possibilities and sufficient selections to raise the charm of your pool deck. Also, decorative concrete is very mobile that it allows your contractor to hand-blend colors on site to match the style of your main house. Since it mimics the feel and appeal of natural stones, seamless stone, slate or any other surface material, it offers a natural look without compromising beauty.
Another aspect to factor in choosing a hardscape material for your pool deck is durability. How can these concrete materials withstand the test of time? Is there any reparative solution you can do?
Pavers. Precast blocks like concrete pavers are more durable than stamped concrete. In fact, it is almost three times stronger than decorative concrete. It doesn’t typically crack, and if it does, you don’t have to tear down the entire concrete. Instead, you can simply replace the broken or cracked pavers. Thus, it makes the repair process quick and very seamless. However, the problem with paver pool deck arises due to improper installation. If not installed correctly, the pavers tend to settle or move over time, which may cause tripping or accidental hazards.
Stamped Concrete. Decorative concrete is durable but not as sturdy as concrete pavers. It is prone to cracking, most especially during moisture and freeze-thaw conditions. Patching cracked concrete is possible. However, it is not easy to find exact color matches, which might affect the overall appearance of your pool deck. That is why the installation process needs to be accurate as well. A professional contractor should know that saw cuts and control joints are required to help control cracking. This preventive measure mitigates damages on the concrete patterns in the future.
4. Functionality and Versatility
Concrete materials serve more than just aesthetic and marketability; it should be functional as well.
Pavers. Pool decks are accident-prone areas as it can be slippery every time. A concrete paver can help you minimize the situation because the material doesn’t absorb water or moisture that easy. It is resistant to moisture, so you can anticipate a non-slippery surface. However, make sure to choose the right color of pavers. Dark-colored pavers absorb heat much quicker, which may cause your pool deck to be warm on bare feet.
Stamped Concrete. The texture and patterns of decorative concrete are usually designed to induce friction, making it less slippery than concrete pavers. Unlike pavers, stamped concrete reflects the sunlight and stay cool at all times to ensure that you’ll have a more enjoyable swimming time.
Though both the decorative concrete and pavers require a little upkeep, each got their own fair share of maintenance issues. These hardscape materials suffer from wear and tear over time as they are exposed to outside factors and environmental conditions.
Pavers. Concrete pavers are not prone to cracks. Most issues are easily fixable by simply replacing the paver piece by piece. Since this is something that DIY enthusiasts can include in their project list, you don’t necessarily need a professional to fix it. You can replace the individual block by yourself without any equipment required.
One of the major turn-offs of the concrete paver has something to do with the growing weeds. Unless you are using polymer sand, weeds can easily sprout in between gaps or blocks. With this, the chances of settling in those areas can be anticipated, which will result in an uneven surface of your pool deck. Also, it is quite difficult to clean several pieces of concrete with narrow crannies and nooks. You might need a power washer to uproot the sand and any unwanted materials in between the pavers. If in case you are applying polymer sand to prevent growing weeds, make sure to reapply it at least every two years.
Stamped Concrete. When it comes to maintaining your pool deck, the stamped concrete has the upper hand. Because it is one continuous form, it is a lot easier to clean. Use a power sprayer or just simply wash the surface with a hose. No gaps and spaces, so expect no growing weeds on joints. And to ensure long-lasting protection from environmental factors, it is important to seal the concrete periodically. As much as possible, reapply the sealer every two to three years.
The cost spectrum of these concrete materials varies depending on installation, repair and maintenance.
Pavers. Quite a bit expensive than decorative concrete, pavers could cost roughly $16 to $24 per square foot. The value might increase depending on the size of the project site, the number of pieces needed, the types of paving stones you will use, and the complexity of the project.
Stamped Concrete. The average reported cost for stamped concrete pool deck is $12 per square foot. It is more cost-effective than the paver pool deck project; however, you need to consider some important factors that influence the total expenses. Just the same as the concrete pavers, the overall cost differs from the size of the surface area, the patterns of your choice and the complexity of the project. It is better to consult a professional contractor about installing decorative concrete deck pool to get an estimate of the project.
So, what can you say about these two opposing hardscape materials? Do you have that sudden “eureka moment” after reading this? Which one do you prefer to install on your pool deck?
We’ve mentioned above the major advantages and disadvantages of stamped concrete and pavers, and it’s all up to you to choose which material you want to use. You may be probably thinking that there are situations that call to pick both options. However, there are a few things you might want to consider when deciding which is which. Think about how you can be able to customize it. Determine if the concrete matches the existing elements and landscape of your pool deck and main house. Pay attention to color compatibility and your personal style. These elements influence your decision-making. Weigh it down, so you can easily make an informed decision.
Once you have made up your mind and are willing to start a project, contact Deck Ready. We are a licensed and professional contractor that already built a reputation in stamped concrete services. We offer you plenty of opportunities to bring creative ideas on your next pool deck project. Let’s figure out which concrete material is best for your home’s exterior and build your dream pool deck today!