Pavers vs. Red Clay Brick For a Sustainably Beautiful Walkway or Patio

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Red clay brick walkway before
Red clay brick walkway before
Red clay brick walkway after the restoration
Red clay brick walkway after the restoration

If you have an existing clay brick walkway or patio in need of work, don’t discard it – restore it.

 

After years of restoring many existing paver projects, I wanted to give my opinion on the durability of concrete pavers vs. clay brick.

First, a little history of clay brick. It has been used as a paving medium for hundreds of years. Red clay brick can be found in the walkways and exterior patio areas of many historic Victorian and Colonial homes. From those early days to modern times, paving stones manufactured from concrete gained popularity in the home design marketplace due to the various colors and shapes that could be created to enhance the beauty of architectural landscaping.

As a result, red clay brick fell to the wayside and concrete pavers won out. As we restore existing paver projects, I have noticed that over time, the once attractive concrete pavers become very aged and worn looking.

When we restore 15 to 20-year-old concrete paver projects, including power washing and sealing the concrete pavers, the age still shows through. This is because over time the fine concrete color layer of the paver wears off due to the constant beating of rain and the frequent application of de-icing products on the surface during our Central New Jersey winters.

Wear and tear, seasonal climate variations and salt or chemical treatments all accelerate the aging process and the surface of the concrete paver starts revealing the large aggregate used to manufacture it. Some pavers are better quality and longer lasting than others, but over time they all show signs of wear.

Clay brick, on the other hand, does not show signs of wear on the surface. These types of pavers may chip or crack a bit, but rather than making it look worn, this is what gives character to the overall look. Many concrete pavers try to imitate this aged effect. You actually pay more for chipped concrete pavers!

We recently restored a clay brick project (featured above) that was initially done about 20 to 25 years ago. Back when they were first installed, the bricks lacked a proper base or did not have an edging restraint installed. Over time, they settled or migrated apart and became weed infested due to lack of maintenance.

 During the restoration process, we salvaged the clay brick, installed a 6 to 8 inch stone base and compacted it thoroughly. Once the compaction process was done, we installed a concrete sand setting bed and re-laid the clay brick. After the clay brick was laid, we installed a good quality plastic edging, swept the joints with polymeric sand and activated it.

NJ Paver Restorations has restored many clay brick walkways and patios, and once the repair portion is complete, we power wash them and apply two coats of sealant. Once the restoration process is done, the clay brick looks as good as new! I wish I could say the same for concrete pavers.

 

Concrete Pavers with Salt Damage at Unity Bank Flemington
This is the concrete paver that has been damaged by salt at the Unity Bank in Flemington.
Concrete Paver Restoration at Unity Bank Flemington
This… is the bank after we restored it. Notice how aged and old it still looks after we restored it?

If your concrete pavers are fairly new, we highly recommend that you get them sealed to help slow the aging process. The sealant layer will be the first layer of wear and will keep the concrete paver looking good for years to come.

If you have an existing clay brick walkway or patio in need of work, don’t discard it – restore it. Give us a call–you will be amazed by what we can do. We will make the red clay brick look brand new. If you have concrete pavers, we can make them look good also, but we can only do so much. We offer a free, initial consultation and are always happy to take a look and give you our honest, professional opinion. If you are in the market for a new walkway or patio give clay brick a try. Clay brick is available in various colors and textures to match your architecture and landscaping. Trust me–you won’t be sorry.

 

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