Designing Your Custom Patio: A Look at Material Options |
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Designing Your Custom Patio: A Look at Material Options

Once you’ve decided on building a custom patio or on redoing your current walkways, driveway or patio, you’ll need to decide on the material you want to use. There are relative advantages and disadvantages to each of the major groupings of materials – stone, brick or concrete.

Deciding on materials is going to be a matter of your home’s aesthetic, your taste, budget and a consideration of the pros (and cons) of each type of material.

Read on to learn a little about the differences in these materials in order to help you make a well-researched decision.

Material Options

Most paving materials are either some type of “composite” or a type of quarried stone.

Composite materials include:

  • Poured concrete (that can be stamped, painted or otherwise creatively used)
  • Pavers
  • Brick

Materials that come from quarried stone, whether used in slabs, whole or crushed, include:

  • Slate
  • Limestone
  • Sandstone
  • Granite
  • And more

We’ll talk a little about both general types in more detail.

Composite Materials

Composite materials are generally the more economical material to use in creating your custom patio and offer a range of options and price points.


Poured concrete is the most cost-effective option for your outdoor areas, which is a plus if you’re watching your budget. Concrete can be poured into any shape that is desired, it’s highly durable, generally doesn’t fade and is easy to clean. A minus is that poured concrete is prone to cracking over time. While cracks can be repaired, seamless repairs generally require replacing the entire slab.

Stamped Concrete

Stamped concrete is available in a wide array of patterns and colors, enabling you to get the look of stone, slate, brick and more at a big savings. Stamped concrete can add a lot of texture and color to your projects. Because of its versatility, stamped concrete is a great choice when you’re going for a higher-end, custom patio look. Stamped concrete can be up to double the cost of regular concrete, but is also a third or more less than the cost of stone.

Stamped concrete offers the same plusses as regular concrete. It’s economical and easy to clean but prone to cracking and fading over time (if dyed).

Interlocking Pavers

Interlocking concrete pavers are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles. They are extremely strong and highly durable, but, like stamped concrete, can fade over time. A significant plus is that should a paver crack, you need only to replace the damaged paver. The patterns that can be created as nearly limitless, allowing for a highly custom patio look.  If installed correctly, weed growth between pavers is negligible.

Traditional Brick

Offering a leg up on interlocking pavers in their ability to hold color, traditional brick pavers are also extremely durable. Clay pavers can be installed over a base of sand and gravel or installed on a concrete base and secured with mortar (or grout) to prevent weed and grass growth and to offer more of a solid-structure look.

Quarried Materials

Quarried materials, which in large pieces can be up to three times or more the cost of composite materials, are extremely durable and can last for centuries! Quarried materials can be installed over a base or mortared together and complement just about any outdoor area. Stone pavers are typically available in cobblestone, travertine, limestone and bluestone.

Stone tends to be the material of choice for those who are very particular about authenticity and aesthetics.

Stone gravel is a notable exception to the “stone is pricey” rule: It’s typically the least expensive of all the paving materials. Gravel also makes a great (and permanent) substitute for mulch, which can save quite a bit of money over time, so it’s worth considering for those areas where you might typically use mulch.

Remember, if you need help, our team is highly experienced in patios, rooftop gardens, landscape design and greenroofts (see the services we offer for hardscaping). We’ll be happy to talk with you in person or over the phone to discuss how we can help you with your patio planning or outdoor overhaul.

About The Author

Anne Roberts
Anne Roberts
Chicago Landscaper, Master Gardener, Green Roof Specialist & Degreed Horticulturist at Anne Roberts Gardens

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