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Patio Materials and Designs

Paving creates an attractive, firm, and dry footing for outdoor living. Choose the type that best suits your style and budget.

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    Everything in this slideshow

    • Stained Concrete

      Stained concrete is a durable surface that adapts to almost any design. You can add color to new concrete either with dye spread on the slab surface or with pigment mixed into the concrete before pouring. Choose a hue slightly darker than you want because it will fade in the sun. For existing concrete patios, apply a chemical stain to achieve the desired color.

    • Stained Concrete

      Cost: Moderate to inexpensive; small batches and uncommon colors are more expensive.

      Installation: Professional for ready-mix concrete; do-it-yourself for premixed or bulk dry ingredients.

      Maintenance: Wash occasionally with soap and water; seal to prevent unwanted stains; repair chips or cracks.

    • Brick

      Whether mortared in place or dry-laid over a bed of gravel, bricks offer a traditional look in a range of warm, earthy colors. Because of its uniform size and shape, brick is relatively easy to install in a variety of patterns. Bricks manufactured specifically for paving, whether old or new, are the most durable in cold climates.

    • Brick

      Cost: Expensive for mortared; moderate for dry-laid.

      Installation: Professional for mortared; skilled do-it-yourself for dry-laid.

      Maintenance: Power-wash occasionally to remove moss or grime; repair loose or chipped mortar.

    • Dry-Laid Flagstone

      Durable and easy to maintain, flagstone is available in a broad range of types and colors that complement a variety of architectural styles. It is especially well-suited to a rustic, hand-hewn look. Handpick stones from the supplier to ensure a good color match.

    • Dry-Laid Flagstone

      Cost: Moderate to expensive depending on the type of stone.

      Installation: Skilled do-it-yourself for most types; mason's saw may be required to cut dense stones.

      Maintenance: Replace sand between joints as needed; remove weeds from cracks; reset shifting stones.

    • Pea Gravel

      Pea gravel is among the easiest patio surfaces to install. Because it is loose, it shifts underfoot, enhancing walking comfort and providing better drainage than any other surface. It helps prevent erosion by allowing water to soak into the ground rather than run off. Snow removal can be difficult without gouging the pebble surface.

    • Pea Gravel

      Cost: Among the least expensive patio paving options.

      Installation: Easy to moderate do-it-yourself.

      Maintenance: Occasionally rake surface to smooth displaced stones; blow off debris.

    • Stamped Concrete

      Freshly poured concrete, plain or colored, can be stamped with a pattern after troweling. Stamps are available to create patterns that resemble cobblestone, cut stone, irregular stone, brick, or precast pavers. Open-mold stamps simply outline shapes; closed-mold stamps add texture to the concrete surface.

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      Stamped Concrete

      Cost: Moderate.

      Installation: Best left to professionals

      Maintenance: Power-wash occasionally to remove moss or grime; apply a concrete sealer to prevent moisture damage.

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      Mulch

      Wood mulch is available as bark, chips, nuggets, or shreds. Shredded mulch makes the most stable and comfortable walking surface and forms an interlocking mat that remains in place better during heavy rain or strong winds. Add an edging such as railroad ties, bricks, pavers, or stones to confine mulch to the patio area.

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      Mulch

      Cost: Among the least expensive patio surfacing options.

      Installation: Easy to moderate do-it-yourself.

      Maintenance: Replace mulch blown away by wind; replenish mulch as it decays; remove weeds that sprout in the mulch.

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      Exterior Tile

      The regular geometric shapes and distinct edges of ceramic and stone tile make them excellent patio paving material. Choose from fired terra-cotta, machine-made quarry, molded paver, or synthetic-stone tiles. Make certain that the tile is designed for outdoor use. Unglazed tile is less slippery than glazed tile when wet.

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      Exterior Tile

      Cost: Moderate to very expensive.

      Installation: Professional or skilled do-it-yourself.

      Maintenance: Seal tiles to protect them from scratches and keep them from absorbing water; repair chipped grout.

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      Mortared Cut Stone

      Providing all the benefits of dry-laid flagstone, but with a more formal appearance, mortared cut stone is an excellent choice for high-use areas. Lay a 4-inch-deep gravel base, 4-inch-deep concrete pad, and 1-inch-deep mortar bed before setting the cut stone.

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      Mortared Cut Stone

      Cost: Moderate to very expensive.

      Installation: Professional or highly skilled do-it-yourself.

      Maintenance: Power-wash occasionally to remove moss or grime; seal to prevent stains; repair chipped mortar.

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      Concrete Pavers

      Resembling brick in versatility and installation, concrete pavers adapt to formal and informal styles. Pavers are as durable as brick but are lighter-weight, less costly, and available in a broader range of shapes. Select pavers that have color impregnated throughout their thickness.

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      Concrete Pavers

      Cost: Inexpensive to moderate.

      Installation: Professional for mortared; skilled do-it-yourself for dry-laid.

      Maintenance: Power-wash occasionally to remove moss or grime; weed between cracks; repair chipped mortar.

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      Precast Steppers

      Round, rectangular, or square precast steppers are, in essence, large concrete pavers spaced at regular intervals. Forms are available to cast your own designs. Wider spacing is a budget-saving technique, but instability and shifting from soil heaving can be problems.

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      Precast Steppers

      Cost: Inexpensive to moderate.

      Installation: Skilled do-it-yourself.

      Maintenance: Reset shifting steppers; mow grass or trim plants growing between steppers.

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      Next Slideshow 16 Great Patio Ideas

      16 Great Patio Ideas

      Just like interior rooms, patios benefit from seasonal spruce-ups, new furniture arrangements, and fresh crops of accessories. Take your redesign cue from these 16 patios that illustrate inspirational, on-trend, and achievable redesign strategies.
      Begin Slideshow »

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