Both brick and stamped concrete are durable and attractive choices for outdoor patios, walkways and other projects. While brick may initially seem like the cheaper option, once you've added all the associated costs, you may find that the overall project price for either material is about the same.
Prep Work and Base Materials
For any major patio or flooring approach, the base preparation will generally be the same. The area dirt will need to be flattened and uniform material will need to be introduced to smooth out the "bed" that the brick or cement will lay on. Cement will require the use of gravel, while brick requires the use of sand for a bed. Thus, the initial cost for brick will be cheaper than stamped concrete due to the price of gravel. On the other hand, rebar must be added to cement for added strength. This extra expense is not necessary for a brick patio foundation.
Both brick and stamped cement will require costs for framing. A frame is used to keep the base material in place and to provide the initial form that the patio or floor will take. It also helps keep other materials and dirt separate from the flooring area being constructed.
Cost of Stamped Concrete
Stamped cement is regular cement with a design form pressed into it while still wet. After being stamped, the cement is then dyed or stained. The process produces a cement floor that looks and feels like natural stone, depending on the color and form pressed into the cement. Stamp patterns come in a variety of designs, including faux brick. A final chemical seal is sprayed on the surface to protect the cement from the elements.
The cost for a stamped cement patio will include the cement, color and sealer, and labor if contracted out. A project covering 800 square feet will likely be in the neighborhood of $5,000, give or take various options and choices.
Cost of Brick
Brick-laying is very manual work and will require significant labor if contracted out. Brick units can cost anywhere from15 cents to $1 per brick. If you were to use paver bricks to cover an 800 square foot area, you would need 3,600 bricks. Given that bricks generally range in price from $300 to $500 per 1,000 bricks and adding the costs of mortar and labor, the total cost will be in the $5,000 range as well.
Maintenance and Care of Stamped Concrete
Stamped concrete needs to be pressure-blasted and cleaned annually. Resealing is not required every year, but it is a good idea. Failure to do so will allow excessive moisture to soak into the cement and eventually it will begin to pit, crater and crack. Moisture will also cause the steel rebar in the cement to rust and create cracks as well.
Maintenance and Care of Brick
Brick flooring will crack along the mortar lines between the bricks but will generally last as long as the bricks themselves are not impacted or broken. They can be sealed like cement, but it's not necessary. The major issue with bricks is that they eventually come loose and need to be re-mortared to preserve the floor surface. Regular application of a weed-killing spray may also be necessary.
- "Home Improvement 1-2-3"; Home Depot; Meredith; 1995.
- "Landscaping With Stone"; Sunset Books; January 2000.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jose Maria Miñarro Vivancos
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