To improve your outdoor living space, consider upgrading your patio materials. When choosing a material for your patio, consider cost, durability (which affects lifespan), style, and—if you’re creating a DIY patio—installation difficulty.
Even loose patio materials like pea gravel are typically priced by the square foot. If you hire a professional for the installation, you’ll be paying for labor as well.
Durability / lifespan
Consider the weather conditions in the area you live—an outdoor patio that doesn’t hold up under heavy snow and ice may not be right if you live in the Northeast or Midwest. Also keep in mind that if the ground under your patio shifts at all (often because of erosion), materials like poured concrete or brick can crack or break.
Match the materials to your house. Regarding paver patio ideas, a natural stone patio might look beautiful next to a Colonial-style home in Pennsylvania, but might look out of place paired with a pueblo revival in Arizona.
Even if you’re planning on hiring a professional, the difficulty of installation can affect the overall price of your patio. If you are choosing DIY, take a look at our installation difficulty rankings. Some patio materials require professional installation.
1. Pea gravel ($)
|Cost||$6–$10 / square foot|
|Lifespan||No limit, if properly cared for|
|Style||Pairs well with Colonial and Colonial revival, Victorian, and even international contemporary homes; great for creating an English garden feel|
Popular in English gardens, pea gravel patios and pathways have a lovely, quaint look and are low cost and easy to install. This type of gravel is made up of loose, smooth, earth-toned stones under an inch in diameter—about the size of a pea.
At $6–$10 per square foot, pea gravel is a low cost option. Since the stones remain loose and don’t need to harden or set, this gravel can be used to easily create a patio in any shape. It’s also as easy to install, so it’s a relatively simple DIY project even for a novice hardscaper. A pea gravel patio can last forever if properly cared for.
Since pea gravel is not a solid surface, it can easily shift over time and it may take some adjusting to keep patio furniture level. The loose gravel will occasionally scatter outside of the designated patio area and will need to be collected. Snow removal can be a challenge, as you don’t want to risk shoveling up the stones with the snow. Overall, maintenance for this type of patio is relatively low—semi-weekly raking of the stones back into place will prevent weeds from growing and keep the surface clean and level.
See the top choice for pea gravel from Amazon
2. Poured or stamped concrete ($$)
|Style||Pairs well with bungalows as well as minimal traditional, international contemporary, arts and crafts, pueblo revival, and craftsman-style homes|
|Installation difficulty||Intermediate to professional|
Concrete is one of the most popular patio materials and the cheapest material you can use to build a hard-surface patio. Concrete is made of aggregates and paste—concrete aggregates can be crushed stone, sand, gravel, or even shells; the paste is made up of water and cement. Generally, patios made of concrete are not a DIY project and should be installed by a contractor.
Because concrete begins as a paste and then hardens, it’s a great material for building a custom-shaped patio. Stamped concrete—created by pressing flexible polyurethane stamps into freshly poured concrete—can be dyed almost any color, mimic the texture of stone or brick, or even include fun designs, like animal footprints or geometric patterns.
Concrete patios require special care. Though this patio material is initially cheap (about $6–$13 per square foot), concrete will fade, crack, and wear down over time (expect a lifetime of about 20–30 years), especially if the ground beneath shifts. Once cracked, a poured concrete patio will have to be completely taken out and replaced.
These patios can also suffer from poor drainage if not installed properly (another reason to hire a pro). Rinse your concrete patio at least once a year with bleach and water. Poured concrete can stain easily—depending on the color—and stains will need to be cleaned with a hard-bristled brush.
3. Concrete pavers ($$$)
|Cost||$13–$20 / square foot|
|Style||Pairs well with contemporary and new traditional homes|
|Installation difficulty||Intermediate to professional|
Pavers are manufactured concrete stones that come in a number of shapes and colors. Unlike poured or stamped concrete, pavers can be replaced individually—if one cracks, there’s no need to replace the entire patio. Concrete paver installation can be DIY, but it’s not recommended as a project for beginners.
Concrete pavers are pricey, costing about $13–$20 per square foot, but because of their durability and the ability to replace pavers one by one, a patio made of pavers can last 50–100 years.
A paver patio often provides better drainage than a poured concrete patio because water can drain in between the stones. Pavers may wear down over time due to erosion, but rarely crack because they are able to shift with the ground if it moves.
4. Brick ($$$)
|Cost||$14–$20 / square foot|
|Style||Pairs better with classic/traditional homes—like Colonial and Colonial revival, craftsman, ranch, and new traditional—than with more minimal, modern, or contemporary styles|
|Installation difficulty||Intermediate to professional, depending on the brick pattern|
Brick patios are a classic look. Although brick doesn’t vary much in color and cannot be dyed, it can be arranged in many different patterns to create a unique look.
Brick patios cost about $14–$20 per square foot, but salvaged brick can be purchased for less as an eco-friendly option. Because it’s porous, brick offers good drainage as water can easily flow through the spongy clay. While brick patios, like paver patios, can be a DIY project, it’s not recommended for beginners.
Although they don’t easily erode, bricks can break or crack as a result of stress or freezing temperatures. However, bricks can easily be replaced individually, and because this patio material doesn’t fade, a replaced brick will not stand out. A brick patio will not be completely smooth (mortar does not sit flush with the surface of the brick), and may cause patio furniture to wobble.
Brick is difficult to keep clean—it tends to grow moss that must be removed with bleach and a scrub brush a few times a year. With proper care and cleaning, brick patios can last over 100 years.
Consider pairing your brick patio with a fire pit and lawn chairs.
5. Stone ($$$$)
|Cost||$14–$28 / square foot|
|Style||Pairs well with traditional styles like Victorian, Colonial and Colonial revival, and romantic houses|
|Installation difficulty||Hire a professional|
Stone patios are undeniably beautiful. Flagstone, slate, bluestone, and limestone are popular materials for stone patio surfaces.
Stone patios can shift with the ground, so they won’t erode over time and aren’t likely to crack. But if a stone does break, it can often be replaced without tearing up the whole surface. Stone patios are not good DIY projects—the stones can be heavy, cumbersome, and difficult to fit and place.
Though elegant and classic, stone is an expensive patio choice, costing about $14–$28 per square foot. Each stone needs to be quarried and specifically fitted together by shape. Also keep in mind that this patio material can also can become very hot in the sun or slippery after rain.
Maintenance of a stone patio is fairly minimal: this type of patio can last 100 years or more if properly cared for. Regular sweeping and weeding is required, but a deeper cleaning is necessary only if the patio gets stained. Tough stains can be scrubbed out with bleach and water.
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