The Pros and Cons of Putting Pavers Over Concrete

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated August 2, 2021
Baby sitting on paver patio
By Halfpoint - stock.adobe.com

Yes, you can install concrete pavers over concrete slabs, but only if there isn't extensive cracking or damage to the existing concrete

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Nothing makes a concrete patio pop like brand-new, freshly installed paver tiles. If you're tired of cracked and unsightly concrete surfaces near your home, concrete pavers are a great option you should consider.

But is it OK to put those pavers directly over the existing concrete surface, or are you going to tear it up first? This guide breaks all of this down for you, as well as describes the basic process of installing pavers.

What Is a Paver?

A paver refers specifically to a paving stone or tile made out of concrete that is used for exterior flooring. To create a paver, a worker pours a mixture of concrete into a mold along with any coloring desired for aesthetic purposes.

There are a couple of specific subsets under the general category of pavers: interlocking or segmental pavers and stone pavers.

  • Interlocking pavers are designed to lock in with another paver, which results in a stronger connection.

  • Stone pavers are a popular aesthetic option usually made out of materials like limestone or basalt. They are commonly used around pools or in walkways.

You Can Usually Put Pavers Over Concrete

Many times, homeowners want to put pavers over top of existing concrete because it's much better than the alternative: tearing up the underlying concrete first, which is a messy and potentially expensive job.

Fortunately, you can put pavers directly over existing concrete. It's a common practice and a great way to upgrade your concrete surfaces.

While mortar is preferable when installing pavers, it's possible to put in the pavers without mortar (although it puts you at risk of drainage issues and cracking). Consult with a paver installation professional near you first to determine the best option for your home and get a price quote.

But It's Not Always a Good Idea to Install Pavers Over Concrete

Sometimes placing pavers over concrete is a bad idea. Driveways can be particularly tricky, and if a surface is in very bad shape, it's wise to get rid of the existing concrete first.

Large cracks or a lack of a smooth surface will hamper your efforts to install paver tiles. The worse shape your space is in, the higher the tiles will need to be placed, which could block doors or cause people to trip.

Also, if the foundation is the problem and it's continuing to settle, it will damage the pavers you installed and force you to replace them.

How To Install Pavers Over Concrete

Paver patio with pergola
By Ozgur Coskun - stock.adobe.com

If you’re looking to do the job yourself, here’s an idea of what the process entails:

Inspect for Drainage Issues

Inspect the area you wish to cover to ensure it is sloped enough for water runoff. If it's not, then the water that seeps through your pavers can't get to the ground because of the existing concrete, creating drainage issues and standing water where you don't want it. If it's not properly sloped, drill drainage holes spaced a few inches apart.

Clean the Surface

Use a pressure washer to blast all of that grime off the existing concrete surface and prepare it for the new paver tiles. Wait for the surface to dry thoroughly before beginning work on installing the pavers.

Cover the Existing Concrete With Sand

Cover the existing concrete with a coarse sand layer that is between a half-inch and 1 inch deep. This provides a good foundation for your pavers.

Lay the Pavers

Now you can lay the pavers over top of the concrete as desired. Carefully fit them together, and then fill in the joints with the remaining sand.

Hold the Perimeter in Place With Edging or Mortar

You will need to keep the edges of your pavers held in place by securing the perimeter. You can do this with a plastic edging tool that you hammer into place, or you can use mortar or some other type of adhesive to hold them.

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