The Great Patio Showdown: Concrete vs. Pavers – Cost Considerations and Beyond

As you embark on creating your dream outdoor living space, a crucial decision awaits: concrete patio or pavers? Both options offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, and the question often boils down to budget and desired aesthetics. This comprehensive guide delves into the cost factors, benefits, and drawbacks of concrete and paver patios, empowering you to make an informed decision for your backyard oasis.

Cost Considerations: Unveiling the Bottom Line

Budget often takes center stage in any home improvement project. Here’s a breakdown of the cost factors to consider for both concrete and paver patios:

Concrete Patios:

  • Material Cost: Concrete itself is a relatively inexpensive material. The average cost of materials for a concrete patio falls between $4 and $15 per square foot. This cost can vary depending on the thickness of the concrete slab and any desired additives for coloring or texturing.

  • Labor Cost: Installing a concrete patio can be a DIY project, but it requires some skill and physical effort. Hiring a professional concrete contractor significantly increases the cost, typically ranging from $2 to $4 per square foot for labor.

  • Additional Considerations: Removing an existing patio (if applicable) adds to the overall cost. Decorative finishes like stamped concrete or exposed aggregate come at a premium, with material costs reaching up to $30 per square foot.

Paver Patios:

  • Material Cost: Pavers themselves come in a wide range of materials, including concrete, brick, natural stone, and porcelain. This variety significantly impacts the price, with a general range of $8 to $50 per square foot for the pavers alone.

  • Labor Cost: Similar to concrete, paver patios can be DIY projects, but require more time and effort due to the individual placement of each paver. Hiring a professional paver installer adds to the cost, typically ranging from $7 to $13 per square foot for labor.

  • Additional Considerations: The base preparation for pavers is crucial and adds to the material cost. Gravel, sand, or a combination of both are needed to create a stable foundation, adding roughly $1.40 to $2.20 per square foot. Edging is often required for paver patios, adding a minimal material cost.

Beyond the Bottom Line: Weighing the Pros and Cons

While cost is a significant factor, other aspects deserve consideration to ensure your chosen patio material aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. Here’s a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of concrete and paver patios:

Concrete Patios:


  • Cost-effective: Especially for basic concrete patios, the material and installation costs are generally lower than pavers.
  • Seamless Finish: Poured concrete creates a smooth, monolithic surface, ideal for furniture placement and activities like rollerblading or playing ball.
  • Wide Range of Sizes: Concrete patios can be easily adapted to any size or shape to suit your backyard layout.


  • Limited Design Options: Standard concrete offers a basic gray aesthetic. Decorative finishes add cost and complexity.
  • Prone to Cracking: Concrete can crack over time due to settling or weather fluctuations.
  • Heat Retention: Concrete absorbs and retains heat, which can be uncomfortable in hot climates.

Paver Patios:


  • Vast Design Flexibility: Pavers come in a multitude of colors, shapes, sizes, and materials, allowing for creative design possibilities and customization.
  • Easier Repairs: Individual pavers can be easily replaced if damaged, unlike cracked concrete which requires more extensive repairs.
  • Good Drainage: Properly installed paver patios allow for better water drainage than concrete.


  • Higher Cost: The combined material and labor costs for paver patios are generally higher than concrete.
  • Time-Consuming Installation: Installing a paver patio, especially for DIY projects, is a more time-consuming process compared to pouring concrete.
  • Weed Growth: Spaces between pavers can allow weeds to grow, requiring regular maintenance for a clean look.

The Verdict: It Depends on Your Priorities

So, which reigns supreme – concrete or pavers? The answer depends on your individual priorities and circumstances. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:

  • Choose Concrete if: Budget is a top concern, you prefer a smooth, seamless surface, and a basic gray aesthetic suits your taste.

  • Choose Pavers if: Design flexibility and customization are important, easy repairability is a plus, and good drainage is a priority for your climate.

Finding the Perfect Balance:

A cost-effective compromise might be a stamped concrete patio. Stamped concrete offers a wider range of design options compared to standard concrete, mimicking the look of pavers, stone, or even brick at a fraction of the cost. While the material cost for stamped concrete is higher than plain concrete, it can still be significantly cheaper than installing a paver patio.

Additional Considerations for Making Your Choice:

  • DIY Skills: Consider your DIY expertise. While both concrete and paver patios can be DIY projects, installing pavers requires more skill and attention to detail.

  • Maintenance Needs: Concrete patios require minimal maintenance beyond occasional cleaning and potential resealing. Paver patios might require periodic cleaning of the spaces between pavers to prevent weed growth.

  • Climate: In areas with harsh winters and frequent freeze-thaw cycles, pavers might be a better choice due to their flexibility and ability to withstand some movement without cracking.

Ultimately, the best way to decide is to research both options thoroughly, considering your budget, desired aesthetics, and lifestyle needs. Consulting with professional concrete contractors and paver installers can provide valuable insights and cost estimates specific to your project.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Concrete vs. Paver Patios

Q: Which is easier to maintain, concrete or paver patios?

A: Concrete patios require minimal maintenance, mainly involving occasional cleaning and potential resealing. Paver patios might require additional maintenance to remove weeds growing between the pavers.

Q: Are paver patios more durable than concrete patios?

A: Both concrete and paver patios can be very durable when properly installed. Pavers might offer a slight edge in terms of repairability, as individual pavers can be replaced if damaged.

Q: Can I stain or paint my existing concrete patio?

A: Yes, you can stain or paint your existing concrete patio to refresh its look. However, proper surface preparation is crucial for successful application and long-lasting results.

Q: How long do concrete and paver patios typically last?

A: With proper maintenance, both concrete and paver patios can last for decades. Concrete patios might develop cracks over time, while pavers might require occasional replacement due to wear and tear.

By understanding the cost factors, advantages and disadvantages of both concrete and paver patios, you can make an informed decision that transforms your backyard into the perfect outdoor haven for relaxation and enjoyment.