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The patio is one of the main features of your outdoor living space. It’s important to plan carefully, choose the right materials, and above all, build a compact and secure base before installing pavers, stone, or concrete.
Planning is vital. Many of the most common design mistakes can be avoided with effective planning.
When it comes to designing your dream outdoor living space, planning is key. The design and placement of your patio is determined
by several factors, including:
The design process should begin by asking clients about how they entertain and the average size of their gatherings. The primary goal is to create a space that
is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and functional.
In addition to how the patio will be used, it’s important
to consider the unique characteristics of the site. In some cases, the best location for the patio may be farther from the house, where the sun and traffic patterns are optimal. Planting older trees, building an arbor for privacy and shade, and choosing the right furniture can all help make patios and outdoor areas habitable at all hours throughout the season.
Ultimately, the right location depends on the property.
Sometimes drainage and septic issues will affect where
you can (or can’t) put the patio. If the grade is steep, it’s common to include multi-level patios with different areas for eating, a fire pit, and sometimes grilling or an outdoor kitchen.
When selecting materials, consider appearance, costs, maintenance, durability, and snow removal.
The three most popular patio materials are concrete
pavers, natural stone, and stamped concrete. When
selecting materials, consider appearance, costs, maintenance, durability, and snow removal.
Concrete pavers are available in a wide range of surface finishes, colors, shapes, and patterns. The initial
cost is moderate, and installation can be done by the
homeowner or a professional. The smooth surface
allows for easy snow removal.
Natural stone, such as flagstone, has a distinctive
appearance but is more difficult to install. In order
for the patio to be level, the depth of the base must
be adjusted to accommodate the varying thickness
of the stone. Fitting irregular shapes together is like
assembling a puzzle, so installation takes about twice as
long. Natural stone is extremely durable and can last
for centuries. Like concrete pavers, it’s easy to replace
broken or cracked stones, but the irregular surface is
not plowable and can make shoveling difficult.
Stamped concrete simulates the appearance of pavers with poured concrete that has been colored and
“stamped.” The initial cost varies depending on
the site but is generally comparable to concrete
pavers. Like any concrete slab, cracks from freezing
and thawing can be a problem.
When choosing a contractor, make sure you ask how your patio will be constructed. A strong and efficient base is critical to the longevity of the patio.
Once the planning is complete, installation can begin. When it comes to patios, what you can’t see is just as
important as what you can. When choosing a patio
contractor, make sure you ask how your patio will be
constructed. Patios that are built in a hurry on an
inadequate base will fail quickly.
Best practice requires at least three separately compacted 2-inch layers of Class 5 aggregate base topped with one inch of sand.
No matter what material you choose, a patio requires a
minimum of 6 inches of compacted Class 5 aggregate
base. Class 5 base is a mix of 3⁄4-inch rock mixed with
“fines” which help provide a solid base by filling in the
spaces between the rock. Without a stable base, pavers
will separate on the inside, the outside will sink and
tip, and the patio will lose its tight uniform look.
Best practice requires at least three separately compacted 2-inch layers of aggregate topped with one
inch of sand (too much sand will make the pavers
sink). Some installers will just throw in 6 inches of
base all at once and compact it in a single step. This is
a common shortcut that inevitably results in settling
and instability. Within a year or two of installation, the
patio will start to heave and sag.
This patio features a mix of both concrete and natural stone. The result is a warm, inviting space with custom charm.
If properly installed, your paver or stone patio will last
at least 30 years! So it makes sense to think through
the design, choose the right materials, and invest in
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