Building an “outdoor room” is a way to extend your indoor living space, create a place for outdoor entertaining, relaxing and dining and also add value to your home.
A patio is a very low-maintenance option for your outdoor space, and also fairly DIY-friendly. But make no mistake: proper preparation is key, as you’d find out the hard way when your slapdash patio buckles, cracks, shifts and grows weeds from every nook and cranny.
Ground preparation varies according to the patio material you choose. The main materials to consider are concrete and pavers.
Concrete: Good techniques and artistic approaches mean you don’t have to settle for the traditional gray slab if you want a concrete patio. Patterns can be stamped into it, cast shapes can be formed, custom designs etched in, and color added for a completely custom look and bold statement.
The sheer heft and specialized labor involved with any style of concrete installation are good reasons to have a pro handle the job. Improper site preparation as well as clumsy mixing and pouring of the material will leave you with a cracked, unevenly settling surface that is costly and difficult to correct.
Pavers: In the realm of DIY patio possibilities, brick and concrete pavers are great choices. Standard rectangular pavers are very specially proportioned when compared to building bricks. Bricks used to build walls need space for mortar and are therefore not quite twice as long as they are wide. Pavers don’t need mortar and are exactly twice as long as they are wide. In addition to rectangular formats, paver bricks come in lots of other shapes, such as squares and octagons. Also, because the color is dyed into the bricks, they won’t fade.
The most common paver patio mistakes come from not properly prepping the base. It’s certainly not the most exciting part of the project, but if you rush through, the bricks will loosen and weeds will pop up in your patio.
Start a paver patio project by carefully assessing the space slated for placement and planning for necessary drainage. For example, downspouts dumping on a paver patio can quickly lead to an area that sags and sprouts weeds. Likewise, a patio that slopes toward a house instead of away from it can lead to flooded basements and crawlspaces.
Once you have identified the area, it has to be excavated down about eight inches. From there, you’d add about five inches of crushed gravel that must be mechanically tamped in place. A sand base comes next and pavers are set on top of that. Installing a paver patio the right way takes time and careful attention to detail, but the result can be a low-maintenance recreational space that will last a lifetime.
And whether you choose to go with a concrete or paver patio, you’ll find that creating an exterior living area not only gives you a great place to be when the weather is nice, but also provides an attractive selling point when it comes time to put your home on the market.