Top 5 Material Options for building a Patio

Patios | Steadfast ConstructionOne way to create a great outdoor living space is by adding a patio. Patios are usually level with the ground instead of raised like a deck. From a grill-out location in the summer to a gathering place around a fire pit in late fall, a patio can be a multi-season recreation center. It can also serve to define different areas of your yard, along with enhancing the style of your home and garden.

Patios are as diverse as the homes they go with — from a large rectangular brick patio to a free-form slate patio. When thinking about the size and type of patio that’s right for you, take into account how the patio will be used. Do you want a space for entertaining parties of 12 or an intimate retreat for just the two of you? Along with space, the look of the patio is also important. To have a patio that seamlessly links the home to the garden, you want to think about the overall impression you would like to create. For example, a colonial-style home might mesh well with a brick patio, whereas if you have a contemporary-style home, poured concrete might give you the look you want.

STONE

Stone offers a natural and durable option for the creation of a patio. Natural stone can also fit into a garden setting because of its natural hues. While homeowners may be attracted by the look and durability of stone, its irregular surfaces can make for a rough walking area. It can also be heavy and, due to the irregular shapes, stone can be difficult to fit together when laying out the patio. Above all, cost can be a large factor. Stone patios are usually more expensive than concrete pavers or poured concrete.

CONCRETE PAVERS

Concrete pavers are made of dense concrete compacted to form individual units that can mimic brick or natural stone, but at a less expensive price. And they can come in a variety of colors and shapes.

Different installation methods for concrete pavers can offer the homeowner different benefits. Since most pavers are laid as individual units, they can be replaced fairly easily without disturbing the rest of the patio. Yet, some concrete pavers have interlocking joints, which aid in creating stability for the patio because they’re less likely to shift out of place. When set in sand, the pavers have an element of give, so they can withstand changes in temperature and loads by shifting instead of cracking.

Yet, concrete pavers do have a few disadvantages. Due to their strict geometric shapes, the pavers offer less freedom in the patterns that can be created. Also, some concrete pavers have shallow pigments that may fade over time or when scratched can reveal the bare concrete underneath.

POURED CONCRETE

Concrete is basically a combination of cement, sand and gravel that’s mixed with water to make a gooey substance that hardens when dry. The semi-liquid nature of concrete allows it to be formed into almost any shape or size. This versatility gives homeowners the freedom to do very geometric or more curved patios. Poured cement is also a very economical option for creating a patio that offers a hard, flat surface that requires little maintenance.

Poured concrete does have a few drawbacks. First, the actual mixing of the concrete can be tricky, since the process must be done to exact specifications for the best results. If the concrete is not dried correctly, or has drainage problems, it can crack over time. And very smooth concrete can get slippery when wet.

TILE

Ceramic or porcelain tiles can make a very distinctive patio. Tiles come in a wide variety of styles and can create a very seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. While these tiles may resemble the tile that you might use in your bathroom or on the floor of your kitchen, be sure to use both tile and grout that are meant for exterior use. It’s also important to use tiles that are not very porous, or will not absorb a lot of water, to resist damage from freezing and thawing with the change of seasons. Usually unglazed tiles work best for large walking spaces because they tend to be less slippery than glazed tiles.

Tile does have some potential downsides. It can be slick, so it might not be the best choice for spa or pool areas. It can also get slippery if it holds water for a long amount of time, causing a film of algae to grow on the surface. Finally, tile does tend to be more costly than brick and sometimes even more than stone.

BRICK

Brick has been a popular home construction material for hundreds of years. Yet bricks used for patios are a little different than the ones you would use on your home. They must be specially fired, so they’re less porous. If you live in a location where it freezes, make sure to check that your bricks are of the correct grade for your type of environment.

While you may think that all brick patios must be red and very linear, brick patios can be different. Along with red, bricks also come in tan, black and other shades. A different color is not the only way to make brick patios more interesting. Think about creating a pattern with the bricks. Some popular patterns include herringbone, or alternating bricks on a 90-degree angle, as well as a pinwheel, which forms a square with four regular-sized bricks and a half brick in the middle.

Bricks can offer natural warmth along with a formal elegance, but there are some drawbacks. If installed on sand instead of mortar, you can have weeds popping up in between the bricks, yet these spaces also leave room for plants that might soften the look of the patio. If not properly installed, bricks can be more uneven than paved concrete or interlocking concrete pavers. This can also happen over time as bricks settle. Finally, brick is usually more expensive than concrete pavers.

[source: Home & Garden]

Should You Build Your Deck From Wood or Plastic?

Custom Decks | Steadfast ConstructionWood is still the king of decking materials, but the widespread acceptance and availability of manufactured “plastic” lumber has continued to grow. Which material is best for your new deck or deck-remodeling project will depend on factors including decking color, available board sizes, maintenance requirements, and, of course, price.

REAL WOOD

Natural-wood decking products can be roughly divided into three categories: pressure-treated lumber, redwood and cedar, and tropical hardwoods. You’ll find most types of wood decking at your local lumberyard, although availability may vary depending on where you live.

Pressure-Treated Lumber

This ubiquitous green-tinted wood has been the best-selling decking material for several decades and still is today. Each year approximately 75 percent of all new decks are covered with pressure-treated (PT) decking. The understructure frame—posts, beams, joists—of virtually every deck is made of PT lumber.

Redwood and Western Red Cedar

These two western softwood species are treasured for their rich crimson color and natural beauty. In addition, redwood and cedar tannins and oils make them naturally resistant to rot, decay, and voracious insects, so they don’t need to be pumped full of chemicals. These two woods are also lightweight and easy to cut and fasten with nails or screws. They’re stable and much more resistant to warping and splitting than PT lumber. The most common sizes of redwood and cedar decking are 2 x 6 and 2 x 4.

PLASTIC LUMBER

Composite Decking

Composite decking, such as Trex, TimberTech, and Veranda, is a hybrid product that’s composed primarily of wood fibers and recycled plastic. The result is a dense, heavy, and weather- and stain-resistant deck board that won’t splinter, warp, rot,or split.

The appeal of composite decking is that it’s virtually maintenance-free. It never needs to be sanded, scraped, refinished, or stained. An occasional scrubbing with warm, soapy water will remove most dirt and grime. A little diluted bleach can kill mold and mildew that grow in damp, dark areas of a deck.

Plastic Decking

Plastic decking—such as Azek Deck, Evolve, and Forever Deck—is made from 100 percent plastic (recycled and/or virgin) and contains no wood fibers or fillers. It’s highly stain-resistant, doesn’t require finishing, and won’t ever crack, warp, or splinter. Plastic decking comes in many more sizes than other decking options, in some cases up to 12 inches wide and 20 feet long.

The downside of plastic decking as compared with the other options is that it’s designed as part of an overall system—therefore, it must be installed with strict adherence to manufacturer’s instructions. This often requires purchasing special fasteners, fascia boards, and trim pieces.