Bricks are available in a variety of colors and finishes; this material blends with most settings and the blocks can be arranged in numerous patterns.
Poured concrete is durable and one of the simplest options for do-it-yourselfers. New color-bonding products can give old concrete a facelift.
Concrete pavers come in many shapes and styles, including ones that simulate natural stone; they are stronger than brick and form an interlocking surface.
Stone lends a rugged charm to any outdoor space; various types are available for use as pavers. The pieces of stone can vary widely in color and design, even when cut from the same larger boulder.
Gravel compacts well and is the most price-conscious option at the start, although with heavy use gravel requires regular smoothing and additional layers.
Outdoor tiles are available in many sizes, shapes, and colors; they are smooth and easy to clean.
Timber, otherwise known as decking, makes for an easy-to-construct patio; recycled, wood-alternative materials are becoming available.
Safety and comfort. Stone and tile are sometimes slippery when wet, and stone can be uneven underfoot. Gravel is hard on bare feet, and occasionally tile can raise up a sharp edge.
Style. For a rustic or informal look, consider stone, concrete pavers, timber, or certain kinds of tile. For a more formal-looking space, brick and smooth tiles are the most traditional choices.
Climate. If your patio gets a lot of sun, wood will be the most cooling; the other materials will absorb heat. Asphalt-stabilized adobe and porcelain tiles will withstand any weather, while terra-cotta is best suited for warm climates.
Continued on page 2: Design Patterns