The Top 8 Popular Materials Used for Backyard Patios

Whether you are renovating or installing a new backyard patio, there are several different types of materials you could use. You need to decide which materials will help you achieve the desired results. Some of the more popular materials include:

1. Concrete

Concrete is the top choice of material for backyard patios. It is versatile and can be used for just about any size patio you desire. It is also a great choice if you are installing an in-ground or above-ground pool.

There are several different designs available with concrete due to its flexibility, such as:

  • Traditional: This design is your standard concrete patio that is gray in color and smooth. You can have it poured as a single piece or in multiple sections for larger patios. This design also works well if you are using brick or stone for walkways and accents around the patio.
  • Modern: This design utilizes various industrial materials like steel bars for added support and other modern elements for a high-quality patio.
  • Rustic: This design features using earth tones and rustic architectural elements to give a ranch-like, country feel.
  • Old World: This concrete patio design has that worn look, using various stone finishes and warm colors to give it a dated look and feel.
  • Tropical: If you want a beach-themed patio design, this tropical design is for you. The design incorporates turquoise hues and sandy themes to give it a beach and ocean-side feel.

Concrete patios are some of the easiest to maintain. You simply wet them down, brush off any dirt and debris, and rinse them. Concrete is sealed after it is installed, and this sealant lasts several years before it has to be reapplied.

Patio Chairs

2. Bricks

Bricks are another popular choice for patios. Bricks work well for ground-level designs. However, installing a brick patio does take a little more effort and detailed work to ensure each brick is properly spaced and level. You must also ensure the underlying ground has been compacted and prepared correctly to avoid individual bricks from sinking into the ground later.

Another key consideration with bricks is they will require more maintenance than concrete. The infill around the bricks often has to be refreshed annually to keep weeds from growing in between the bricks.

3. Gravel

Gravel is a good choice when you want a nice outdoor space to relax and unwind. Gravel does offer some flexibility since you can use it in multiple spaces in your backyard to enhance landscaping.

You will need to make sure any grass is removed and there is a barrier placed onto the ground to prevent grass and weeds from growing. You also need to make sure there is a deep layer of gravel, as well as a barrier around the patio to prevent the gravel from overflowing into the yard when it rains.

4. Wood

If you want an elevated backyard patio, then wood could be the right choice. There are different types of wood to choose from, ranging from light- to dark-colored woods. You could even opt for bamboo, which is a very eco-friendly wood.

You will need to make sure that wood support posts are properly secured into the ground with concrete. You do not want the support posts touching any dirt, as moisture in the dirt could cause wood rot to occur much faster.

Another concern with wood is you will need to paint or seal the patio annually to get the maximum life out of the wood. Unlike concrete patios that can last a lifetime, wood patios will need to be replaced a few times.

5. Vinyl

Vinyl has become a popular alternative to wood. It is easy to maintain and comes in a variety of colors, including wood grains. Vinyl support posts are also available, so you don’t have to worry about your supports rotting—although you will need to pour concrete around each post and into the base of each post for a secure patio that can withstand windy conditions.

6. Tile Overlays

Another option that is great if you rent or lease your home and have a pre-existing concrete patio, is to use tile overlays to give your patio a new look and feel. Patio tiles lock together and sit on top of the concrete. When your lease is up and you move out, you can remove the tiles and take them with you.

7. Pavers

Pavers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You can find pavers made of slate, flagstone, concrete, clay, etc. Just like brick patios, pavers have to be individually laid, spaced, and leveled. The underlying ground also must be compacted and prepared correctly to avoid sinking pavers.

The infill around the pavers will need regular maintenance to avoid problems with moss and weeds. Additionally, you will need to make sure the pavers are thick enough to avoid cracking and breaking.

8. Granite/Concrete Mix

The use of granite mixed in with concrete is growing in popularity. Granite is broken up and ground into varying sizes before it is mixed in with the concrete. Adding granite to the concrete mix makes it possible to add some color to the patio while still achieving a sturdy, durable, and long-lasting backyard patio.

Choosing the Right Backyard Patio Material for You

Man Pulling Out Concrete

To help you decide which patio material is best, there are several key considerations and questions you need to answer:

  • What is your budget? Several of these patio materials can quickly add up in costs. Concrete is one of the lowest-costing materials you can choose that is easy on bare feet, but gravel tends to be the least expensive.
  • How durable is the material? Durability has to do with how long the patio will last. If you want a long-lasting patio, then concrete would be the perfect choice.
  • How much maintenance is needed? Another important question is the amount of maintenance you must do or hire someone to do. Maintenance is an additional cost you need to remember to include. Concrete has an incredibly low maintenance cost.
  • What design or style of patio do you want? The overall design and style can influence what material or materials you end up selecting. Concrete is a versatile material with a variety of styles, designs, and themes.
  • Do you want a backyard covered patio? If you also want a covered patio, you must consider how the cover will be installed. There are covers that are an extension of your home. You could opt for a pergola or another style of stand-alone cover as well.
  • How labor-intensive is the installation? Some patio materials are very labor-intensive—like bricks and pavers. On the other hand, concrete is less labor-intensive—once the ground is prepared—since it is poured.
  • Are there any benefits of one material over another? For example, concrete offers several benefits as it is available in different styles and designs, is inexpensive, is durable, lasts a long time, and is easy to maintain.

DIY or Hire a Contractor?

Home Patio with Jacuzzi

Once you decide on the type of backyard patio design, style, and material you want to use, your last consideration is whether you want to renovate or install the patio as a DIY project or hire a contractor. While certain aspects of the patio project could certainly be DIY, for others you will want to hire a contractor.

Most patio materials require a certain amount of prep work like removing the grass, compacting the ground, ensuring it slopes away from the home, and so on. Another benefit of hiring a contractor is that you’ll know the work will be completed based on current building codes.

You also won’t have to worry about having a home inspection and the patio certified later. Not to mention, your contactor also will help obtain any necessary building permits. Most importantly, you know your patio project will actually be completed and not be one of those DIY projects that gets started but never finished.

To learn more about our backyard patio designs and styles, backyard covered patios, patio concrete restoration services, and other residential concrete and construction services, please feel free to contact Cross Construction Services in Houston at 713-254-1703 today!

Why We Use Cement in Concrete

The terms concrete and cement are often interchanged to mean the same thing—like concrete driveways. However, concrete and cement are not the same things. They are completely different materials and serve different purposes.

What Is Cement?

Cement is an ingredient used in making concrete. Cement is a mixture of clay and limestone. Both are heated to very high temperatures and then ground into a fine powder. The heating process is essential to activate the chemical binding action and hydration processes found in cement.

If you were simply to grind up hardened clay and limestone, you would not get the same results. While you would have a fine powder, it would not have the same results as you get by heating these materials to very high temperatures.

  • Fun Fact: To activate the chemical properties of cement, clay and limestone must be heated to at least 2,642 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cement Powder

What Is Concrete?

Concrete is a mixture of different materials that consists of mixing aggregates together with water. Aggregates can consist of using sand, gravel, ground brick powder, stones, pebbles, and cement. The aggregates used will determine how strong the concrete is and what it can be used for.

For instance, if you were to mix sand, gravel, and ground brick powder together, you would get a cement mixture that could be used to make paving tiles, but they would not be as strong as a concrete mixture that included cement. This is because cement has the special chemical binding and hydration processes ground brick powder does not.

What Else Is Cement Used for Besides Concrete?

You might be surprised to learn that cement is not just for mixing together with aggregates to make concrete. Cement can be mixed with other aggregates to make other materials too.

For instance, plaster powder, which is also called cement plaster, is made from a mixture of cement and sand. Water is then added to make plaster paste, which can be used for a variety of purposes.

Another example is mortar, commonly used in between bricks to secure them in place and hold them together. Mortar powder is made by combining lime, cement, and sand. When it is mixed with water, you get wet mortar you can spread to secure bricks together.

How Was Cement Invented?

Cement was an invention discovered by Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer from the U.K. He had been experimenting with different materials to try to develop an “artificial” stone that was as strong as the Portland stone. Then, sometime in the 1820s, he heated clay and limestone together and then crushed it into a powder.

He used this powder and mixed it with various aggregates, essentially also discovering the modern mortar and plaster that we still use today. He also discovered that, with the right mixture of water, sand, gravel, and cement, he had a concrete material that would continue to strengthen as it hardened and aged.

The cement he invented came to be known as Portland cement. Some people assume this is a brand name or business name. However, it is just one type of cement that just so happens to be one of the most widely used, even today.

How Many Types of Cement Are There?

There are multiple types of cement and various cement categories used, depending on the manufacturer. Some of the different types of cement include:

  • Portland Cement
  • Pozzolana Portland Cement
  • Quick Drying Cement
  • Quick Hardening Cement
  • White Cement
  • Expansive Cement
  • Colored Cement

What makes each cement mixture different is the type of materials used in its composition. Additionally, over the years, gypsum powder has become commonly used in cement. Gypsum helps regulate the hardening and curing time for cement by slowing it down.

This is ideal when large amounts of concrete are made for large construction projects. The gypsum helps to keep the concrete wet and workable for much longer. Without the gypsum, the chemical binding and hydration processes start immediately. With the gypsum, the chemical processes are slowed down.

Why Is Water Mixed into Cement?

Men Shoveling Concrete

Mixing water into cement is necessary to start the chemical binding and hydration processes. The cement powder dissolves, and the chemical reactions start, which releases silicon and calcium ions. These ions spread throughout the wet cement and form a film around other materials. As the cement dries, the chemical reactions continue.

Essentially, the film creates an added binding layer, which strengthens as it hardens. The process doesn’t stop right away, either. While at the surface level it might look like the cement has hardened in a matter of days, at the chemical level it is continuing to harden for months to years, depending on what materials the cement is mixed with, the ratio of cement, and other such factors.

Why Is Cement Important in Construction?

Cement is a vital component that is used to make concrete. Without it, concrete would not be as strong. Concrete driveways would not last as long as they do without cement.

Buildings would not be able to use concrete supports and columns with metal rebar if it wasn’t for cement. Instead, the entire support and column structures would need to be made from steel.

Mixing cement into concrete also helps make the material easier to work with and use. It can be spread, smoothed, and even shaped like concrete blocks. Thanks to the continued chemical binding and hydration processes in cement, the concrete continues to also strengthen with time.

What Are Some of the Advantages of Using Concrete?

When you are considering different types of construction materials to use for driveways, parking lots, and buildings, concrete offers many advantages, which can make it the perfect solution.

Men Building Concrete Roads

  1. Concrete can be poured and shaped. You can use it to make patio pavers, flowerpots, support columns, and so on, just by pouring it into a mold with the desired shape.
  2. Concrete can be stamped and imprinted with designs. You can stamp or imprint different images and text into wet concrete that will set and become permanent once the concrete cures.
  3. Concrete is an affordable material. The costs of concrete are much lower than other types of materials like steel or asphalt.
  4. Concrete is eco-friendly. Concrete is made from natural materials readily found all around us.
  5. Concrete is recyclable. Concrete can be recycled and reused an endless number of times.
  6. Concrete is water-resistant. Once the concrete sets and cures, it resists water. This makes it perfect for underwater applications like swimming pools, dams, waterways, bridges, etc.
  7. Concrete requires little to no maintenance. Once the concrete is set and cured, there is not much else to do. You will want to get the concrete sealed when it is used for outdoor applications like a residential concrete driveway. Other than hosing it off to keep it clean and resealing it periodically, not much else needs to be done.
  8. Concrete is resistant to high temperatures. One reason concrete is used in building construction is its ability to withstand high temperatures much better than steel or wood, which is an important fire safety consideration.

Hopefully, now you can see why cement is used in concrete and why it makes such a great choice for commercial and residential concrete driveways, parking lots, and building construction.

For all your concrete residential and commercial needs in the Great Houston Area, including concrete driveways, swimming pools, sidewalks, foundations, building construction, and more, please feel free to contact Cross Construction Services at 713-254-1703 today!

We are a full-service operation and offer custom design and build services, construction management services, patio room design, pergola construction, and more! No project is too big or too small.

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