When you are starting a new patio you are unlimited in the design possibilities you can get from your own back patio ideas. You have a blank canvas. Use it to the best of your abilities.
Take command of your property
The first thing you need to do is to get out on the site and start imagining how you can use the unique elements of your property to its fullest advantage. What are some items you would like to have incorporated into your patio and what is the best way you can use them to create an aesthetically pleasing patio? Study the terrain. Is it sloping or is it flat?
Both situations can be taken advantage of to create a beautiful, ergonomic patio. How near to your home do you wish the patio to be? There may be limitations based on your particular site as to what will work and what will not work. Maybe you want a sunny site at certain times of the day and being too close to the house will complicate this.
It is important to try to determine what time of the day you probably will be most likely to be using your patio and what type of sun or shade conditions you would desire and than focus on adding elements to your design that will help you accomplish these goals.
Maybe you want it close to the house but there are terrain issues that might complicate this. You will need large square footage of flat area for dining areas. There is always a way to accomplish this. You just do not want to make it overly complicated. Having a good idea of where these areas will work best and how you would like to achieve it gets you starting out on good footing.
It could be that you are looking to add a focal point such as a gazebo or water feature. It will be to your advantage to know from the beginning of your plans where to best situate these structures in your patio design.
Look at what other folks have created
OK, now you have a pretty good idea about what you want from your back patio ideas. Now is a good time to see what others have done. Online is always a great place to start but it takes a lot of searching to see all of the design elements you might be looking for.
Head over to a local Mason or Landscape Supply. They will probably have displays, but these are mostly for selecting materials. They will usually have catalogs from their material suppliers which contain great photos of patios. If they cannot give you a copy you can usually request one from the manufacturer or download from their site. Warning, you will be mesmerized by some of these patios.
When you know a contractor you are interested in having install your patio, they may be able to direct you to past customers to have a look, but this can be time-consuming and awkward. Your best bet at this stage is to try a few different suppliers for different manufacturer catalogs. Most of these will be concrete paver companies. But do not let that discourage you, if pavers are not your thing, from looking for ideas. Most paver designs can be accomplished using other materials like stone or concrete.
As previuosly discussed concrete pavers have been the prevalent material of choice for years. Their ease of installation and wide variety of selection have a lot to do with this. When you have looked at some of their catalogs, you have seen the endless beautiful designs that have been achieved.
There are drawbacks. Pavers and their counterpart, the concrete block retaining walls, usually sold by the same manufacturer are most often installed on Item 4 and Stone dust bases. This allows for placing walls without footings and or underlying construction below the frost grade in cold climates. It does not, however prevent movement due to freeze – thaw cycles in these climates.
The good news, these materials lend well to this movement without cracking. The bad news, over time there will probably be some settlement or shifting. This is repairable.
Concrete pavers will fade over time. Concrete retaining wall block walls seem to be more susceptible to efflorescence. This is a white staining on the face of the block that occurs over time from water leeching salts to the materials surface These salts are naturally occurring in the materials.
When you choose pavers make sure your contractor will use polymeric sand as the joint sand material, the material that is forced into the cracks between the pavers by sweeping and compacting. This material is wetted upon installation and hardens to prevent weeds from sprouting from the cracks.
Concrete is probably the least expensive material to use on your project. With the advent of concrete stamping it does not have to be just a plain, dull gray surface anymore. The usual construction process is to install wood, or some other flexible material for curves, as forms. A temporary mold for your concrete. There should be a 4-inch thick base of 3/4 inch stone under the concrete to allow for water drainage. Some situations will not require this but most will.
Reinforcing fibers should be ordered with the concrete mix or a wire mesh should be installed before pouring the concrete to help ensure that the concrete cracking is kept to a minimum. Control joints should be placed in key areas to also keep cracking to a minimum. The most susceptible area to cracking is from an inside corner, a 90 degree angle that protrudes into the concrete. Lack of a control joint here will assure you of getting a crack radiating from the corner.
You will need to bring a heavy truck on to your property in order to deliver the concrete. Some damage to your property may occur. Plan for this accordingly on new construction.
Stamped Concrete involves spreading color and release agent powders over the freshly poured concrete. These are than worked into the material with a bull float, a large concrete trowel type tool with a long set of handles. Rubber stamping mats are than placed on top of the prepared surface and are pressed into the fresh concrete by light compacting. The mats are re positioned and the process is repeated. This allows for a wide variety of brick and stone simulated surfaces.
Natural stone is probably going to be the most expensive material and the most difficult or skill requiring job. Stone placed on to a concrete base requires the same preparation as described for a concrete patio. The stone is than placed on top of the installed concrete either by letting it dry and than adding a mortar bed beneath the stone or setting the stone into the wet concrete. The latter is a most difficult operation while keeping the stones unblemished from the wet cement and flat and pitched in the proper direction. I choose to install the stone on a mortar base after the concrete base has hardened and than place mortar in the stone joints after the stone have set.
As you can see this is a very labor and skill intensive job and can become quite expensive. Stone can be dry laid in a similar fashion to the pavers to lower the cost. When you choose this option it is best to use square or rectangular shaped stones as this keeps the joints between them smaller and more uniform allowing for a more durable and unshifting surface.
Choosing a contractor
Once you arm yourself with all this info you are ready to start searching for a contractor. The best place to start is friends and family who have used similar Contractors before. When you have decided on a material already you can narrow your search to Contractors who specialize in these products.
When you do not know anyone who has used a Contractor for this type of project before, try getting recommendations from the Mason and Landscape supply businesses in your area. Try for at least three estimates and be wary of the lowest estimate. Armed with the info I have given you, you should have a good idea about what your job entails and what you want, so use it to your advantage.
Do not look at a Contractor as the enemy. A lot about your demeanor will give him signals about how you will react with him during the job. You want to keep it friendly. It will make the whole process more palatable and easier to come to solutions if and when obstacles arise.
Im sure if you follow this info in getting ready to construct your patio you will find the whole process a little more enjoyable. So go ahead outside and start your dream to becoming a reality.