Some people who favor natural stone for patios say that concrete pavers designed to mimic real stone looks fake. When you compare the cost, durability, maintenance and safety factors between natural stone and manmade concrete pavers, your decision may come down to choosing a material that is both affordable and looks great.
It is too easy to have tunnel vision and focus only on the patio surface without factoring in the overall landscape theme or style you are trying to achieve. This is where aesthetics comes into play. So let us now look at material choices from a design perspective.
Aesthetics however is something you and your designer must consider for the overall design. Together with cost, maintenance, durability and safety, you will be prepared to make a confident decision about your next Sedona patio.
Aesthetics is the primary consideration for the style or theme of a paving surface. If your home is reminiscent of an old European villa, you would not want to choose something like concrete Kool Decking which is more appropriate for a more contemporary setting. On the other hand, you may find decorative concrete coatings that are applied in a way to mimic the look of real stone to look fake.
You cannot beat the natural beauty of real stone, but compared to manmade alternatives, real stone cannot only be a more expensive option, but also involve more ongoing maintenance. Many homeowners love the look of old rustic stone, but don’t want to wait 20 years for it to age naturally.
Here are a few design styles or themes to consider:
Contemporary, modern, clean lines, elegant simplicity
Rustic, old world, European, cottage look
Formal, symmetrical, traditional, stately
Asymmetrical, informal, casual chic, eclectic
If what you are trying to achieve or prefer fits into one of these themes, then the choice of patio surface material will be that much easier and you can start to eliminate some of the choices.
Fake vs. the Real Thing
Today we have manufacturers that can do very well to mimic the look and feel of natural stone surfaces. Look at all the buildings that are veneered with “manufactured stone”. These are so realistic because real stone is used to create molds that capture their natural textures. Just like veneers, molds are used to create surface texture on concrete pavers. Though not as realistic, the manufacturers are getting very good at mimicking the look and feel of natural stone paving surfaces.
Stamped concrete and decorative concrete coatings can be applied over a concrete base and crafted into simulated stone. Sometimes called faux flagstone, concrete coatings are applied in a way to mimic the natural grout lines of cut flagstone or slate. Some critics find this technique to be less than desirable since they tend to have a plastic appearance due to the sealers used.
Interlocking concrete pavers that are designed with various sizes and surface textures to mimic the look and feel of natural stone cannot compete with the inherent aesthetic qualities of real stone. The random veins and sparkles you see in slate for instance cannot be reproduced through manufacturing. What gives manmade surfaces credibility is their own inherent beauty. It may look like real stone at a quick glance and that should be as far as the comparison goes.
Aside from the other factors in choosing a paving surface such as cost, maintenance, durability and safety, if you have an aversion to having something that is not the real thing, you may perceive it as fake and therefore diminish its value. Personal preferences must be taken into account when choosing between real vs. manmade.
Top Advantages of Concrete Pavers Over Natural Stone
- Lower cost
- Ease of maintenance
- Do not require placement on a concrete slab
- Multiple applications (patios, pool decks, steps, driveways, walkways)
- Design options (multitude of shapes and colors)
- Choose a type of paver based on a design theme or style such as contemporary, old world, rustic or traditional
- Cover up existing gray concrete patios to avoid the added on look. Note: some pavers are available in 1 ¾” thickness to minimize the height added to a concrete surface and stay below the main floor of the inside of the house.
- Use a strong border to define the edge. Some paver styles are not conducive to using one of the pieces as a border, so don’t be afraid to mix different kinds of pavers in order to create a border that complements the main field of pavers.