So many homes are built with a basic concrete patio that serves a purpose yet lacks the design and aesthetics that many homeowners would prefer. To add flair to their landscaping, many people decide to overlay their concrete with stone, brick, or even cobblestone pavers. While this may seem like a good idea, it does come with a few downsides.
First and foremost, concrete can slowly shift over time, causing the pavers to pull apart and thereby ruining the top design. Additionally, an underlayer of concrete can impact your patio’s drainage, leading to flooding and erosion. Finally, from a design perspective, you’ll be limited to the same square slab of concrete if you choose to cover it with pavers.
Although it may seem easier to install pavers over concrete, it’s important to understand the full range of benefits and disadvantages. In this guide, we’ll explain a few of the main reasons why you shouldn’t glue pavers onto concrete and offer a handful of alternatives to improve your overall backyard design. For further support, don’t hesitate to contact a landscape professional.
Why Do Some Homeowners Install Pavers Over Concrete?
No matter how big or small, all landscaping projects take time and energy. Understandably, some homeowners want to take shortcuts to save themselves the hassle. In their mind, it’s much easier to glue a bunch of pavers to an existing concrete slab than it is to rip out the old patio and start from scratch.
On the other hand, some homeowners believe that adding pavers on top of their concrete patio will add value to their home. They reason that the added curb appeal will make their home more attractive to buyers down the road. Unfortunately, neither of these scenarios is likely to play out in your favor.
If you’re set on making changes to your outdoor living space, it’s usually best to start from scratch with a new patio design.
Pavers Can Pull Apart from the Concrete Slab
As we mentioned above, one of the main problems with installing pavers over concrete is that the concrete can shift and settle over time. This movement will cause the pavers to pull apart from the slab, which ruins the overall design.
It’s important to note that even newly poured concrete can shift. In fact, it’s not uncommon for concrete to settle up to ½ inch in the first few months. If you live in an area with clay soil, the problem is likely to be even worse. Clay soil is notorious for expanding and contracting, which can cause the concrete to heave and crack.
Concrete Can Impact Patio Drainage
Another problem with installing pavers over concrete is that the underlayer of concrete can impact your patio’s drainage. If the concrete is not properly sealed, water can seep through the cracks and pool on the surface of the patio. This can lead to flooding and, over time, erosion.
Even if the concrete is sealed, the added layer can still impact drainage. Pavers are typically installed with a slight gap between each stone to allow for water drainage. However, if the pavers are glued to the concrete, the gaps will be filled, which prevents water from draining properly.
You’ll Be Limited In Terms of Design
Finally, from a design perspective, you’ll be limited to the same square slab of concrete if you choose to cover it with pavers. If you’re looking to add some interest to your outdoor living space, you’re better off starting from scratch with a new patio design.
A Few Alternatives to Installing Pavers Over Concrete
If you’re set on making changes to your outdoor living space, there are a few alternatives to installing pavers over concrete. Some of these are rather labor-intensive but if you have the time, creativity, and resources, they can make for an incredible, fresh, and architectural landscape design:
- Remove the Concrete Slab and Start from Scratch: If you choose to start from scratch, you’ll have a blank slate to work with. This gives you the freedom to choose any material you want and to design a patio that fits your specific needs and budget. Of course, removing concrete will require some heavy machinery so keep this in mind before moving forward.
- Cover the Concrete Slab with Stone Veneer: If you’re looking to add some interest to your patio without starting from scratch, you can cover the concrete slab with stone veneer. Stone veneer is a thin layer of natural stone that’s glued to a surface. It’s a popular choice for fireplace surrounds and exterior walls.
- Add Concrete Stamping or Staining: If you’re happy with the size and shape of your concrete patio but want to add a design, you can consider concrete stamping or staining. Concrete stamping involves adding texture to the surface of the concrete to mimic the look of stone, brick, or wood. Concrete staining, on the other hand, involves adding a colored stain to the surface of the concrete.
- Install Interlocking Pavers: If you’re set on installing pavers, we recommend choosing interlocking pavers. Interlocking pavers are designed to fit together like a puzzle. They’re held in place with sand, rather than glue, which allows for some movement. This flexibility is important because it helps to prevent the pavers from pulling apart when the concrete shifts.
- Hire a Professional: If you’re not confident in your DIY skills, we recommend hiring a professional. A professional landscaper will be able to assess your outdoor living space and recommend the best course of action. They can also help you choose the right materials and design a patio that fits your specific needs.
The Bottom Line
Although it may seem easier to install pavers over concrete, it’s not always for the best. Before making any decisions, be sure to consider whether your existing concrete patio will sink or shift over time and whether you have adequate drainage to prevent flooding. If you’re unsure of what to do, contact a professional landscaper today and let them help.