Spring is in the air and change is in season. With blooming flowers and the smell of freshly mown grass lingering, inspiration for home improvement is everywhere. If you've got the renovation bug in your system, now is the perfect time to take on an outdoor project. With upcoming events and family gatherings, the perfect way to take advantage of warmer weather is making use of your outdoor living space.
Many of you may already be on top of this and are perhaps planning to renovate for a graduation, the holidays or barbecue season. Whether you're planning to make a big change, like creating the perfect indoor-outdoor entertaining area with a beautiful kitchen renovation (a popular choice by our clients), or keeping the project smaller a with a deck, patio or fire pit; doing some research on outdoor patio materials is a key first step to making your execution smooth and successful.
No matter the project, materials for outdoor living spaces should have visual appeal, weather durability, and most importantly, be good quality in order to sustain functionality. It also should be easy to maintain throughout changing seasons. Listed below are five patio materials commonly used for outdoor living areas, including:
- Ceramic tile
- Mixed materials
Now, let's dive in so you can decide which one is the right patio material for your space.
Brick is made in a kiln through a process of firing a mix of clay and raw materials. It's solid, has a long lifespan, and has a traditional look and feel that complements various architectural styles. As you've probably seen, lots of homes are built with brick, and some have a mix of brick and other materials, too.
It's extremely versatile and is often applied on patio surfaces as well as pathways, walls and edging. Great for creating a seamless indoor-outdoor living space, it looks nice with both traditional and rustic landscaping features and exterior house styles.
Many times, the brick is laid in one of these three patterns:
- Running bond
Brick can often be expensive and require a lot of labor, however it will last for years once installed.
There's nothing more versatile or more resilient than concrete flooring. This timeless recipe combines cement, gravel, sand and water and offers lots of flexibility, even more than brick. It can mold to practically any surface. Concrete is durable, easily maintained and can be manipulated for visual appeal. Concrete can be:
- Brushed or scored
- Stamped with a design or texture
- Surfaced with materials like pebbles
- Decorated with fun inlays
- Tinted with a bright, dark or neutral color
3. Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is a material that can be used both indoors and outdoors and is generally a cheaper option to stone, brick or cement. Sealers and enhancers will help protect your outdoor tile from things like moisture damage, day-to-day wear and tear and staining. Sealers will also help enhance their beautiful natural color.
It's definitely best to avoid glazed tile for the majority of your patio floor, and instead use it as an accent. Reason being - glazed tile gets super slippery when it's wet. Unglazed tile is the preferred choice for patios.
There are three types of unglazed tiles for patios:
However, with lower cost comes less durability as well as somewhat difficult maintenance in order to achieve the perfect visual appeal.
This is a very popular choice and has many different colors and stone type options to choose from. This material is very popular for a seamless indoor-outdoor space, as it appears stylish and almost like a walkway from home-to-lawn. The larger stone slabs are generally one to three inches thick. You can identify flagstone by its pretty irregular shapes. This patio material has a somewhat rough surface, which provides good traction, even after getting wet in a rainstorm. Types of flagstone include:
For flooring on a patio, the flagstones should be roughly 1.5 inches thick. They should also be laid right on top of soil or sand. If you're planning to use thinner slabs make sure to have them laid on something more solid like concrete. That will help prevent cracking down the road.
Downsides to flagstone surfaces include cracking, less durability and uneven surfaces depending on installation.
5. Mixed Materials
A great option that is flexible, interchangeable, has great durability and can fit in any budget is using a combination of materials to create the flooring for your outdoor space. Mixed materials can also break up a large area, creating more visual interest than just one material.
Combinations are endless, although should be well-planned and not haphazard. Materials can include brick, concrete, flagstone, pea gravel, pavers, tile, etc. Once considered a choice strictly for side yards, loose materials are recently gaining in popularity for patio surfaces, especially in regions with serious drought cases. Not to mention, using a combination of multiple materials makes the space easy to work with and is fairly inexpensive.
Other mixed materials include:
- Crushed and aggregate stone
- Bark and rubber mulch
- Decomposed granite
No matter the plan, layout or function behind your outdoor living space, renovations can be made simple. The important thing is to decide the purpose behind your area, what you want aesthetically and your budget. Then, use one of the materials listed above to help build your outdoor oasis.
Many of them can also be used to help create a seamless transition in a renovation for indoor-outdoor entertaining areas, too. For instance, will you go the same route as many of our other clients and combine your outdoor patio or deck project with a kitchen remodel? It's a great way to create a truly seamless indoor-outdoor entertaining space you and your guests will love.
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