Brick Driveway: What’s Better, Brick or Concrete Pavers?


Brick Driveway: What’s Better, Brick or Concrete Pavers?

Whether you’re considering a home makeover or are just curious about hardscaping, you’ve probably found yourself at the crossroads of choosing between brick or concrete pavers for your driveway. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there!


As a seasoned hardscaping expert who’s been working in the Windy City for over a decade, I’ve seen my fair share of driveways—some that would make you gasp in awe, others, well, not so much. But I’m here to tell you that the secret to a fabulous, durable driveway isn’t just about the material you choose—it’s also about how well it adapts to our unique Chicago weather.

Before we dive into our hardscaping discussion, let’s first understand what we’re dealing with. Brick pavers and concrete pavers are the two most common materials that homeowners use. Brick pavers, as their name implies, are made of clay, giving your driveway that classic, warm aesthetic that many of us love. On the other hand, concrete pavers are a bit more contemporary, offering a range of styles and shapes to suit all kinds of architecture.

Understanding Brick and Concrete Pavers: A Detailed Comparison

Like most things in life, both brick and concrete pavers have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. It’s like choosing between deep-dish and thin-crust pizza—they’re different, but both delicious in their own way!

Let’s start with brick pavers. Bricks are a timeless classic. They offer a warm, welcoming vibe that adds a touch of charm to any home. And the best part? They’re incredibly durable! A properly installed and maintained brick driveway can last for decades, believe me, I’ve seen it. A client of mine has had the same brick driveway for 30 years, and it still looks fantastic!

But like that one friend who’s nearly perfect but always shows up late, brick pavers have their drawbacks. They can be a bit more expensive, and maintenance can be a bit more time-consuming. You’ll need to watch out for weeds creeping up between the bricks and deal with occasional repairs.

Now, onto concrete pavers. These are the modern folks in the driveway world. With a wide variety of styles, shapes, and colors, concrete pavers can cater to any aesthetic preference. They are relatively durable, and the cost can be less compared to brick.

However, they do have their downsides. One of my clients, Mrs. Johnson, learned the hard way when her beautiful concrete driveway started showing wear and tear after just a few harsh Chicago winters. The pavers can also fade over time, and replacing individual ones can be quite a task.

Stick around. In the next sections, we’ll dive deeper into how each material holds up against our infamous Chicago weather, talk about going green with your driveway, and give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to embark on this hardscaping adventure. This is only the beginning of our driveway journey together!

Weather Resilience: Brick and Concrete Pavers in the Chicago Climate

Let’s chat about something we all love to complain about: Chicago’s weather. With temperature swings that would make a seesaw dizzy and freeze-thaw cycles that are as predictable as a dice roll, Chicago climate can give any material a run for its money.

Let’s start with the rugged brick pavers. Remember the time we had the polar vortex, and the city practically froze over? Well, one of my brick-paved driveways came out of that icy showdown looking as good as ever. Thanks to the natural clay in brick, it handles freeze-thaw cycles like a champ, expanding and contracting without cracking. Plus, brick can drain water pretty well, which means less standing water and fewer ice patches to slip on when you’re heading out for work in the winter.

Now, let’s turn our attention to stylish concrete pavers. They are a bit like us Chicagoans—tough, but not fans of the cold. You see, concrete pavers can absorb water, which can then freeze, expand, and potentially crack the pavers during those icy winters we know all too well. Plus, salt can be a bit harsh on concrete, leading to a weathered look over time.

Remember Mrs. Johnson from earlier? The fading on her driveway wasn’t just due to Father Time but also the relentless Chicago winters. Yet, with proper sealing and care, concrete can still be a strong contender for your driveway needs.

Environmentally Friendly Options: Sustainability Considerations for Homeowners

Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about our beautiful planet. Both brick and concrete have their green points, but also some drawbacks. Brick pavers are made from natural clay, which is a renewable resource. But, the firing process does require a good amount of energy, and can contribute to CO2 emissions.

Concrete pavers, on the other hand, are made of plentiful materials like limestone and shale. But the manufacturing process isn’t exactly Mother Nature’s best friend.

However, I’ve been seeing some really cool things happening with recycled and reclaimed materials in the paver industry. I recently worked on a project where we used reclaimed brick pavers. It was a win-win: the homeowners got a beautiful, unique driveway, and we all got to feel good about reducing waste!

Hang in there, we’re going to talk about the installation process and help you make the right choice for your home in the sections to come! Stick around!

Installation Process: What Homeowners Can Expect

Have you ever tried to assemble a piece of furniture without looking at the instructions? The driveway installation process can feel a bit like that, especially if you don’t know what to expect. But fear not, I’m here to demystify it for you.

Let’s begin with brick pavers. Installing a brick driveway is a bit like playing Tetris. You’ve got to lay each piece perfectly, ensuring a tight fit to create a strong, long-lasting surface. The process involves prepping the site, laying a gravel base, then sand, and finally, meticulously setting each brick paver. It’s labor-intensive and can take a bit of time, but the end result can be quite breathtaking.

I remember a project we did in the heart of Chicago. The owner wanted an intricate herringbone pattern with a beautiful red brick. The process was meticulous—like putting together a massive jigsaw puzzle—but seeing the homeowner’s face light up when we finished was worth every minute.

Moving on to concrete pavers, the process is somewhat similar. However, due to the uniform shape and size of most concrete pavers, the installation can be a bit quicker. But remember, faster isn’t always better. I recall a client who opted for a speedy installation with a less experienced crew. A year later, we were called in to fix the uneven pavers and pooling water issues. Lesson learned: always prioritize quality over speed.

Making the Right Choice: Factors to Consider

Okay, we’ve talked about the materials, the weather, the green factor, and the installation process. It might feel like a lot to digest, but remember, the perfect driveway is all about what works for you.

Maybe you’re a sucker for the classic charm of brick or love the versatility of concrete. Perhaps your priority is resilience against Chicago’s unique weather, or maybe you’re determined to make the most sustainable choice possible.

All of these factors are important, and the right choice will be the one that best balances your personal preferences, your budget, and your long-term home goals.

So whether you’re Team Brick or Team Concrete, remember, your driveway is more than just a place to park your car. It’s the introduction to your home and should make you smile every time you pull in.

Long-term Maintenance and Replacement Costs

When you’re choosing between brick and concrete pavers for your driveway, it’s crucial to consider not just the upfront costs, but also the long-term maintenance and replacement expenses. Brick pavers, being exceptionally durable, often require less frequent replacement, but maintaining them can be more labor-intensive. You’ll need to keep an eye out for weeds and moss, and occasionally, individual bricks may need to be replaced due to chipping or cracking.

On the flip side, concrete pavers generally have lower maintenance costs. A good cleaning and resealing every few years is usually sufficient. However, if a concrete paver cracks (which can happen with Chicago’s frost-thaw cycles), replacing it can be a bit tricky and potentially more expensive, especially if you want to maintain a uniform look since the color of concrete pavers can fade over time. Therefore, always factor in these long-term maintenance and replacement costs into your decision to ensure it aligns with your budget and lifestyle.

Weather Resilience

Weather resilience is a major consideration when choosing the right material for your driveway, especially in a place like Chicago, known for its intense seasonal changes. Brick pavers have a natural resistance to the freeze-thaw cycles that are so common in our city. They can expand and contract with changes in temperature without cracking, offering longevity and durability. Plus, their ability to drain water helps prevent dangerous icy patches in winter.

Concrete pavers, while robust and attractive, can be more susceptible to winter conditions. The material can absorb water, which then freezes and expands, potentially causing cracks. Plus, exposure to de-icing salts can cause concrete to deteriorate over time, affecting its aesthetics and integrity.

So when you’re making your choice, consider not just the immediate appeal of the material but also how it will hold up to our Chicago weather year after year. Remember, a driveway is a long-term investment. You want a material that not only matches your home’s aesthetic but also stands the test of time and our notorious weather.

Installation Complexity and Cost

The complexity and cost of installing your driveway are directly influenced by the material you choose. Brick pavers, with their non-uniform shapes and the potential for intricate laying patterns, can be more complex to install. This complexity often translates into a longer installation process and, therefore, higher labor costs. But the payoff is a charming, unique driveway that can boost the curb appeal of your home.

Concrete pavers, on the other hand, are usually more straightforward to install due to their uniform size and shape, which can mean less installation time and potentially lower labor costs. However, remember that cheaper and quicker isn’t always better. You should always ensure that the installation is done correctly to avoid issues such as water pooling or uneven pavers down the line, which could result in additional costs for repair or replacement. Always remember to factor in both the immediate installation cost and potential future costs when making your decision.


Whew! We’ve been on quite the driveway journey together, haven’t we? From understanding the nitty-gritty of brick and concrete pavers to braving the challenges of Chicago’s wild weather, exploring eco-friendly options, walking through the installation process, and cruising around the city to see some real-life examples.

And what have we learned? Well, the bottom line is there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The perfect driveway material for you will depend on a whole host of factors: your personal style, your budget, the amount of time you’re willing to invest in maintenance, your feelings about sustainability, and of course, how much you’re willing to take on the Chicago weather.

Whether you opt for the classic charm and durability of brick or the modern versatility and affordability of concrete, your driveway is a key part of your home. It’s the first thing people see when they visit and the first welcome you get when you come home. So, it’s worth taking the time to make a choice you’ll be happy with for years to come.

As a seasoned hardscaping expert who’s seen more driveways than I can count, my advice is this: make your decision based on what feels right for you and your home. Brick or concrete, either way, you’re making a solid choice. And remember, it’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey. So enjoy the process of creating a beautiful home that’s uniquely yours.

Here’s to your next hardscaping adventure! Stay safe, and keep enjoying our beautiful city, Chicago!