A patio is just the right spot to spend a Saturday evening eating barbecue with your friends and family, or a lazy Sunday afternoon with a good book. A well-constructed patio also adds beauty and value to your home. However, a patio that is poorly installed, or just isn’t the right fit for your family, will turn out to be more of a headache than an asset. Don’t let a bad decision come back to bite you! Use these 4 keys of patio design, and get your dream patio that fits your family and your budget, and will give your family decades of enjoyment.
1. Assess Your Needs
The first step to your dream patio is thinking about how your family will use your patio. Talk about which activities you want to do on your patio, and how many people will be involved. A patio meant for a couple who want to spend relaxing evenings on a porch swing will look very different than a patio for a family of 4 who want to have regular cookouts.
How you plan to use your patio will affect its size and shape, and also the materials you choose. For example, if you plan to put a table and chairs on your patio, an irregular-surfaced material such as bluestone might not be the best bet, because the bumps and grooves of the patio would cause your table to wobble.
Remember to look at your yard as a whole as you plan your patio, as well. The space that your patio takes up will no longer be available for other uses such as gardening, so patio planning is also garden planning.
2. Evaluate Your Budget
There is a huge price range when it comes to building a patio. The materials make up most of the cost difference; for example, a natural stone patio will cost significantly more than a patio made from any other material. Even the same class of material can vary in price depending on the subtype: According to Bob Vila, brick can cost anywhere from $2 to $13 per square foot, depending on the type. Poured concrete is the least expensive option, concrete pavers are somewhere in the middle, and tile can be inexpensive or very expensive, depending on the type.
Budget is also an important consideration when you’re deciding on the size of your patio, because each additional square foot will require more material. Installation cost is also a factor. Some pavers are designed to be very easy to install, and are good candidates for a money-saving DIY project.
3. Pick Your Materials
When you’re deciding which material to build your patio with, your budget and your family’s needs will both be very important. Pick out some materials that you like the look of, and then look carefully at their characteristics. Here are some things to consider:
- Is the surface flat and smooth, or irregular? If it’s irregular, will that be a problem for your furniture? Irregular surfaces might also be a problem for any family members with balance issues.
- Does the material have a non-slip surface, or can it get slippery when wet? A slick surface might not be a good idea for a family with small children, or for someone with balance problems. Remember: Any surface can become slippery if it’s covered with algae, moss, or mold and mildew.
- What type of maintenance will the surface require? Some tiles and natural stone are maintenance-free, while concrete and certain pavers will require re-sealing. Make sure your patio’s maintenance needs will fit in with your schedule.
Your budget is also key for choosing the material for your patio. Here are some budget issues to consider:
- What is the initial per-square-foot cost of the material?
- Can you install it yourself, or will you need to pay someone else to do it?
- How labor-intensive is the installation? If you hire a contractor to do the job, a longer installation time will equal a higher cost. If you’re going to have someone else install your patio, be sure to go with a licensed, insured contractor, and get at least 3 estimates.
- What type of maintenance will your patio need, and how much will the maintenance cost?
- How durable is the material? If the material you buy is cheap up-front but isn’t durable enough for your family’s needs, frequent repairs can be both frustrating and expensive.
4. Prepare Your Site
Preparing the site for your patio is just as important as building a solid foundation for your home. A patio without proper drainage and grading will not last, no matter how durable the materials are.
If you’re installing the patio yourself, be sure to create a foundation that will allow water to drain away from the patio. If the patio doesn’t drain properly, then water collecting underneath and around the patio will cause it to shift and break. Also, any low spots in the patio will collect water and lead to damage in that area. The type of drainage your patio will need will depend on the type of material you use, the size and shape of the patio, and the climate and geography where you live.
Proper grading is also an essential part of building a good patio. Your patio will probably be up against your home, so be sure that your patio is graded in a way that will cause rainwater to run away from your home, not towards it. If rainwater runs towards your home, you can end up with a leaky basement or a damaged foundation.
Love your Patio? Take Care of it with Wet & Forget Outdoor!
Whether you build with bricks, poured concrete, pavers, your patio can fall victim to ugly outdoor growths. Scaly lichen can take over your patio and cause pitting in some surfaces, green algae or mold and mildew look gross and can cause your patio to become dangerously slick, and moss can damage your patio’s surface and lead to cracking and crumbling in some materials. Black algae is notorious for causing concrete stains that look like your patio has been smeared with soot.
Wet & Forget Outdoor zaps these nasty outdoor growths with no scrubbing, bleaching or power washing necessary. Just spray and walk away, and let Wet & Forget Outdoor do the work for you! Wet & Forget Outdoor’s gentle, non-caustic formula is safe for all types of patios, because it works with the wind and rain to remove patio stains over time. Better yet, Wet & Forget Outdoor keeps growths from coming back for a year or more in most cases. Keeping your patio clean couldn’t be easier! Wet & Forget Outdoor is also ideal for deck cleaning, no matter which type of deck you have.
(Photo By AlejandroLinaresGarcia)