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Community and Q&A

Patio pavers

Michael Maines | Posted in General Questions on

What are the “greenest” patio or walkway pavers? Precast concrete, cast-in-place concrete, quarried stone, brick, other? They need to be durable and of consistent thickness, and preferably new; I know reclaimed materials are usually best but with labor at a premium for both my personal projects and those I design for clients, I need an option using new materials. I checked the BEAM estimator and don’t see patios and pavers included. 

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  1. dan_saa | | #1

    I don't know the answer, but I bet these wood pavers are pretty "green", although when I priced several years ago, I think they were quite expensive.

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #6

      Interesting idea. I know that black locust is very rot-resistant and grows like a weed; in fact it's considered an invasive species in my state and many others. I wonder whether those pavers resist algae or if they get slippery in damp conditions?

  2. Patrick_OSullivan | | #2

    Very interesting question. I'm pondering my own material choice for a patio and locally it seems like concrete pavers have taken over the mindshare and I don't necessarily want to be sucked into that. They look lovely first installed but in some number of years, look regrettable.

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #5

      I agree that they don't age well. I think their popularity is thanks to their low cost and that they are fairly durable and easy to install.

    2. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #7


      I don't think there are any maintenance-free choices for patio surfaces. Slabs are a bit better than pavers simply due to the lack of joints, but how either look over time largely depends on how they are kept up.

      The advantages I see are:
      - Can be DIYed.
      - Easy to reconfigure or extend
      - Access to the area underneath for repairs or renos.
      - Use less concrete. Our local batch plant has a paver business next door that uses their excess concrete and returns, meaning they are pretty low carbon.

      My back yard has all three of the common options. A slab, pavers edged in pt wood, and pt decking at grade. The slab is fine, I prefer the edged pavers on the raised walkway, and the wood decking is a huge pain to maintain.

  3. kentthompson | | #3

    Reclaimed bricks are readily available where I live, which avoids the availability and labor issues of the reclaiming process. This issue could really use a little more information out there, I'm glad you brought it up. For cost and carbon reasons, I used compacted DG for much of my patio area, but in terms of performance, it's inferior to pavers in many ways.

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #4

      By "DF" do you mean decomposed granite? I have some used bricks and could find more but they tend to have mortar attached, which may or may not be easy to remove, depending on the type of mortar. Used bricks often aren't hard enough for patio use. If I'm going through the trouble of building a patio, I don't want it to disintegrate after a few winters!

      1. Expert Member
        Akos | | #8

        My neighbor did their patio from the brick left over from a back extension. These were good quality hard bricks with lime mortar. About 30 years old and still looks great, surprisingly even with a lot of joints, there aren't weed issues.

      2. kentthompson | | #9

        Yes, decomposed granite. I can buy used bricks here (Northern California) at places that sell pavers and rock that have been cleaned up and are ready to go, I'd be surprised if it wasn't available in the NE.
        Bricks here hold up pretty well to our mild freezes, but are softer than concrete. If this thread comes up with a good alternative, I'd be interested!

  4. Utkarsh_Saroj | | #10

    Here's a breakdown of some common types:

    Precast Concrete Pavers: These are manufactured off-site, allowing for better quality control and reduced waste during production.
    Cast-in-Place Concrete: While it might use more concrete during installation, it offers versatility in shape and design.
    Quarried Stone: Natural stone, such as flagstone or granite, is a sustainable option as it is sourced directly from the earth, requires minimal processing, and is durable.
    Brick Pavers: These are durable, reusable, and can be salvaged from older structures for reuse.
    Recycled Material Pavers: Pavers made from recycled plastic, rubber, or other waste materials are excellent green choices as they reduce landfill waste and conserve resources.
    Permeable Pavers: Both precast and cast-in-place pavers can be designed to be permeable, allowing water to infiltrate the ground and reducing storm water runoff.

    Here's the source of the information. Make sure to check out other guides like this

  5. jollygreenshortguy | | #11

    In general shipping heavy materials over long distances adds significantly to their total environmental impact. Also heat processing of materials (cement and clay) adds quite a bit.
    So if there is a local quarry that supplies pavers that would likely be the least impact option, barring sustainably harvested wood and recycled products, which would probably have a smaller footprint but don't seem to fit your needs.

    In my garden I used locally sourced stone pavers for steps and DG for the paths themselves. I did, however, make a small concrete terrace where I have some furniture set up.

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