The materials used for patios are pretty much one of six basic ones. What you do with these materials can give your outdoor surface its unique expression or look. In choosing a material, you’ll consider your personal preferences, the patio’s location, your budget, the size of the outdoor space, and what is available in your area.
Before starting a patio project, you should check local building codes for setbacks and other requirements. This will ensure the patio area is properly drained and slopes away from your home.
How to Choose the Right Patio Material
A patio material needs to be selected based on some factors. First, you need to evaluate your specific needs and preferences. Are you looking for low maintenance, durability, or aesthetics?
Next, you need to consider your area’s climate and weather conditions. Some materials may be better suited to harsh winters and hot summers, and you must balance your budget with the material’s longevity. A patio that complements your home’s architecture and style is a great way to save money in the long run. Finally, choose high-quality materials upfront to save money in the long run.
No material is more versatile and adaptable than concrete for a patio floor. It is made of sand, water, cement, and gravel and offers even more options than bricks.
Concrete is a durable, easy-to-maintain finish that can be moulded and conformed to virtually any surface shape: smooth, stamped, painted, patterned, scored, brushed, surfaced with decorations or coloured.
A mixture of clay and other materials has been fired in a kiln for thousands of years to make brick. Despite its durability, its neat, classic appearance goes well with many architectural and landscape styles. Many homes are constructed with brick or a mixture of brick and other materials.
It is versatile enough for patio floors, pathways, walls, and edging in formal or rustic landscapes. Various brick patterns are available, including herringbones, running bonds, and jacks-on-jacks.
Many colours and stones are available in flagstone, depending on the quarry and your area. It is an ideal choice for patios and front entries. Flagstones are generally 1 to 3 inches thick and have an irregular shape that makes them easy to identify. They are slightly roughened, so when they are wet, they provide good traction.
Among the types of flagstone are:
Often, their names reflect their region or colour, their geological classification, or the quarries they belong to. Moss rock, for instance, is a common name for a New Mexico stone. Although stone masons know it’s a sandstone, a quarry or dealer could sell it under a different name.
If you use flagstone for patio flooring, make sure it is at least 2 inches thick and is laid directly on the ground or in a bed of sand. If you use thinner slabs, they should be glued to concrete or mortar before being installed to prevent cracking.
When concrete pavers were primarily available in grey squares or off-pink squares, they looked somewhat institutional. Now, they can resemble bricks, cobblestones, or cut stones with more natural textures and colours.
Unglazed ceramic tile is best for patio floors, leaving glazed decorative tiles for edges and accents. Glazed ceramic tile can become slippery when wet, making it unsafe to walk on.
For patio surfaces, there are three kinds of unglazed tiles:
- These tiles are stain-resistant and challenging because they are fired at high temperatures.
- The best type of terracotta to use in mild climates is terracotta, which is rustic looking but porous.
- Tiles that have a texture that provides traction without being too uneven.
In addition to protecting outdoor tiles from staining, wearing, and moisture, sealers and coatings will enhance or preserve their natural colour.
Thanks to its geometric form and layout, the cut stone finds its use in more formal applications compared to the uneven flagstone. Also known as stone tile, the cut stone is similar to flagstone but cut into squares or rectangles.
The term cobblestone is also sometimes used for Belgian blocks. Cobbles are typically used in small areas or as an edge for other materials, such as brick, granite, or flagstone.
Loose materials are gaining popularity as patio surfaces, especially in drought-stricken regions. Once considered a choice exclusively for side yards or small areas, flexible materials are becoming increasingly popular. Homeowners and dwellers now have the opportunity to replace thirsty lawns with alternatives that are water-wise. An example is loose materials, which are inexpensive, easy to work and maintain.
Among them are:
- Pea gravel or crushed stone
- Aggregate stone
- Bark mulch
- Rubber mulch
- Decomposed granite
Patios made from sand and gravel
Those who favour a casual, relaxed aesthetic will love gravel patios. The small, smooth stones of pea gravel provide a more polished appearance. Gravel offers excellent drainage and is easy to install, making it a cost-effective choice. Adding an edging material can help contain the gravel and maintain a neat appearance. Gravel can shift and scatter over time, necessitating occasional re-levelling.
Brick, concrete, flagstone, pea gravel, pavers, and tile can all be combined to create a visually appealing area. Combinations are endless but should be planned carefully.
Using wood for decks and patios
Creating an outdoor retreat with wood decks and patios is easy due to their natural resistance to decay and insects. Cedar, redwood, and tropical hardwoods like teak and ipe are popular choices. Wood patios require regular sealing and staining to maintain their appearance and protect against weathering. Wood patios offer a comfortable surface that is easy on the feet.
Synthetic and composite materials
Those seeking low-maintenance options with the look of natural materials should consider composite and synthetic materials. Wood fibres are incorporated into composite decking, which provides the appearance of wood without high maintenance. These materials are resistant to rot, fading, and staining, so they are ideal for busy homeowners. Vinyl and PVC are practical for patio surfaces because they offer durability and low maintenance.
Choosing suitable material and their characteristics for your patio requires careful consideration. If you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each option, you can make an informed decision that matches your lifestyle, preferences, and budget. There are many ways to transform your outdoor space into a beautiful retreat, including concrete, pavers, bricks, natural stone, wood, composites, and gravel. Consider different materials, envision the patio of your dreams, and make it a seamless home extension – a place to relax, entertain, and create cherished memories. Once you do so, call a patio cleaning professional to maintain its beauty all year round.