There’s a lot to consider when designing your own personal DIY backyard, but the root of it all will be your patio floor. The material you choose will dictate the character of your patio, while cost, weather conditions, and function must also be factored in. We’ve put together a list of options with advantages and disadvantages to help you decide.
Wooden decks are very popular, widely revered as a sleek addition to a backyard. Wooden decks are attractive. Deck boards can be cut at any angle and put together in a multitude of designs. You can include lattice or wrought iron, for example, and you can stain the boards any colour you choose. The deck will provide a linear, structured focal point for your patio. They are generally easier to assemble/put together than other materials, making it a less expensive option. Another benefit to wood is that you can build up off the ground, and build a roof or pergola for your patio.
The only downside to using wood is – other than deforestation – that it breaks down over time, requiring semi-regular maintenance, and sometimes causing splinters. Depending upon the elevation of your yard, however, wood could prove to require less maintenance than material laid in the earth. When built properly, wooden decks will be extremely secure and braced. Lumber must be pressure-treated to prevent decay.
Natural stone is beautiful and durable, but can be rather costly, depending upon the project. Its slip-resistant texture makes it ideal for a poolside patio. You can recreate waterfalls and lagoons with stone; because it’s natural, it creates an area of different terrain, bringing natural beauty of the earth to your own backyard. People will always be impressed by natural stone, because each rock is unique. There are many cuts and types of stone available, making it easy to customize the layout. Stone is extremely long-lasting, but individual pieces can shift when laid improperly, or when subjected to a climate with regular freeze-thaw cycles. Stone is also very heavy and can be difficult for an unskilled person to handle it. It is best to have a professional landscaper design your stone patio. This can drive up the cost, but it will last a lifetime and enhance the overall aesthetic of your backyard.
Gravel is a less expensive patio flooring option. It is readily available and very easy to install (simply lay a sheet of landscaping fabric down and pour gravel on top), making it quick and convenient. However, while it is convenient initially, it becomes less convenient over time as it requires regular raking to keep it tidy, and items may become buried.
Gravel can be uncomfortable to walk upon, especially for pets. As well, backyard entertaining means guests coming in and out of the house, and gravel is easily kicked and tracked around. Idea: incorporate gravel into your design by laying it in a ring around the firepit, or around a birdbath. This will save you some money and add intrigue to your patio design.
Concrete tends to make a less attractive patio, but provides a durable, solid, and long-lasting patio floor. Cement takes at least twenty-four hours to cure, giving you time to customize the texture and pattern before it dries. Concrete is a less expensive option, and relatively easy to install. If you do not own a cement mixer, they can be expensive to rent, but it is physically taxing to mix by hand. It can also become uncomfortable to walk upon. Concrete is best used for ground-level patios.
Due to the smaller size of bricks, they are easier to handle, and can be manipulated into wonderful mosaic patterns. Brick can also complement most house exteriors. You have the choice of smooth or rough finishes and many colours such as red, pink, beige, grey, and black. Though time-consuming to install, when properly laid, a brick patio will last a lifetime. Keep in mind that brick patios tend to be more attractive when smaller in size.
Concrete and clay pavers are similar to bricks, but cut into several different shapes, allowing for interesting mosaic designs. Concrete pavers will be grey, while clay will come in shades of red. They are a very durable, long-lasting patio option. They are a less expensive alternative to brick, allowing you to replicate the effect at a lower cost. They require some maintenance, as they must be cleaned regularly.
Consider your budget when choosing your flooring, Installing the patio yourself will save you money, but some materials are best installed by professionals. Consider the function of your patio. Is it ground level? Is it elevated? How many guests do you typically entertain? Is it beside a pool and requires a slip-free surface? Lastly, consider your climate to find a patio floor that will provide years and years of backyard entertaining fun.
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