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Block Paving and Slabs: A Comprehensive Guide

Block paving and slabs are popular choices for outdoor flooring, particularly for driveways, patios, and garden paths. Both options offer durability, aesthetic appeal, and versatility, but they have distinct features and benefits that make them suitable for different applications. This comprehensive guide will explore the differences between block paving and slabs, their advantages, installation processes, maintenance tips, and factors to consider when choosing the best option for your project.

What is Block Paving?

Block paving, also known as brick paving, involves using individual blocks or bricks to create a hard surface. These blocks come in various materials, including concrete, clay, and natural stone. The blocks are typically laid in patterns to enhance the visual appeal of the surface.

Benefits of Block Paving

  1. Durability: Block paving is incredibly durable and can withstand heavy loads, making it ideal for driveways and areas with frequent foot traffic.
  2. Versatility: With a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, block paving offers numerous design possibilities.
  3. Ease of Repair: Individual blocks can be replaced without disturbing the rest of the surface, making repairs straightforward and cost-effective.
  4. Permeability: Certain types of block paving allow water to permeate through the joints, reducing surface water runoff and the risk of flooding.

Types of Block Paving

  1. Concrete Blocks: Affordable and available in various shapes and colors. They are strong and durable but may fade over time.
  2. Clay Blocks: Known for their rich color that does not fade, clay blocks are more expensive but offer a timeless appeal.
  3. Natural Stone Blocks: These include granite, sandstone, and limestone. They are durable and provide a high-end look but come at a higher cost.

What are Slabs?

Slabs, often referred to as paving slabs or paving stones, are large, flat stones used to create outdoor flooring. They are typically made from concrete, natural stone, or porcelain. Slabs are usually larger than the individual blocks used in block paving.

Benefits of Slabs

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: Slabs provide a clean, modern look and are available in various finishes, including smooth, textured, and riven.
  2. Ease of Installation: Larger than individual blocks, slabs can cover more area quickly, making the installation process faster.
  3. Low Maintenance: Slabs generally require less maintenance compared to block paving due to fewer joints where weeds can grow.
  4. Cost-Effective: Depending on the material, slabs can be a more affordable option for large areas.

Types of Slabs

  1. Concrete Slabs: Versatile and available in numerous designs and finishes. They are durable and cost-effective.
  2. Natural Stone Slabs: Including granite, slate, and sandstone, these slabs offer natural beauty and longevity but can be more expensive.
  3. Porcelain Slabs: Resistant to stains, water, and weathering, porcelain slabs provide a sleek and modern look.

Installation Process

Block Paving Installation

  1. Planning and Design: Decide on the pattern and layout. Mark the area to be paved and calculate the number of blocks required.
  2. Excavation: Dig to the required depth, usually about 150-200mm, to create a stable base.
  3. Base Preparation: Lay a sub-base layer of crushed stone or hardcore and compact it thoroughly.
  4. Laying the Blocks: Place the blocks according to your chosen pattern, starting from one corner. Use spacers to maintain consistent gaps.
  5. Edging and Jointing: Install edge restraints to hold the blocks in place. Fill the joints with kiln-dried sand and compact the surface.

Slab Installation

  1. Planning and Design: Choose the slab material and layout. Measure the area and calculate the number of slabs needed.
  2. Excavation: Excavate to a depth of about 100-150mm to accommodate the base and slabs.
  3. Base Preparation: Spread a layer of compacted hardcore or crushed stone, followed by a layer of sharp sand.
  4. Laying the Slabs: Place the slabs on the prepared base, ensuring they are level. Use a rubber mallet to tap them into place.
  5. Jointing: Fill the gaps between the slabs with a suitable jointing material, such as sand or mortar.

Maintenance Tips

Block Paving Maintenance

  1. Regular Cleaning: Sweep the surface to remove debris and prevent weed growth.
  2. Weed Control: Apply weed killer or manually remove weeds from the joints.
  3. Resanding Joints: Periodically refill joints with kiln-dried sand to maintain stability.
  4. Sealing: Consider sealing the surface to protect against stains and enhance color longevity.

Slab Maintenance

  1. Cleaning: Wash the slabs regularly to remove dirt and prevent algae buildup.
  2. Weed Control: Apply weed killer or remove weeds manually from the joints.
  3. Repairs: Replace any cracked or damaged slabs promptly to maintain the surface’s integrity.
  4. Sealing: Apply a sealant to protect against stains and weathering, especially for natural stone slabs.

Factors to Consider

When choosing between block paving and slabs, consider the following factors:

  1. Purpose: Determine whether the area will be used for heavy traffic (driveways) or lighter use (patios, garden paths).
  2. Aesthetics: Consider the overall look you want to achieve and how it complements your property’s style.
  3. Budget: Calculate the total cost, including materials, installation, and maintenance.
  4. Durability: Assess the expected lifespan and maintenance requirements of each option.
  5. Climate: Consider the local climate and how it might affect the material’s performance and longevity.

Environmental Impact

Both block paving and slabs can be eco-friendly options depending on the materials used and the installation method. For example:

  1. Permeable Paving: Choosing permeable blocks or slabs allows water to pass through, reducing runoff and promoting groundwater recharge.
  2. Recycled Materials: Opting for blocks or slabs made from recycled materials can reduce your project’s environmental footprint.
  3. Local Sourcing: Using locally sourced materials minimizes transportation emissions and supports local economies.


Choosing between block paving and slabs depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Both options offer durability, aesthetic appeal, and functionality, making them excellent choices for various outdoor projects. Block paving is ideal for driveways and areas requiring heavy load-bearing capacity, while slabs are perfect for creating elegant patios and garden paths. By considering the factors outlined in this guide, you can make an informed decision that enhances the beauty and value of your property.

For a quote, contact VIV Construct Group.