The warmer weather is now upon us. It’s time to get outdoors, mow lawns, tend to gardens, and, of course, prep the patio for lazy afternoons relaxing or grilling and dining al fresco. A patio is where families and friends gather and socialize to enjoy outdoor living at its best. Homeowners often design and build their patio to complement both their lifestyle and the style of their home. Individual taste and budget also come into play when thinking about the best patio for a home. If you’re considering a new patio, the first step is to understand the different types of patio surfaces and materials available. Here we provide a primer on the most popular types.
A concrete patio is one of the easiest and least expensive patio types to build. We often think of a concrete patio as a rectangular slab, but concrete can be poured into practically any shape. Concrete is durable, but can also crack if installed in an area where temperatures go below freezing in the winter and then warm up in the spring. If cracking does occur, it can be easily repaired.
• Stamped Concrete
Stamped concrete is, in essence, a specialized concrete patio with a design or texture that has been impressed on the top layer. The design or pattern can resemble natural stone, brick, tile – whatever you like – and the addition of colors and borders means you can choose a truly unique design. Stamped concrete is just as strong and durable as plain concrete, and a cost effective option that replicates the look of other more expensive patio materials.
Gravel is a good option for a level, courtyard-type patio that requires little maintenance. Gravel is best installed over landscaping fabric, which helps keep weeds at bay. And, because gravel is not smooth and shifts underfoot, furniture you place on top of it will probably not sit completely level. Gravel comes in different sizes, from crushed stone to river rock, and both provide very good drainage.
Stone and concrete pavers come in an endless assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes that allow for a multitude of patio design options. You will want to make sure the area where the pavers are installed is level, but gently sloped away from the home for proper drainage. Each paver is installed individually and the joints of the pavers are sealed or filled with joint sand. Additionally, it is recommended that the patio have curbing or edging to ensure the pavers stay aligned and in place. These installation requirements make a paver patio more expensive, but the end result is stunning and enduring.
Brick remains a popular patio option, thanks to its clean look that works well with just about any architectural style. Brick is versatile, too, in that it also works on walkways, edging, and even walls. Because bricks are laid one at a time, and usually in a decorative pattern, the cost for a brick patio is higher.
Flagstone is large, flat pieces of natural stone that are laid in a patio area and fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. Different geographic regions produce different types of flagstone, for example, limestone, sandstone, and quartzite. Flagstone is up to 3 inches thick, and its irregular shape might need to be cut so the stone aligns with surrounding pieces in the layout. Sand is used to fill the joints. Depending on where the flagstone has been laid, weeds might pop up between the stones or, if stones have shifted, they will need to be set back into place.
Other materials that can be used for patios include outdoor tiles, mulch (bark or rubber), cut stone (like flagstone, but cut into squares or rectangles), and pea gravel. Materials can be mixed to create visual interest or define certain spaces of the patio. While budget and home style are important considerations, what matters most is your personal preference based on how the patio will be used. Contact a hardscaping company to get ideas and see samples of the different materials.
With a bit of thought and attention to the type and design of your new patio, you will surely enjoy many years of a beautiful space where outdoor living is enhanced.
To learn more about patios and patio design options, speak with a professional with expertise in hardscaping or home design and renovation. DC Complete can help! We have years of experience in building and design and are available to answer all your questions about patio materials, design, and installation. Call us today at (810) 407-1771 to request your free consultation.