When working on a landscape design, we always try to select the material that best complements the architecture of the home, the look and feel of the space, and the goals of the people using that space. All these are important considerations, but we all have budgets; people want to know, “what’s it going to cost?”
There’s a perception that pavers are less expensive than natural stone, and that is true in most circumstances. There are a wide range of paver choices and that is the biggest variable in pricing a project. On the super low end are the pavers sold at the big box stores, but I won’t even consider specifying these. Among the “real” paver choices, the least expensive choice is usually the paver that looks most like a brick in size and shape. Techo-Bloc sells these as Atlantis and Victorien, EP Henry calls them Brick Stone and Historic Brick Stone, and many other manufacturers sell them as Holland Stone. From there, the pricing is extremely variable, with Techo-Bloc’s Monticello paver being one of the more expensive I’ve seen (but a really cool product). In general, a normal-sized patio or walkway runs from $15 to $22 per square foot installed. If you’re doing a larger area like a driveway or very large, open patio, the price per square foot may end up a good bit lower because the base preparation can be done with larger machines in less time.
It’s worth mentioning that not all installers follow the same procedures when installing pavers. If you’ve ever seen a paver project where depressions have formed over time, that occurred because of poor base prep. I won’t go into the details of proper prep here, because the Interlocking Concrete Paving Institute is considered the authority on the subject. If you’ve gotten wildly differing quotes for a project, ask them about their base prep. Everyone’s material costs will be roughly the same, so the base is often the difference.
What about stone? I’ve surprised some of my clients by presenting stone as a realistic option for their budget, when they’ve assumed it was out of reach. There are two styles of flagstone for typical installations. You have rectangular, pattern flagstone and then there’s irregular (aka broken) flagstone. The cleanest, most maintenance-free installation method is to pour a new concrete slab with the flagstone wet-laid with mortar. For rectangular patterned flagstone, the installed price ranges from $18 to $33 per square foot. Irregular flagstone is a more time-intensive installation process as the goal is to fit pieces with uniform, tight joints. For this reason, the installed price for irregular flagstone typically runs from $28 to $40 per square foot.
If you love the look of stone but want to be a bit less costly, you can opt for a flagstone patio in stone dust. The base is a compacted aggregate stone base, with stone dust for a bedding layer and stone dust between the joints of the dry-laid flagstone. I only recommend rectangular patterned flagstone for this application, as the smaller pieces from irregular flagstone can move around too easily. Flagstone in dust, as it’s often called, can run from $17 to $23 per square foot.
Big disclaimer time: these prices are based on historical averages of jobs in which I’ve participated. These prices are also for a patio or walkway that is going on mostly level, even ground, without a lot of excavation or additional base material needed. Demolition of an existing walk or patio will cost more, as will adding steps, retaining walls, or other features. If you have a newer home, you will have a lot of disturbed soil around your foundation. If the patio is very close to the house, your installer may recommend digging down to undisturbed soil for best results. This is expensive, but well worth it.
Hopefully these ranges will help you at least begin to determine a realistic budget for your project. If you have questions or comments, use the comments box or shoot me an email.