Patio Design Basics Northern Virginia
The patio is one of the main features of your outdoor living space. It’s important to plan carefully, choose the right materials, and above all, build a compact and secure base before installing pavers, stone, or concrete.
Before You Build: Plan
When it comes to designing your dream outdoor living space, planning is key. The design and placement of your patio in Northern Virginia is determined by several factors, including:
- How you will use the space
- Traffic flow
- Sun patterns
- Septic systems
- Grading, and more
The design process should begin by asking clients about how they entertain and the average size of their gatherings.
The primary goal is to create a space that is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and functional.
In addition to how the patio will be used, it’s important to consider the unique characteristics of the site.
In some cases, the best location for the patio may be farther from the house, where the sun and traffic patterns are optimal.
Planting older trees, building an arbor for privacy and shade, and choosing the right furniture can all help make patios and outdoor areas habitable at all hours throughout the season.
Ultimately, the right location depends on the property. Sometimes drainage and septic issues will affect where you can (or can’t) put the patio.
If the grade is steep, it’s common to include multi-level patios with different areas for eating, a fire pit, and sometimes grilling or an outdoor kitchen.
Related topic: Create Your Dream Patio: Tips for Perfect Planning
Materials: Pros And Cons
The three most popular patio materials are concrete pavers, natural stone, and stamped concrete.
When selecting materials, consider appearance, costs, maintenance, durability, and snow removal.
Concrete pavers are available in a wide range of surface finishes, colors, shapes, and patterns.
The initial cost is moderate, and installation can be done by the homeowner or a professional. The smooth surface allows for easy snow removal.
Natural stone, such as flagstone, has a distinctive appearance but is more difficult to install.
In order for the patio to be level, the depth of the base must be adjusted to accommodate the varying thickness of the stone.
Fitting irregular shapes together is like assembling a puzzle, so installation takes about twice as long.
Natural stone is extremely durable and can last for centuries.
Like concrete pavers, it’s easy to replace broken or cracked stones, but the irregular surface is not plowable and can make shoveling difficult.
Stamped concrete simulates the appearance of pavers with poured concrete that has been colored and “stamped.”
The initial cost varies depending on the site but is generally comparable to concrete pavers.
Like any concrete slab, cracks from freezing and thawing can be a problem.
You should also read: Patios in Northern Virginia: Paver vs. Concrete Pros & Cons
Ensuring The Proper Installation
Once the planning is complete, installation can begin. When it comes to patios, what you can’t see is just as important as what you can.
When choosing a patio contractor in Northern Virginia, make sure you ask how your patio will be constructed.
Patios that are built in a hurry on an inadequate base will fail quickly.
A Compact Base Will Prevent Shifting And Creeping
No matter what material you choose, a patio requires a minimum of 6 inches of compacted Class 5 aggregate base.
Class 5 base is a mix of 3⁄4-inch rock mixed with “fines” which help provide a solid base by filling in the spaces between the rock.
Without a stable base, pavers will separate on the inside, the outside will sink and tip, and the patio will lose its tight uniform look.
Best practice requires at least three separately compacted 2-inch layers of aggregate topped with one inch of sand (too much sand will make the pavers sink).
Some installers will just throw in 6 inches of base all at once and compact it in a single step.
This is a common shortcut that inevitably results in settling and instability. Within a year or two of installation, the patio will start to heave and sag.
If properly installed, your paver or stone patio will last at least 30 years!
So it makes sense to think through the design, choose the right materials, and invest in proper installation.
Want To Speak With A Landscape Designer?
Contact Stoneman Landscaping. We build beautiful patios for residential and commercial clients in the Northern Viginia area.