When you decide to add a patio to your home-or give your old patio a face lift-you cannot overestimate the value of this project. As an extension of your house, a patio can give you all the comforts of indoor living out-of-doors; as part of your garden, it can become a favorite entertaining and sitting area for at least part of the year. Given proper planning, a patio can also make interior rooms seem more spacious and provide a gracious architectural transition between house and garden.
Whatever the size of your lot, whatever your landscaping problem, good design will bring out the best in your patio:
Brick, concrete, tile, flagstone, adobe blocks, and wood—all are excellent, durable patio surfacing materials if properly installed in the right place. When selecting the material for your patio floor, keep the following points in mind:
Patio paving should have a pleasing surface texture, one that doesn't glare and is nonskid. A texture that appears soft will be more appealing than one with a hard, slick look.
The color and texture of your patio surface should harmonize with the construction materials used in the house and garden structure (if you have one), as well as with the textures and tones in your garden plantings.
Paving should be easy to keep clean-you shouldn't have to overhaul the patio every time food or mud stains need attention.
Good paving should be weather- resistant so it won't sag, buckle, or crack in cold weather or absorb so much heat in warm weather that you can't walk on it. Consider, too, the foundation, drainage, and costs for a well-built patio.
Give your patio floor a good foundation. The foundation almost always determines the appearance and life span of the finished job.
To provide good surface drainage, slope your patio away from the house. Additional provisions, such as gravel pads and clay tiles (arranged underneath a patio to funnel water away from the house) may also be necessary to insure good drainage.
Brick is probably the most adaptable and most frequently used patio surfacing material available. Set on sand or in mortar, brick provides a handsome, nonglare surface that blends with nearly any architectural style and looks at ease in almost any garden.
Concrete paving offers permanence, long wear, and low cost. Essentially a mixture of sand, cement, gravel, and water, concrete is even more variable in appearance than brick. It can be lightly smoothed or heavily brushed, washed to expose the aggregate.
Slabs of stone-either limestone or sandstone- are the most expensive surfacing material you can buy, but they give unmatched permanence if properly laid. Their soft colors (buff, yellow, brownish red, gray) bring warmth to the patio, while their irregular shapes and sculptured surface add irregular pattern and texture to the garden floor.
Wood used for decking is durable and resilient underfoot, and it does not store heat the way other surfacing materials can. The options are many on patterns and finishes, too.