How durable is scored concrete - Creating a concrete patio or pavers

by Julie
(Irvine, CA)

Should scored concrete or pavers be used for this patio?


We are working on a backyard landscape plan with an experienced professional landscape architect who is trying to help make our dirt lot functional on a very modest budget. Our only point of concern is her recommendation to use poured concrete for a small patio area that will be adjacent to our backyard sliding doors. This area will accommodate a portable outdoor grill.

Because I asked to incorporate rectangular concrete steppers throughout the yard (I like its clean modern look), our landscaper would like to continue the concrete color and modern look to our grill patio. Our design also includes concrete mow strips to separate different zones (gravel dining area, kids DG play area). However, my husband is convinced poured concrete will eventually crack and wants to put more of our budget into interlocking pavers. The designer says her concrete contractor does excellent work and can put score lines to reduce the likelihood of cracking though no one can guarantee concrete won't ever crack. She can switch our grill patio material to pavers but points out the uneven texture and visual quality of pavers could clash with the smooth concrete steppers used liberally throughout the rest of the yard.

Could you clarify which poured concrete techniques are best at repelling stress cracks? Or what other modestly priced crack-resistant hardscape material could look attractive next to "floating" concrete rectangle steppers. We live in Southern CA so we have moderate weather year round. Thanks so much for your expertise!

Sincerely,

Julie

ANSWER

Hi Julie,
It sounds as if you have a nice design in place. Yes, there is always a chance that concrete can crack. However, I agree with the landscape architect that you are working with. If done correctly, the chance of cracking is greatly reduced. Construction joints are typically added every so often to help with this. I can't recall the distance. In addition, much cracking is caused by freeze thaw conditions and since you live in southern California, this will not be a major issue for you.
Many beautiful concrete projects have been done in California, and I wouldn't be too concerned about the cracking in your area.

However, if your husband is totally against the concrete, pavers would be the material choice as the next step up, cost-wise. I don't know the color of your home or anything about your surroundings, but there are pavers that are tumbled and are in a gray color that look more natural than others. They are actually a mix of grays, so would pick up the concrete color nicely. You really would have to get some samples and hold it next to concrete to make sure. Take a look at the video on this page. It's the second video down and shows some concrete pavers.

Paver Steps

These are a mix of grays and tans. I think we can both imagine how something like this would blend in nicely with concrete steppers.

So either way, concrete or pavers, would be acceptable ways to create your patio, while still being practical (concrete) or blending in (pavers) with your concrete stepping stones.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
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