Are All Pavers The Same?

Pavers come in two distinct forms: Thru-Mix and Face-Mix. They each come with their own set of pros and cons so you’ll want to determine which one is right for you before you commit. 

Continue reading below to learn about your paving stone options and how to go about choosing between them.

Are all pavers the same?

Thru-Mix pavers

Thru-Mix pavers are made of a mixture of stone chips, sand, pigment, and cement. The stones are uniform in composition all the way through, from top to bottom. The method by which they’re made is tried and true and is the oldest paving stone manufacturing process. They are durable (except in one sense, which we’ll discuss below) and, most importantly, cost-effective. You’ll pay less for Thru-Mix pavers than you would for Face-Mix pavers.

They suffer from one recurring issue. Because they have a uniform composition, the large stone chips inside the paver also form part of the surface material. When the paver is exposed to weather, foot traffic, and the outside world, some of the pigment flakes off and reveals those aggregate pieces of stone. This causes a change in appearance and makes the color of the paver less uniform.

Face-Mix pavers

Face-Mix pavers are made in an integral, two-step process that creates a large-aggregate layer on the bottom and a thinner, small-aggregate, pigmented layer on the top.

While it’s just as durable as its Thru-Mix cousin, it doesn’t suffer from the pigment issue we mentioned in the previous section. That’s because the upper layer, which is the one that will actually be exposed to the elements, contains no coarse aggregate pieces that can be exposed by a loss of pigment.

The result is a paver that retains an as-new finish for much longer than Thru-Mix pavers.

There is one downside to Face-Mix pavers. They cost more. Other than that, however, there’s pretty much no contest between the desirability of Thru-Mix and Face-Mix pavers. Face-Mix stones offer a more durable appearance, are just as structurally sound, and are available in a wide range of attractive finishes, from smooth to brushed to patterned.

Surface features

The difference between Face-Mix and Thru-Mix pavers makes clear that, when it comes to appearance, it’s what’s on the surface of the stone that counts. And while the composition of a paver near the bottom is important for general durability and performance, the fact that you’ll never see that layer makes it less critical to the image you’re trying to create for your outdoors.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. When it comes to Face-Mix vs. Thru-Mix, Face-Mix is the clear winner, with one important exception. If you’re a value-oriented buyer for whom price is the primary consideration, you may wish to save some money and grab Thru-Mix pavers.

In every other case though, you’ll be well-served by getting Face-Mix stones that offer a variety of durable and attractive finishes without sacrificing quality. You’ll pay a little more but, in our view, it’s almost always worth it.