For a lot of homeowners, the patio borders are a place to relax, entertain, cook out and veg out. Creating this perfect outdoor space for you and your family starts with the literal foundation of a living room – the patio materials. This selection will have a huge effect on the appearance, durability and functionality of your new home addition.
Before you commit to any type of patio, envision the finished product. You probably already have a good idea on the location and the size so grab a chair and sit in this space and try to picture each material in your mind.
Your patio should complement your home and landscape as well as enhancing your lifestyle. If you are working with a larger space then start considering incorporating a combination of paving materials into your patio, some of the best patio designs include two or more. If you use multiple materials it will let you integrate inlaid borders that will visually separate a lounging area and an outdoor kitchen.
Once you have thought everything through you will need to consider which materials will work best to bring this vision to life. Think about both the aesthetics and practical issues like maintenance requirements and cost.
Poured concrete is the patio material of choice for many homeowners as it is strong, inexpensive and can be stamped and even dyed to mimic high end paving materials. It is best suited for warmer climates where frost isn’t a concern
Tip – If you are thinking of having something heavy, like a built-in fire place, you will have to reinforce that area before you pour as a standard concrete patio is 4 inches thick.
Bricks create a warm and attractive patio as they come in a variety of colours. A classic patio made out of bricks will cost more than one made out of concrete, not because of the materials but because of the labour seeing as every brick has to be set by hand, levelled and grouted.
If you decide you want bricks then you can design the space with any number of patterns, from traditional running bond or to something with added textural appeal like a herringbone or a boxed basket weave.
Tip – a solid 1 or 2-inch-thick paving bricks are the best choice, either dry-laid or mortared. You will need to watch out for a slick surface every rainfall if you decide to extend your brick patio into deep shade.
Pavers top the DIY patio wish list seeing as they are low in price and have a simple installation as they are manufactured from cement, cinder or stone. If you decide to lay your own patio then you will need a suitable substrate that consists of at least 3 inches of sand and a permanent border, this can be made out of poured concrete curb to keep the pavers from shifting.
Tip – you can dry-laid pavers by butting them in tightly or install them with uniform mortar joints. If the patio lies over utility lines, then this means that the dry laid pavers will be simpler to remove or replace if you need to access the utilities below.
Stone has a steeper price tag, especially if your pick isn’t locally sourced but you can’t beat its natural appeal! A flatter and irregularly shaped stone offers a calm effect. While a uniform-cut slab of granite, travertine, slate or bluestone can produce a formal patio that will fit in with any back garden.
Tip – Even though natural stone is extremely durable, use coral stone if you are planning to build a pool.
Tiles create a beautiful mosaic patio design that is refreshingly cool underfoot in hot climates. They are available in ceramic, glass, porcelain, terra cotta and natural stone. Seeing as tiles are thin, they require a lot more installation than a concrete slab.
Tip – if you plan to lay the tile yourself then it is a good idea to have a professional pour out an even slab. You should also consider that not all tiles are suitable for patio construction, to withstand all weather conditions they must be labelled for exterior use.
Crushed Stone, Pea Gravel and Sand
If you’re not a fan of rock solid patios, then try some of these materials. Both crushed stone and gravel offer a verity of colours and textures at low prices. To have these materials you will need to install a solid perimeter to keep the loose material from spreading out of its intended border.
Tip – it is hard to remove snow and fallen leaves from this material so consider what your climate is like. To keep a more professional look, try to refresh the surface every few years.
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