Brick Pavers: Underfoot Underdogs

Brick pavers have to be about the most stepped on things on the planet; except maybe for shoe soles and gas pedals. Anyhow, these benevolent bearers of the world's footfalls and tire marks are capable of rendering faithful service for decades together without giving us much cause for concern about their health. Brick pavers rarely get credit for their contribution towards untwisted ankles and unbroken noses, but they do provide that as a free service. In order to fully appreciate the value they add to our daily lives by quietly working in the background, it is necessary to look into their not-so-humble beginnings and see what makes them so desirable.

Brick Pavers Of Old: Bricking Bombay And Paving Panama

Brick pavers in recent times have an illustrious history. One of the earliest modern sources of quality bricks was the Purington Brick Company which, from 1890, shipped their brick pavers all over the world: from Panama City, Panama to Bombay, India, to Paris, France. The Acme Brick Company, acquired by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in 2000, is another company founded around that time, and lays claim to having 'given birth' to the world's biggest brick, dubbed 'baby clay' weighing in at over three tons. With such a rich and global past, it's no wonder that brick pavers are here to stay.

Brick Pavers: Manufacturing Techniques

Brick pavers are made in a variety of ways: hand-pressed, molded and extruded, each type having its own distinctive look and texture. Hand-pressed pavers, for example, have a rougher edge to them while extruded pavers have that neat, clipped military look. In between these extremes is a molded variety, one that has a more uniform appearance than the hand-made ones, but with softer, well-formed edges. No matter what look you're going for there are pavers just for you.

Brick Pavers: Clay And Concrete Types

There are essentially two types of pavers with regards to the materials that are used used in their manufacture. Clay pavers are the natural variety, and are made from sand, aggregate (crushed stone), water and, predictably, clay. Concrete pavers, which made from cement mixes and aggregates, along with water and sand, are cheaper and last longer, and have a different finish to that of clay pavers. The range of colors can vary from light shades that are suitable for low-traffic areas such as garden paths, to dark colored ones that are perfect for busy driveways and walkways.

Brick Pavers: Shapes And Purposes

There are also categories of pavers based on how they are arranged in a pattern; there are fully interlocking and single-axis interlocking ones for areas where the potential for shifting may be greater, such as driveways. The square and rectangular ones that make up non-dented varieties are more suited to areas where only human traffic exists, such as the path from the garage to the house. There are several shapes within these categories that are meant to be used for special purposes, such as the controlled growth of grass, water impenetrability and even noise reduction.

Brick Pavers: Maintenance And Care

One of the greatest benefits of using brick pavers is that they are very easy to maintain, and can be cleaned of most stains with mild detergent or bleaching powder, and water. For heavy stains such as those caused by lube oil or gasoline, you may need to use a commercial cleaner, but the pavers will come out squeaky-clean. Periodic maintenance is best carried out with a pressure hose or a garden hose, taking care to remove all visible debris before washing. They are resistant to chemical and water erosion, and can last for several decades before they even begin to show signs of wear. For this reason, antique pavers that have been salvaged from historical buildings and famous old streets are sold for kings' ransoms: they have stood the test of time and will continue to support several more generations of feet.