Jun 1, 2009
Many customers want to know the pros and cons of a brick paver patio versus a deck. For the purpose of this discussion, I will use the height of 2-3 feet to compare paving stones and modular retaining walls to wooden decks. This will eliminate the ground level (at grade) brick patio. I will use what is referred to in the brick paver industry as the "Raised Patio" for the comparison. I will use a wooden deck with wolmanized under structure with cedar or composite deck boards & rails.
Here is a picture of a raised brick paver patio for reference.
It surprises a lot of people that a raised brick paver patio is price competitive to a wooden deck. Though brick pavers require a modular retaining wall system to create the outside walls & steps to meet the heights required, the cost per sq.ft. after factoring in the raised wall blocks and base material inside can be very similar to the square foot cost of a cedar or composite deck. The cost per square foot for cedar or a composite like Trex is a lot more than the square foot cost of most common interlocking brick pavers. Decks on the other hand are usually cheaper to construct the under structure or set the height than a raised brick paver patio. In the end, raised brick paver patios and decks are very similar in price.
The aesthetic value of brick paver patios far exceed the capabilities of wooden decks. Admittedly, composites have added a lot of value but falls short when it comes to color, shapes, and textures that paving stones offer. Paver quilting, the technique of using different colors, shapes, and textures, when installing brick paver patios, walks, and driveways has become the new craze. These added accents make each brick paver project more custom and can meet the design tastes of customers. Realtors will also tell you that a brick paver patio versus a wooden deck gives you a step ahead when selling your home. I do not claim that you will get dollar for dollar on your brick paver investment but your resale value will benefit.
Assuming that both the raised brick paver patio and wooden deck are installed properly, the paving stone patio will outlast the deck. Composite decking will definitely increase the performance of decks, but most interlocking brick pavers and modular retaining wall systems come with a lifetime warranty from the brick paver manufacturer. The warranty is for the structural integrity of the high density concrete products. The typical pounds per square inch (PSI) density of a brick paver is 10,000 -11,000 psi. Modular retaining wall blocks are in the 6,000 psi range. Poured concrete is usually in the 2,500-3,000 psi range. The absorption rate of a brick paver is less than 3% so moisture or elements do not penetrate the brick. Therefore, the the structural integrity is not compromised like a wooden deck. Paving stones do not have to be sealed like a wooden deck to preserve their life.
This one was not even close before composite decking came to light. Composite decking has less than 10 years of feedback so we will see if they present maintenance cost savings. Like I mentioned above, brick paver patios do NOT have to be sealed. Sealing is more for aesthetic value than for preservation. Decks require constant maintenance every 2 years or so in extreme climates like those in Ann Arbor. To properly maintain a brick paver patio, walkway, or driveway, you only need to keep jointing sand swept in the joints. I have gone into detail about these benefits in other posts, so I will not bore you again. Brick Pavers in general have been studied to be the most economical pavement or decking over time. Spending a couple of hundred dollars each 2-3 years for maintenance and brick paver repairs will gain endless benefit and value of your brick patio!
I hope this comparison of brick paver patios and wooden decks will help you make a more educated decision on that outdoor living space you decide to create.