You may have never heard the term “Belgian Blocks”, but chances are, you’d know them if you saw them. Similar in look to cobblestones (but less round), Belgian Blocks are cubical or rectangular blocks of hard stone (usually granite) that are used for landscaping, paving, and creating borders for driveways or patios.
Despite their name, this popular form of paving was first used by ancient Romans. It’s also known as a “sett,” and is distinct from cobblestone in that the pieces of stone are cut and shaped and in a regular fashion, rather than left in their original shapes (as in cobblestone).
Belgian Blocks are a popular building material for a number of reasons. Granite is incredibly durable and won’t crack, stain, or erode with time — even in severe weather. A driveway paved with Belgian Blocks requires very little upkeep and will likely outlast you and your house. In fact, many cities in Europe and the Eastern United States have neighborhoods with streets paved in Belgian Blocks that have been functional for hundreds of years!
In addition to their durability, Belgian Blocks are popular for their aesthetic appeal. A driveway paved in Belgian Blocks adds visual interest to your property and provides a classic, almost historic look. The same can be said for patios, planters, or retaining walls.
Not surprisingly, considering their incredible durability and visual appeal, Belgian Blocks aren’t the cheapest form of pavement on the market. While prices vary based on the material, most Belgian Block installations will cost anywhere from $15 to $30 per square foot — which can add up to a substantial amount, if your driveway is large.
For those who want the aesthetic appeal of Belgian Blocks without the high price tag, there is always the option to use a cheaper alternative for the driveway itself, and add a border or inlay made of Belgian Blocks. The same goes for using Belgian Blocks for landscaping projects. Alternatively, you could use concrete blocks that have a similar look to Belgian Blocks and are more wallet friendly, but these lack the durability of their granite counterparts.
If you think you might be in the market for using Belgian Blocks to pave or border your driveway, or to do some landscaping in your yard, you’ll want to find a reputable and experienced masonry specialist for the job. Since the raw materials aren’t cheap, it’s finding a contractor who is experienced and reputable when it comes to this type of pavement. Installation errors are the single most common problem with Belgian Block, and the whole venture can end up being more trouble than its worth if you don’t hire the right people.
On the other hand, if you’re able to find a qualified Belgian Block specialist in your area, and the installation is finished to a high professional standard, you can look forward to decades of enjoyment, functionality, and visual appeal — whether it’s a walkway, patio, or an entire residential driveway. Knowing whether Belgian Block are a good choice for your home will depend on personal tastes, but also on the neighborhood. Again, a good specialist should be able to help you see the various pros and cons of adding Belgian Block pavement to your property.