8 Wonderful Patio Ideas

Installing a new outdoor patio is one of the best investments you can make into both the financial state of your home and the satsifaction you can gain out of it. Obviously, a new patio is an important investment, one that cannot be overlooked. I want to help you avoid regret when you finally get that patio installed a realize that you don’t like what you got, whether that’s 10 minutes or 10 years down the line. Thus, here are eight outdoor patio ideas that will hopefully inspire you and educate you about what is truly possible when it comes to an outdoor patio. I cover nearly every facet of your choices, the patio’s design, installation, and extra features that can make your patio even more beautiful.

Location of Your Patio

Obviously, the first decision you need to make is where to install the new patio. The standard location is in your backyard, perhaps just outside the back entrance of your home, but don’t limit yourself to this location. While it’s a classic for sure, there may be other interesting places to install your patio. For instance, think about combining your patio with a pool deck, especially if you have an in-ground pool, as you’ll enjoy a well-integrated backyard. (There could be a whole article on pool patio ideas as well!)

While you are planning out your back patio, don’t forget that you can add other features to the installation, such as a new stoop or garden area – indeed, there are many patio ideas for small gardens that can combine the beauty of your organic garden life with the man-made beauty of your new patios.

One final note – don’t just limit yourself to the back patio! Many people have begun adding patios to their front yard. Obviously, this will depend on the dimensions of your property, but front patio ideas are at least something to consider during this phase.

Choosing Patio Materials

Another decision you need to make about your patio paving is picking the right patio material. There are tons of materials you can choose from, and many different designs and patterns (more on that in a sec), so the major factors for you will probably fall more along the lines of budget than anything else. At the lower end of the price spectrum is gravel, asphalt, and concrete – they are strong and durable, but don’t offer much in the way of design choices. You can spruce up this traditional slab look with stamped and colored concrete patio options.

The next level are concrete paving slabs, large square or rectangular cuts of precast concrete. The next paving level up are pavers – concrete pavers, grass pavers, and brick pavers. Each type of patio pavers has its own qualities – I go over bricks and paving stones in other areas of this site, linked here. Finally, there are the natural stone options, such as flagstone, both in paver and slab form. These are by far the most expensive options.

Other factors that you have to consider are your project plans, the climate (cold areas may crack patio slabs), and possibilities for expansion (i.e. are you considering adding on to your project at another time).

Patio Design Ideas

Next comes the hard part – actually determining the design of your patio. A lot of your design will be determined by the material you select – for instance, pavers may be easier to form into curves and allow you to play around more with colors and patterns, moreso than traditional options like concrete. You’ll need to determine the dimensions of the patio, the pattern (if applicable), color scheme, add-ons (like walkways and steps), and more. Create a picture if you can, or get a contractor or designer to do it for you.

Don’t forget about possibly adding a system of walkways around your new patio as well! The best part of using materials like concrete pavers is that you can use the material for all your backyard projects, even if you decide to add on to the installation years down the line. Still, it makes the most economic and efficiency sense to do as much work as possible at the same time.

One way to get ideas is to be inspired by what other people have done. Look around to your friends’ and family’s patios and see what you like and dislike about their projets. You can also seek out photos to get more patio ideas. Your material manufacturer or contractor may be able to supply you with these pictures as well. (I will be adding some images soon to this page, so check back.)

Hiring a Patio Contractor

This is an important step – all your well-laid plans could go to waste by missing this step. I’ve written extensively on how to hire paver contractors here – much of what I wrote applies to hiring any contractor.

Do It Yourself Patio Ideas

One way to save money is to do it yourself – forgo hiring a contractor and install that patio with your own efforts. This will save you much money that you would have had to pay in labor costs, but you will of course pay with your own time and labor.

If you are considering this option, make sure to think about DIY patio ideas, ones that will fit with your skill level and budget. For instance, certain materials are harder to handle than others, and require more skill and experience. You may also have a difficult area to install your project in (for instance, issues with grades or soil settling/composition) that necessitate the help of an expert. Still, you may be able to do a lot of the work yourself, especially if you’re using easy to install materials like pavers and slabs.

One quick trick here is to try installing a small patio somewhere else in your yard as a ‘practice run.’ It can be a simple design where you can test out different materials, ideas, and so on. Then, when you feel more comfortable, upgrade to a larger application.

Landscaping and Your Patio

Improving the look and feel of your backyard is not just about the hardscape! Consider how adding landscaping can enhance your newly installed patio. Doing so is an easy and cheap way of increasing the beauty of your project, especially when you can’t afford high-priced materials like sandstone paving. For instance, integrating a garden with a backyard patio may be a great way to showcase your hobby while enhancing the beauty of your backyard retreat. This site doesn’t have too much information (yet) on landscaping, but consider these articles on landscaping rocks and garden pavers for some preliminary ideas.

Adding Extras to Your Patio

Once the patio has been installed, you can also add other features to your patio that can increase its beauty and utility. For instance, if you’re looking for more privacy, you can get a screened in or enclosed patio. A covered patio is also good if you want to enjoy your project in any weather – extreme rain or extreme shine. Other ideas include getting a raised paver patio, adding patio furniture, outdoor lighting, barbecue pits, fireplaces, fountains, and much more!

Even if you are not installing a new patio, or you don’t own your patio (like if you live in an apartment), you can still use these ideas to spruce up what you’ve got to make it a more enjoyable and relaxing living space.

Saving Money

Finally, there are plenty of ways to save money on your next patio. Cheap paving doesn’t have to be low quality as long as you make the right shortcuts. First, you can look for inexpensive materials – I discuss some ways to find pavers for sale and paving slabs for sale on this site. As already mentioned, you can make use of patio ideas on a budget by doing the work yourself. For a more in-depth discussion of costs associated to different materials, see the Costs & Saving Money section of this site, including articles on such topics as the cost of pavers and a concrete patio cost guide.

A Concrete Patio Cost Estimate

One of the classic things to install at your home is a concrete patio. This is a popular option because of the concrete patio is strong, durable, and relatively inexpensive to install. If you are beginning your research process, you’re probably wondering about the concrete patio cost. This article cannot substitute for proper estimator working on your job, but it will give you some guidance as to what the price may be, as well factors that could affect the final price.

Factors That Affect Patio Cost

Obviously, one of the main benefits of the concrete patio and the reason why many homeowners install one is its price. Concrete patios are cheap options when compared to brick, concrete pavers, stone, tile, and other hardscape solutions. However, you don’t want to go with bargain basement concrete, as you’ll have to deal with horrible cracks and other damage in the long run. Thus, make sure you’re getting a good deal, but don’t immediately go with the bargain option. Going for the contractor with the lowest bid is the quickest way to ensure that you’ll have to get the patio reinstalled in a few short years.

There are number of factors that contribute to the overall price of the concrete. The first is, of course, the price of the concrete itself. In addition, there will be other materials that may need to be added to the concrete in order to reinforce it or make it look nice. For instance, wire mesh or rebar might have to be added to ensure that cracks don’t grow too large. In addition, some preparatory work on the foundation or subbase of your new patio may need to be done. The extent of this preparatory work will obviously depend on the particularities of your project. You also have to pay for the molds and forms that may be necessary to create your patio.

In addition, there are other specific factors that may affect the final price. For example, the location of your home, i.e. the standard of living in your area will obviously affect the final cost. To put it simply, contractors in richer areas will just charge more for the same type of work than contractors in a less expensive area. Other minor factors include the time of the year, commodity costs, and the particularities associated with different contractors. Note that a smaller area of your patio will usually cost more per square foot than if your project was a larger area, so it may pay to get multiple places poured or to enlarge the size of your patio, if desired.

All the above deals primarily with poured option. However, it is possible to get large concrete slabs brought into your home and laid like papers. This option will generally be cheaper, as you won’t have to deal with wet concrete, molds, forms, and other aspects of the installation that are somewhat time-consuming and expensive.

The downside to a concrete patio, however, is that it is somewhat boring to look at. The gray and drab concrete certainly does go with most house designs, but it is not the most ideal hardscape solution in most situations. However, for those who want concrete for its cheap price but don’t mind spending a little bit more to improve the look of patio, there are few options available, which will be discussed in the following section.

Other Kinds of Concrete Patios and Their Costs

There many other ideas you can use to spruce up your backyard patio without having to go with more expensive options like pavers and natural stone. For example, it is possible to get stamped concrete patio. This will allow you to create many different designs, such as the appearance of bricks, in your patio without having to actually get paver materials and other expensive options. However, the stamped concrete patio cost will be higher than a that of a typical concrete patio.

Another option at your disposal is to go with a colored concrete patio. You can either do this by having the color mixed into the wet concrete before it’s poured, or by using concrete stainer to color the surface of the patio. Both of these options will incur a slightly increased expense, but it could make your patio quite unique compared to the typical look.

Don’t forget as well that there may be other costs associated with your patio, such as maintenance and upkeep. (See a discussion of concrete patio repair here.) You may also want to get accessories for your new patio, such as a new set of furniture or patio enclosure. For discussion of some outdoor patio ideas and enclosed patio, see these articles that are linked here.

The Verdict

So how much does a concrete patio cost in the final analysis? Obviously, we can only give a rough estimate due to the many different factors at play we comes down to getting estimate. Thus, it’s best if you contact up to three contractors in order to get a proper estimate done for your job.

In general you should expect to pay anywhere from $2.50-$5 per square foot for plain, typical concrete, depending on how complex the job turns out to be. If you begin to get stamped variations, you’ll be in the range of $5-$10 per square foot. As you get more complex, with special designs, stamps, and colors, you’ll be in the range of $10-$15 per square foot and maybe even higher, and at this point it will pay to look into the paving stones option, such as a concrete patio pavers, unless you are dead set on a concrete patio for some reason.

It should be known that the price of concrete is increasing constantly, so you may not get the deal that you got a few years ago any more. Most people will have to settle with the job costing within the four figure region, most often between 2000 and $5000.

Building a Paver Patio – Hints and Tips

A new driveway is probably the best investment you can make in your home’s hardscape and landscape. But a close second is a new patio, as it’s both a great financial investment and an investment in your enjoyment of your home and backyard. In addition, the best material to use for this purpose – the material that will maximize the beauty and value of your new patio – are concrete pavers.

Best of all, if you have any sort of home improvement skill, you can install these patio pavers yourself! Note that if you don’t think you can handle building a paver patio, there are plenty of paver contractors who you can hire to do the job for you. Still, you should consider giving a DIY patio a try. This article will give you some tips and tricks to help inform you how to build a paver patio for the lowest cost and the lowest hassle.

In addition, we want you to get the job done right! So some of these tips will be essentials when it comes to properly installing your new paving stone project, so listen up!

Picturing and Designing Your Paver Patio

The first step, after deciding to install a new patio, of course, is to plan and design your new application. Of course, you have near limitless options here, both in the size, shape, pattern, and color scheme of your new patio, so we can’t go into all those options here. The key is, of course, getting all of those features down in a sketch, or at least in writing, so that you can move on to the next stages in your building project.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, or don’t have any ‘eye’ for design, you can outsource this step. At the same time, I’d advise you not to underrate your own abilities – you know what you want and what you like better than anyone else. This site can give you plenty of ideas for sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns, so there’s a start for you at least. Check out our section on design ideas!

You should also tailor your design to your skill level. In other words, adding fancy curves and dips and steps to your project will be an unfortunate proposition if this is your first DIY concrete pavers project. Thus, sticking to the basics (rectangles and squares) is a good idea for most homeowners. While curves are nice, some patios may actually be better designed when they stick to the ‘basics.’

Your Material Choices – Pavers for Patio

This article assumes that you’re using concrete pavers, or paving stones, for your next project. In truth, natural stone or brick pavers will be similar to concrete pavers in many ways, though there may be some tips specific to those materials as well.

Once you’ve figured out the plan for your next project, you need to pick the brand of paver you’ll use, the type, and the colors. Of course, picking one of these options will, in some ways, require adhering to another choice. For example, if you pick one brand of pavers over the others due to price, you’ll be limited to the colors and types of brick that that company sells.

You’ll need to order your brick, crushed aggregate, and sand according to the square footage of your project. Before you call the paver manufacturer or mason supply yard, make sure to have the dimensions and square footage, along with any other special needs, at hand. They will tell you how much material you’ll need to complete the job. The exact amount will vary on so many factors that it won’t be very helpful if you were given an estimate here.

If saving money is your game, there’s plenty of information on this site on how to find pavers for sale.

Beginning Your Paver Project

This section will just be a brief overview of the important factors that you need to consider when installing your new patio. For a more detailed discussion of the steps needed to install paving stones, see this CPG article on paver installation.

One thing you’ll want to do is ‘simulate’ using your patio. This means laying down your furniture in the dimensions of your new project. This is done to ensure that the space is ‘liveable’ and that no conflicts between the size of the patio and your furniture will develop.

Another thing to keep in mind is grading, or pitch. You want to make sure that your patio is sloped away from your house or other sensitive areas of your yard. This will make sure that water doesn’t flood your basement, garden, or other areas of your home.

Before digging in your backyard, make sure that you note the location of any utility lines. It can be both messy and dangerous if you split a wire or water line. You can call your utility company to do this for you; many will do the service for free, so don’t worry about the expense.

The most important thing, bar none, when it comes to the quality of your project is the foundation, or sub-base. Spend most of your time on this aspect of the project – it will be time well spent. A poor base will mar even the strongest patio installation for years to come.

When installing your patio, make sure your family members know not to step in the area while construction is under way. Disturbing the base or sand bed is obviously a good thing, but they should not even walk on the pavers until they have been properly edged and compacted. This includes pets, too – having Fido do his business in your freshly prepared base is a headache and a half!

Don’t feel compelled to do all this work in one sitting or one weekend. In fact, for large patios, this may not even be possible. Dedicate one weekend, for example, to properly preparing the base. Spend the next on laying the pavers and applying the finishing touches.

The Verdict

In the end, installing a new paver patio is within the ‘wheelhouse’ of more homeowners than may be normally assumed. Pavers are relatively easy to work with a forgiving to newbies – unlike poured concrete and asphalt, as their drying process is a “one shot deal.”

In addition, if you want some more outdoor patio ideas, go ahead and read this CPG article that will give you ten great ones to get you started on your next project!

10 Amazing Outdoor Patio Ideas

Adding a new patio to your yard – or simply redoing an old one – is a major project, one that you should approach with care. If you have no idea what kind of patio you want, or where you want to put it, or anything to do with your patio, you can certainly have a designer or contractor figure it out for you. But it’s also possible for you to come up with your own outdoor patio ideas. To help you out, here are ten outdoor patio ideas that you can either use for your next project or use to stimulate your own creativity when it comes to imagining and designing your patio. More comprehensive discussions of materials related to patios – such as articles on patio pavers and general patio paving information – can be found at those links.

  1. While you are coming up with patio design ideas, don’t ignore the other projects you can build with your patio. For instance, you can connect your patio to your home with new patio steps (made out of the same materials as the patio). You can also create walkways, pool decks, driveways, and other installations, all out of the same or other materials. This is a good idea for two reasons. First, you’ll save money if you install all those project at the same time than if you install them separately. Second, you’ll ensure that all your projects have the same design theme, style, and material.
  2. Of course, the most common materials – concrete – are tried and true, but don’t forget about the other materials options available. If your budget can handle it, we strongly encourage you to use patio pavers. You can find enough colors, patterns, and styles that you’ll be sure to create a design that will go with your general decor. If your heart is set on concrete, you should look into other decorative concrete options, such as stamped, colored, and stained concrete. You could also cover your concrete patio with thin concrete pavers or outdoor patio tile to provide the facade of a paver installation without the expense.
  3. Aside from concrete pavers, don’t forget other paver materials too for your outdoor patio, such as brick pavers and natural stone pavers. These are more expensive than concrete pavers and other materials, but they are beautiful to look at and go well with nearly any decorating taste.
  4. If you have no skills or willingness to install your projects, you can find plenty of contractors who can do the job for you. However, consider the possibilities, both aesthetic and financial, of doing it yourself. A DIY patio can save you money and ensure that your application turns out how you like. Use pictures for reference as necessary, and do your research to learn how to install your project. For instance, you can read about paver installation here.
  5. As with everything in life, it’s all about location, location, location. Of course, a backyard patio close to your house, or even adjacent to it, is a great option. But think about other places you can put your patio, or consider installing more than one patio, all with different uses. For instance, you can have one patio near your home for entertaining, and another garden patio for relaxation and for work on your landscaping.
  6. If you’re installing a new patio, the size of the new project is up to you, of course. This is also true if you’re installing a new patio in place of an old one – consider experimenting with different sized patios. For instance, you can create one large patio, as per normal, or you can create a series of small patios, perhaps connected by walkways and/or landscaping.
  7. If you are using your patio for entertaining, consider the ways you can maximize its utility. You can install a barbecue or fire pit; then it’s easy to cook food and have a BBQ without having to pull out the Weber grill. If you will be entertaining guests at night, try outdoor patio lighting to ensure that your guests will be bathed in light.
  8. Ultimately, the dimensions and design of your patio will depend on what you want to use it for. Make sure that the patio will fit all the accessories and people you want to put there. Make sure to measure out your gear to make sure that it will all be able to fit on the new patio with enough room.
  9. Of course, if you want to be able to use your patio year round, consider enclosing it. You can go as far or as close to an ‘outdoor room’ as you’d like. For instance, you can put a retractable roof on it if you want to get some sun occasionally; or you can enclose your patio with mesh, screen, windows, or even walls. You can then make your patio more of an extension on your home, perhaps adding a kitchen or entertainment area. Click this link for more information on enclosed patios.
  10. Once your patio is installed, don’t forget the furniture. You can really go wild here – of course, you’ll need some good patio sets with tables and chairs, but you can also add extras depending on the size of the project, such as a bar or hot tub.

BONUS: Here are some other accessories you can add to your patio: umbrella, hammock, torches and other lamps, benches, walls, planters and other landscaping features, fireplace, fountains, statues, and waterfalls.

10 DIY Patio Ideas

Among all the outdoor projects that you can build to enhance your own, the patio is among the most fun and valuable. Having a comfortable and beatiful place to entertain friends and family is worth the price of installation, and it will pay itself off many times over the years of use you’ll get out of it.

Best of all, if you have the skills and desire, you can make your own patio without needing to hire a contractor and bear the brunt of that expense. In fact, a DIY patio is a great first project, as it is hidden in your backyard and doesn’t have to deal with vehicular traffic. If you messed up a new DIY driveway, for example, you’d have much more of a headache on your hands.

To help you with your DIY paving project, we are giving you ten DIY patio tips to stimulate your creativity and get you thinking about your next project.

Note: You can also find 10 DIY concrete pavers tips here.

  1. The first major decision you have to make is picking your material that will use. Some are more appropriate for homeowner installation than others. Concrete pavers, for example, are highly recommended here, as they are easy to work with and install. The only difficult aspect of a DIY patio pavers project is preparing the base – this is the most important part of the project, so the utmost amount of care should be taken to make sure it’s right. Your other options are brick pavers and natural stone pavers – these are similar to install, but they are more expensive, so are usually not recommended for beginners. Concrete is easy to work with if you know what you are doing, but difficult if you are unskilled.
  2. When designing your new patio, don’t be hemmed in by the old shape and size (if you have an old patio that you’re replacing, of course). Be creative and aggressive – expand your DIY patios beyond their original borders and outside of their previous shape.
  3. Even if you want to do the entire project yourself, you have a backup plan if things go sour – you can subcontract out pieces of the project that you can’t handle or are having problems with. This way you can still save money while making sure the job is done right. An example of this is with the paver patio – you might want to have someone come in and excavate the old base and install the new one. You can then lay the pavers on the sand bed yourself and complete the finishing touches.
  4. Speaking of finishing touches, don’t forget them. Many little tweeks are easy to do yourself and can add much beauty and value to your patio. For example, when laying your pavers, your do it yourself patio can be fashioned into an interesting pattern with a good color scheme. If you are installing a concrete patio, you can use concrete patio paint or outdoor patio tile to help spruce up the appearance of the plain concrete slab.
  5. If you want the look of pavers without the expense, go with stamped concrete for your DIY patio. You can find concrete stamps for sale and concrete patio molds to make the shapes and designs you want; simply press them into the surface of the still wet concrete. You should only do this, however, if you live in a mild environment that doesn’t experience regular freezing and thawing in the winter.
  6. Don’t forget the accessories. You can also DIY your own enclosed patios, patio doors, awnings, canopies, and other aspects of your patio that will add both form and function. Don’t forget the furniture or barbecue, either.
  7. If you are having trouble coming up with a unique and effective design for your patio, you can hire a contractor or designer to create the plans for you. This is often worth the investment, as the designer can give you suggestions as to what works best with your backyard, home style, and landscape theme.
  8. Think big. Just because you’re working on a patio doesn’t mean you can’t add other pieces at the same time. Consider building walkways, driveways, and pool decks at the same time as you’re making your patio. It will be easier and more cost effective to create all of it at once than to split up the projects across many months and years.
  9. Be free with your design. Don’t stick to straight (perpendicular and parallel) lines if you want something more. For example, if you are using pavers, consider adding circle kits and curves to your design.
  10. If you want more information on how to build a patio, consult with resources pertaining to your particular material. This website deals especially with pavers and paving stones of all kinds, so you might have to find other resources on concrete and other materials.

An Enclosed Patio Guide: What You Need to Know

On other places on this site, we’ve discussed the merits of installing concrete paver patios, along with using other materials to create a backyard getaway. One of the best patio ideas – an amazing way to continue to add to your backyard paradise – is to create an enclosed patio. Also known as enclosed porches or an enclosed decks, these structures allow you to enjoy your patio paving while being sheltered from the elements.

There are a lot of choices and other things to consider when thinking about adding a new patio enclosure. To help guide you in this decision, we’ve assembled a brief enclosed patio guide that will show you the major aspects of your project to consider. Come back often, as we’re always adding new material and updating this site to continue to bring you valuable information and insight.

Types of Patio Enclosures

There are two major kinds of enclosed patios that you can add to your home. The first is a room that is simply part of your house; these so-called sunrooms simply have lots of windows that allow in lots of light. Thus, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful elements, especially the sun, without having to actually be outside and deal with the heat and UV rays and other weather conditions. This kind of project is more of a ‘room addition’ than an enclosed patio, though some may tend more towards a patio than a room given their properties. The main difference that sets them apart from enclosed patios is their expense – because they are added on directly to your house, you’ll end up paying more for the work.

The second is more like a patio in that it is primarily an outdoor structure that has been ‘enclosed’ or ‘covered’ in order to protect the inhabitants from the elements. The degree to which a patio is enclosed varies from design to design. One covered patio may simply be topped off with an awning; thus, bugs and wind and other elements can get inside your covered patio, while the sun and heat will be diminished. Others are more like outdoor rooms, in that they are enclosed with screens or other materials to completely surround the patio and guard against bugs, wind, and even hot and cold temperatures (when the room is climate controlled).

Which one you want depends on how you want to use it and on how you conceive of your enclosed patio. For instance, if you think of your room as simply an extension of your home, and you want it to be climate controlled and comfortable and usable year round, you’ll probably tend more toward the sunroom approach. However, if you see this space more as an enclosed porch, one that is part of your yard as opposed to your home, you’ll want to look into enclosing a patio instead. This patio will only be usable during temperate or hot times of the year and depending on how enclosed it is.

Note that you can also use your enclosed patio for many different purposes. Some simply like to have a covered place where they can entertain guests in the more temperate seasons without having to worry about inclement weather and other worries. Others, however, like to make the space an area to hang out continually; some even turn them into family spaces, exercise rooms, libraries, and dining rooms. Thus, give some thought as to how you want to use your space, as this will largely determine what kinds of materials and designs you’ll use for your project.

If you crave flexibility, you can also buy retractable patio covers that can be deployed when you need them, such as on an especially hot or rainy day. Thus, you’ll have the flexibility to manage how much of the ‘outdoors’ you want to experience.

The Benefits of Enclosed Patios

The first obvious benefit of your enclosed patio is its beauty and aesthetic appeal. Looking outside while inside your patio is one great aspect, but patio rooms look almost as good from the outside looking in. In addition, this beauty and function will add value to your home, both financially and in terms of increased living and working space for you and your family.

Second, you can enjoy the ‘outdoors’ in comfort. How much of the outdoors you feel will depend on if you only have a patio roof or if you opt for the more enclosed structure. Nevertheless, you’ll be blocked out from the sun, deal with cooler and more comfortable temperatures, and not have to deal with mosquitos and other annoying bugs.

You can also enjoy the safety and privacy of your enclosed patio. You won’t have to worry about nosy neighbors watching you at all hours of the day, and you can be sure that you can be safe from the weather or anything that bumps in the night.

Enclosed Patio Designs

The first thing to think about is how enclosed your patio room or sunroom will actually be. At the very least, you’ll have canopies or awnings that will cover the top of your patio and block the sun and rain from reaching the contents of your room.

You’ll then need to decide how best to enclose your patio on the sides, if this is something you want to do. Some opt to have nothing blocking the sides; this makes the room more of a covered patio than an enclosed one. As for enclosing materials, you can opt for many different types, from screened patios to patios with nets covering the side. If you build in walls and windows as part of an extension to your home, it’s more of a sunroof and thus more expensive but also the most beautiful and valuable. You may also opt for glass enclosures to allow the maximum amount of sunlight in, though you will also sacrifice privacy and increase the structure’s vulnerability.

To save money and decrease the time and hassle involved with installing your new patio, some companies sell ‘modular’ systems that are pre-assembled and then assembled on the spot.

Another thing to think about is what the ‘floor’ of your patio will be. If you already have a patio made from concrete or concrete pavers, then you can simply add your patio roof or patio covers, screen porch, etc. and be done with it. Or you can install an entirely new patio surface out of these materials or others; if you want a more ‘indoor’ feel, you can go with tile, carpet, wood, and other options, though keep in mind that some of these materials won’t be viable with particular patio designs.

Your best bet is to get design plans created by a professional architect. They will best know the options available for you and what you can create given your resources. They will also give you an estimate so that you can get an idea of how much this will cost. There are an incredible number of different designs, products, and variations to the sunroom/enclosed patio, so you’ll need to do further research to find what suits your tastes and budget. Look for images of sunrooms that you like and present them to your contractor or sunroom company. They can then use these images as a guide to best create the addition that’s right for you and your family.

Building an Enclosed Patio

While creating these projects may be out of the reach of many homeowners, some may still seek DIY solutions, especially if they are looking to install modest enclosures. For instance, if you already have an outdoor porch or ‘framed’ patio, it’s relatively easy to buy thin mesh screen and put it up around the sides of the patio. This will not be the most elegant solution, but it will serve its primary purpose: keeping out bugs and irritants. You can also buy screen with vinyl attached so that you can easily assemble your enclosed patio to the proper specifications without having to deal with plain mesh.

It is also possible to buy sunroom ‘kits’ that you can assemble yourself. They may not look as great as the professionally installed kind, especially since those will be exactly customized to your taste, but they are great in a pinch. The great thing about these DIY projects, however, is that you can easily take them down and put them up at will, so you’ll have flexibility as seasons and weather changes.

You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t need to get any permits from your local municipality, as some require paperwork to be filed if you’re at all adding on to your ‘home,’ so make sure to check with officials in your area.

Some Flagstone Patio Installation Tips

Flagstone can be expensive, mostly because it is a natural stone material that is more costly than manufactured and artificial materials like concrete pavers. However, this expense can be lowered if you install the flagstone yourself. Flagstone patio installation can be difficult, though, even with the right tools and information. The skills and experience needed working with hardscaping materials may be above the ability of many homeowners, and they may benefit from contacting a contractor to do the work. However, if you believe you can do the work, here are some flagstone patio installation tips that may be useful for you during the project.

(Note: These flagstone patio installation instructions will depend on the specifics of your project. We can only offer you some general guidelines to keep in mind when installing your patio. There are many ways to ‘skin a cat,’ and there are many ways to install flagstone pavers. Contact a contractor or your flagstone supplier if you have specific questions about your project.)

  1. Before you do any installation, you need to be clear on the design of your flagstone patio and the pattern in which you want to lay the material. Do you want to lay it directly into the ground, or do you want to install a sub base? Do you want the pattern of flagstone to be irregular, or do you want them to be regularly cut and in a specific patter, such as herringbone? You need to be clear on all of these questions before you begin, as the answers will have consequences for your flagstone patio installation.
  2. There are many different bases you can use. The general distinction here is between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ installation. Wet installation requires the use of wet concrete and/or mortar, while dry installations do not. Dry are usually easier, but if they are not put together securely, they may not hold together as well. Some like to install it over a concrete slab. Others put it directly on top of the soil or ground. Still others simply put in a concrete/cement base underneath and mortar in between the joints. Still others use an installation akin to concrete pavers, with a base of aggregate concrete and a bed of sand for a more precise fit. The type of base you select will depend on where you’re installing the flagstone, what shape the stone is in, what patterns you want to lay, and other considerations. Each base type has advantages and disadvantages in terms of price, work required, and skill required, so weigh them out carefully before making a final selection.
  3. Always measure out the area of your patio before beginning. Use spray paint, stakes and strings, or anything that will help you.
  4. Don’t skimp on the sub-base if you’re going to use one. Whether it’s aggregate concrete, sand, or concrete, the foundation of your flagstone patio will be the crucial element that determines the strength and longevity of your installation. Make sure you dig deep enough, at least 6 inches, and use a plate compactor to compact the area after you’ve filled it in to the right depth with crushed aggregate or some other base material. You might consider having a contractor do this part for you, as it will be relatively cheap compared to the total installation process, and you’ll be sure that your base is properly installed. He or she could also give you tips and instructions on how to do the finishing touches on the installation.
  5. The difficulty of the actual laying of the flagstone patio will depend on the type of flagstone you are using. If you are using cut flagstone that arrives in regular shapes, such as rectangles or squares, the job is easier, as you can just put down a uniform base and lay the flagstone in the pattern you’ve selected. You’ll have to do some adjustments to make it level, but otherwise it’ll be pretty simple. However, if you’re using irregularly shaped flagstone, you may have to make adjustments while installing the stone in order to make sure that the final product comes out level. Simply use a rubber mallet and extra base material to even out the areas as necessary to ensure a level surface.
  6. How you hold together the actual project will depend on the installation method you’ve chosen. Some simply fill the joints with sand and wet it down. Others fill it with dirt and sprinkle grass seed in between to allow grass to grow in between the flagstone pavers. Others use a cement base, while still others mortar the joints. Others also add edging to the outside of the patio to hold it together.
  7. Use a wet saw, circular saw, or masonry saw to cut the flagstone if necessary to fit in your pattern. This may be important if your pattern is irregular, or if you are putting the pavers together in a ‘jigsaw fashion.’ Always be careful when using this equipment to avoid injury.
  8. Make sure that the area is graded, or sloped, properly, to allow the proper flow of water away from vulnerable areas and towards drains and other water sinks.
  9. You may need to use a plate compactor to secure the flagstone pavers properly, but this will depend on the type of installation you are doing.

If you have any other tips, share them in the comments!

Patio Pavers: What You Need to Know

An example of a paver patio. Used under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. Original photo by Sarah S. Tate.

An example of a paver patio.

Paver patios are a great addition to any home. If you want  a space in your backyard to hold a party, have a barbecue, or just enjoy your yard, a patio is the way to go. And as we’ll see, pavers are one of the best materials you can use to create these projects.

Patio pavers go well in nearly any backyard with any decor. The design options are near limitless, and they require little maintenance. Best of all,  the patio paver usually requires a simple installation, especially if there are no curves or cutting of the paving stones required (such as if the patio will be a perfect rectangle without any restrictive borders like your home, a walkway, a pool, etc.). Thus, it is well within the range of the typical DIY homeowner.

Overall, the look, feel, and comfort of any backyard can be improved with the addition of patio pavers. As we can see in this picture, adding a table and chairs to your patio can make it a great place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

Types of Paver Patios

There are three general types of paver that can be used for a backyard patio: concrete, stone, or clay pavers. While this page will focus on the concrete variety, stone and clay (or brick) pavers are also a viable option. The major differences between these pavers and the concrete type are primarily in their looks and price. Stone pavers, for instance, look more ‘natural’ than concrete paving stones. However, this beauty costs. Otherwise, brick, stone, and concrete are largely the same in the following parameters.

There are many reasons to select concrete paving stones as the material that will make up your patio. The major reason is strength – they are both durable and flexible. The compact base underneath, as long as it is installed correctly, gives the concrete pavers patio stability while preventing major settling due to the bending and buckling when water freezes and thaws. This flexibility and durability is also increased by the joints between the pavers. For these reasons, pavers resist cracking and splitting which may befall other materials options. While the installation of a patio paver is usually more expensive than other options, like poured or stamped concrete or asphalt, the results are much more pleasing to the eye and easier to maintain in the long run.

Other Benefits of Patio Pavers

Using concrete pavers for patio construction is an especially good option if the patio is near a pool or if you live in an rainy environment, as the surface of the pavers are simultaneously smooth, ensuring a great look, while also being slip-resistant. Even if someone’s feet are wet and the pavers are wet, they will not slip as the surface gives enough friction to prevent this. Furthermore, as discussed above, unlike asphalt and concrete the patio  will not develop any cracks which someone could fall over. Thus patio patio paving stones are a great option if you like to entertain or if you have active children.

Maintenance and repair of these brick is also relatively simple. If you need to replace a paver that has been chipped or stained, simply pop it out and replace it with a new one. Maintenance is limited to periodic cleanings of the surface, refilling the joints with sand or joint material, and sealing the surface to protect it from water, fading, and stains.

What about other materials choices? Sure, you could throw down some easy and quick concrete. However, this material won’t look nearly as good as pavers,  even if you get the stamped or colored variety, and it won’t last as long – it will crack eventually. Even if budget is a consideration, you may still be able to find a paver project that’s right for you and your home.

Original photo by field outdoor spaces. http://www.flickr.com/photos/7282451@N02/417067726/ Used under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en.

Another example of a patio made with pavers. Note the waterfall in the background and the 'square' shape of the project.

Patio Paver Design

One of the other benefits of paving stones is the sheer number of options you have for design. As seen in the two photos on this site, you can create many different projects depending on the shape, dimensions, pattern, and color selections you make.

Here are some general design tips for a concrete paver patio. When it comes to design, the first major choice you need to made is on the brick level – what kind of paver to use. There are different styles, textures, surfaces, shapes, sizes, and colors of pavers. The paver you select will have a profound impact on the design options available to you.

Take, for instance, the shape of the pavers. You can buy paving stones in a variety of shapes, from the standard rectangles and squares to the more daring circles, octagons, zigzags, hexagons, and even irregular shapes. Obviously, the shape you pick will both determine and limit the patterns you can lay the brick in.

When choosing patio paver colors, make sure to see what would look the best given the color scheme of your house and backyard and any other distinguishing features of it. When deciding upon paver patterns for the patio (like herringbone or running bond) consider what might look the best given whatever structures are surrounding your project. Certain patterns will look different and give a different appearance, so be sure you know what a pattern will look like, and how it will interact with other features of your landscape and hardscape. You may consider working with a professional designer to maximize the beauty of your project, or you could try it yourself, especially if the project is simple.

For other pattern and design ideas, check out other parts of this site.

Installation and Laying of Patios

Depending on the size of your proposed patio, completion of the project could take anywhere from two days to a week or more. Budget in some extra time just in case the installation hits any snags or takes longer than expected. For more installation tips, see the “Installation” section of this site.

A very important consideration when planning out your paver designs is to consider the grade, or the slope, around your proposed area. You or your contractor will need to ensure that any water that may fall on the patio, like during heavy rains, will not simply lay there or, worse, flow back to your house, flooding your basement or doing other structural damage.  Also, if you are planning on installing your patio in a new area, make sure there are no important utility lines or cesspools that may disrupt the patio. Think of the behavior of your backyard – certain areas may be more weak than others, which could cause settling. Though concrete paving stones are strong individually and as an interlocking unit, without a firm foundation they can settle (though it is not in principle difficult to fix if they do).

One thing to keep in mind when planning a paver patio: whoever is installing your project, either you or a contractor, will need to get materials into the backyard. If you have a fence that blocks entry, you may have to take it down temporarily to admit machines and materials, if necessary. It is possible to dump the materials in your front yard and wheelbarrow them back by hand. This option however could add expense and time in order to properly complete the project. Work with your contractor to figure out what can be done to expedite the process.

The Cost of a Patio Made with Pavers

The cost of patio pavers will depend on a number of factors. In general, the average paver patio cost for an entire fresh installation (excavation, new sub base, pavers installed) can run anywhere from $8 to $15 a square foot. The actual price will depend on a number of factors, including some of the following:

  • Paver patio cost will depend on how much preparation needs to be done in the area. If there is an already existing installation, or if a lot of excavation and removal of material is required, prices will be higher than if the area is already prepped, or if the pavers will be installed over an existing concrete slab.
  • Geographical location. Your pavers will be more expensive if you live in an area with a higher standard of living.
  • Labor costs. The price of a paver patio will be lower if you do more of the installation and hard labor yourself. The more you give to contractors, the more you’ll have to pay.
  • The specific designs. A complex design will require more time and effort (especially in the form of cuts to the bricks) than a simple design, potentially adding to the expense.
  • The brand of pavers you select. Some are better quality than others and thus require a bit more money to purchase. However, you may want to invest in the higher quality paver so you won’t have to replace the installation as quickly as if you went with a cheaper, but less durable and beautiful, option.

Though the paver patio cost estimate seems rather high, it’s actually a great balance between strength, beauty, and value. You know you’ll have the patio for a long time, and it will also add to the value of your home, representing a strong investment in your home’s beauty and in your own financial life.