Laying pavers on top of concrete is a viable project in many situations.
The process can save you money and avoid labor-intensive removal.
Always lay a proper sand foundation over the concrete before adding pavers.
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, and does it make more sense than investing in a new concrete patio? This guide breaks all this down for you, as well as describes the basic process of installing pavers.
What’s the Difference Between Pavers and Concrete?
Comparing pavers versus concrete is a common decision to make when designing your dream outdoor space. Pavers come in a series of shapes, colors, and materials, but all in all, they are a series of manufactured stones or bricks that link together. Concrete, on the other hand, is either poured or delivered as a solid slab of aggregate and cement.
Pavers cost more to install than concrete but typically last longer and are easier—and less expensive—to repair. Pavers are also better for encouraging drainage due to their interlocking arrangement, especially if you opt for a permeable paver system. However, concrete comes in pervious options as well and can encourage drainage when installed at the proper angle.
All in all, there are ways to customize both pavers and concrete. You can even add a stamped concrete overlay that gives the look of pavers at a lower price. The cost of a new concrete slab, after all, ranges from around $4 to $8 per square foot, whereas the cost of pavers can cost up to $50 per square foot. However, the stamped concrete versus pavers debate is more complex, so you should always speak with your contractor to decide.
Pros of Putting Pavers Over Concrete
Often, 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.
The most obvious upside to installing pavers on top of concrete is the cost savings. Concrete removal costs an average of $1,100 and is both labor and time-intensive. Yes, you'll pay more for pavers compared to the cost of a new concrete patio, but you will save money on-site prep and leveling.
Adding pavers right on top of your concrete is one of the quickest ways to give your patio, driveway, or walkway a makeover. And if you're wondering if you can pour concrete over concrete: Yes, this is an option, but not always the most attractive one. Adding a layer of aggregate sand and pavers adds color, texture, and fresh style to your yard.
Learning how to build a paver patio may be a rather advanced DIY, but it is doable with time and the right tools. Handling concrete, on the other hand, is not always ideal, even if you're resurfacing it yourself. Adding pavers over concrete is a job you can tackle over a weekend while saving yourself between $4 and $11 per square foot. All this being said, hiring a paver installation professional near you will ensure it's installed correctly for both drainage and long-term stability.
Cons of Putting 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.
There are several problems with pavers over concrete when it comes to longevity and safety. For one, if there were previous issues with uneven concrete, cracks, or general spalling, your pavers could begin to sink over time. You will need to add a layer of sand below the pavers to offer them flexibility in the winter, but this will not offer as much stability as fresh soil.
Always check local laws about ensuring drainage in and around any hardscape installations on your property. Adding pavers over concrete—even with the extra layer of sand—can significantly hinder stormwater from seeping through the stone or bricks. If the water has nowhere to go, it can pool around your home or lead to erosion on your lawn.
Increasing the thickness of your patio by adding pavers can make your patio, driveway, or walkway impractical. Not only will it cause drainage issues, but it also could block your door clearance for leaving and entering the yard. So, how thick should a patio be? Patios should sit between 4 and 8 inches, depending on how much weight it holds. If the pavers push the thickness too far, you may need to figure out how to cut concrete pavers to fit your needs.
How to Install Pavers Over Concrete
If you’re looking to do the job yourself, here’s a general description 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 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 1/2 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 use mortar or some other type of adhesive to hold them.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro to Install Pavers Over Concrete
If you have a good foundation of undamaged concrete, installing pavers on top can be a doable DIY project. It’ll definitely take some patience and care to ensure your pavers are secure and line up correctly, but if you have previous experience, you may want to give it a try.
You’ll save around $50 to $80 per hour or $4 to $11 per square foot on labor, but you will still have to pay for things like the pavers themselves and spacers, as well as installation tools and materials like a circular saw, leveling sand, and landscaping cloth.
If you’re at all intimidated by the installation process, your concrete is badly damaged, or you don’t have many relevant tools handy, it may be better to leave this job to the pros.
D.P. Taylor contributed to this piece.
Frequently Asked Questions
Adhere pavers to concrete with either mortar or a concrete-specific adhesive. In most cases, you will also need to lay a permeable sand layer below the pavers to encourage proper stability and drainage in your transformed patio, porch, or driveway. To lay pavers like a pro, always make sure you take the proper preparatory steps before adhering them directly to the concrete.
Standard paver sizes that measure 2 3/8 inches are appropriate for placing over concrete. However, always make sure you are not making the area too thick for daily use. A large step between your lawn and the patio can be a tripping hazard, and you need to be able to open and close all doors that swing overtop of the installation.
Yes, you can put thin pavers over a concrete driveway. However, it's always best to talk to a driveway installer before starting. You'll need to ensure that the concrete below is in good enough shape to hold the pavers and that the driveway will still meet local building codes.