If you're considering a natural stone patio, driveway or walkout, you might want to look into stamped concrete before making the final decision. With stone patios problems have a tendency of springing up even within the first year of use. Stamped concrete gives you long-lasting beauty in an outdoor living space that's easy to care for.
Now let's examine some specific pros and cons.
Two of the biggest pros that pull patio-lovers towards concrete are its convenience and affordability. Even the most intricate stamped concrete designs are significantly cheaper than stone per square foot, yet they look remarkably similar. It's also easy to blend concrete with any existing outdoor flooring you may have which can save you even more.
Concrete surfaces wear well. Here in the South where cold weather is less of an issue, cracking as a result of frost is unlikely to be a problem. With most daily temperatures well above freezing, you can be sure that your concrete will stay looking freshly poured for years to come.
A final benefit of concrete is the great variety of styles you can achieve with it. There are tons of colors, textures and finishes to choose from so the only limit is your imagination! With stone there are a number of limits to what you can do depending on what's available in the region you live in and the naturally occurring shapes and colors of the stones.
One of the major downsides of natural stonework is the upkeep. Most stone patio layouts involve porous grouting material that can require more than the occasional power wash. It's far more prone to plant and fungal growth than stamped concrete and it breaks down somewhat easily. Chances are you'd be re-grouting a stone patio long before you'd be re-pouring concrete. Aside from general grout trouble, should any of the stones themselves break, finding an exact match to replace it with won't be an easy task.
Rough, uneven surfaces make up a second major downside of stone surfaces. Jagged edges and sudden shifts in stone height form one of the most common (and most irksome) stone patio quandaries. Not only does unevenness limit the types of outdoor furniture you can get, it also presents a major safety hazard. Unless you have your patio professionally evened out, don't be surprised if you eventually find yourself tripping over a bump in the stones or slipping on a stone on a rainy day. If done correctly, a concrete floor, inside or outside the home, will be perfectly level and bump-free.
So it seems that when it comes to safety, affordability, style and endurance, concrete can't be beat!