There are hundreds of patio stones and paver choices on the market today. Most garden and home centers will have a variety of choices. Perhaps you’re looking for a very specific color and look, then head to your local landscape material outlet. Popular patio building materials range from poured concrete or pavers made of concrete to recycle plastic materials to natural flagstones and clay bricks. Whatever style your searching for, here are some basic considerations and categories to start with.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER
Solid surface or permeable – where will the water go? Through the patio or will it run off? Both are important considerations in planning your patio surface material.
Safety and comfort. Stone and tile are sometimes slippery when wet, and stone can be uneven underfoot. Gravel is hard on bare feet, and occasionally tile can raise up a sharp edge.
How the patio will be used is always a consideration and part of you overall planning. For more hints on creating and managing your perfect plan check out this article.
For a rustic or informal look, consider stone, pea gravel, flagstone or timber. For a more formal-looking space, brick, concrete or clay pavers, slate and smooth tiles are the most traditional choices.
If your patio gets a lot of sun, wood will be the most cooling; the other materials will absorb heat. Adobe and porcelain tiles will withstand any weather, while terra-cotta is best suited for warm climates. If your patio is in a colder climate you will need to consider freeze thaw cycles and the effect on the material you choose.
Bricks are available in a variety of colors and finishes; this material blends with most settings and the blocks can be arranged in numerous patterns. Its best to insure the brick you choose is designed for patio use. Not all clay bricks will hold up in this environment.
Poured concrete is durable and one of the simplest options for do-it-yourselfers. New color-bonding products can give old concrete a facelift. And with recent advances is additives to colour and protect the surfaces this choice suits many uses. Stamped and pattern concrete is usually considered a professionally installed product and can produce a beautiful result.
Concrete pavers come in many shapes and styles, including ones that simulate natural stone; they are stronger than brick and form an interlocking surface. This is a very common choice of material for its durability, ease of installation and cost effectiveness
Stone lends a rugged charm to any outdoor space; several types are available for use as pavers. The pieces of stone can vary widely in color and design, even when cut from the same larger boulder. The area you live will generally depend on the choice available. These materials will need to be coated with a finish in some uses. The installation costs tend to be a little higher in comparison to pavers.
Gravel compacts well and is the most price-conscious option at the start, although with heavy use gravel requires regular smoothing and additional layers. Many garden centers carry river stones and products that make it easy and quick to install a patio or walk way. Remember to get a superior quality landscape fabric for the bed of these products. This material will prevent weeds from sprouting up from the base layer of soil.
Outdoor tiles are available in many sizes, shapes, and colors; they are smooth and easy to clean. Today there are interlocking installation methods that make this an easy DIY solution. Many home improvement centers carry a variety of wood tile that will even work on condo balconies.
Wood or decking as its called, makes for an easy-to-construct patio; recycled, wood composite alternative materials are widely available now too. These materials are traditionally used on a raised platform patio and we discuss this in more detail in our article on patio decks materials here.
There are exceptions to traditional wood planks, for example wood logs. Using slices of logs to create a rustic patio creates a great natural effect. Installed much like flagstone but with options to allow grass or other fillers to grown in between the log slices creates a beautiful effect. The one thing you should know about this type of patio is that it’s a natural wood product and will decay over time. You can apply a sealer to prolong their life and create a smoother texture underfoot.
DIY or Hiring a Contractor?
As with any major improvement or addition to your home, when you hire a reputable professional to design and build your patio it is their job to contact the local building department in your area to find out what the building codes, zoning and setbacks from the property lines are in your town.
Not all towns have the same codes and in fact, some municipalities may not require a building permit at all for patio construction. The professional will need to contact the town before they finalize plans for your patio. Often, towns require that the professional submit a copy of the plans for approval before a building permit will be issued and construction can begin.
If you want to check with your town yourself before you hire a professional, they will generally have printed guidelines for you to follow. Again, the professional you hire should be able to tell you what you can and cannot build before they begin. For tips and advice on hiring a pro, check out this article.
Patios can make your outdoor space more enjoyable, increase your homes value and save you money on landscape maintenance costs. What type of patio is right for you? I think we have given you some things to consider in your choice. Now – Let’s get started.