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.
This design is called stacked bond or jack-on-jack. It features bricks stacked in even rows and columns. Its simple straight lines can make a smaller space seem larger, and works well for contemporary spaces.
Herringbone is the most formal pattern and has been a traditional staple for centuries. With its zigs and zags, it works well to cover irregular areas.
The running bond pattern is simple, versatile, and popular for patios and paths. Pavers can be set at slight angles to create a curve. Running bond is well suited to covering small areas.
For casual, cottagelike design, try the basket-weave pattern. The bricks are laid horizontally and vertically in "tile" pairs. This pattern can be easily incorporated into another design, or used alone.
Material Cost Bricks 80 cents to $2 apiece Concrete blocks, 8x16-inch 35 cents to 50 cents apiece Poured concrete $72 to $100 per yard (not including installation) Self-mix concrete, 80-lb. bag $3 to $6 Concrete pavers 50 cents to $5 apiece Concrete interlocking edgers 89 cents to $1.20 apiece Stone 20 cents to 40 cents per lb. Outdoor tiles $2 to $9 apiece Gravel, pea or 3/4-inch $17 to $20 per ton, delivered Green tinted lumber 4x4x8, about $5; 6x6x8, $15 to $20 Cedar timber About $15 per board Retaining wall block, 12-inch or 18-inch From $1.50 to $4