Table of Contents
What is a Paver Patio?
First let’s define what is a paver patio. Many people use the words patio and deck interchangeably but that is not correct. A deck is a raised platform, usually made of wood or wood-like material. A patio, on the other hand, is flush with the ground. Because it is in contact with the wet ground the materials used are generally stone, brick or pavers.
Then what is a paver? Well, a paver is a relatively thin and flat piece of material. They can be made from stone, brick, tile or concrete. In theory they could also be made of other materials but the previously mentioned ones are the most common. I will talk more about the material options later.
Why Would You Want a Paver Patio?
Paver patios are great for any place you can’t put a deck. Decks are usually attached to a house or other structure while paver patios just sit on the ground's surface. Therefore they can be next to a house and used much like a deck but they can also be in a separate and detached area.
You might also want a paver patio because of the wide varieties of styles and materials that can be used. While most decks are simply wood, a paver patio can be something fancy like marble tiles or something rustic such as irregular slate stones.
Now let’s look at the material options for pavers and discuss what each of them might cost. A large chunk of your patio budget will be spent on just the pavers. A cost difference of $1 per square foot can change the price by $400 for our 20’x20’ paver patio example.
When you envision a rustic english garden patio you may be thinking of large pieces of natural stone with moss growing in between the cracks. The relaxed style makes you want to sip tea and admire the roses.
But natural stone, also called flagstone, doesn’t have to have the haphazard mossy look. It can be expertly fitted together and have the cracks filled with sand, gravel or mortar.
And as for color choices, there are some real stunners. Grey slate is a popular option but when I did my paver patio I chose a quartzite stone with gold streaks that shimmers in the light.
Natural stone pavers will run you anywhere from $8.50 to $20 a square foot. So for our example patio the price range could be $3,400 to $8,000.
A more cost effective option might be manufactured stone. This is basically concrete made to look like natural stone but it generally comes with a cheaper price tag. It might not have all the bells and whistles as natural stone but at $2.50 to about $3.50 per square foot it might fit better into your budget.
So for our example patio the price for manufactured stone could be between $1,000 and $1,400.
Cut stone pavers are natural stone slabs that have been cut either into perfectly geometric shapes or just more regular shapes. You could choose to get perfectly square natural stone or something with the edges taken off to make the gaps between stones smaller.
Either way, you will add a few dollars to the cost with the range being from $10 to $30. So our example patio would cost $4,000 to $12,000.
Tile pavers, also called porcelain pavers are not as common as stone, brick and concrete but they can still be very stylish. If you want the look of wood but don’t want it to rot then you can get some very beautiful tile pavers.
But since they are a ceramic product they can be a little more prone to breakage than stone. And at a price of $7 to $10 a square foot I think I would be tiptoeing around my patio.
For tile pavers our sample patio would cost $2,800 to $4,000.
You don’t often see glass pavers in residential patios but they are available. Most of the time they have lights in them and are used sparingly along pathways or the periphery of the patio.
Glass pavers are so rare I could not even find a price estimate for them. But you can buy a single 4” x 4” LED glass light paver square for $24. I am sure there are cheaper options out there but unless you live in an ultra modern home and need a space age patio then glass is probably not what you are looking for.
For a timeless look you can always go with brick. Especially if you have a brick house then the design aesthetic will easily flow into the garden space. And at $3 to $8 per square foot it can also be a relatively cheap option. The higher end of the price range would include odd shaped bricks, different colors or some other special feature which would increase the cost.
For a 20’ x 20’ paver patio the cost for the just bricks alone would be between $1,200 to $3,200.
Many people always think concrete will be the cheapest option. And if you just want to pour a slab of concrete for your patio then it certainly might be. But for concrete pavers you are still looking at $3 to $6 per square foot.
The positives of concrete patio pavers, however, might not lay solely in the price. Since concrete pavers are human made products they can be produced in almost any size, shape or even color. I’ve seen fish scale and diamond shapes but I am sure there are many more.
So before you write-off concrete as boring, have a look around. You just might find a fun and unique style to really make your patio pop. The price for our sample patio is between $1,200 and $2,400.
Permeable pavers are not actually a different material but a design type. However, I wanted to add them to the list because I think they are not often mentioned.
Typically made from concrete, permeable pavers are designed to have holes in them or spaces between pavers to allow water to flow through. Hence the name, permeable. This is good if you have drainage issues or the place where you are putting the patio might turn into a pool when it rains.
These types of pavers are often used to lesson run-off from paved areas and are used in sustainable development projects. So if you are eco-minded then take a look at this paver option.
With a cost of $4 to $6 per square foot, or $1,600 to $2,400 for our sample patio, the price for permeable pavers is similar to many of the other products available.
Components of a Paver Patio
To get a smooth, level paver patio there are more things you need to do that just plop the pavers on the ground. Home improvement guru Bob Villa has a complete DIY paver patio article on his website but even if you don’t plan to do the work yourself it is good to understand everything that goes into the process.
Here are the basic steps involved:
- Excavation of patio area
- Install edge restraints
- Layer of gravel
- Layer of sand
- Lay pavers
- Fill gaps with joint sand
It is a lot of work which is why the labor for the project is roughly half the final cost.
Other Cost of a Paver Patio
So you’ve decided on the type of paver you want to use. Now how much will everything else cost?
Luckily gravel and sand are fairly inexpensive. Costs in your area will vary but for a 20’ x 20’ area I have calculated the cost of gravel at roughly $280 while the cost of sand will be about $45.
Finally, it is time to look at the labor costs. Of course you could do the work yourself. If you are a handy person or just very determined then have at it. But I have set a permeable paver walkway and let me tell you, it’s hard.
If you can afford it, pay someone to do it. If they are experienced then they will do it faster and it will look better in the end. Especially if you are splashing out on something really nice like flagstone you might as well spend the extra money to make it beautiful.
Porch.com, a site that helps you find home maintenance professionals, says it will cost about $50 to $80 an hour for labor to set a paver patio. Or an estimated $4 to $11 per square foot. So labor costs for our sample patio could be anywhere from $1,600 to $4,400.
When you combine all the elements needed to create a paver patio of 20’ x 20’ then the price could range from $2,925 to $21,005. But keep in mind that the highest price is using the most expensive flagstone and the most expensive labor. So the estimate of $3,000 to $6,000 is still a good guide when setting your budget for the paver patio of your dreams.