Clay or Concrete Block Paving?

Concrete and clay block paving laid side by side.What is the difference between clay and concrete block paving? What are the benefits of using either clay or concrete block paving? Both have their benefits and both have their negatives.

We take a look at the difference between clay and concrete block paving to help you decide which best suits your driveway or patio. Whether you choose clay or concrete block paving is up to you but below we show the negatives and positives of each kind of paving type to better inform you of the difference.

This should help you decide which is the best kind of block paving. Clay or concrete.

Clay Block Paving

Take at look at clay block paving. What it is made from, how it is different from block paving. How it is made from naturally occurring materials and how it differs from concrete block pavers.

Clay block paving is made from clay.

Clay block paving. Which is best, clay or concrete block paving?
Block paving made from clay

The clay material come from the ground. They are made from the same material that many household plates, cups and plant-pots are made from. They are fired in a kiln at very high temperatures. unlike concrete that is mixed aggregates that is combined cement, sand and stone and then allowed to dry.

Clay is a naturally occurring material so each area that produced clay block paving will have its own uniqueness.

The clay can be mixed with various other ingredients like colour pigments and fine gravels to give them a finer or courser texture once they have been fired in a kiln.

Clay block paving is very tough and hard-wearing.

Clay block paving is extremely tough and very hard-wearing surface. Clay pavers have excellent natural anti-slip properties because the individual paviors have a lightly scraped, rough finish to the surface. Although smooth surfaces can be achieved. Clay block paving will not disintegrate, shale or be attacked by acids and other chemicals in the same way concrete pavers will be. The clay pavers are naturally non-porous so no sealer is required to protect the surface.

You could use a sealer for protection against weeds growing in the joints and as a joint sand stabilizer to stop sand loss between the clay pavers for easy maintenance.

Clay block paving does not fade.

Because they are fired in a kiln they keep their colours fresh and lively over the period of their lives and are not affected by UV light that fades concrete paving. The colours of the paving bricks can be very bright and vibrant.

Clay block paviors vary in size ever so slightly.

Because the paviors are fired in a kiln there tends to be a fraction of a difference in their size. This size difference is usually under a millimeter. So this does not present a real problem, although more care is needed when they are laid on long stretch of driveway or patio if you like perfect symmetry.

Clay block paving is more difficult to cut

Clay block paving is more difficult to cut because they are very hard and brittle. Many paving contractors prefer to cut clay pavers with a block splitter rather than a traditional petrol stone saw with diamond blade. Although cutting with a stone saw if fine, it’s just more difficult and expensive than cutting concrete pavers.

Availability of clay block paving is limited.

Sourcing block paving made from clay can be difficult in some areas of the UK. Not many builders yards or DIY stores will have stock of the clay version of block paving. Unlike concrete paviors which are a core paving product in many builders yard or home DIY centre nowadays. Clay paving can be ordered though, either through a good builders yard or with a bit of research online, but expect less choice of colour, shapes and manufacturer.

Clay block paving is expensive to buy.

On average, clay block paving costs more to buy per square meter than concrete pavers cost to buy. Although prices can vary depending on local availability, brand of paving and manufacturer chosen.

Summary of Clay Block Paving

  • Clay block paving is more expensive to buy than concrete block paving. Expect prices to buy clay block paving to be as much as 100% more expensive per square meter than buying concrete block paving.
  • It is much harder to find clay block paving for sale as less is stocked in local builders yards.
  • Replacing individual clay paving could be a problem or sourcing them in bulk to match your existing clay paving if you ever consider an extension to a driveway or patio area at a later date.
  • Driveways and patios laid with clay block paving can look absolutely stunning.
  • Clay block paving is fantastic at keeping their colour. They will never fade over time.
  • Excellent anti slip properties from the clay block paving. This alone can be well worth the effort and extra price difference over concrete block paving if this is an issue.

Concrete Block Paving

We take a look at some of the many reasons why block paving made from concrete is different from those made from clay. We look at the advantages and disadvantages of using concrete block paving over clay block paving.

Concrete block paving is made from crushed stone, sand and cement.

Concrete block paving. Which is best, clay or concrete block paving?
Block paving made from concrete.

The concrete mix is blended in varying quantities with either mixed or singular colours then allowed to dry & set in shaped molds.

Block paving made from concrete will often be pressed into the molds for greater density and strength.

More and more we are seeing concrete block paving using recycled materials like glass in their production. Which can only be a good thing.

Concrete block paving will fade and discolour over time.

The  sun’s uv ray will have a bleaching effect on the colours of concrete block paving. Making them fade in colour over time. You can counteract this by applying a good quality block paving sealer to protect against the suns UV rays bleaching effect. Although this will have to be re-applied every few years.

Concrete pavers easily absorbs dirt.

Because the pavers are porous they will easily absorb oils, dirt and grime unless the bricks are sealed with a quality paving sealer to help reduce the absorption of dirt.

Concrete block paving is not as strong as clay paviors.

You can easily strengthen concrete block paving by having a greater thickness to the blocks. Ideal if you are laying the paving in an area that will take heavy traffic.  Available in depths of 50, 60,  and 100 mm sized paving bricks. For a private driveway or patio the popular size is 50-60 mm depth.

Availability of concrete block paving is great.

Concrete block paving is widely available to buy almost anywhere in the UK & Ireland. With stocks of concrete block paving kept in nearly every DIY and builders yards around the UK .In fact, you could probably say that you could easily buy concrete block paving in any country in the world.

Concrete block paving is cheaper in price than clay block paving.

Block paving made from concrete are cheaper to buy than clay pavers. The saving can be as much as 50-100% cheaper to buy than buying like-for-like clay block paving.

Installing a concrete block paved driveway is therefore cheaper than installing a patio or driveway using clay block paving. Replacement pavers, should they be needed, are also easier to source should they be required. This is often the case if you extend your patio or driveway at a later date and need to match the colours of the existing block paving.

Summary of Concrete Block Paving

  • Concrete block paving installed on a driveway can be stunning when finished. Especially when colours are mixed with different coloured shapes, laying patterns and borders.
  • Prices for laying and buying concrete block paving are cheaper than choosing to lay clay block pavers.
  • They are very uniformed in their shape so straight lines when laid or inserting diamond patterns into the paving are no problem to achieve.
  • The concrete pavers are easily cut with a block splitter or power saw with a diamond cutting bade. I would always recommend a good quality sealer is applied to protect concrete paving blocks against UV fading, grime and the dreaded moss and weeds.

So Which Is It? Our Clay or Concrete Block Paving Review

Photo shows the different colour fading between concrete and clay block paving over time
Difference in colour fading between clay and concrete block paving. Photo Chelmer Valley.

Well its a tough one. Which do I think is the best clay or concrete block paving? They both have their advantages and disadvantages.

But if I had to choose I think it would be clay pavers.

That doesn’t mean that I’ve anything against using concrete. No way, but using clay block paving gives you a great rustic look that never fades and they look even better if you have an old cottage type property. They are a great long-term choice for a driveway or patio and well worth paying the extra prices if you can afford it.

Hopefully by reading the above information on the difference between clay and concrete block paving you will be better informed as to which type of block paving you prefer to have laid on your driveway or garden patio.

So which do you prefer, clay or concrete block paving? Let us know your thoughts below.

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