Block paving is generally manufactured from one of two material types, either concrete or clay – there are of course many other types such as rubber, stone, glass and plastic but the two most common types are concrete and clay. But what is the difference between them? Does one have a benefit over the other, or are they just personal preference?
Concrete Paving Blocks
Concrete paving blocks are made up of a mixture of stone or aggregate and cement, the sizes of aggregate used very from around 10mm down to 1mm aggregate dust. The dust is primarily used to bind the stone together and create a stronger material. Aggregates and cement is mixed together with water to create the concrete, which is then dyed with a coloured pigment to create the final colour of the paving stone. The pigment can be added in different amounts to create different colours and shades. Once the desired mix is created, the concrete mixture is poured into block moulds and either pressed or vibrated to remove air and smooth the mixture. Concrete paving blocks are air dried, and then turned out of the mould and loaded onto pallets ready for delivery when required.
Clay Paving Blocks
Clay paving blocks, unlike concrete paving blocks, are made from natural clay which is locally sourced from the area near manufacturers. This differs to concrete blocks because concrete blocks are made from man-made materials. Much like concrete pavers, clay paving blocks can have colour pigments mixed into them whilst the clay is still soft and workable, once the desired colour is reached, the clay is placed into a mould and left to dry slightly before being oven fired in a high temperature kiln. You may have seen this process used to fire clay pottery, the process is exactly the same.
Once the firing process is complete, the clay paving stones will be very hard. They are left to cool before being stacked onto pallets ready for delivery to any projects which require them.
So it’s clear that these two main types of paving blocks are both diffrent, and similar at the same time – so what are the benefits and downfalls of using one over the other?
Clay paving stones
The benefits of clay paving stones: extremely durable and hard wearing, many vibrant colour choices, as well as natural clay colour, do not stain or fade easily, very easy to keep clean.
The bad points of clay paving stones: They are generally more expensive than concrete alternatives, can be brittle and chip or shatter, due to the firing process there can be slight size differences, colours are harder to match due to the natural colour varying from slab to slab, some areas do not have a ready supply of clay paving stones, so they need to be shipped in from further afield.
Concrete Paving Blocks
The main pros of concrete pavers: cheap and cheerful, can be sourced in many different colours, colours remain true throughout a batch so can be easily marched. almost all local suppliers will stock concrete paving blocks.
The downside of concrete block paving: Requires sealing regularly to avoid staining. Can absorb dirt and grime. Is not as hard or tough as clay based paving blocks.
If you’re unsure exactly which block type is best for your need, you can ask a specialist paving company such as a birmingham paving contractor, they will be able to advise you of which material will be best for your application, and whether there are any downsides to your plans.