Without a doubt, patios have now become more of an integral part of the home rather than just a concrete pad sitting forlornly in the back yard. But as patios are increasingly used for outdoor dining, BBQ’s or just a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, that old, drab and maybe cracked concrete pad is most likely in desperate need of a bold makeover to meet the changing requirements. And a makeover of your outside entertaining area can be one of the most cost effective home improvement tasks you can undertake to lift the value of your home.
A number of options are possible for remodeling or transforming existing concrete pads, depending on the condition of the concrete, your budget, the amount of disruption you can tolerate and material preference. For example, if the concrete is in excellent condition, then the concrete surface can simply be stained, given a textured coating or a stenciled tile pattern applied. These options involve only minimal disruption and are applied by specialized contractors.
If the concrete surface is basically sound, perhaps with only hairline cracks, then resurfacing with porcelain or stone tiles is an option that could be considered. Porcelain tiles are available in a multitude of colours, styles and sizes. Textured finishes are generally applied to exterior tiles to reduce the danger of slipping under wet conditions. Check to ensue the tiles are suitable for your local conditions as tiles with high water absorption characteristics may crack in freezing conditions. Be aware that any existing cracks in the concrete which extend through the entire pad are likely to open further and eventually can lead to cracking in any tiles laid above.
Natural stone products such as sandstone, limestone, slate or granite may also be considered but may need to be sealed against moisture or to prevent staining. Another option where additional height is not a problem is to use new or reclaimed bricks or clay pavers.
Perhaps one of the simplest, most cost effective and attractive options however, is to install modular wood deck tiles. Such tiles can tolerate a certain degree of cracking of the concrete and will not cause problems if cracks in the concrete pad are likely to expand. These DIY decking tiles are typically available as 12′ x 12” squares and are easily installed by just clicking the modules into place (see for example http://www.swiftdeck.com). The tiles have special tabs built onto the sides of the plastic base which keeps them firmly in place and avoids the need for any particular surface preparation, adhesives or other fixings. The plastic base is designed to allow water to pass freely under the tiles and keep the wood clear of the sub-surface. A typical patio area can be fully laid in just an hour or so and is ready to use immediately.
Most manufacturers produce wood deck tiles in several different designs, so it is possible to create borders, centerpieces, feature areas etc. to suit your individual preference. Check to ensure the wood species used is a high natural durability species such as Jarrah, Ipe, Bangkirai etc. Most tiles are pre-oiled with a penetrating deck oil but regular re-oiling every 12 month or so is recommended if it is desired to retail the original wood colour as long as possible.
In addition to interlocking wood deck tiles, a range of ceramic interlocking tiles is now available which gives further opportunities to individualize your patio. These tiles are designed to interlock with the wood tiles, so for example you could have a central patio area paved in ceramic tiles where tables and chairs are situated, surrounded by wood tiles. With the addition of some large pots, attractive plants and maybe a favorite piece of sculpture, that dull patio can soon become a place you can be truly proud of again.