At back40landscaping, our goal is to educate homeowners on their potential landscaping projects, and we truly find that honesty is the best policy.
By doing so, we believe that people will be able to make an educated decision for themselves and their family.
This guide is to educate homeowners on all things related to patios, such as cost, problems, and materials associated with patio renovation and construction.
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It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifices to save up for that “holy grail” new patio that seems far out of reach, but it is beyond worth it when you step out onto your new patio for the first time.
Grand patios are an investment, but can turn your property from mundane to breathtaking.
It can be pretty overwhelming when deciding what type of patio you want, and what you want it to look like.
While it is important for homeowners to be happy with what their patio looks like, the most crucial part to a patio build is how it is constructed.
Basics of a patio build
While you can choose from many different designs and additions for your patio space (like adding heaters, fireplaces, or a covered patio), there are some things that you cannot afford to skip while doing a patio renovation or build.
These things are crucial for having an outdoor patio that is enjoyable, and functions well. Be sure that your contractor does these critical steps so that you can have the best experience possible during your build.
- Patio is laser levelled so water runs away from furniture, and patio rugs
- Stairs and steps properly graded to avoid injury, and an uneven look
- Sample pavers to choose from (these make a huge difference in patio aesthetic)
- Efflorescence (whiteish material) removed from pavers
- Pavers sealed to protect your patio
We will get into the different kinds of patios to choose from later on in this article.
How much do patios cost?
Typical Patios That Are 15’ X 15’ In Size and Built with Pavers, Run Anywhere Between $5,000-$10,000
No two paver patios are alike, and there are many different things that can make the price of a patio go up or down, like square footage of the paver patio, whether polymeric sand is used, and how much gravel is placed. (These are all needed if you want your patio to last).
To give you an idea of what you can get for a certain price range, we have broken it down into three very different patio’s, with three different budgets.
Paver Patio #1 – Size: 15’ X 15’ $5,000-$10,000 +
This is a type of patio that will have you excited to end your day sitting in a comfy chair enjoying the scenery of your outdoor living space with a drink in your hand.
Made out of concrete patio pavers, it can have square or round edges, and enough space to put a table, chairs, and a small BBQ on it. The patio pavers come in a wide variety of colors to match your house, or whatever color you would like, allowing you to customize the look you are going for.
This area is welcoming, and is a nice space to entertain a few guests.
Paver Patio #2- Size 15’X15’ $20,000-$40,000 +
This patio is made with patio concrete pavers as well, and has a few tweaks to the design of the patio. It can be raised, have round edges, and a border outline, giving the bricks a nice contrast.
Flagstone, a herringbone pattern, or whatever design the homeowner wants can give this concrete pave patio a custom feel.
A small roof structure can be built over part of the patio, allowing the space to be used in any type of weather.
The half of the patio that is open is a great spot to suntan, or to put a water table or sensory table for the kids to play with while you sit back and enjoy the peacefulness of the outdoors.
There is no doubt that this type of patio will have you wanting to spend all of your time outside enjoying nature.
Paver Patio #3- Size 30’X30’ $50,000- $100,000 +
Picture yourself walking out to the outdoor living space of a luxury hotel. You instantly feel relaxed and calm. This is what a brick paver patio designed like this can make you feel every time you step into your backyard.
The design of a luxury patio has endless possibilities, allowing you to create your dream space and add whatever you want. This type of patio can be built with flagstone pavers or large pavers, and can be raised, tiered, or a combination of the two. It is a large space, allowing for lots of design options.
Depending on the size of your space, you can even have a paver walkway built around your patio with pavers, in any paver pattern you can dream up.
This type of patio screams entertaining, and can come with an outdoor kitchen that includes a kitchen island, sink and a large grill. A natural gas hookup for the grill and fire pit will allow you to avoid the unsightly look of having to use a propane tank to cook. This is great, because you won’t have to go refill the propane tanks before every event you host anymore, saving you time and money.
There is nothing more frustrating than having a BBQ and having the weather not co-operate. This area is covered by a 16’ x 16’ roof structure with wide wooden beams. This structure provides shelter so that you can continue your party without worry.
Due to the large square feet of the patio, you won’t have to worry about your BBQ or your table and chairs getting wet. All of your furniture and appliances will be protected.
One thing that really sticks out with this type of patio is the look of the concrete patio bricks.
An acid wash is used on the brick pavers once the patio installation is completed to get any white film, or effloresce, off of the brick pavers. Efflorescence is something that happens naturally to the pavers, giving them a dull, worn, look.
Why pay for nice brick only to have it look dingy once installed? When the pavers are dry, they are then sealed, giving them that “wet” look that brings out the colors of the brick, and adds to the look of richness to the area.
As for a seating area, there is enough space for a big table to eat at comfortably, allowing space for all guests to move around the patio without feeling squished.
A custom wood table top can be made, and placed between two beams. This not only adds a unique look to the patio, but works as an extra area for seating, or a space to put food.
Couches or comfy chairs can be set up at the end of the roof structure, with enough room to allow six people to fit comfortably. This is a great spot to put a natural gas fire pit, and to watch the game or cuddle up with a movie. T. V’s can be mounted anywhere that works for your space, and WIFI can be set up outside. This is great if you want to watch Netflix, or if you want to use your laptop outside.
A chandelier, or any preferred lighting, can be placed in the middle of the roof structure, on the beams, or anywhere else, and can provide light, or just give that space an extra elegant feel and ambiance.
Part of having a luxury patio is being able to enjoy it all year round, not just in the spring and summer. Having a large roof structure allows the space to be used during every weather, and season. During rain storms you can sit on your outdoor couch and listen to the rain beat against the roof without getting wet, and enjoy the fresh smell of rain.
In the winter you can get cozy with a blanket while snow is falling, and the fire will keep you warm. This space is great when eating lunch outside to protect you from the sun if you do not wish to eat in the uncovered area.
The open area of the patio allows enough space for loungers to suntan and catch up with friends. This is a great area to throw a yoga mat down and do a workout.
A small pool or hot tub could even be put on the edge of the patio, allowing your children to enjoy the space as well. If you wanted to really add a focal point to your patio, you could even add a waterfall or pond at the corner of it.
There is nothing more relaxing than hearing a water feature from the comforts of your backyard.
With a patio like this you will want to stay home instead of going on vacation. Instead of going out for expensive dinners, you will want to entertain at your place with your outdoor kitchen, and friends and family will love coming over to relax on your patio.
If you are thinking about selling your home a patio like this will knock the socks off of potential buyers. Most people looking to buy a home want a nice outdoor area to enjoy, and any patio upgrade will help you sell your house.
Choices for a patio build
What is the difference between a patio and a deck?
While many homeowners link the two together, outdoor patios and decks are very different. Both will provide you with an outdoor space to enjoy, and can allow you to bask the outdoors all year round.
Whether you choose to build a deck or a patio will be determined by your outdoor space, and the look and function that you are going for.
What Is a Patio?
Patios are a paved area, situated directly at ground level, and can be attached or free standing from a house. They are often designed with the current landscaping in mind, and can be made with a variety of materials, such as concrete, brick, and pavers.
Patios are versatile, and can be built in any shape and size that the homeowner wants.
What Is a Deck?
A deck is an outdoor platform/ living area, that is elevated high off of the ground, and connected to a house or building, usually built at the back of a house. They are supported by structural elements, such as joists, beams, and posts. Decks are primarily made out of wood (wood deck), or composite decking, like vinyl.
Generally, decks are enclosed by a deck railing for safety, and access to the backyard deck can be made from the house through doors, or the ground via stairways.
Should You Choose to Build a Deck or A Patio?
When deciding whether you want to build a deck or a patio, consider the layout of your outdoor space, the shape and size of the structure, and what purpose it is serving.
Patios are ideal for yards that are flat (pavers and bricks need to be laid on a flat surface), and for homeowners wanting privacy. At ground level it is easy to block neighbourhood views with plants or furniture.
If you are wanting to incorporate the landscaping into your design, patios can be surrounded by flowers, and trees. Patio pavers require less maintenance to clean than wood or composite decking, so if lifespan of your outdoor living space is important to you, this is something you should consider.
Decks are a better option for homeowners wanting a view, since they are built off the ground, and can offer a wider visual range. If you are wanting to step out onto an outdoor living space from your second storey kitchen or bedroom, a deck is the way to go.
Both decks and patios offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Each backyard space provides homeowners with different options when it comes to how they can enhance their space, and what structure to build.
Outdoor Decks and patios can allow homeowners to lounge, have outdoor furniture, outdoor lighting, and string lights to make the space extra festive. If homeowners are looking for a hot tub for their outdoor area, a patio is best suited.
What Are the Similarities of a Deck and Patio?
Both decks and patios can be covered or uncovered, have separate areas for entertaining, such as dining areas and living areas, and offer a place to relax and unwind.
Both of these structures can provide you with a great place to entertain, and can have an outdoor kitchen, fire pit, bar, or whatever design elements a homeowner wants added to it.
Both decks and patios enhance your outdoor living space, and can add to the resale value of your home.
What is the difference between a raised patio and a ground level patio?
If you are looking to add depth, richness, and an overall aesthetically pleasing look, a raised patio will do the trick. One of the main reasons homeowners choose to go with a raised patio over a ground level patio for their outdoor space besides their looks, is that they want to be able to step straight out onto their patio without having to use steps.
This option is great for people who have young children, or older adults who find using steps difficult. Homeowners whose dining rooms connect to their outdoor space, or who have lots of BBQ’s and friends over for outdoor dining, may want to consider a raised patio so that it easier to take food from inside to your patio without having to step down onto a ground level patio.
Raised patios typically elevate your outside dining experience, and allow homeowners to enjoy the feel of fine dining while also enjoying the look and feel of the outdoors.
One thing to keep in mind when weighing what type of patio you want, is that raised patios take longer to build, and will cost more. A typical patio that is built on the ground needs gravel, sand, joint sand, and pavers to be completed. With a raised patio, the retaining wall needs to be built first, and caps are added to complete the wall. Gravel is used to fill in the entire area, and then the sand, pavers and joint sand are placed. A lot more gravel is needed to fill in this area, and caps and blocks are used, upping the cost of labor and materials for your new patio.
Similarities Between a Raised Patio and A Ground Level Patio
Both of these patio options allow you to enjoy your backyard space while hosting family dinners and enjoying nature. Other similarities when it comes to elevated and ground level patios are:
- The patio pavers come in many shapes, colors, sizes and textures
- Low maintenance – once sealed homeowners will only have to reseal the patio pavers every couple of years
- Patio Pavers do not crack
- Easy to replace – If a paver needs to be replaced, it’s as easy as removing the unwanted paver, and replacing it with a new one.
- Décor- Fire pits, BBQs, and furniture can be used to make a patio feel like home
- Patio heaters can be put on either paver patio, which is much needed in Canadian winter!
Luckily, no matter what type you choose, you can create a beautiful outdoor living space, regardless of if it is elevated or not. When deciding what option is right for you and your family, consider your budget, time for the project to be completed, and what look you are going for.
What is the difference between stamped concrete and patio pavers?
When thinking about installing a patio, driveway, or pool deck, homeowners like you may be wondering what material you should use. Materials like stamped concrete and brick patio pavers can give you an outdoor living space to entertain on, and be functional for you and your family.
The type of hardscape material you choose should be based on the usage of your space (Like how big your patio area is), and the look that you are hoping to achieve for your finished hardscape project.
What Is Stamped Concrete?
Stamped concrete is textured or patterned concrete that resembles brick, stone, tile and flagstone. It is commonly used for sidewalks, driveways, pool decks, and patio design.
What Are Patio Pavers?
Patio pavers are concrete paving stone that are made by pouring a mixture of concrete and coloring agent into a mold of a shape, and allowing it to set. Paving stones are commonly used to make driveways, roads, patios and paver walkways.
Patterns, Design, And Colors For Stamped Concrete And Patio Pavers
Both stamped concrete and pavers come in a variety of colors and textures. Concrete pavers can come in different sizes, and range from plain squares to more intricate designs, like flagstone.
If color is something that is important to you, keep in mind that with stamped concrete you will not be able to see the color you are getting before the concrete slab is installed. This can be a problem if you want your hardscape materials such as stamped concrete patio, concrete driveway, or pool decks to have an exact color.
Stamped concrete is prepared on site, and skill is required when mixing in the color. The colors of a stamped concrete design are added to the top of the slab, and are not integrated into the entire concrete slab, so the color can chip or wear off. Once the color is mixed, you are stuck with it. If you going for a specific coloring for your outdoor living space it can be tricky.
Brick pavers however, are a different story. When choosing what color of brick pavers you would like, you are able to see the exact color, texture, and style of paver you are buying, and the amount of paver patterns are endless. Concrete pavers also give you the added touch of being able to do a border around your hardscape project, and to have more than one color in the paving stones. Some paving stones look more like a natural stone, while others look man made.
For whatever patio installation that you are doing, you want to make sure that your patio are matches/compliments any hardscape that is in your outdoor living space.
What Is More Durable? Stamped Concrete or Concrete Pavers
Brick pavers are significantly stronger than stamped concrete, and can handle all outdoor living weather conditions, and traffic. For high foot and vehicle traffic areas, stamped concrete is not ideal because concrete cracks and breaks under pressure.
In areas with heavy rain and cold winters (like our Canadian winters) where the ground is prone to expanding and heaving, stamped concrete accelerates cracking.
To help make stamped concrete more resistant to cracking it is constructed with control joints that are typically cut through the pattern on the concrete. This control joint detracts from the overall look of the finished product, and may make homeowners dislike the look of the finished hardscape project.
In the unlikely event that your paver patio gets a crack, or cannot be cleaned, they are easily replaced by removing the individual pavers, adding base material if needed, a layer of sand, and putting in a new one.
You can even DIY, if need be, and concrete pavers are easy to find in store, so this makes finding a color match much easier. This makes your outdoor living space useable again in a short amount of time, and because of how easy it is to replace the individual concrete pavers, is a low maintenance option for paver patio installations.
Stamped concrete on the other hand is not as simple to fix. A contractor will need to come and patch the damaged area, or cut it out. Matching the existing concrete with a new patch or repair is hard because the concrete fades over time.
Whatever option you choose, be sure that you keep all of these factors in mind when choosing which product to go with. Hardscape projects of any kind can add richness and beauty to your outdoor living space and are definitely worth the investment.
Concrete patio pavers vs. wood decks
Design Of Wood Decks and Paver Patios
Wooden decks have been around forever, are classic, and can be designed in many different ways. They can be built at ground level, or built at second or third floor levels. This is a great option if homeowners are thinking of building a new deck off of their bedroom or kitchen.
Wooden decking can be customized by changing the way the deck boards run, or installing a unique looking railing.
You can paint or stain the wood whatever color you want! If you are no longer in love with the color of your deck, it is very easy to repaint it, which is a huge bonus as this can be done whenever. If you are looking for a natural look you can leave the decking materials as is.
Although it seems like the possibilities are endless, there are some design limitations when it comes to using wood. Lumber only comes in certain lengths, sizes, and shapes, so the design of your wood deck is limited to the material’s physical properties. Wood can also age your home, as more and more people are opting for brick pavers over wood.
Hardscape paver patios are made out of concrete pavers or stone, and typically sit at grade level. The patio installation can be done anywhere on your property, such as by a garden or pool.
You can pretty much choose any design, shape, and layout for the concrete pavers that you want, (Like herringbone pattern, flagstone pavers, cobblestones) and can incorporate curves or waves into your patio design. Pavers come in many different types including, paver patterns, colors, and sizes, giving you endless option for your patio design.
The downside to stone patios is that they are only suitable for ground level applications due to needing a flat surface to build on. This is because the patio paver base is sand and a gravel base.
Aesthetics For Wood Decks and Paver Patios
For anyone who has been dreaming of the perfect outdoor living space, what your patio looks like is probably the number one thing that you have thought about. When choosing what material would work best for your patio build, look at what your outdoor living space looks like right now, and what your house and siding look like.
If you are wanting your space to be a bit more rustic, or have a classic look, wood may be the way you want to go for your landscape design.
Brick pavers integrate better with other hardscape outdoor elements, so if you have a retaining wall, driveway, or a paver walkway build with concrete pavers, brick may be more aesthetically pleasing to your space.
Keep in mind that if you plan on having a fire pit or water feature on your new deck, you may want one material over the other depending on the style you are going for.
Contrary to popular belief, both wood and brick can bring a warm look to your space. Brick pavers are typically not considered “warm”, but warmth can be added to the outdoor space by adding pops of color, outdoor rugs, and soft lighting, and compliment hardscape elements.
Maintenance Of Wood Decks and Paver Patios
One thing to consider when choosing what material, you would like your patio to be made out of, is what maintenance is required. Most of us are busy and looking for a low maintenance option.
As with most things, both materials will require upkeep, but wood is much more high maintenance.
Because wood is an organic, porous material, it is susceptible to decomposition, and the weather, and requires quite a bit of upkeep to prevent the wood from rotting. Your wooden deck will need to be cleaned, and protective coatings like stains, varnish, and sealer will need to be applied at least once a year.
Even with proper maintenance wooden boards will eventually warp. Warping and aging deck boards will need to be replaced periodically to keep the integrity and durability of the deck.
Concrete pavers can be washed each year with soap and water if needed, and sealed for the first couple of years after they have been installed (if you are using a patio paver sealer, they should be washed first).
If the concrete pavers need to be pressure washed, the paver joint sand (polymeric sand) that is in between the pavers that lock them together may need to be refilled, depending on if the polymeric sand was removed while the concrete pavers were being pressure washed.
Lifespan Of Wood Decks and Paver Patios
Good news is, regular maintenance of both wood decking materials and brick pavers can help prolong your patios life, but eventually wood decks will need to be replaced.
When exposed to the elements, wood will split, crack and are prone to warping. Stains for wood decks will slow down this process, but you cannot stop weathering from occurring, so your wood decks lifespan is affected by this exposure.
Even treated lumber can be affected by moisture that happens in the air from rain or snow, and when exposed to moisture, wood naturally rots.
Most wooden decks will last 10+ years depending on the type of wood that is used, and how well the deck is taken care of.
Brick pavers are impervious to the weather as sunlight, rain and snow do not affect the pavers. They can also withstand heavy foot traffic from parties and children and pets playing, and the weight of outdoor furniture, BBQs, and whatever else sits on your paver patio.
Brick patio pavers will last centuries if installed properly, as concrete pavers cannot warp or rot.
How To Decide What Type of Material to Use for Your Outdoor Living Space?
When choosing what material will work best for your patio build, homeowners should think about their property, lifestyle and overall look of their outdoor space (like if they have lots of hardscape) if they are going for a natural look for their new deck.
Consider how you will use your space, and how much upkeep you are willing to do each year to keep your patio looking new. Wood may be right for you if you are planning on moving in a couple of years and don’t mind that the patio may need to be replaced with a new deck, or if you are wanting to have a deck high off of the ground.
If you think that your patio is going to be used quite a bit, and have people frequently walking on it, or you already have pavers as part of your landscape, brick pavers are the way to go.
Does a patio need to be sloped?
Yes, every patio should be at least sloped away from your home.
The better patios are actually dual sloped. This means that while the water is directed away from your house, its also directed away from undercover furniture, or anything else you want to keep dry.
When we build patios, we use steel screed rods. These rods are set off of a laser, that is perfectly accurate.
There is no operator error this way, and what’s left is a perfectly uniformly sloped patio that when you walk on feels great.
Being sloped uniformly helps to ensure your furniture doesn’t rock or wobble. You get no standing water, and after a rain event the patio dries out fairly quickly.
Not Letting Your Patio Live Up to Its Full Potential
We have all dreamed about an outdoor patio that is fully functional and is everything you ever dreamed of. It is the difference between having a nice patio, and a patio that is great for entertaining and ready for patio season.
So many things can be done to turn your patio into a spot where everyone wants to be. (Picture your outdoor space with your guests enjoying a dining experience like no other, under a pergola, or covered patio) Just like you should preplan having gas lines installed before the patio build starts, you should think about pre wiring speakers, WIFI, tv outlets, and pre pluming for water features.
Surprisingly, if done before the pavers go down, it is fairly easy to set these up so that down the road you can add these to your patio. The beauty of this is if you are unsure you are going to need something, you can at least have a starting point for it, such as having wires run for a TV, and add that later when it is apparent that you and your family would like a TV outside to enjoy movies and quality time together. It is also wise to have electrical put in for fireplaces or heaters, especially with our cold Canadian weather!
This is the difference between a space that is functional right now, and an outdoor living space that can grow with you and your family.
Critical Infrastructure for Your Patio Build
When putting in a patio something that often gets overlooked is the pre planning phase of the landscaping project, such as putting in gas lines or installing power for things such as lights or water features.
The reason these things should be thought of before any construction of the site takes place, is because it is easier to run them before the pavers get placed, when everything is exposed. If you are thinking that you would like to have a gas line run to where your fire pit will eventually go, or if you would like to have a pond put in in a couple of years that needs a pump, you will need power and gas lines.
If your hardscape structure is already built without it, you will have to rip up part of the patio to get lines in. This can cause a major headache, because your patio will probably not look the same once redone, and this is added work that could have been done earlier. It really helps to have a contractor who has experience with putting in gas lines and power lines, and can give you ideas on what you might want in the future to avoid doing things twice. This truly gives you piece of mind that in the future you can add extra entertainment to your patio with little to no hassle.
Site Challenges That Can Arise When Building a Patio
One of the most common problems to a patio built is site challenges. Some backyards are not large enough to accommodate machinery, or have steep hills or slopes to take into consideration when planning a project such as a patio build.
Narrow access points and areas that are too small for machines can actually take a physical and mental toll on the company that is building your patio.
Without the use of machines, the project may take longer to haul materials in and out, and when having to wheelbarrow materials can get physically difficult for the workers. Having site challenges can also cause a moral dilemma for the contractor, as they might be tempted to cut corners due to the physicality of the job.
One example of this is that for patios it is recommended that the excavated base for the pavers be 6-8” deep. There is nothing that states that if the site is challenging you can go ahead and not dig it as deep. After a day of digging in the heat it can be tempting to not go as deep as recommended. Homeowners should trust that they have hired a reputable company that is not going to cut corners, even when site challenges happen.
If you have a backyard that has some challenges, remember that it may take the contractor more time to get the project done properly
Outdoor Patio Safety
When enjoying your new patio, the last thing you want to think about is someone getting hurt while on it. Patios can be tripping hazards, due to things such as stairs being built incorrectly, or pavers being placed unevenly.
Tripping hazards are especially dangerous for people with mobility issues, and for children and pets. Contractors who are aware of these safety issues will make sure to take extra care when installing your patio, and will want you and your family’s safety to be their number one priority.
Discoloration On Patio Pavers
When choosing a patio paver, most of us look for color and shape of the paver that we like. The brochures that we look at show us pavers with beautiful colors and no flaws. This however, is not the reality of what pavers look like when they are getting installed.
Pavers in fact do not look nice and new, and actually look like quite an eyesore. Pavers from the factory are put on pallets and wrapped in plastic, and then shipped to retailers. Once the retailers receive the paver shipment, the pallet usually sits outside until it is ready to go to a job site. This means that the pavers are sitting, wrapped in the plastic for long periods of time, which traps moisture.
Once the pavers are taken off of the pallet you will see a whitish disposition of salts on the surface of the paver, known as efflorescence. This efflorescence is caused by vapor migrating through the concrete and bringing salts to the surface of the concrete. Efflorescence makes your new pavers look old and unsightly, and although it can be gotten rid of by doing an acid wash, most contractors do not do this.
Most pictures that you will see that show a new patio install will show the pavers looking “wet”. This wet look is deceiving because before taking the pictures, contractors’ and photographers actually hose down the patio, making it appear flawless, and giving it that wet look.
When the patio dries, the pavers will still have the whiteish tinge to it, unless the contractor has taken the time to address the efflorescence.
You might not think that the slope of your patio is important, but the way it slopes will affect its function. The reason the slope of your patio pavers is important is because you want your patio to be dry, so that your space is useable and comfortable.
After a rain event, if your slope is off, your patio could have water pooling, making the entire paver space unusable. What’s even worse is that you do not want your décor that you have spent $1,000’s of dollars on getting wrecked from standing water. No one wants to step out to their patio to enjoy their morning coffee and get wet feet!
The most accurate way to slope a patio is to use a laser level.
The laser level will be able to give you not only an exact slope, but what is called a dual slope. A dual slope ensures that the water on your patio not only runs off the end of the patio, but that the water on the edges of the patio will not make its way into the middle of your space.
Surprisingly, many contractors do not do a dual slope, or use a laser level. When these methods are not used, it is impossible to accurately slope the pavers, and water will pool.
Another way that water pooling can be prevented is by making sure the proper polymeric sand is used in between the pavers. The right polymeric sand will stop the water from getting underneath the paver, and will stop the erosion of the sand that the pavers are placed on.
The Patio Paver Base
One of the things that most homeowners worry about when getting a patio installed is if their pavers are going to settle, and shift. Over time, pavers can get gaps in them due to the pavers moving. This movement is caused by the materials under the paver eroding. Luckily, this patio problem can be addressed!
By building a structurally sound base for the pavers to go on, the pavers will not be able to shift. This is done by placing a base of 6-8” of strong, compactible, free draining gravel. Once the gravel is placed and the elevation is accurate, approximately 3/4” of bedding sand is placed.
It is extremely tedious to get the elevation of the gravel accurate, and unfortunately many contractors will install more sand than needed because sand is easy to level. Gravel on the other hand is tedious to work with.
The problem with using more sand than you should is that sand erodes over time, and this is what causes the pavers to shift and move. Your pavers cannot look good long term if a structurally sound base is not used, as the pavers will eventually shift and have gaps in them.
Patio Edge Restraints
Have you ever looked at a paver patio and thought that the concrete pavers look like they are going to “let go” at any moment? The reason they look like this is because the patio was probably built without any edge restraints.
Edge restraints are placed on the last row of pavers to physically restrain them, preventing the pavers from falling off. Without these, pavers move out of place during freeze-thaw cycles, and with traffic walking on them.
Edge restraints can be done with plastic, or by doing a concrete curb.
Finishing touches like these are what can give you a long-lasting useable patio that you can enjoy for years to come.
How Weather Affects Your Patio Installation
After the pavers are put in, and the sand is ready to be installed, an important step is to make sure that the pavers are completely dry. We all know that this can be challenging, as our weather is unpredictable. Polymeric sand, or Joint sand, needs to be able to go all the way to the bottom of the pavers, about 2 1/2”.
If there is any moisture in between the pavers, sand can get hung up on the sides of the pavers and will not be able to properly lock them in. To make things more complicated, if an acid wash has been done to remove the efflorescence from the pavers, contractors may have to wait even longer to do the joint sand if the pavers are still damp.
When booking your patio instal, it is imperative to be aware that the timeline depends on the weather before, during, and after the pavers are installed. Fall and Spring applications make this even more challenging as the weather can change drastically during this time.
Paver Patio Joint Sand
After pavers are installed, polymeric sand, known as joint sand, is used to lock in the pavers so that they do not move. As per the manufacturer’s guidelines, using polymeric sand that has activators in it is recommended.
These activators will lock the pavers in place, and when activated with water will turn hard, almost like concrete, due to the glue that is mixed with the sand. Unfortunately, most companies will choose to use a fine masonry sand that can be ordered by the truckload to lock the pavers place, instead of the recommended sand.
The look of the pavers will still be the same as when sand with activators is used, and will still fill the gaps between the pavers, but its lifespan is limited. This sand has no glue or binding agents in it, and will wash out of the paver cracks. Once that happens, the sand will need to be replaced.
If the sand is not replaced, the pavers move, and the patio will need to be redone.
Another thing to keep in mind is that proper joint sand will prevent weeds from growing in between pavers, whereas sand will allow them to grow freely.
Sealing The Patio Pavers
When getting a new patio installed, we often think that once the pavers are placed, the job is done, but really, placing the pavers is just the beginning of a great looking patio that will last. As stated above, the efflorescence on the pavers should be removed to make the pavers look new, and then the pavers should be sealed.
Sealing the pavers give it that “wet” look that we spoke about in problem number 2.
There is quite a bit of prep work involved before the sealing of the pavers start, such as protecting the siding and other areas that you do not want to seal.
Most pavers need to be sprayed with sealer three times when they are first getting sealed, and there is a waiting time of 24 hrs between each coat. This is something to be aware of when thinking of the timeline for when your patio will be ready to use.
Keep in mind that once sealed, the pavers should be resealed every year for the first couple of years, and that full sun, high traffic areas will lose the look of the sealer quicker than areas that are in the shade.
Not Enjoying the Process of Building Your Patio
The best part about getting a new patio is decorating and setting it up how you and your family want it. During the installation of your patio, instead of worrying about the outcome, spend time creating your new space in your mind.
Look at magazines and websites that show patio designs to see what look you like, and what colors or theme you are going for. You can spend the day as a family going to different stores and seeing what couches, fire pits, and rugs you like.
The joy of building a space like this is that your patio can be made into whatever you want it to be.
Maybe one member of the family enjoys reading, and can’t wait to find a comfy outdoor couch to read a good book on. Another member of the family may love plants, and is excited to find pots and hanging baskets to brighten up the space. Whatever you and your family are in to, it is the perfect time to start planning what you want the patio to look like after its done.
What Goes into The Best Patio Build?
A patio that is unlike any other has extras that make a outdoor space go from a typical patio to an extraordinary one. Before the patio is built, the contractor figures out what extra things you want added, and you, the homeowner, should have a rough design idea to get you the space you desire.
Outdoor Kitchen area
The area that gets the most traffic at any party or family dinner is the kitchen and dining room. It is a space to come and cook together, laugh, and share your day.
You and your contractor should come up with a plan on how you want your kitchen to function, and what its purpose is. For a kitchen that will really impress, lots of counter space is a must, and a sink to wash up dishes, or fill up pots, helps the process of cooking go smoother.
Gone are the days of going in and out of your house to grab utensils or condiments, just grab them from your outdoor fridge and cupboards, and get to cooking!
Everything you need is in one space and readily available for whatever, and whenever you want to cook. Patio seasons will be elevated if your patio is designed for outdoor dining!
Outdoor Dining area
When you are ready to eat, move over to your dining area that can fit your entire family and more. The center piece lighting over the table creates a warm glow, and the bar top that is nearby acts as a buffet table.
Your guests will have ample room to move about without feeling squished, and if you need to grab something from the outdoor kitchen you can do so freely without disrupting your guests.
Outdoor Lounge area
After dinner is done, you can relax with a drink and good conversation, whether you prefer to relax on a comfy couch, or chair.
A fire pit in the middle of the area creates ambiance and warmth and the covered area is a must, as after dinner it starts to sprinkle a little bit, and your guests can still enjoy the fresh night air while being comfortable and dry.
The roaring fire allows your guests to stay as long as they want to as the warm summer evening turns into a chilly summer night. Music flows through speakers, and a fountain at the end of the patio adds a calming effect.
When it is time for you to design your patio, reflect on how you felt when reading about the best patio above. Nothing can beat those feelings of relaxation, comfort and warmth. If your patio does not do this for you, it is probably time to upgrade.
Patio add on’s
Patios are more than just some pavers being placed in your backyard, and slapping a table and chairs down. The more you add to your space, the more you will be able to enjoy and benefit from using the space.
Add On’s That Make Your Patio Go from Nice, To Spectacular:
- WIFI, T.V, and surround sound
- Cameras for added security and peace of mind
- Natural gas fire place or wood fire pit
- Rough timber structure
- Chandeliers, and lighting
- BBQ’s, kitchen sink, counter tops, stove,
- Couches, chairs
- Fountains and waterfalls
- Plants, flower baskets
- Wine barrels made into side tables, or planter boxes
- Sun tanning area with loungers
- A hot tub
Landscaping around your patio
How To Landscape Around Your Patio
The first step of figuring out your landscape design is what the “purpose” of your patio is going to be. Is it going to be a place for you to entertain guests, or is it more of a relaxing spot?
Once you have the “purpose” of your paver patio, you can look for inspiration around it.
A great way to dress up your paver patio is to add seating with pavers. Paving stones can be made into seating walls that go around the perimeter of your patio, and defines the area. The seating can be made super comfy quickly with pillows, and rugs to make the spot look warm, comfortable, and inviting to sit on.
A fire pit can be built out of pavers to tie in the look of hardscape all together, and is a place that most guests love to congregate to after dinner. This also ties in the look of all of the hardscape materials.
Accent borders with different paver styles and colors add texture and contrast to the outdoor space, so that it looks more natural. Do not forgot to consider how your paver patio is going to match with your home. It should be an extension of your home, and should complement the space. Think about colors, and designs that will compliment your home, rather than making your outdoor space look out of place.
If you have a walkway or a paver path that leads you to your patio, start your landscape there. Trees lining the pathway or borders of flowers will naturally lead guests to your paver patio, and will make them feel like they are entering a private space.
Add color, depth and contrast to your space
Adding color, depth and contrast to your outdoor living space is easily done with flowers, and although simple, will drastically change the look of your outdoor space. Choose different types of flowers of all varying shapes and heights. Certain colors pair well together, such as cool colors acting as a backdrop against more warm colors, like oranges, yellows, and reds.
Don’t forget that your hardscape materials can also help to frame your patio and the landscaping around it. Pavers come in so many different colors, shapes and sizes and can be used for a sidewalk or a walkway around your paver patio. Using different shaped pavers or colors draws the eye to the landscape on and around the patio. Think about curving your paver sidewalk to add even more depth.
Each homes landscaping is its own unique canvas, and the possibilities for homeowners are endless when it comes to decorating your outdoor living space how you want it.
Patio paver maintenance
What is paver efflorescence?
Efflorescence happens when the water-soluble salts (salt deposits) that are in the concrete pavers come to the surface of the paver, and react with the air. This substance can be found on all hardscape materials, including brick pavers, and even retaining wall blocks, causing them to have a white haze.
Efflorescence occurs randomly on pavers, and can be more pronounced on darker colors of pavers.
Is Efflorescence Damaging My Pavers?
While most homeowners are not keen on having a white could covering their pavers, efflorescence does not damage your pavers in any way.
How To Get Rid of Efflorescence?
Understandably homeowners want their pavers to look new, and there are things that can be done to remove the efflorescence off of the pavers.
Prep The Area
Protect anything that you do not want damaged, and make sure that the area is clean from dirt and debris.
Apply The Cleaner
Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your product. Most products require you to dilute the solution with water before applying the cleaner to the pavers.
Use a bucket or watering can to apply the cleaner on the paver, and wait the allotted time (again, this information should be on the bottle) of the cleaning solution. Remember to protect yourself from cleaners by using gloves and goggles before starting.
Then using a hard bristle brush, agitate the cleaner. This step may need to be done a couple of times depending on how much new efflorescence appears at the surface of the pavers.
Rinse each section, making sure all of the cleaner is removed.
Tips For Removing Efflorescence
- Only use products that specifically say they will remove efflorescence from pavers. Improper cleaning can damage the pavers, causing discoloration.
- Before cleaning the entire area, test out a small spot in the corner of your space to see how the pavers will react.
- Keep in mind that you may need to go over the same area couple of times before the efflorescence disappears.
Efflorescence is a natural occurrence in all concrete products, so if you are looking for a paver project that is clear of this whitish haze be aware that you, or your contractor, will have some scrubbing to do!
Should I seal my patio pavers?
Brick Pavers add curb appeal, can be a focal point to any home, and are used for driveways, sidewalks, and patios. Brick Pavers come in a variety of different colors and shapes, and when taken care of a paver patio, will look great year after year. One step that seems to be skipped by a lot of installers is sealing the pavers once the hardscape installation is complete.
Whether or not brick pavers should be sealed is up to each individual. There are many advantages and disadvantages to take into consideration when it comes to sealing your pavers or not. (Remember that efflorescence should be taken care of first before sealing the paver patio stones and paver surface, and that the paver joints should be filled with polymeric sand)
Advantages Of Sealing Pavers
Sealing your pavers protects the pavers from stains, discoloration, spills, and grime caused by the weather. Not only that, but sealer will protect concrete pavers from the sun. If left unsealed pavers can start to look dull and lose their color.
If your pavers are not sealed, the leaves and debris can cause stains on them that will be permanent on the paver surface and will be impossible to clean-up once stained. Mildew and weed growth can be prevented by applying polymeric sand once the sand is set.
Pavers that are sealed with sealer will be more durable to weather and foot traffic. Wind and rain can bring leaves and other debris onto your pavers.
If your pavers are not sealed with sealant, they will not be as durable to weather. Sealing the pavers also allows mildew to be cleaned up, and allows leaves to be blown off easily.
Sealed pavers look smooth and shiny, (almost like a wet look), and give a richness to the overall looks of the pavers. The sealant allows the paver color to really pop, and highlight different shades in the paver itself.
Paving stones that are sealed have a semi-gloss look to them, and give the pavers a gloss finish.
If you are going for a more matte/ natural look, the sealant should be put on once, but a second coat can be done for an extra gloss finish.
Disadvantages Of Sealing Pavers
Sealant is not cheap, and if you choose to reseal every couple of years, or to do a second coat, the cost of sealant and the labor to do it can add up quickly, even if a home owner is a do it yourself type.
You may think that you will seal your pavers once and be done with it, but it makes sense to keep up with this maintenance because you have already invested time and money into this project.
Sealant can be harmful to plants and materials such as your homes siding, or any wooden structure that is on your patio.
This is easily solved however, by using plastic sheeting to cover objects you want to protect, although this can be very time consuming, and there is still a risk that things can get damaged.
Sealant needs to be applied in dry conditions, and should not be applied to a wet surface. This means that the weather needs to be dry for a couple days before the sealant is applied, dry while the sealant is being applied, and dry while the sealant dries.
This can be quite difficult to do in areas where it rains frequently.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the area that is being sealed cannot be used for at least 24 hours (check your sealant for recommended times) after being sealed, which can be a problem if you are sealing a walkway that leads up to your house, or have nowhere to park but on your paver driveway.
Applying the sealant may look like an easy task, but it actually takes skill to apply the sealer on the pavers evenly. If too much product is dispensed onto the pavers the pavers will look patchy, but if not enough is used the sealer will not be able to do its job.
This fine line of applying sealant can be time consuming, and frustrating.
When Should Pavers Be Sealed?
Pavers should be sealed after installation, and resealed every couple of years. Resealing is really up to the homeowner, and how much traffic the pavers see.
Is It Too Late for Me to Seal My Pavers?
While pavers can be sealed whenever, it is recommended that when your pavers are installed to seal then before one year is up. After that your pavers will have been affected by UV rays, wear and tear, and the environment.
While anyone can benefit from the look and advantages from sealing your pavers, it is truly up to the homeowner whether they want to seal them or not. If you have invested in having your space done and want to keep the look of your pavers fresh and new, you could benefit from sealing your pavers.
As you can see, there are thousands of different ways a patio can be installed and designed.
Don’t get overwhelmed! The only “Difficult” part of a patio build is figuring out what you want for your space, and if your budget allows for it.
The beauty of installing a patio is that you can always add on to it later if your budget does not allow you to do everything that you have dreamed of.
Once you have decided what you are wanting to invest in your patio project, and what your wants and needs are, the fun part can begin!
Thank you for taking the time to read this guide, and we look forward to helping you transform your backyard!