A wide array of materials is available for surfacing a patio. The material you choose should blend with the surroundings and other materials used in the landscape, while providing the right surface for the intended use of the patio.
For an outdoor entertainment area (especially for dining), a solid, level surface, such as brick or cast pavers, is best. Flat stones, such as slate, also create an even surface. Fieldstone, due to its naturally uneven surface, will not be perfectly level.
Loose material, such as pea gravel, is not recommended for dining areas because table legs can settle unevenly into the stone. Crushed granite, however, once it is compacted, forms a surface almost as stable and firm as concrete, and water can percolate through it.
Whereas the surfacing material is largely a matter of taste and cost, the foundation upon which the material rests and how the surface is set in place are key structural considerations. The foundation determines the slope of the patio and its levelness.
Excavating a level area and putting in a gravel base topped with sand are essential parts of building any patio, whether poured as a slab of concrete or topped with pavers. Once the base is sloped and smooth, the pavers can be set in mortar or on sand.
Sometimes the look you want involves mixing materials. Here brick and slate team up for a surface that is durable as well as eye-appealing.
Concrete is popular, easy to work with, and affordable. Dress it up with bands of brick, or enhance it with stains, stamps, or inlays.
Large fieldstones are used to create a patio that has a natural, woodland feel. Ground cover planted between the stones softens the area further.
Brick is a traditional patio paving material and comes in a wide array of styles and colors. Choose aged brick for an informal look or pristine brick red pavers for a formal setting.