The A-B-Cs of Exterior Paving Options

by Diane Calabrese

Asphalt, brick, concrete... The standard choices for covering exterior surfaces actually make an a-b-c list. That means choosing is easy. (Note: Read the basics this month and novel approaches to combining materials next month.)

Several factors govern decisions associations make about paving driveways, sidewalks and pool decks. Besides cost, longevity and aesthetics are important.

The quest for an eye-pleasing outcome is ever-present. Florida is very aesthetic, says Connie Lorenz, supervisor of operations for Asphalt Restoration Technology. She says she is particularly happy the rejuvenator product they provide for asphalt about fades evenly. That keeps the asphalt surface looking its best across its lifespan. With innovations entering the paving marketplace at a remarkable pace, good looking and serviceable tend to be linked more often than not. For example, Connie says they are exploring several possibilities for adding color dyes to material. She also adds, we are having our people try out our rejuvenator on concrete.




The Matrix

Simplify Decision-Making

Compare each of the three methods on each factor that is important to your association:

Cost (installation)

Is site preparation included?


What is the average lifespan?


Will property values be enhanced?


How long will it take?


Is this reflected in the cost over life of the material?


Can we get one?


Can runoff from the impervious paving be tolerated, channeled?

Environmentally  Friendly

Which volatile organic compounds are emitted?


Is it slippery when wet? Do puddles form? Is there a liability risk?

Although the main factors governing choice of paving option are cost, longevity and aesthetics, subordinate considerations also come into play. Among them are the environmental harmony of the product and displacement required to install it.

Related questions must also be considered. For example, the pavement has to be a match for the existing material substrate. In many cases a natural substrate must be augmented, or stabilized, with the addition of materials before a pavement can be installed. That adds expense.

As with every other type of evaluation a board does, information trumps all. Being armed with a tool for ranking possibilities is a good idea (See sidebar). Each pavement choice has its own profile. Concrete is very labor intensive and very expensive, says Connie. That does not mean that it will not be an option that is fit for some communities.

Cost is often a relative thing. It must be weighed against longevity. Skip Fisher, general manager of Semington Interlocking Pavers reports the list of wonderful attributes of interlocking pavers is long. The beauty of them, stability and warranty, everybody should try to consider them.

The desire for pavers is extensive, say Skip, but many communities have a misconception about cost. The expense is not that much higher, and the durability of pavers is backed up by the ability to get a warranty.


Decorative and Durable

Because pavers can be oriented in different ways with colors and hues mixed, the clay-based blocks offer endless possibilities for making designs. Skip explains, They are highly decorative, as well as durable, and perhaps the highest ware resistance for driveways, sidewalks and pool decks.

Decorative possibilities now extend to every sort of material used for paving. Concrete driveways are now being painted to match the main color and trim on each residential unit.

Asphalt is also getting an enormous amount of attention. Anyone who has been to the City of Saratoga Springs has probably meandered on the diagonal herringbone walkway that is actually architectural asphalt, an installation accomplished with technology from StreetPrint, Integrated Paving Concepts.

Larry Trombley, an area manager for StreePrint said, The whole key to our product is that it is a seamless installation. This product is continually being accepted, people must see it to believe it.

Cathy Hoke, a representative of ACS Asphalt Coating, said they have embraced the asphalt imprinting technology. I just couldn not be more passionate about it. It is practical, cost-effective and beautiful.

Cathy says they have done impressions ranging from a nautical compass to a patterned surface around a guard station. Cathy added, It is quick. It is only necessary to stay off it for one day after printing so it can bond.

Earthly Roots

Knowing what makes asphalt, brick pavers and concrete suitable choices for pavement helps with selection. Asphalt occurs naturally in places like Pitch Lake, Trinidad, where petroleum apparently evaporated. Some asphalt veins traverse sand and limestone rock. Asphalt is also manufactured, emerging as distillation product from petroleum processing. The hydrocarbon base of asphalt makes it organic, and much of it probably traces its origin to ancient organisms that were compressed over time.

Brick pavers begin as clay, which forms when granite and other rocks that contain abundant feldspar (aluminum silicates) break down. The powdery material that results is clay. When wet, the material is malleable. When dry, it hardens. Subjected to heat, as in brick manufacturing, clay becomes extremely hard. Brick pavers have a huge capacity to resist compression.

Concrete is a composite of inorganic materials. Crushed natural stone or even brick pieces, sand and gravel are held together by a cement or lime mixture. Mixing and curing correctly mean a lot to successful concrete installation.

Another product that has genuine roots in the earth is wood. Its a good material to consider for certain walkways, especially elevated ones.