Block paving vs imprinted concrete

Richard Partington

Published on: 12 June 2020

Rumbled block paving driveway

You’ve measured out the dimensions and drawn up plans; you’re nearly ready to get a quote for your new driveway. But there is just one key element left for you to decide: is block paving or imprinted concrete best for your driveway?

It’s a common question and, with each enjoying its own list of benefits, it can be difficult to decide which is right for you. That’s where our guide can help.

To see the pros and cons of driveway block paving and imprinted concrete, from looks to longevity, read on.

Durability

Above all else, a driveway needs to be practical. It needs to withstand frequent heavy-duty use without showing signs of damage – and it needs to stay this way for a long time. 

So, which lasts longer? Out of the two, block paving is more durable than imprinted concrete. As the bricks are placed individually and locked together in a bond, they spread vehicle weight evenly, thereby reducing the risk of early damage.

Even when any issues do occur, like a loose or split brick, they are easily rectified; just remove and replace the brick to enjoy a ‘good as new’ driveway. With proper maintenance, a block paving driveway can last up to 20 years.

Pattern concrete driveway in two-tone colours

Imprinted concrete driveways, on the other hand, typically only last up to 10 years. Interestingly, the reason for their shorter lifespan is also the reason they are so popular: the process involves a single layer of concrete, poured on a sub-base. It’s quick, easy, affordable.

However, there is one major downside to this speedy laying method: long-term structural damage. For instance, you can’t just repair one patch of a sunken sub-base. Instead, the only viable workaround is to remove the entire sheet of concrete and start all over again – which is a very costly and cumbersome job.

Drainage

As with patios, you don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds buying quality driveway materials, only for them to become unrecognisable after a splash of rain. Plus, who wants to step out of their car and into a puddle? No-one, that’s who.

This is where block paving triumphs. If you choose permeable block paving (at Simply Paving, these are labelled as ‘Infilta’ bricks), water soaks straight through the brick, leaving your driveway surface flood-free. There is also an extra benefit of permeable block paving driveway: no planning permission.

Imprinted concrete, however, is non-permeable, so water lingers on the surface. As such, if your driveway doesn’t already have a drainage point (if your driveway is flat, for instance), you will need planning permission to build an imprinted concrete driveway. On top of this, standing water yields ice and a slippery surface during downpours, making it potentially hazardous after wet and frosty weather.

Appeal

Of course, practicalities matter. But a driveway is there to impress your neighbours and future prospective buyers – in other words, it needs to look best in show.

But what does ‘best’ mean to you? Well, as with any aesthetic, it’s all a matter of personal taste. For instance, are you aiming for a rustic or contemporary driveway? Smooth or cobbled? Head-turning or understated? Well, if you are still exploring your style options, then block paving is your clear winner.

Where imprinted concrete offers a narrow range of patterns and colours, block paving ranges appear limitless in comparison. Everything from quaint cobbled looks to tonal Mediterranean finishes, mottled effect bricks and neat charcoal options are up for grabs. Add to this the huge range of brick sizes and block paving patterns at your disposal, and it’s easy to craft a driveway exactly to your preferences.

Cost

For a good quality driveway, you need good quality materials - and they don’t come cheap.

As such, you’ll often find that block paving materials are more expensive, but are longer-lasting, than imprinted concrete. They generally range between £20-£40 per m² (excluding installation cost), while you can pick up imprinted concrete for a few pounds less per m². However, go for the top-end styles and you could shell out as much as s £130 per m² for an imprinted concrete driveway – a far higher price than any block paving option.

Of course, prices for block paving and imprinted concrete driveways vary by stockist and product type, so bear this in mind when budgeting.

Have you made your decision? If you have opted for block paving’s practicality and good-looks, then we can help you find the best block paving stone for your driveway. Just browse our driveway block paving range or chat to our friendly members of staff today.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/decorativeconcrete/5624819891