Decorating & Design

March 4, 2009

Best Patio Materials

Planning and installing the right patio surface will make your exterior space a success.

Now is the time to start thinking about how to design your outdoor living areas. No matter how much space you have, whether it’s a small urban deck or several sprawling country acres, planning and installing the right patio surface — whether on grass, sand or concrete slabs — is key to making your exterior space a success.

While stone and wood are the most popular surface, a patio can also be constructed with sturdy materials like brick or concrete. Add a pergola or arbour, a few exterior lights and some well-planned landscaping and your patio will be a welcoming summer retreat. Be sure to determine the style and finished look you are trying to achieve before choosing a patio material. Some materials, like pavers, are more appropriate for an urban garden setting while natural stone or concrete will lend a more natural, rustic look to a country landscape.

The following is a guide to choosing patio materials:


Although one of the most expensive patio surface materials, natural stone lasts forever and is perfect for any décor or landscape. For a more rustic finish, choose a less expensive, irregular shaped stone. Smooth surfaced, square-edged stones cost more and suit a more formal yard.


Wood requires more maintenance than stone. Pressure-treated lumber is most often used for wood patios, but it doesn’t age as attractively as other wood such as teak. Pressure treated wood tends to stain easily and must be treated annually with a sealant. One advantage to using wood is that it can be built on a slope without regrading the soil and is easily customized, whether it is for a second storey deck or a screened-in patio.


Concrete is the most affordable patio material. Available in a variety of styles that mimic flagstone or cobblestone, concrete can also be coloured with stamped designs that look like they are embedded in the material.

Though more economical than wood or stone, concrete is a more high-maintenance material as natural occurrences like water seepage can result in cracking, especially if the concrete has not been properly sealed.


Brick is a durable material that offers a classic, formal look. Available in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, brick can be laid out in stylish, eye-catching patterns. It’s best to use clay paving bricks for areas that will be walked on as they are more durable.

Rubber pavers

Made from recycled tires, rubber pavers create an attractive non-slip surface that’s durable and virtually maintenance-free. Great for high-traffic areas, rubber pavers are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Though easy to install, a sub-base of crushed stone aggregate is recommended.