Make a pretty patio the main focal
point of your yard.
- Design a low-maintenance living space to get the most enjoyable patio that's easy to furnish for seasons of outdoor living and easy to clean when not in use.
- Make the design attractive: It should complement the house and landscape, as well as provide a comfortable living space.
- Build a patio (most are relatively easy) within a few weekends if you're fairly handy. If you're going to do the work, check out a construction manual at the library for how-to information.
- Don't be square. Add slabs at the corners of a concrete paver patio, for instance, to make a unique geometric form. Curves often make the best use of space.
- Make the grade level and stable enough to support tables, chairs, and foot traffic. Ensure smooth, safe transition areas, especially along edges and in corners. Significant changes in grade call for terracing or steps.
- Create a hidden or enclosed patio away from the house. It is one of the simplest outdoor rooms you can make. All you need is level ground, comfortable seating, and the shelter of trees and shrubs.
- Extend a patio's usefulness with a roof or partial cover. Position the patio to be warmed (but not baked) by the sun; a southeast or southwest location is ideal.
- Keep in mind the costs of maintenance over the anticipated lifetime of the paving material, when figuring the patio's cost initially.
Top that plain concrete slab with a beautiful veneer of tile. Use 1/4-inch ceramic or porcelain tile or 1/2-inch quarry tile. Choose tile that withstands the weather in your region. Ensure proper adhesion by scrubbing the patio with a 5 percent solution of muriatic acid. Rinse well. Mix latex bonding cement into the mortar.
1. Prepare the area by staking a 2x4 edging in place parallel to the slab. Spread mortar over a small area of clean concrete, 15 square feet at a time; mortar sets quickly.
2. Use a 2x4 scree board to smooth the mortar. Gently press tile into the mortar; use spacers to place the tile uniformly. Lay a long, straight board across the tiles, and gently tap into place any that are set too high. Let the mortar set for 24 hours.
3. Spread grout into the joints using a wood or rubber trowel. When grout is nearly dry, rinse off any excess with a damp sponge. Overworking the grout will weaken it. Spray the surface lightly with water. Cover the area with a sheet of plastic, and let cure for one week.