Choosing the Right Surface
It’s a big step out the back door: you’ve decided to build or remodel a patio. If it won’t be the traditional concrete slab–or will be covering up an existing one–you’ll need to choose materials that go beyond just looking good. A patio that’s made to last must be built with materials that are strong and durable.
Whether working solo or with a landscape architect or contractor, the budget, size of the space, color, and architectural style of your home are going to influence the choice of materials. So is availability: local stones blend in with the surrounding environment and don’t cost as much as harder-to-find materials that have to be shipped.
Safety and Surface Texture
Think about what the patio will be used for and who will use it when looking at materials. Flat, smooth, even surfaces are necessary for dining areas, living rooms, and for accessibility. Rough cobblestones and bumpy aggregate concrete pavers could cause someone to trip or impede the mobility of a person who uses a cane, walker, or wheelchair. Conversely, ultra- smooth surfaces like concrete or polished granite can become slippery when wet. Apply slip-resistant coatings to high-traffic surfaces that have the potential for becoming slick.
An attractive, cost-saving option is to use concrete pavers, which can be cast into a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Different textures and finishes can be applied to concrete, like rock salt, aggregate, faux finishes, etchings, stamping, and hand carving. Even objects as simple as brooms or rakes can create attractive textural surfaces.
Visit a local stone yard or supplier to discover what’s available in your area; this is one of those things you need to see and touch up close to make a smart decision. Popular types of stone include:
Both stone and concrete pavers are often spaced apart, with loose materials like pea gravel or sand or ground covers like thyme or Irish moss to fill the gaps.
Take a look at our favorite 25 stunning and very different examples of patio pavers.
Pathway to Pavers
The San Francisco-based Envision Landscape Studio designed a staircase on a hillside with graceful curves that create a sense of intrigue and mystery, rather than a straight up-and-down path. Concrete steps are aligned at a low retaining wall to create a clear line before the steps form a curve and switch the material to the cliffs made of Ipe wood. The paving stones are simple concrete squares that are evenly distributed for a modern look and lie evenly in a bed of pea gravel. The Ipe is equipped with a mahogany wood stain for a rich warm hue.
A Philadelphia area backyard patio is set on a grid of 2 x 3-foot full-color flagstone in a bond pattern, which keeps the installation and looks simple, according to landscape designer Donald Pell.
“I love the simplicity of a grid in a juxtaposition of sweeping drifts of perennials,” explains Pell. “I prefer simple paving details and the timelessness of using regional stone. I also always try to push patios and terraces out into the landscape so we can immerse the space in the romantic experience of a garden. The last thing I want is a patio set right up against the architecture of a house.”
Vancouver Bay by wood concrete fabrics are firmly laid, forming a clean, modern surface for a Tudor style home in Portland, Oregon. Architect Risa Boyer designed the 2×4.5-foot fire pit, which is connected to an underground gas line. A vintage mid-century modern children’s chair and two butterfly chairs, as well as a neutral gray-and-white and black colour palette, contribute to the modernisation of the outdoor area.