The patio lies at the very heart of a backyard, as this is the place where you’ll spend most of the time outdoors. Patios come in all shapes and sizes because their design depends on the shape of the house and the surrounding area.
Add the climate factor to the equation and you get a whole myriad of patio designs that rely on several building materials to support the roof and pave the deck. Here is a selection of the very best materials used for building a patio so you won’t have doubt when the times to build or renovate your patio.
The standard material in the construction industry regarding patio is concrete. It is so widely used that many homeowners don’t have second thoughts when it comes to choosing the right paving material. However, the popularity of concrete of the material doesn’t imply that is boring to work with.
You can always personalize the flat surface and the dull greyish color of builder-grade concrete by staining it. In fact, a multicolored stain is available in most DIY centers so you can beautify the patio entirely on your own. Don’t forget to seal the patio well while staining to make it weatherproof.
When building a completely new patio, you have more options at hand. Namely, you can stamp the concrete with shapes and sizes to your liking. Builders will probably advise you to use a brick, flagstone, slate or wood patterns. Stamping the concrete doesn’t have many structural benefits but it does confer a natural look to your patio. It can help the patio blend in better with the surrounding backyard.
We move from the most common patio material to the rarest one. On the upside, gravel is the easiest material to install and it comes in several forms. Everything from crushed stone, decomposed granite, and pea gravel can be used on a patio floor.
As far as installation is concerned, all you need to do is dump the gravel over a fabric landscape liner and then spread it with a simple rake. The liner is there to serve as a barrier for weed growth that can endanger the patio structure if left unchecked.
The downside of gravel is that it’s not the most ideal surface to walk on. That’s why many homeowners prefer gravel for patios that double as car parks. Furthermore, gravel gets washed away over time so you’ll need to add the top layer every year. However, the low price of bags of gravel makes up for this structural drawback.
Natural stone patios
There is a huge variety of natural stones that can be used as materials for the patio. Everything from limestone, flagstone, slate, and bluestone, can be used for flooring. In fact, natural stone is second-popular to concrete.
Stones are cut and carved into large, flat slabs that are used to pave the patio. They have a rustic feel to them that comes with easy maintenance requiring no more than a mop and a bucket of water. Like with pretty much every other material, the natural stone needs to be waterproofed, cleaned thoroughly, and sealed before installation.
The biggest advantage of a stone patio is its ability to blend in with the surrounding nature. The garden pathways will probably continue on nicely into the patio, making the transition unnoticeable. Since natural stones come in different colors, shades, and natural patterns, you will have no trouble selecting the right kind of stone.
Clay brick patios
If you’re a fan of vintage design, then clay brick patios are the right material for you. They embody a traditional patio design that will usher in the spirit times long gone. Cobbled streets and thatched roofs are a reminder of an age that will never come back but you can revive the design of your ancestors using clay bricks as pavers. After all, the brick concrete stamping design we have discussed earlier wishes to replicate the vintage look and feel clay bricks possess.
Since clay is a fancy word for “baked earth,” these bricks are an affordable building material. You can lay them down in a great variety of patterns to match the shape and size of your patio. Furthermore, you can create gaps between individual tiles to let grass or moss grow naturally. Of course, clay bricks should be sealed and impregnated so they withstand the harshest of weather conditions.
As far as the downsides of clay are concerned, mostly regarding maintenance. Unless treated, clay bricks become porous after a while and start retaining moisture. During winter chills, the water in these tiny pockets freezes overnight and then expands in the morning sun, thus weakening the structural integrity of the bricks. That’s why it’s essential to immediately replace any bricks that have cracked or crumbled away.
Concrete paver patios
An alternative to clay bricks are concrete pavers. They are laid down in a similar fashion with a couple of notable exceptions. Namely, pavers are cheaper because they are made from concrete which makes them ideal for large patios. Furthermore, they can be shaped to match any size and pattern so you can be more creative using them than bricks.
Pavers are made by a machine in large quantities which eliminated the margin for error, which comes in handy when you have hundreds, if not thousands, pieces of a puzzle to put together. Before installation, individual tiles need to be coated with a sealant to ensure longevity.
If you thought that bricks are brittle, then you haven’t seen how a concrete paver behaves when exposed to extreme weather conditions. They are also known to burst under the weight of heavy vehicles when another material would simply sink in like gravel. Concrete pavers are more prone to cracking but it is, nevertheless, easy and cheap to replace individual tiles.
Ceramic tile patios
In terms of practicality and the pleasant feeling they offer when tredded upon, you can’t beat ceramic tiles. One of the biggest upsides f tiles is that they can use another material listed here as a base and simply be glued over it, such as clay or concrete.
In most cases, the base for patio tiles will be made from concrete slabs. In terms of design, a dull grey base will explode into a myriad of colors and patterns once tiles have been placed. Since floor tiles are widely available in home centers, as homeowners also use them for bathroom and kitchen floors, you will have no trouble finding the color scheme and texture you desire.
However, ceramic tiles come with certain safety issues. They will get wet even during a drizzle which will turn them into virtual waterslides. This has the potential to cause people to slip and fall; injuring themselves in the process. The structural issue can be somewhat assuaged by placing anti-slip mats to cover some sections of the patio floor.
It might seem like a reckless thing to write but a ceramic tile patio is definitely worth the risk because it offers so many opportunities in terms of exterior design. There isn’t a surrounding that the tiles cannot be made to match! Finally, individual tiles can break when a heavy object lands onto them but it isn’t overly complicated to replace a couple of tiles.
The 6 materials we have listed above form the basis of materials used for building patios. Sure, there are other building materials like sand or flagstone but these are merely variations of the ones described. Selecting the right material for your house’s patio is an individual choice because there is no universally best patio material.
Author – Ron Wolf