7 Patio Flooring Ideas
When choosing your patio flooring materials, there are some important facts to consider. It is crucial that the patio floor finish should have a pleasing texture.
It must be a non-skid flooring and it shouldn’t glare. It's good to have a floor texture that appears soft and comforting, and not one that has a hard slick look like granite or marble.
The chosen colour must be in harmony with the materials used in the house and the garden, as well as the tones and textures of the garden foliage.
Whatever patio paving is chosen, it must be easy to keep clean and maintain because being an outdoor leisure 'room', the chances of having sand and mud all over the floor is quite high and there is no need to have to 'overhaul' the patio every time it gets dirty or muddy.
Good patios have paving that’s weather resistant to avoid unsightly buckling or cracking in cold weather, and it mustn't absorb heat in the summer months or the floor becomes uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet.
Patio paving demands a good foundation and ample drainage because the foundation always determines the lifespan of the finished task, and good drainage, achieved by sloping the patio floor away from the house (building) ensures rainwater doesn’t back up into the house through the patio doors floor gaps.
7 Popular Materials for Patio Floors
Here are seven of the most sought after patio flooring materials and they all come with their unique feel, textures, colours, patterns, sizes and shapes.
- Wood rounds and wood blocks
- Wood decks
- Quarry tiles
- Flagstones (finely textured rocks used as paving)
- Loose aggregate (gravel, pebbles, wood chips, red rock)
1) Concrete Paving
Patio flooring with concrete paving is hard-wearing, long-lasting and offers permanence, especially for those building their own patio.
The only snag is that concrete paving is hard work and is best left to the contractor if there are doubts about doing a good job of it.
Concrete paving which can be purchased in dry or wet ready mix forms can be constructed in more variable ways than brick because it can be:
- Lightly smoothed
- Heavily brushed
- Washed to expose aggregate
- Given a 'pock' effect using rock salt for seeding
- Surfaced with lovely smooth pebbles
- Painted or tinted
And if after a few years you get tired of it, or have extra money to spend, the patio concrete paving can provide a foundation for tile setting or brick paving set in mortar.
It is good to note the disadvantages of concrete patio flooring if not properly installed. It will buckle and crack, particularly in hard winter regions, and if painted, it may become slippery when wet.
With painting, it fades off with time, so there will be a need to apply a fresh coat of paint ever so often, especially in high traffic areas.
Patio floors finished with bricks is one of the popular choices amongst patio builders flooring materials that provides a non-glare surface, blends beautifully with most architectural styles and harmonizes well with almost any garden.
There are thousands of combinations of colour, texture, and shapes that today's builder can choose from, and bricks produce a variety of moods, from the simple and casual to the theatrical.
Bricks are traditionally red and reddish brown in colour, but today's brick colours range from buff to bronze to gun metal black.
There are a number of basic patterns (bonds) that can be achieved with brick patio flooring, e.g. herringbone, Flemish, jack-on-jack, basket weave, English bond, running bond, etc..
If haphazardly installed, brick paving will be uncomfortably uneven and will become covered with algae growth if it doesn’t' drain well, or if set in moist heavily shaded areas of the patio.
3) Wood Rounds and Blocks
Patio paving with wood brings a pleasant colour and texture and adds something from the forest into patios, blending well with the garden and the outdoors in general. There are several designs that can be achieved using wood paving for patio floors.
They can be built as:
- Round discs of hardwood slabs set in random patterns.
- Square blocks which can be set just like bricks
- Railroad ties, which can be set in combination with other floor paving materials
Wood paving appears bold and seemingly has a durable surface, but this depends on the type of hardwood used.
For example, wood rounds or blocks of cedar and redwood will eventually have to be replaced because they have an open grain which tends to soak up water from the sand bed that wood paving is usually set on.
This causes the wood to eventually rot away and become insect infected after a few years. But this can be avoided if the wood is well treated before installing.
Wood as an outdoor flooring, though beautiful, is sensitive to weather and is, therefore, best used in the shaded portions of the patio. If not, they will eventually crack and warp in intensely sunny spots, or freeze and split in heavy winter frosts.
The best options are the railroad ties which, if pre-treated against rot and insect damage, will endure the weather changes for many, many years.
4) Wood Decks
Using wood decks as patio flooring is good because it is resilient underfoot, durable, lightweight and easy to install even for a do-it-yourself patio builder.
Wood decks don't retain heat the way other patio paved floors do, and because it is readily available in a variety of grades, species, and engineered woods, and even comes pre-cut and pre-assembled, they fit easily into any individual's budget or architectural themes.
The options of setting patterns and finishes are many and range from the simple to the complex.
Depending on the effect desired, deck floors can be left unfinished so it weathers naturally over time, or they can be bleached, painted, oiled or stained to enhance all other elements of the patio's design.
However, wood decks are not maintenance free and they do need periodic checks for mildew, fungus, rust stains from nails and even the occasional splinters. And unlike most patio paving materials, it is highly vulnerable to termites and fire.
In small areas, modular wood decking works particularly well, and this variety can be installed and set on sand, on level tamped earth or over a worn existing floor.
If you plan to install a high-level wood deck, it is better to get a report from a soil engineer to ascertain or certify that the ground is geologically safe before commencing with the task.
5) Quarry Tiles
Kiln fired tiles will give a patio a smooth elegant look or a casual and 'rough' appearance, but either way, the warm earthy colours of quarry tiles blends beautifully with the garden's colours.
They are more expensive to manufacture than patio tiles but have a more regular shape to them.
Quarry tiles are easy to clean, resist scratches and repel stains, making them a perfect choice for patio flooring.
Another plus is that due to the nature of the material, quarry tiles will withstand heavy foot traffic and will not wear over time.
Quarry tile floors are best laid on a bed of mortar over level, firm ground. They can also be set on an existing concrete surface or on a bed of sand.
6) Flagstone Patio Pavers
Flagstones are one of the most expensive patio flooring materials to purchase, but they afford an unmatched permanence if laid professionally. Flagstones are slabs of either sandstone or limestone, depending on the region or locality.
They come in lovely soft colours like yellow, buff, gray and brownish red, which brings warmth onto a patio. And the irregular shapes and sculptured looks add pattern and texture to the whole garden's theme. This quality, however, calls for installation by a skilled expert because of proper matching, cutting and aligning calls for professional and experienced hands.
Disadvantages of flagstone use for patio floors is that its irregular surface affects the balance of outdoor furniture. Also, it is not conducive for children's games or wheeling chairs. And some types of flagstone paving absorbs grease, food, drinks (wine) or paint stains, so it's good to be sure of the quality before purchases are made.
7) Loose Aggregate
Loose aggregate is loose construction materials that are best suited as temporary floors, or as enhancements or supplements to existing patio paving. It is good to use in the children's play area, the service yard, pathways or potting sheds.
Examples of aggregate flooring materials include:
- Wood chips which are by-products of timber mills. They are springy underfoot, soft, inexpensive and easy to apply. They are best confined within a shaped grid with headers. They are great as protective surfaces under slides and swings in the children's play area.
- Redrock is a kind of rocky clay material (referred to by a number of names, depending on the region), that compacts well when dampened and rolled. It is similar to decayed granite which is more expensive and can be used on its own or as a foundation for other patio flooring materials. It, however, will wear out on the surface with time, and consequently, dissolve into dust.
- Crushed rock (gravel) provides an excellent and affordable temporary surface and it can later serve as a foundation for a harder patio flooring material. It is best used in areas of low traffic because it’s a bit difficult to walk on comfortably.
- Smooth pebbles look beautiful, especially because of their warm tones. Smooth pebbled patio floors blend well with other materials and make a great flooring surface for stepping stones. And just as gravel, it is also best for minimal traffic flooring. A common disadvantage is that smooth pebbles and crushed rock tends to have unsightly weeds growing out through them, though a good way to curb this is by having a layer of thick plastic sheets placed on the ground before applying the pebbles or granite bits.
Can You DIY Your Patio Floor?
Being Creative with Patio Paving
Whichever variation of patio paving is chosen, there are limitless ways in which a creative touch can be applied to its installation to give the floors that unique style.
There are also ways to combine any of the materials for imaginative effects, especially if the patio area is large, or there are two or more patios linking to each other.
And for those who are do-it-yourself enthusiasts, if you plan to do this task single-handedly, it is advisable to use patio flooring materials that you can apply or install with relative ease, and without the need for expensive specialized tools or equipment.
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