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A Denver Masonry Contractor’s Insights Into Concrete Vs. Stone Or Brick Patios And Walkways

Stone Vs. Concrete

Many people interested in adding a stone or masonry feature to their outdoor living space do not completely realize the choices or diversity of materials they can choose from.   Materials vary in size, color and feel as well as cost, quality, and reliability so be sure to visit a local landscaping materials supplier to see exactly what the materials look like before you make your final decision.

An important thing to know is that labor costs aren’t all that different between materials, whether it be brick, flagstone, or concrete, so be sure to ask your masonry contractor to break out the material and labor costs so that you are better able to decide which material is best for you.

Many people think that concrete or stamped concrete is the only viable option, because that is what many of the homes around us have. Since we live in the Colorado Front Range and the Flatirons are in our back yard, why not use indigenous stone? Lyons red flagstone is world famous and is easily one of the most reliable and cost effective of materials to consider for a patio or walkway.

I recommend this material over all others because of cost, artistic integrity and overall reliability.  Our soil here in Colorado moves around quite a bit.  There are always cracks that appear on concrete patios and sidewalks. This means that in as little as 7 to 10 years you may need to replace them and at a cost of $7-$10 sq. ft. or more.  Over time this option can be quite costly and not very design friendly.

Flagstone or brick allows for the movement of the soil because it is laid on a stable base material of compacted crusher fines or sand. If the stones or brick move up, it is as simple as taking them out, scraping the base materials away and re-leveling the stone or brick

Often times we will recommend using flagstone for patios or walkways if the feature is going to be near an evergreen or big deciduous tree. As the tree matures and the roots seek water they move upward towards the surface. This is a disaster for rigid concrete slabs but can be easily managed with stone or bricks

Choosing a flagstone walkway or patio offers great value for your money.  You can typically expect to spend $210-$225/ton for Lyons red flagstone here along the Front Range. A ton will give you approximately 100 sq. ft. of surface area. Labor costs for a good mason will be between $12 sq. ft. -$18 sq. ft. depending on the type of cuts and whether or not your are having your stone mortared or dry laid.

Some people like a more formal look that brick provides for a walkway or patio. Bricks are great because they are easy to work with but are the most costly of your material options. Bricks, depending on the type, will cost you between $1.25-$1.95/brick. A typical size brick is: (3 5/8 x 8 x 2 1/4). Bricks will cost your more for the material but labor costs are typically $6-$8 sq. ft for a mason to lay. Bricks also allow for movement of the soil and tree roots because they are also laid on a foundation of compacted crusher fines and sand.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when looking at your hardscaping options. The cost of stone vs. brick is relatively close.  The main consideration really comes down to your overall landscape design and your personal preference.  Either way, natural stone or bricks offer much higher curb appeal and therefore a far better return on investment over a dull slab of rigid concrete.