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View Full Version : WAR: Pavers vs. Stamped Concrete


JimLewis
04-08-2009, 11:39 AM
Well, first of all, I should note that pavers are HOT HOT HOT this year. I've never seen more requests for paver jobs in all my life. I don't know if that's because we now have a lot more photos of our paver work on our website or just because it's getting more popular in general or maybe because the variety of pavers these days are a lot nicer than what used to be available. I tend to think it's a mixture of the last two, but requests for paver jobs are the #1 thing we get these days. It's crazy.

Anyway, I was giving a bid last night and was reminded of something I come across fairly regularly; A customer is looking for a new patio for their back yard. They are considering pavers or stamped concrete. And someone has already come by and tried to talk them out of pavers and got them all excited about stamped concrete. So now they are leaning toward stamped concrete and asking me if I do that (no, we don't). So now I am in the position of talking them into pavers, so we'll get the job.

The customer asks me what I think of stamped concrete and tells me they really like the look of it and are leaning that way. So I tell them, "Well, I really like the look of a good stamped concrete job too. Concrete has come a long ways in recent years. But some of the same problems remain....." Then we get into a discussion of concrete's weaknesses. I mention things like cracking. My paver rep. always says, "There are two types of concrete: Cracked Concrete - and - 'Gonna Crack' Concrete". So sometimes I'll use that line. I also discuss how the stamped concrete makes a nice facade of rock or tile or whatever - until you get to the control joints. Then that always kind of ruins the facade. I mention that it's difficult to add on to and impossible to fix if it cracks or settles. All these problems are things that pavers don't have.

Then I start to sell them on the strengths of pavers. First, I show them some of the new varieties out there (Arbel by Belgard, Venetian by Pavestone, etc.) just to show them how far pavers have come in recent years. I find a lot of people still have the old-school home depot interlocking pavers in their head. So I update that image in their head with some photos of newer paver products and jobs. Then I discuss the benefits of pavers; doesn't crack, easy to add on to, easy to fix if something like tree roots cause part of the patio to rise, no big control joints, etc.

Finally, I try to address any concerns with them. Seems the two most common concern is with weeds growing in the joints and with settling. They've seen paver patios that have settled and look all warbly and seen pavers with lots of weeds in the joints. I explain we use a polymeric sand that doesn't leave anything soft in the joints to grow in and I explain how those paver patios they've seen were not installed by someone who knows how to prepare the base properly and then I point out several large complexes around town they know that have had pavers for years and they still hold up like the day they were installed.

Anyway, seems like I am in a constant war with these Stamped Concrete contractors. Seems they don't do pavers so they just bad-mouth them. And then I am in a defacto war against them trying to explain why their product has some concerns and trying to defend pavers.

Just something I've seen over and over again. I've actually landed a lot of bids this way - talking people out of stamped. But there are times I never hear back too and I assume they went with the stamped anyway.

Anyone notice the same thing when you are out giving bids?

dougaustreim
04-08-2009, 12:52 PM
I fight this same battle all the time. We were able to switch a job from stamped to pavers last year at a new research part. The project had a truck run over slab around the inside of a turnabout. It took awhile to convince them that the pavers were actually stronger than concrete, but in the end they went with the pavers. Probably the biggest determiner was the fact that if a truck did run over and cause damage, the pavers would be a whole lot easier to repair. I also point out to people that most stamped concrete is made to look like pavers, so why not have pavers. The PSI of most pavers is double that of poured concrete. Also stamped concrete is quite expensive in this area, so cost wise, pavers usually aren't that much higher

One of the biggest sellers of all for us, though is for backyard patios is the minimal amount of damage to the rest of the landscaping that we cause. Every concrete contractor will run a skidloader around the house multiple times. Unless it is absolutely necessary, we use wheelbarrows in those situations and minimize the extra damage. Better to pay a little more for the patio than have to pay us to come and fix the yard after the concrete guys are gone.

Bru75
04-08-2009, 04:04 PM
The problem in my area is all concrete, not just stamped. The builders automatically pour concrete walkways because that is what they are used to and they can do it cheap. Most homeowners are not familiar enough with pavers to understand the system, so they don't trust it.
Almost every first visit with a potential customer involves an education session about the benefits of concrete pavers vs. poured. Some people still won't believe it and go with poured concrete anyway.
One lady told me about her neighbors paver patio and how it was "coming apart". I asked her if she knew who built it, and she said "I think they did it themselves". That pretty much explains the problem.
I was there to talk about replacing her 50 year old concrete walkway that was cracked to pieces, and she still wouldn't believe me.
It seems to be getting better, though, as more pavers are being installed and people see the results.

neighborguy
04-08-2009, 04:58 PM
I see the same battle all the time. Most of the time it boils down to cost. People believe that concrete and stamped concrete are always the cheapest. Most of the time it is cheaper than a decent paver patio. I explain that the pavers do have a higher up front cost but long run when the time comes to repair (in northern climates everything will move eventually) it is not unusual to pull up the pavers; repair base; and relay the patio. you may have to introduce a new border to compensate for broken pavers or a change in pattern but it can look awesome.

I usually bring it back to the cracking aspect and point out that every intersection of a paver patio is acing as a control joint. We did one stamped concrete job last year (we form it up and sub out the finish stuff) and I agree that the coloring looks good but as Jim said the control joints ruin the whole effect. A slab of concrete is a slab of concrete I don't care what the top looks like, it will crack.

DVS Hardscaper
04-08-2009, 07:00 PM
The market for stamed is growing, thanks to the recession.

#1. It's usually less costly (in most cases)

#2. Many concrete contractors have always had builders FEED them with work EVERY DAY. Well, now builders are slow, therefore the concrete guys don't have anything to do. And in turn, they're advertising / marketing stamped patios.



About twice a week people ask me about stamped. I usually say "stamped is nice looking but is better suited for warmer climates such as florida, south carolina, etc". I then go on to explain heaving of the ground during the winter months. And after that I explain that pavers are individual units that float with the ground.

As long as the economy remains in it's current state - stamped will be a big competitor for us hardscapers.






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PlatinumLandCon
04-08-2009, 07:08 PM
DVS, why do you put a period at the end to make your posts seem longer?










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JimLewis
04-08-2009, 07:33 PM
He probably does it for the same reason I do sometimes. If you don't, sometimes your paragraph runs right into your sig. line and it looks too jumbled together. I usually try to separate my posts from my sig line with a few lines of space to. But if you just do spaces, lawnsite will erase the spaces. So you have to add something down below (like a small period) in order to get the spacing between your post and your sig. line right.

DVS Hardscaper
04-08-2009, 08:30 PM
DVS, why do you put a period at the end to make your posts seem longer?










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Because I'm a super dooper looper bronze member :weightlifter:


Would you rather I put a comma :dizzy:


Seriously, the ability to recognize flaws and work around them is crucial if you're going to work in a construction trade.




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fool32696
04-09-2009, 12:09 AM
Great thread guys. I'm a concrete overlay installer. I don't do any pavers, but like to hang out in the hardscaping forum. I'm going up against paver installers all of the time. There are a few good paver installers in the area that are priced very cheaply compared to what I see posted on here. When I'm competing with them on bare ground (no existing patio, just dirt), they usually win on price. When there is existing concrete in decent structural condition, I can usually beat the price for thin pavers and for concrete removal and normal paver installation. In one circumstance where I was significantly higher than pavers, I told the guy that the company he got a paver quote from did great work at good prices (obviously never heard back on that one). I wouldn't have thought that stamped concrete would be a competitor up north, the freeze/thaw cycles must destroy it.

stuvecorp
04-09-2009, 12:50 AM
A long time ago(may be five years?:)) up here it was pricey and close to pavers but the supply houses really pushed the stamped concrete and now it seems like everyone does it very cheap. I have seen some stamped that really wasn't bad but pavers have soul.

I do think pavers are the in thing right now and there is some definite train wreck stuff being thrown in that hurts pavers reputation. I love the sound of driving on pavers.

MC Handy Man
04-09-2009, 01:14 AM
I love this thread. As a concrete contractors son, I try selling the stamped and I have a few tips to help you overcome the believed notion that concrete is better. You pointed out some cons in concrete and I must agree 100% with them. It does crack, you do need control joints. Another con you can show for the stamped is that if it stains, it stains, there is no matching the previous color. If you live in a snow state, it sucks trying to get the ice and snow off the stamped surface plus some times the salt and chemicals you put down can damage the concrete.

Some objections towards pavers that I always note to the client is that when it rains, your pavers will washout if not installed correctly. weeds will grow through the joints and they will sag a slant over the years. Of course those are things that happen if you have Joe Shmo do the job. Try to point those objections out to the client and tell them that it totally relies on who layed them.

determine needs and wants
overcome objections
outway the cons
close the sale
follow up follow up follow up!!!

Maybe you can offer them an acentive and say that if you have any problems within the next few years we will come back and take a look.

Just try to find out what kind of smack is being talked about paver then overcome all those objections in your sales pitch.

Duffster
04-09-2009, 01:21 AM
Forgive me for I know nothing about pavers

What effect does salt have on pavers?

stuvecorp
04-09-2009, 02:17 AM
Forgive me for I know nothing about pavers

What effect does salt have on pavers?

On good pavers? Not to worried but salt use should always be rationed. Little bit goes long way.

stuvecorp
04-09-2009, 02:21 AM
Something I always try to stress is the base, have not seen too much ever done with the ground under concrete. I also try to push the option if you want to tear it out years down the road it can be reused. Pavers were 'green' before it was cool.

JimLewis
04-09-2009, 02:35 AM
Something I always try to stress is the base, have not seen too much ever done with the ground under concrete. I also try to push the option if you want to tear it out years down the road it can be reused. Pavers were 'green' before it was cool.

I like that!

I think I need to make a comparison chart that highlights all the benefits of pavers vs. concrete. Then I can just have it ready for when the topic comes up.

JimLewis
04-09-2009, 03:03 AM
Like this document......


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JimLewis
04-09-2009, 03:05 AM
Or this one is nice too, but since we are not ICPI cert., I wouldn't use more than the first page;


http://www.icpi.org/myproject/ComparisonBrochureAug2005.pdf




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STL Ponds and Waterfalls
04-09-2009, 03:40 PM
I used to do stamped concrete and I hate it with a passion. Guy's that don't know what they are doing just like with paver's can F'up a job easily. Colored concrete can fade easy if it is worked to much and you have to seal it a lot to keep it nice looking. Plus, a sealed stamped job is VERY slick when wet if they don't sand it. We will pour concrete if we can't win with pavers but the whole time we are pouring I'm shaking my head in discust.

Concrete is for foundations, garage and basemant floors in my eye's at least.

JDavisLandscapes
04-09-2009, 08:00 PM
Everybody has basically pointed out the benefits of pavers vs stamped. I use them all.

But I have also noticed a ton of paver calls so far. Its really peaking in its market life cycle. I have 5 jobs i just signed contracts on in the last 2 weeks plus 9 estimates I've given out this weeks, and 3 more to go do this weekend. payuppayup

I wish I had another truck or two because I'm thinking of running 2 crew solely for paver work.

ford550
04-10-2009, 08:55 PM
Forgive me for I know nothing about pavers

What effect does salt have on pavers?


If that is a sarcastic comment then here is my response..........Check out Techo Bloc, they have a written lifetime warranty even against degradation due to rock salt!!!!!!!!

On another note, I literally just did a design presentation today and the customer said, "my neighbor got a price for stamped and it's cheaper" and of course I responded with the same cons about concrete, whether stamped, colored or straight up. It's going to crack, it's a piss poor copy of the real thing, it's going to chip and show the concrete through, fade, slippery, yada yada yada...........

I don't know why all your markets are slow to catch onto the pavers thing. According to statistics, the United States is light years behind other countries for the amount of pavers per capita we install comparatively. My job is certainly secure in the hardscape business for many decades to come. It is only going to grow, even in a down economy. Far superior product if installed correctly. Our warranty for our hardscape installs is 5 years, you aren't going to hear that from stamped. Pavers have been huge here for years. We have installed about 50K SF of pavers per year for the last 5 years.

Nice thread Jim.....................

EVM
04-10-2009, 10:29 PM
Stamped concrete costs a fraction of what pavers do. Paver/walls are ridiculous $$$
So if you are dealing with a person on a tight budget; you will not be getting the job. Stamped concrete is terrible though; the only stamped concrete that I like are the very big patterns/stamps.

Yard
04-11-2009, 09:58 AM
Our warranty for our hardscape installs is 5 years, you aren't going to hear that from stamped. Pavers have been huge here for years. We have installed about 50K SF of pavers per year for the last 5 years.



Five year warranty, that's great, must be a big selling point for you. It shows that you are going to do the job right. Do you warranty 100% for the five years? Have you had many call backs?

fool32696
04-11-2009, 10:36 AM
I warranty my concrete overlays (stamp and spray texture) for 5 years. My contract does state that we do all we can to control cracks but we can't promise that it won't happen. When I pour the cement, I use lots of rebar and control joints at least every 6 feet.

soopa
04-11-2009, 12:25 PM
I can't compete with stamped concrete from a cost perspective, and most customers that are even considering it I find impervious to education.

That said, I think the market has finally realized how shabby a product stamped concrete really is. I received quite a few calls last Spring from people looking for stamped concrete (even though I don't offer it). This spring, only one. All of the rest are looking for pavers... although some have no clue initially that pavers don't mean red bricks... and that there are lots options out there.

ford550
04-11-2009, 07:40 PM
Five year warranty, that's great, must be a big selling point for you. It shows that you are going to do the job right. Do you warranty 100% for the five years? Have you had many call backs?


It is 100% on both pavers, walls and steps (w/ some obvious loop holes like not responsible for sink holes, willful damage, foundation settlement and that kind of stuff.) It is a huge selling point, but most of the quality companies around here are at 5 years too, so I am thinking of upping it to 7 or 10 years. There is one company I know that offers lifetime. I have had some call backs, but nothing major and never for the paver work (with the right compaction equip, it's easy). It's usually around the steps and especially the glue that fails the most. That's the only thing I hate about hardscape work, the glue. After a few years and the extreme freeze thaw cycles we have around here, it wreaks havoc on the steps/caps and glue.

kootoomootoo
04-11-2009, 08:17 PM
The average concrete guy does a way better job than the average paver guy.

The average paver guy cuts grass trims bushes etc etc.
The average concrete guy pours concrete ...period.

You don't have concrete guys running around with a certificate they got from some multi choice exam. That which some of you guys brag about is that which others mock.

JDavisLandscapes
04-11-2009, 08:45 PM
The average concrete guy does a way better job than the average paver guy.

The average paver guy cuts grass trims bushes etc etc.
The average concrete guy pours concrete ...period.

You don't have concrete guys running around with a certificate they got from some multi choice exam. That which some of you guys brag about is that which others mock.

I use my certification from the ICPI as an advantage when selling jobs. It is a multiple choice exam but you do need to get them right to pass it. It proves that you at least know the correct way to install interlocking concrete pavers. Considering I'm only 21 years old it helps because a lot of people discredit me for my age. I also offer a lifetime warranty on my paver projects because I DO install pavers to the highest possible standards. I'm usually always the highest bid, but the certification and warranty usually sets me apart. Plus my portfolio and references also helps.

JimLewis
04-11-2009, 09:24 PM
The average concrete guy does a way better job than the average paver guy.

Ummmm....no!

I've seen more BAD stamped concrete jobs than I've seen good ones.

Most every time I see a bad paver job, I ask who did it, and most often it was the homeowner or the previous homeowner who did it.

I don't see many professional paver companies doing bad work. Most of the ones I see done by professionals, I can TELL they were done by professionals because they look so nice.

kootoomootoo
04-11-2009, 09:52 PM
Ummmm....no!

I've seen more BAD stamped concrete jobs than I've seen good ones.

Most every time I see a bad paver job, I ask who did it, and most often it was the homeowner or the previous homeowner who did it.

I don't see many professional paver companies doing bad work. Most of the ones I see done by professionals, I can TELL they were done by professionals because they look so nice.

You have threads you started showcasing a new install that ended up being deleted because the luv wasnt what you expected. Times that by....how many landscapers who call themselves professionals.

DVS Hardscaper
04-11-2009, 10:21 PM
i do see so called professional companies every day that do terrible work.

I also hear all kinnds of stories from prospective clients.

Like today, a prospective client told be about one of their price quote providers who said they would dig down a "little bit" to stabilize the dwelling's foundation overdig. A little bit?

mrusk
04-11-2009, 10:57 PM
The average concrete guy does a way better job than the average paver guy.

The average paver guy cuts grass trims bushes etc etc.
The average concrete guy pours concrete ...period.

You don't have concrete guys running around with a certificate they got from some multi choice exam. That which some of you guys brag about is that which others mock.

Koo is telling it as it is.


The average paver job is a joke.

DVS Hardscaper
04-12-2009, 09:11 AM
It's funny. You need ICPI to tell you to use fabric!!!!!! Oh lordy, thats funny!

for 13 years, we have been using not one, but 2 layers of geo-textile fabric since day one. It wasn't for 3-4 years after we were doing hardscapes until I even heard of ICPI!

Yeah, concrete guy are concrete guys. Masons are masons, they're not trim carpenters trying to set brick or stone because they saw another trim carpenter do it and they think they're gonna get rich.

Truthfully, I made more money 8 years ago in this business then I'm making now. Due to increased competition.



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