Stone and brick pavers provide a more decorative and natural look on patios, paths and driveways when compared to concrete and asphalt. When properly installed, they can last just as long, if not longer, than concrete. Unlike concrete, a single crack in a paver doesn’t require an unsightly repair or full replacement because you can simply replace the broken paver. Replacement only becomes an issue if there are installation problems or if the pavers aren’t properly cared for.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to paver replacement. A properly installed and maintained paver patio, walk or drive can last for years, or even decades. Common causes of paver damage include:
Soil shifting, which primarily occurs when the base isn’t properly installed.
Outside damage, including cracking and chipping. Dropping heavy objects on a paver can crack it, as can walking or driving on pavers that aren’t level. Ice melt salts and chemicals can also weaken your pavers.
Stains, including algae and oil stains. In some cases, you can simply flip a paver over to the clean stain, but for best color matching you may need to replace the pavers.
Weathering damage that leads to abraded surfaces or cracked pavers. Freeze and thaw cycles can cause shifting, which leads to cracks or uneven pavers. Surface abrasion can also occur.
A Firm Base Saves on Replacement
If you suspect improper base installation, it can be well worth the effort to lift the pavers and have the base corrected. You may be able to save and reuse the pavers if they were installed with sand joints instead of mortar.
A strong base is fully compacted and covered with a 2- to 4-inch layer of compacted stone dust. After installation, the pavers require an edging material to keep them from shifting. Filling the joints with paver sand allows for expansion and contraction from temperature fluctuations.
Maintain Your Pavers
Proper care helps prolong the life of your pavers so they don’t require frequent replacement.
Reseal any pavers that are no longer level, before they have a chance to crack. Lift the offending paver out and level the base beneath it. Tamp it back in place gently with a rubber mallet.
Replace any cracked pavers promptly. As they crack, the pavers can shift, which can lead to damage to the neighboring pavers.
Refill the joints with paver sand annually in spring. Cover the paved area with the sand and sweep it into the joints until the sand is level with the top of the pavers. Depending on weathering and traffic, the sand may also require topping off in the fall. Using a joint sealer over the sand can help keep it in place so it requires less frequent replacement.
Keep the pavers clean. In most cases, you can simply hose off the pavers. If algea or moss growth becomes a problem, wash the pavers with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts waters – but don’t get the bleach on nearby plants. Avoid pressure washing, which dislodges the joints and can damage the pavers.
Professional paver installation ensures no shortcuts are taken, which results in a longer lasting project. If you suspect a problem with your pavers, get it fixed immediately to save yourself the full cost of replacement.