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A patio is an essential element in today's backyards. Concrete is the most popular patio material in the country. With many decorative finishes, concrete patios attract homeowners who want an outdoor surface with unlimited design potential. When compared to wood decks, pavers and natural stone, a concrete patio is also more durable and requires less maintenance.

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Concrete Patio Information
Concrete Patio Photos Browse hundreds of patio pictures from across the country to get ideas for your own decorative treatment.
Concrete Patio Cost How much does a concrete patio cost? Find out average costs and what design features contribute to the price.
Stamped Concrete Patios Discover tips and design ideas for using stamps to add texture to a concrete patio.
Patio Design Ideas Research concrete textures and colors, decide which patio size is right for you, and more.
Stained Concrete Patios Get tips and design options for using concrete stains to transform your patio.
Small Backyard Patios Get design ideas and tips to give small patios greater appeal and functionality with concrete.

Here, we offer tips for designing and sizing a concrete patio, give you an overview of the various concrete patio finish options, and tell you about ways you can accessorize and enhance your patio. For people with existing concrete patios, we also tell you about ways to give your old patio a decorative makeover by resurfacing, staining or engraving.

IS A CONCRETE PATIO A GOOD CHOICE FOR MY BACKYARD?

Here are four reasons to pick concrete for your patio:

Create an outdoor entertaining zone

In addition to serving as a gathering zone for lounging and entertaining, concrete patios allow homeowners to seamlessly blend interior and exterior living spaces. They are the perfect decorative flooring surface for outdoor kitchens and living rooms, complete with cozy seating areas, fireplaces and water features.

Concrete Patios - Color Choices & Tips
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Customize with color and pattern

What's more, this outdoor floor offers unlimited design options. When enhanced by stains and integral colors, concrete patios can be color coordinated to match a home's exterior or landscape. They can also be stamped or engraved in patterns that mimic other popular paving materials, such as brick, flagstone, slate and tile.

Check out these examples:
Stamped concrete patios
Stained concrete patios

Save money without sacrificing style

As an investment, concrete patios typically cost less than patios made of brick or natural stone because they are less labor-intensive to install. The lower price tag combined with the wide array of patterns and colors available make concrete an economical choice for most budgets. Plus, concrete is easily formed into any shape to accommodate backyard space restrictions.

See a more detailed breakdown of concrete patio cost.

Enjoy a durable, low-maintenance surface

Upgrading your backyard with a decorative concrete patio is also an investment that will provide many years of enjoyment while improving the look of your landscape. Concrete is easy to maintain and can stand up to the harshest of weather conditions. Unlike paving stones, you won't have joints between units where grass and weeds can sprout. And unlike wood, concrete won't warp, rot or require periodic staining.

PROS & CONS OF A CONCRETE PATIO

Until wood decks became so trendy a decade or so ago, most patios were made of hard materials like concrete, brick or stone. Today, many homeowners who installed those wood decks need to replace them because of rotting or warped wood, or because they are simply fed up with the hassle of staining and sealing them every few years. Patios made of concrete or concrete pavers are making a big comeback as homeowners now realize all the benefits they were missing out on by installing wood or wood-composite decking. Here are some of the reasons why people are making the switch:

Versatility

Thanks to the design versatility of concrete, your patio will never look just like your neighbor's. And with recent advances in coloring techniques and stamping tools, patios made of poured-in-place concrete are more versatile than ever before. Concrete is easily formed into any shape, allowing you to accommodate backyard space restrictions or incorporate attractive curves. With the use of stains and other coloring methods, you can also achieve just about any hue imaginable, whether you want to match the stone facade of your house or blend in with the natural landscape.

You can also choose from a vast array of pattern and design options, including stamped patterns, stenciling, engraving, exposed aggregate and more (see Concrete Patio Finishes). While many concrete patios are designed to complement the outdoor landscape, some homeowners choose a concrete patio style that complements their indoor living space to create a surface that blends in seamlessly with the interior decor. Concrete can also be made to resemble other popular patio materials, including brick, natural stone and even wood.

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Durability

In addition to concrete's versatility, concrete is highly durable and can stand up to the wide range of weather conditions found across the country. In fact, many concrete contractors in colder climates take special measures to ensure the durability of the concrete patios they produce.

Bill Guthro of Distinctive Concrete in Rowley, Mass., says stamped concrete will last longer than any other type of masonry installation. "We use a lot of steel and rebar in a 2-foot grid that controls cracking. We also apply many coats of sealer," he says. In addition, they use a proprietary high-strength concrete mix that reaches compressive strengths of 4000 psi and includes reinforcing fibers.

Easier Maintenance

When compared with individual masonry paving units and natural stone, concrete is easier to maintain because it’s a solid surface. Unlike paving stones, you won't have sand-filled joints between units where grass and weeds can sprout. In addition, individual pavers can settle unevenly, creating dangerous tripping hazards.

When compared with wood, a concrete patio saves you the labor of staining and resealing year after year, and it’s invulnerable to termite infestation, wood rot and splintering. (See Concrete Patio Maintenance Is a Breeze).

Environmentally Friendly

Installing a concrete patio rather than a wood deck saves lumber and eliminates the need for regular maintenance with solvent-based wood stains and sealers (see Green Building With Concrete).

Better Value

Concrete can be stamped, engraved, stenciled or textured to resemble pricier stone or brick pavers, and often at a fraction of the cost, especially when you factor in the labor savings. The aesthetic appeal and durability of decorative concrete will also boost the resale value of your home. (See Concrete Patio Costs).


MAKE YOUR PATIO A BACKYARD DESTINATION

In addition to being a great patio material, concrete can also be used to maximize your entire backyard space. The goal is to create destinations in the garden and connect them with welcoming pathways. Use focal points, seat walls, fountains, ponds, arbors, fireplaces, fire pits, and fragrant plantings to create interest at different locations and draw guests out into the yard space.

Concrete Seat Walls

Learn about how to add seating in an outdoor room, seat wall construction tips, design considerations, and more.

Water Features

Learn how you can add a dramatic yet economical focal point with artificial rocks and water feature construction.

Outdoor Fireplaces

Learn about the design criteria for outdoor fireplaces, types of fireplaces, placement, and seating considerations.

Outdoor Fire Pits

Learn about the basic fire pit designs, construction techniques, and how to incorporate them into your yard.

Outdoor Kitchens

Learn how to design with concrete to create appealing outdoor kitchen retreats.

Outdoor Concrete Furniture

Learn how to cmplement your natural surroundings with a concrete bench, table or stool.

Concrete Architectural Accents

Learn about what makes precast concrete perfect for producing decorative columns, balustrades, arches and more.

LANDSCAPING AROUND A CONCRETE PATIO

Pergolas are a great, economical way to add a shade structure to your patio. For denser shade, consider growing vines that will cover the area.

Here are some landscape tips to balance with hardscape:

Adding shade to your patio

Think broadly when it comes to shade covers:

  • Trees are idyllic with their natural shade, but they can take many years to mature and provide that needed shade.
  • Pergolas are a great option with which you can grow vines to create denser shade.
  • Fabric sail shades are available, along with the typical wood or aluminum covered patio construction.

Use planter beds to break up pathways and soften hardscape edges.

Tips for using greenery to balance with hardscape

  • To avoid the feel of overdoing the hardscape, use grass and groundcovers to break up pathways between patios.
  • Place flowerbeds between structures (like homes and walls) and patio areas.
  • Even narrow 24-inch wide planter-beds will help soften edges and give the yard a more inviting, garden-like feel.