A patio is an outdoor space located on either the front or back of the house. The word is often used synonymously with porch. It can be slightly raised and attached directly to the house with a roof, or it can be level with the ground and have no walls or roof at all, as in the case of a concrete or brick patio. Patios can also be part of a courtyard, common in Spanish-influenced designs.
The most important element in an outdoor patio design is size; you need to take into account what the patio will be primarily used for, as well as what furniture you place on it. Will your patio be mainly for relaxing and dining? Do you plan to have an array of potted plants or trees to create a garden patio? Once you determine exactly how you plan to use your patio, you can then identify the amount of space you need to bring it to life.
When it comes to a patio, bigger is better. A small and cramped patio is not a very relaxing or inviting place to be. Most brick, concrete or stone patios require professional installation or a skilled do-it-yourselfer, and can be quite costly for materials. Take into account the cost, your usage and maintenance requirements to come up with the perfect patio design for your home.
Patio decks are flush with the ground and are often fashioned from stone, brick or concrete but can also consist of mulch, gravel or tile. They are most often rectangular in shape but with some extra effort, they can be rounded. This can be especially eye-catching if incorporated into rounded stairs leading into the home from the patio. While patios are easiest to install on level ground, sloping properties can also benefit from a patio with a multi-level design. The different levels can be connected by a matching set of steps to complete the look.
When compared to typical deck materials, a patio is easier to maintain, but isn't necessarily hands-free. The advantage of having a stone patio is its highly durable surface, which can last for the entire life of your home. If a stone is chipped or cracked, it's easier to replace just one stone instead re-doing the entire deck. If you opt for a material like flagstone you'll need to replace the sand between joints and pull the weeds from the cracks. You may also have to reset shifting stones from time to time. For the most part, stone or concrete patios will only require a simple pressure wash and an occasional resealing to keep them looking great for years.