Just as your home makes a statement about who you are and what you value, so do the patios, walkways and driveways that connect your home to the outside world.
They deserve the same attention to detail as does the home itself. Perhaps the most important decision you will make in planning your home’s paved venues is the selection of the right paving product.
Brick pavers, that is genuine clay paving bricks, have a timeless appeal that imparts an image of classic elegance to homes of any style — from traditional to ultra-modern. In fact, many of the finest homes in America are graced with courtyards, terraces, garden paths and drives paved with brick. Kathy Frederick, a Realtor with Northern Virginia Homes, describes the appeal of brick in both aesthetic and practical terms, saying, “Brick presents a quiet but stately elegance, yet is still warm and welcoming. It never goes out of style. Adding a brick walkway or driveway can also add great value to your home. In every way, your return is far greater than your investment.”
The primal elements of clay, water and fire come together to form brick pavers. They bring a natural harmony to every landscape design because they are the paving material that comes from the earth itself. Comprised of selected blends of clay and shale, paving brick is molded and pressed into shape either by machine or by hand. After a brick has been formed under pressure, it is dried and fired at nearly 2,000 degrees F until the particles fuse together to form a very strong bond. Paving bricks are so strong that many can withstand loads exceeding 12,000 pounds per square inch. Part of their strength is related to the density achieved when manufacturing. It is also this density that makes paving brick impervious to most stains.
The colors of paving bricks tend to be earth tones or blends of muted colors, typically red, brown, greenish gray, tan and even cream. These colors are characteristic of the clays mined from the earth and vary with the source area or region. Darker colors and blends of dark and light brick arise from the process of flashing, which imparts a permanent color into the paving brick. The high temperature at which clay paving brick is fired allows the color to endure forever without fading.
One great advantage of brick pavers is the almost endless number of design options available through patterns created using brick of various sizes, shapes, colors and textures. Within the broad category of genuine clay pavers lies a diversity of products ranging from hand-made, waterstruck brick with their old-fashioned appeal to modern, extruded brick known for their precise look. Featuring colors drawn from a rich palette of natural earth tones, patterns range from simple to intricate and may be laid using mortar or without it.
The type of brick, the intricacy of the design and the type of installation (mortared or mortarless) you have chosen should all be considered when determining whether your paving project is best suited to a do-it-yourself or professional installation. For example, because antique-style, hand-made brick, by the nature of their design and manufacturing process, will vary in size, they demand more artistry in patterning and should probably be installed by a mason skilled in adjusting for the variability. While this type of paver may not be the right choice for a do-it-yourselfer, it creates a soft, rich look that can’t be duplicated. Hand-mold brick could be a crucial design element in achieving historical accuracy through the use of simple, traditional brick paving patterns.
Many manufacturers have adapted to modern technology brought from Europe and are now producing brick pavers with unprecedented accuracy in dimensions. This more modern paving brick is well-suited to complex designs and patterns which require a high degree of uniformity among the individual paving brick.
Paving brick is available at your local brick distributor’s showroom, your best source of information on paving brick, including do-it-yourself installation tips and names of qualified installers in your area. You can visit the showroom of a brick distributor and select your paving brick just as you would the brick for a home. Because genuine clay pavers are made from the same material as the brick on your house, brick companies can easily provide paving brick to match or complement the brick on an existing or new home. For a distributor near you, visit www.brickinfo.org.
Most people assume that any paving product that looks like brick is, in fact, brick. Not so. Paving brick is made of clay, the traditional source material of brick manufacturers. Concrete pavers, which may appear similar to their clay counterpart on the shelf, are actually a very different product.
Concrete pavers, similar to concrete block, consist of cement and aggregate. Formed in molds, a vibration process provides the combined materials with density. Over time, the units gain strength due to the curing or hardening of the cement. Colors other than gray are achieved by adding pigments to the mixture of cement and aggregate.
Because it is not inherent to the material, the pigment added to concrete pavers can erode, eventually exposing the color of the aggregate and perhaps resulting in a complete change from the original color of the concrete paver. Dark pigments in particular can fade over time. Unfortunately, once the color has faded, it is impossible to bring the color back to its original appearance without replacing the concrete paver.
Like modern, extruded brick pavers, concrete pavers are manufactured with highly accurate dimensions and are typically available at large home improvement retailers. Retail malls and commercial real estate have done a great job utilizing concrete pavers, but they are used less frequently in upscale residential. “Why,” you might ask? The answers are simple.
Clay, like all quality materials, keeps looking better and better over time. It ages well and wears well. Brick, on a house or on the ground, conveys a sense of permanency–it just says “home.” Brick is loved for its natural origins, its rich tonalities and its uniqueness. Like snowflakes, no two bricks are alike. Be aware of the statement your home is making. Genuine clay pavers provide a warm welcome that will endure, and even improve, after years of enjoyment.
Copyright: The Brick Industry Association