How to Make Homemade Patio Pavers (It's not as hard as you think)

How to Make Homemade Patio Pavers (It's not as hard as you think)

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Ready-Mix vs. You-Mix Concrete

We built forms, ordered ready-mix concrete and poured the entire patio at once. If that’s too daunting, you can build one or two small form sections and pour them individually at a more leisurely pace. If you choose that route, consider buying a portable mixer and selling it when you’re done.

You won’t save money mixing it yourself, though. Using 80-lb. bags of mix, it’ll cost you about $200 per cubic yard. We hired a pump truck for $180 and included fiber reinforcement in the mix, and our total price came to $116 per cubic yard. This project took just over four yards, so ordering ready-mix concrete was a great deal cheaper than mixing it ourselves.

Is Making Patio Pavers Easy?

Now that you know how to make your own DIY pavers, let’s talk about whether or not you’ll want to do it. 

“Is building pavers easy?” is kind of a complicated question. The process can be relatively straightforward if all you want is a few bedazzled pavers. If you want something more complex, however, that’s going to take some effort. 

Making pavers is as complicated as it needs it to be. First, you have to design the pavers. You can find things around the house to build molds or make your own, but producing several individual molds can take time. You should also factor in the money, maintenance, and time the project may take.

A lot of DIY work depends on experience, the ability to follow instructions, and your willingness and capability to get the job done. 

Making vs. Buying Pavers

As I’ve already mentioned above, you’ll need various types of molds (cake pans, vinyl, wood, etc.) and concrete to make pavers. 

Concrete is cheap-ish. It’s not the least expensive material, but it’s not as much as natural stone either. Interestingly, premade pavers can get rather pricey because of the effort it takes to make them. 

Manufactured pavers typically run from $5 to $15 per square foot, whereas concrete is about $3 to $5 per square foot. You get the malleability of concrete combined with the classy look of pavers.

Prefabricated pavers are naturally more durable, however. You won’t do much maintenance. Prefab pavers may need cleaning, but that’s about it if you or the contractor installed them correctly. Concrete cracks, shrinks, and wears over time, so you’ll have to shell out money for eventual repairs. For both options, make sure to seal them appropriately.

There’s also time and effort to think about. If you’re doing a small area of your yard, then you can probably get the job done in a weekend. If it’s a large area, expect the job to take a while. Precision is necessary when pouring concrete so that everything is level. 

Technically, concrete never fully cures; it solidifies more as time passes. It takes about 24 to 48 hours for the material to harden enough to walk or drive on, though. After a month or so (28 days, give or take), the concrete is at its “maximum” strength. 

Prep the Site

  • Remove any existing sod, giving yourself a little extra room around the edges to make it easier to place the form and screed the concrete.
  • Scrape, rake and shovel the patio area to make it as level as possible. Depending on the grade and the finished height of your patio, you may need to add some sand fill.
  • Lay out the patio’s footprint with stakes and string. Make sure all the math works out and that the footprint is square.

The Best Mold To Use For Stepping Stones

For making my reusable concrete mold, I used vinyl chair strapping.

These straps are replacement straps that are used to repair vinyl strap outdoor chairs.

However, there may be a cheaper alternative, such as vertical vinyl blinds slats.

With my vinyl straps, I was limited to making only three molds at a time.

However, since the concrete sets in an hour, it would have been physically difficult to work on more than three at a time, so the three molds sufficed.

Besides, you’ll see in the tutorial steps that you should actually be able to remove the straps after about 10-20 minutes and move on to making the next stepping stone.

All in all, these straps worked out great because of how easily you could mold it into different shapes.

Design and Investment

When making your own concrete pavers, forget about aesthetics as well. While you have options of design and color when buying pavers, the ones you make will all be going to be grey and flat. Sure, you can add color to the concrete, but then that’s one more thing you’re going to have to spend on.

The aesthetic is not even the worst part, the quality of the DIY pavers will for sure be inferior to the store-bought ones. In time, they will crack, break and give you all sorts of things to worry about.

This influences the long-term durability of your project. You will spend less making your own pavers the first time, but in time you will have to make more and more to replace the broken or cracked ones.

As for regular pavers, they are way more resistant. When properly installed, you won’t have to worry about them breaking for years and years.

Final Comparison

So, in the end, yes, making your own pavers usually costs half the price of buying from the store. Making your own pavers is objectively cheaper, from a mathematical point of view.

However, the hard work, time investment, and overall long-term quality of the final product make the process of making your own paver not worth it.

You will spend more buying pavers, but they definitely pay for themselves in time and they come in a wild array of options. Enough options to make virtually every design you can come up with possible.

Making Concrete Pavers

If you prefer to create your own concrete pavers using Quikrete products, simply follow the instructions on the packet. Generally, you will need a wheelbarrow, shovel and a nearby hose to mix in plenty of water. If you are going to make the mix on your own, then first estimate the volume of mix that you require. This will involve some planning, as you need to know how many molds you are going to have to fill.

Your mixture should be made of one part of cement, two parts of sand and three parts of gravel. If you are planning on using a colorant powder, you will also want to add that before mixing in the water. The ideal mix for making concrete pavers will be not too dry but substantially thicker than the consistency of pancake batter. Mix slightly more than needed to allow for spills.

Paver Patio Costs The Breakdown

When I sat down and added up the math for this particular concrete paver project, it just didn’t make sense economically to make my own. 

Especially when you add in the extra labor of making them. I needed 40 paving stones, that’s a lot of pavers to make.

Now let’s break down the costs of how much it would have been to make these pavers, vs the cost of buying them.

To make 40 pieces, I would have needed to purchase 29 bags of mix. It would have been much more productive to use a rapid setting product, which would have cost $400-500 in mix. 

If you had all the time in the world, you could go with a less expensive, non-rapid setting mix, but you’d still be looking at almost $200. And then you still need to add in the cost of the materials for the forms.

I paid $200 for all of my concrete pavers. The rest of the materials needed for this project would have been the same, regardless if I made my pavers, or bought them. 

So you can see, to go through the labor and time involved in making –in this scenario, I say just buy, rather than DIY.

When researching costs for purchasing patio paver stones and having them installed, estimates ran between $10-$22 per square foot. asdf

Had I chosen that option, I likely would have been looking at over $1,000. My space isn’t a small space, so laying my own pavers was clearly the best way to go.

Considerations For Building Your Own Concrete Paver Patio

**And at the bottom of this post is the link to the newly renovated adjoining patio space. We made it almost a year after finishing this patio. We turned into a beautiful weed-free, patio garden.

What Size Joints Should You Make?

You will need to leave at least a small gap between your concrete pavers to allow for expansion and contraction, but you have the option to go wider.

Like I mentioned, I was locked into a specific width of just over 2”, but with your patio space, you likely will have a choice. 

Some people prefer tight spacing because of the look, or to avoid dealing with sand or pebbles in between since they can spill out and get kicked around.

If you want wider gaps, the width can be unlimited if you use grass in between. Otherwise I recommend keeping the spacing under 2 ½”. 

It’s possible to go wider, but you’ll then want to go with a larger stone which can be more difficult to find and more expensive.

Pocket Guide to Concrete & Cement Mixes For Crafts Grab the free pocket guide. It has a handy chart for choosing the right mix for your project. Grab The Guide!

Material Type For Paver Joints

When you’re gathering your supplies, you’ll want to consider the type of material that will fill in the gaps between the concrete pavers.

Here are some of the gap fillers you might want to consider for your project:

  • Moss: This can be transplanted from your yard or purchased like sod from a nursery.
  • Grass: Let grass grow naturally. The drawback here is you may be end up fighting with weeds
  • Decorative Pebbles: Fill the paver joints with your choice of pebbles. These can be a natural stone color, or brightly colored.
  • Glass stones: For a really glamorous look, use sanded glass pebbles.
  • Sand: Sand is simple and budget-friendly. I recommend using polymeric jointing sand. Polymeric sand will seal and harden the sand so you won’t track it.

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DIY Difficulty Level | Moderate

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