Thinking about getting an outdoor patio built? Re-doing the one you have or tearing out an old deck and replacing it with something new and more exciting? Well, there are several options to consider when updating your new outdoor living space.
First, you have your natural flagstone and slates. Then, you have good old grey concrete (and it’s sad little brother, patterned concrete) and then you have our favorite, brick and concrete pavers.
Having been involved in the landscaping industry for over 30 years, I am quite opinionated in what I feel are the pros and cons of using these different paving materials and my opinions have changed drastically over the years. At first, I was very drawn to natural stones. While I still believe they have a place, I have found that they have their shortcomings. One such shortcoming is that natural stones come from many different quarries and it is hard to predict what kind of quality you’re going to get.
For a time, flagstone was a popular choice but, being a porous stone, flag has issues with Colorado’s freeze and thaw climate cycles. Over time, the repeated freezing and thawing can make flagstone become brittle, leading it to crumble.
The next material choice is concrete. While a great value, it’s kind of a bland and boring choice. In recent years, we’ve been changing it up by adding brick borders, acid washing, adding exposed aggregate or washed sand to add more interest and texture. If the concrete patio is well designed, it can be functional and pleasing.
Patterned concrete is another choice though, it’s popularity peaked about 10 years ago and for good reason. Patterned concrete tends to discolor and look really awful (often within 5 years) and it’s slippery than crap when wet. Who wants that? Finally, large slabs of concrete are subject to Colorado’s expansive soils and prone to cracking.
Time flies and if you’re like me, you don’t want to be replacing your patio every 5 to 10 years. Installation techniques are very important and are the key to improving longevity. In my old age I enjoy things that last 30 and 40 years not 5 or 10 which brings me to my favorite patio construction choice: Brick and Concrete Pavers!
BRICK AND CONCRETE PAVER PATIOS
Take a trip to Europe. In places like France, Germany and Italy you’ll notice how much of their pavement has been done with pavers. They are have been on to something good for hundreds of years and we are now just realizing how awesome pavers really are. So, why should you consider pavers as the best paving choice?
Paver options in the U.S. are now extremely abundant. You have Bogert, Belgard, Pave Stone, and several other companies fighting for market share, so pricing is excellent. They all use similar technologies and materials to make their pavers so, quality is fairly consistent across all brands.
When installing a paver patio you must start with 6 inches of compacted road base, add two inches of sand, and then you install the pavers on top. If this procedure was followed while installing concrete, you would have far less cracking and you would have a much more durable patio. Though, I have rarely seen a concrete contractor install a patio in this manner. It comes down to cost. The whole reason you chose concrete in the first place was because it was cheap right? Installing a proper base would double the cost in most cases!
Many pave stone manufacturers sell sealers and color enhancers for people that want their patios to look brand new year after year. This is an added benefit of the low-cost, extended maintenance of a paver patio. I on the other hand am far too lazy for that. If a little moss and rustic outdoor aging is your style, nothing additional is needed.
So, you have this incredible extensive selection of unique pavers to choose from and when installed properly, they are extremely durable and repairs can be easily made. Today’s pavers look fantastic and if you want enhancements like a heated patio, nothing is better than pavers for ease of installation. For the life of your patio virtually no maintenance is necessary and the longevity will amaze you!
A properly installed paver patio just get better and better as it ages. And you can’t say that about very many things in life… Until next time!
Joe Low | Owner, Principal Landscape Designer | Landscape connection