My friend, Desha, has cracks in her concrete pool deck. Yikes!
As we were sipping Espresso the other morning, she mentioned her problem and asked if simply installing pavers over concrete would be a good solution.
I think the question deserves a deeper look. For example, what if the cracks were caused because her avocado tree was pushing through the deck?
Just plopping a paver over the offending root will hardly address the real issue.
So the first step is to discover what’s causing the cracks. Once the cause has been addressed, then a remedy for the repair can be safely made.
As it turns out, Desha’s cracks were caused by the concrete settling. While many homeowners believe this is a sign of inferior work – turns out it’s fairly normal.
According to the American Concrete Institute, cracks are “possible on any project.”
In addition, it’s a fairly easy fix. The Tile Council of America recommends two solutions:
In both cases, the membrane acts as a barrier between the tile and the concrete which lessens the likelihood of the crack coming up through the surface.
Setting pavers in sand over the existing concrete will be less expensive than “sticking” a tile to the concrete with thinset or mortar mix. However, there are pros and cons to consider.
Less Expensive: The labor to sand set materials is much less expensive than setting materials with mortar. Basically, it all comes down to time. It’s faster to just place a stone paver in a bed of sand than it is to take the material, smear “glue” on the ground and the back of the tile and stick it to the surface.
Drainage: Some communities require their residents keep a certain amount of open landscape area to assist in drainage. Setting materials in sand allows the ground to absorb more water, thus fullfilling those community requirements.
Loose Sand: Over time, the sand can become loose. Some clients, tired of tracking sand inside, rip out their sand set applications in favor of mortar installations.
Reduced Choices: There are more tile choices on the market than paver choices. But tiles cannot be set in sand, even over concrete. They will crack. They must be attached to the concrete with thinset or mortar.
Unless there is something seriously wrong with the existing concrete I would not go to the expensive of tearing it out. This also leaves your options open. If you choose to set pavers in sand over the existing concrete, you could later take up the pavers and install tile.