Aside from plants, patio paving is one of the most important elements that can set the mood and rhythm of your outdoor design. There are many materials that can be used in paving your patio. Among them are bricks, natural stone, concrete and concrete blocks, manufactured patio pavers, patio slabs, and more. Each has its own distinct characteristics, but all of them come in various designs, colors and textures so you have many options to choose from.
Patio paving can be one of the most expensive items in your landscaping budget, so it is wise to consider carefully and prepare well before starting any patio paving design and installation project.
First think about the location and purpose of the area you want to pave. Will it be a small patio made to house just a few chairs, a large expanse that will include an outdoor kitchen along with some outdoor dining furniture, a patio surrounding an inground pool area or a meandering garden path? This will help identify the type of patio pavers you should use. Natural stones, for example, are not ideal for compression sensitive areas or those areas that get tremendous amounts of wear and tear. Patio paving stones, on the other hand, can be made from most kinds of stone – cast, natural or reconstituted – and are ideal for almost all applications and are more durable.
A natural patio paving stone is quarried and can be scaled into various sizes and shapes for different pattern layouts. Sandstone, slate, granite and limestone are some of the most common of the natural patio paving materials used. Travertine tiles can also be used in some climates. All of these natural materials are strong enough to last and to withstand hard use.
Cast patio pavers are made of concrete, clay or reconstituted stone. Reconstituted stones are a mixture of concrete and stones and are less expensive than natural stones. They are easy to install and are less prone to cracking, but they offer a bit less creativity and natural design. There are other patio paving materials as well, such as brick, concrete blocks, stamped concrete, and patio paving slabs, to choose from as well.
Making sure that the materials you choose blend well with the other design elements in your backyard or garden is very important. Cost is another consideration in the selection of materials for patio paving. For garden patio paving, gravel is an inexpensive option but needs considerable weed maintenance, sometimes even requiring a regular weed control service to keep things looking good. Concrete requires some skill and special equipment for proper installation but can still be cheaper than natural stone, and if you opt for stamped concrete, it can offer the same basic look. Patio paving slabs can be more economical than individual stones, bricks or blocks. Brick, tile, granite and other natural stones are very decorative, but are more expensive patio paving options. Block paving is another pricey option but gives you lots of versatility in design.
After choosing the best patio paving material, draw up a plan for what you want your finished patio to look like. This will save you time, money and effort. Your plan will help determine the sizing of the finished space, the pattern of the materials, the amount of materials needed and any patio paving equipment required to properly complete the job.
Once you’ve decided on your patio design and materials, you then need to decide whether you will do the installation yourself or will hire a professional. If you are hiring a patio paving contractor, make sure to only hire accredited contractors. You should get at least 3 quotes to price out the job and should ask for references. Conduct an inspection of their previous work, or better yet, ask your friends and neighbors for referrals. If you are opting for a DIY patio paving job instead, make sure you understand all aspects of the job, have the proper tools needed (you can rent some if you don’t have them) and follow proper safety precautions when operating any tools or equipment. Patio paving is not an easy job, so be sure that you are ready to tackle the task on your own.
Once you have completed your patio, you then have to consider some regular maintenance of it to keep it looking its best. What you need to do will depend on what type of patio paving material you have chosen. If you opted for individual patio pavers or bricks, you may have to continuously keep up with weed growth between the cracks. Some patio paving materials require sealers to keep the patio looking its best. Some paving choices require virtually no maintenance at all other than an occasional cleaning.
No matter what materials you choose, you will need to keep your paved patio clean. This typically requires just a spray of the garden hose. Most patio paving materials cannot withstand the force of a high powered pressure washer, so take care in using them or don’t use them at all. Some paving materials can use a periodic scrubbing with a mild soap to remove stains, dirt or mildew.
Installing a new patio, pool surround, or walkway in your garden area is a major home improvement project and one that comes with many options – as well as large expenses. With so many patio paving options available, however, it is fairly simple to find a look you like while remaining within a specified budget. Just take the time to look at examples of other patios to decide what you like best, what fits well with the rest of your backyard and garden décor, and what materials will hold up best in the climate in which you live. By doing a bit of homework up front, you should be able to enjoy your new patio for many years to come.