A patio provides a safe, versatile space, enabling people of all ages and abilities to gather and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you choose to use your patio surfaces for entertaining, working out, spending time on your hobbies or filling it with flowers and nature, picking the right surface is key.
When deciding between patio surfaces it is important to consider the overall design effect you are aiming to achieve. You should also consider your budget, any relevant local building codes and what you want to use your patio for. You should also take into account the location of the patio. In exposed positions, try to avoid surfaces that may become loose or uneven. If you live in a damp climate, or an area prone to regular rainfall, you may also want to avoid flooring solutions that may become slippery and dangerous after a little rain.
The patio surfaces outlined in this article are multifunctional meaning that they are suitable for a wide range of uses and by people of all abilities. If laid correctly they are also stable enough to safely hold pots, planters and patio furniture as well as your friends and family.
Selecting the right flooring helps to enhance the entire area.
Pavers have long been a popular choice for people selecting patio surfaces. They are also easy to install, meaning that they are a particularly popular choice for people making their own outdoor space. Many pavers are interlocking, which further helps to ease the installation process. You also don’t need to use other materials such as mortar or grout.
As well as being incredibly convenient, pavers also come in a wide range of styles from wooden or wood-effect pavers to brick and even cut stone effect pavers. Wood-effect pavers can also be used as decking, further adding to their versatility. Further adding to their appeal, pavers are a durable choice, easy to both clean and maintain.
When it comes to things like laying flooring, if you don’t know exactly what you are doing, things can quickly become complicated and difficult. Choosing to install pavers is a convenient option. Helping to cut down on much of the potential stress as well as the amount of different materials you need to mix and work with. Cost effective and convenient there are few easier patio surfaces selections than pavers.
Concrete is possibly the most affordable of all the patio surfaces suggestions on this list. Only gravel may work out cheaper. Concrete is also an easy to maintain, long lasting option, particularly when compared to other flooring solutions such as gravel or sand.
If correctly laid and properly maintained a concrete floor can last for decades. Readers in colder climates, if they choose to lay a concrete floor, will need to watch out for damage caused by freezing. During the winter months the freezing and thawing cycle can damage a concrete surface, causing cracks to form. If these aren’t promptly filled in the entire structure can weaken and crumble. While you shouldn’t avoid concrete surfaces, in colder areas you should be prepared to take on a regular bit of maintenance.
Many people like to lay concrete patio surfaces as a base layer before covering with a more decorative material such as tiles or gravel on the top. This improves the visual appeal of the space.
While it may look dull, if you want a durable, long lasting option then a basic concrete floor is hard to beat. If you still find concrete too dull a color, you can paint it. This helps to enliven or personalize a space.
3 Cut Stone
Cut stone, or stone tile, are stones cut into a tile shape. This enables you to easily lay them as patio surfaces.
Like pavers, cut stones are fairly easy to lay, even if you have little experience of laying flooring. Because they are cut into square tiles, the cut stone can be laid in neat rows. While some people choose to fit the tiles snugly together, others like to leave a little gap between them. You can use tile spacers to ensure an even gap. The gaps can then be filled with sand or loose material once the stones are all laid.
As well as being an easy option, there are also lots of different cut stone styles to choose from. If you go with this option you will be able to choose from functional materials like sandstone to more impressive flooring choices such as marble.
While there is something to fit every budget, cut stone can be one of the more expensive patio surfaces, especially if you go for a more expensive material such as marble. However, the expense can be worth it for the effect that it creates. Alternatively, travertine is a more affordable option which looks both sleek and elegant.
Neat lines of stones or tiles help to give the area a finished, neat feel.
Like creating a gravel driveway, covering an area with gravel is one of the easiest ways to create a patio. Durable and reliable, gravel is also a cost effective option. Despite this, gravel is not everyone’s first choice when considering patio surfaces
If laid over bare earth or grass gravel is one of the best draining solutions on our list. To prevent weeds from emerging a permeable material, such as AGTEK Landscape Fabric can be laid first before covering with gravel. Alternatively, you can also lay gravel on a solid base such as concrete. Here it improves the visual appeal of the area, adding color and texture to the drab concrete floor.
While gravel is a versatile choice, there are some downsides. Gravel is not comfortable to walk on, especially barefoot. It also has a habit of moving or shifting, especially in windy or exposed areas.
One of the easiest patio surfaces options, gravel provides an attractive flooring solution that, with a little regular care, can last for a long time.
Not the softest material to walk on, gravel can be used to soften harsh areas or enhance a Japanese planting scheme.
Flagstones can be expensive. If you are laying patio surfaces on a budget then there are better options on the list. However, the visual effect that flagstones provide is, for many, well worth the cost.
Despite being one of the more expensive patio surfaces on our list, flagstones are also an aesthetically pleasing option. With a wide range of flagstones, in many styles, shapes, sizes and colors on the market you are certain to find something that suits your style.
Flagstones are not the easiest option to install. They can be heavy and difficult to handle or cut. Unless you have specialist knowledge and tools you will probably need to hire professionals. While this adds to the expense it is worth it to ensure that the flagstones are correctly laid.
Before selecting your flagstones take the time to do a little research. Some types of flagstones are better suited to warm weather than others, while other types are more durable in wintry conditions. Do a little research and ask as many questions as you need to satisfy yourself before making a purchase. This is an expensive choice so you want to be sure before you commit. However, while flagstones are expensive, they do create some of the most beautiful patio surfaces.
Achieving a smooth, neat effect may be time consuming but it is well worth the effort.
Pavements and concrete are often confused. While pavements can be made of concrete, they can also be made of other materials such as asphalt. Whichever pavement material you choose, you will need to hire professionals to lay the surface for you. Businesses and tradespeople can come to your home and measure up before giving you a quote and returning to lay the material at a later date. This makes pavement one of the easiest outdoor flooring options to lay, even if it is more expensive than many of the DIY options on our list.
Like concrete, pavement surfaces are a long lasting and durable option. Once laid you can cover the floor with other, more decorative materials to improve the visual look of the space. Like concrete, you will also need to maintain and repair any cracks that appear after spells of freezing weather. Asphalt patches are easy to install, providing a quick fix to any cracks.
A durable, long lasting floor such as asphalt, cuts down on maintenance cost and time.
Tiles are one of the most popular patio surfaces options, particularly amongst people that are looking for something that is both easy to clean and nice to walk on. Coming in a range of styles and colors, tiles are one of the more affordable patio surfaces choices. They are also a lot easier to install than some options such as flagstones but can look just as effective.
Tiles need to be placed on a flat, usually solid, base such as concrete. This can add to the cost slightly however a concrete base is relatively affordable. Adding tiles on top allows you to introduce a range of colors or texture to your outdoor space.
Be warned, when wet tiles can be slippery. Putting down non-slip mats can help to make the tiles safer. You can also try applying an anti-slip floor treatment to the tiles to reduce the risk. Despite the potential hazard, tiles are a visually attractive, affordable option. Additionally, if after a few years they start to look tired, you can simply paint the tiles, quickly and affordably rejuvenating the space.
A versatile option, tiles need to be laid on a flat surface.
8 Clay Bricks
One of the more impressive patio surfaces you can choose, the visual appeal of clay bricks is hard to beat. Adding a classic feel to an outdoor space, clay bricks can also be aged to create a space that looks well established, as if it has been there for years. Like many of the suggestions on our list, clay bricks provide a stable base that safely holds a number of pieces of furniture, flower pots and raised planters without cracking.
However, clay bricks can be expensive. They may also be more difficult to install than other flooring solutions on our list. Using reclaimed bricks can help to reduce the cost and is also an environmentally friendly option. If you decide to install the clay bricks yourself you will need to secure them in place with mortar to ensure that the floor is both firm and stable. You can also lay the bricks on a bed of sand, but they may not be as stable.
Clay bricks can be used to make patterns and shapes, such as geometric designs in the patio surfaces This helps to add further interest to the space. Just make sure that you have enough bricks before you begin.
Bricks provide a stable and visually attractive flooring solution.
Our final patio surfaces option is both affordable and easy to install. Simply cover the designated area with sand, which is pleasingly inexpensive even in large amounts, and level off.
When it comes to patio surfaces, sand is not everyone’s first choice. This is largely because it doesn’t share the visual appeal of some of the other surfaces on our list. Sand is also not as stable as other surfaces, chairs or furniture can move when placed on sand. If this is a problem, you can always put a few tiles or stones down as a base for the furniture.
Sand can also get messy, particularly during periods of rain or damp weather. This can be annoying, particularly if you want to go outside after rainfall.
However, a sandy surface also has many benefits. It is ideal if you are creating a beach theme, especially if you have a pool or water feature in your garden. Sand also works well in tropical gardens.
As we have already noted you can also use sand as a base to lay other surfaces such as clay bricks or tiles. Combining the materials, for example, using more solid patio surfaces such as brick or stone to create a path and seating areas through a sandy area, can create a pleasingly attractive outdoor space.
Sand can be used to create a simple surface or as a base layer.
Originally a key feature in Spanish architectural designs today the patio, from the Latin meaning “to lie open” is a key feature of many peoples gardens. Whichever one of our patio surfaces you choose, the finished space will open up a whole new world to you.
Once laid you can add furniture, raised planters and pots filling them with fragrant and colorful flowers, fruit and vegetables or decorative touches such as lighting or a living wall. This helps to further enhance the space, providing year round interest and color so that you can enjoy your garden whatever the time of year.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.