Patio paver planning

8 October, 2014

The first step of planning a truly stunning patio is starting with – you guessed it – a great base. There are many different paving options when it comes to patio planning, but they all have their own unique pros and cons. 

Before you even begin taking a look at different stone and gravel options, it's important to think about what challenges you'll need your patio to meet. Do you have children? If so, finding a slip-proof surface may take priority, while constant exposure to sun and precipitation means finding fade-resistant and crack-free flooring options. Any outdoor furniture or patio dining sets will require a very flat, hard surface, and a stable, solid ground will create a barrier to block weed growth in most yards. Above all, you'll need to make sure that a professional concrete slab or do-it-yourself sand-and-gravel foundation is laid down before you do any paving. 

Concrete 
Concrete is the easiest, most affordable patio-paving option out there. It comes in an almost infinite variety of colors, and can be stamped, dyed or acid washed, though any coating applied over the concrete will likely need to be reapplied every two years or so. Concrete does tend to show surface cracks and color wear more quickly than other options, but you can choose specific varieties that will better withstand specific types of weathering. 

How flat and stable the surface will be is one major benefit to choosing concrete. For those who do a great deal of outdoor entertaining, this option is often one of your best bets because furniture will stay level and guests won't trip. You will have to cure the patio before concrete is poured, but the project requires little other preparation.

Brick
While bricks are particularly porous and may crack in freezing weather, they are the most resistant to color fading. They are smaller than other pavers and consequently take more time to install, and moss can grow on them, making them extra slick. 

Pavers
Concrete pavers are cut into uniform pieces that fit together like a puzzle when installed. Besides being easily and quickly placed, pavers also come in the largest selection of shapes and colors and offer the most room for creative license when it comes to design. These are a great option if you'd like to DIY your patio flooring, but take heed – weeds can easily grow in between concrete pavers, so make sure to lay them as close together as possible. 

Spanish tiles
One of the most beautiful patio flooring options available, Spanish tiling is often seen in some of the most exotic, luxurious homes. The tiles require grouting, so the job is best done by a professional. These, along with most other options, may crack under heavy use or in below-freezing temperatures. 

Sand or gravel
Although this method requires consistent replenishment due to erosion, it is incredibly affordable and natural-looking.Sand's and gravel's extreme permeability makes them the most eco-friendly "paving" option, as the materials conserve and properly distribute ground water. Patio furniture can sink into this kind of flooring, however, so it is best executed in areas of your backyard with minimal outdoor seating.

Flagstone
Flagstone encompasses several kinds of patio stone, such as slate and limestone. While laying flagstone yourself is possible, it is best left to the pros, as uncut stone is incredibly difficult to piece together without special help. This is a more slip-resistant patio option but it also cracks more easily than other related options.

These patio-paving ideas cover mainstream options, but you can find many other lesser-used ideas, such as cobblestone, pebbles and rubber tiling. When it comes to outdoor design, don't be afraid to get creative, but remember to realistically consider your patio's limitations first!