Concrete, Travertine, Dry-Cast, Wet-Cast… Which Patio Paver Material is Best?

If you are considering a new paver patio, a good contractor should know the difference between common paver materials and be able to recommend the best product for your home and for your budget.

If you are considering a new paver patio, a good contractor should know the difference between common paver materials and be able to recommend the best product for your home and for your budget. Concrete pavers are installed most often in the Kalamazoo area, but other natural stone pavers like travertine are becoming more popular throughout southwest Michigan. No matter the choice in paver material, the base preparation is what matters when it comes to eliminating settling over time (read about how Kalamazoo Hardscape prepares each patio base here). Concrete pavers do not “settle more often” than travertine or other natural stone pavers, and natural stone does not “settle more often” than concrete.

Concrete pavers: 

The most cost effective material option for a paver patio is usually concrete. There are a few products available to us in the Kalamazoo area made by a handful of manufacturers. Consumers Concrete manufactures dry-cast pavers, which tend to be the most affordable option for a paver patio. These are available in limited colors and are typically found with a rough concrete texture.

Dry-cast concrete contains only enough water to hydrate the cement and cure it whereas wet-cast concrete has a lot of water (high slump, in concrete terms). Wet-cast concrete has the ability to be molded into pavers and blocks that imitate natural stone textures, and the color options are vast with wet-cast concrete pavers. Wet-cast pavers are typically used in beautiful custom patio designs with accent borders and a color scheme that goes well with the home’s exterior.

A couple examples of popular wet-cast concrete pavers that we use throughout the Kalamazoo area are High Format (formerly Rosetta Hardscapes) and Unilock pavers. Both manufacturers offer paver products in the mid to upper range in terms of cost, and the quality of each manufacturer is unmatched. With High Format and Unilock, we have found that the colors are consistent, the pavers are manufactured to spec (not smaller or larger than what the spec sheet claims, resulting in a much nicer patio), and the pavers are incredibly durable. Many wet-cast pavers are rated for driveway applications as well. We are fortunate to have an incredible, tight-knit group of suppliers in Kalamazoo along with positive relationships with our sales reps from each manufacturer, so we have a high level of confidence in using these paver products for our projects.

Concrete paver patios, dry-cast or wet-cast, are typically finished off with polymeric sand between the joints of the pavers. The polymeric sand acts as the “grout” just like mortar between bricks. Poly sand comes in a few different colors that go well with any color paver, and it is essentially sand that contains a polymer which hardens when it is “watered-in” upon installation. After the pavers are laid, poly sand is poured all over the patio surface and swept into the joint spaces between the pavers. A special compactor glides across the surface of the pavers to vibrate the sand down into the joints. The joints are then “topped off” with more poly sand before the surface of the pavers is carefully blown free of excess sand. Finally, the sand is watered-in with a gentle shower from the garden hose. After about 24 hours, the polymeric sand has cured and hardened, and the patio can then be used.

Travertine pavers:

The natural look of stone along with the consistent appearance of joint lines and geometric pavers can be achieved by using travertine pavers for your pool deck or patio. The foundation preparation is done in the same exact way for travertine as it is for concrete pavers, but polymeric sand does not need to be used between the joint spaces of travertine pavers. Since travertine pavers are calibrated and rectified, each piece is the exact same size, and all the sides are perfectly flat, the pavers fit against each other so tightly that there is no need for any fill material (polymeric sand) between the pavers. This means that there is less maintenance with a travertine patio as concrete paver patios with polymeric sand require some cleaning and eventually reinstalling poly sand after years of weathering.

Travertine pavers are offered in several different colors ranging from golden walnut, beige, ivory, and silver, and each one results in its own unique finish. Since it is a natural stone, no two pavers are alike! It is said that natural stone gets better with age, and this holds true for travertine. The colors seem to get richer, and there is no fading from UV light exposure like there is with concrete pavers.

Some people think that travertine would be slippery when wet because of its smooth appearance, but this actually is not true. Its surface has a high coefficient of friction even when wet, so the surface remains non-slip; it is a very popular choice for pool decks because of this.

Another reason why travertine is becoming more widely used for pool patios in Kalamazoo is because it does not conduct heat, so your feet will stay cool walking around the pool. If it is 95 degrees and the sun is beating down in the middle of July, a travertine paver patio will remain cool to the touch. There are no metals found in it, so there is nothing in the material that will conduct heat like there is in concrete pavers.

Travertine tends to cost in the mid to upper range much like wet-cast pavers, so if you are considering a paver patio around your new pool, spend some time researching travertine and see why it is one of the best options for a pool deck.

If you’re unsure of which material to use, Kalamazoo Hardscape will always provide you with paver samples when planning your patio project!

Although there are a few other paver options like marble, sandstone, and clay brick, these materials are seldom used for backyard patios in the Kalamazoo region. In addition to that, our local vendor support is extraordinary for concrete and travertine pavers, allowing us to provide exceptional service to our clients. Kalamazoo Hardscape can certainly install any of these pavers, but we always aim to educate our clients on what will complement a midwest home best, which product will fit the overall budget, and which manufacturer and local vendor will stand behind their products for the best possible outcome of each project.

Let’s get the ball rolling on your new paver patio! Schedule a consultation and see how our incredible 3-D design service can help you envision your new patio or pool deck before it has been built. With actual paver samples in hand along with a 3-D scaled replica of your home and new backyard, you will have the confidence to move forward with achieving your dream outdoor space.

Call us today at 269-744-7951 or fill out our consultation form.