A patio can be a great place to relax during the warmer seasons of spring and summer. This is especially true for garden patios surrounded by a variety of colorful flowers and other flora. For those who live in warmer locations, it can also be a great venue for autumn and winter parties when the lawn might be too wet, muddy or covered in frost. Garden patio slabs are a great way to enhance an existing garden because they are versatile enough to be used for borders, walkways and larger functional areas. The available variety, the low price points and the reasonably easy installation process make them a very attractive investment choice for many homeowners. The most common materials for garden patio slabs are concrete, slate, sandstone, flagstone, brick and granite. Each come in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and textures which make it easy to achieve a specific look for the garden from bright and contemporary garden spaces to warm, cozy, inviting private sanctuaries.
Concrete is a very popular choice for garden patio slabs because they are much more economical than other paving options. These have become even more popular due to the new generation of concrete patio slabs designed to look like natural paving stone. Producers are even stamping imperfections and irregularities into the concrete to make it even harder to distinguish them from authentic natural stone. This makes concrete a cost-effective option for homeowners who want the look of natural stone for the fraction of the price of natural stone. In addition, to the low cost, concrete patio slabs are easy to install and easy to maintain although there is a tendency to crack and stain over time.
Slate Patio Flooring
Slate is an alternative material for homeowners who want something more lavish and more durable. Slate patio slabs are not prone to water damage or staining. They are also fireproof and textured slate is very slip resistant. Although more expensive than concrete, it offers more room for creative choices because it looks so elegant. Available in various colors and textures, slate patio flooring works very well with accent pieces that can be installed around the walkway or the patio.
Sandstone Patio Flooring
Sandstone is available in just about any color a homeowner could ask for and is extremely easy to prepare because it can be cut like tile. It is softer than concrete though and wear out more easily than other materials. This means that care has to be taken when choosing a location to install sandstone patio slabs in so that they do not wear out too soon.
Granite patio slabs is another upscale choice and is available in a wide enough variety of colors to satisfy even the most demanding homeowner or patio designer. Natural brick, flagstone and limestone are other popular choices although they are prone to chipping, staining and cracking.
How To Lay Patio Slabs
Keep in mind that it is important to carefully prepare the area where the garden patio slabs are going to be laid so that they do not become uneven or crack after settling. The first step in laying patio slabs is to measure the area, mark its boundaries and clear out any plant life within it. Dig out this area at least 15cm deep. If the patio will be laid against the main house, the patio slabs themselves will have to be at least 15cm lower than the property’s damp proof course. Use string and wooden pegs to mark the intended height for the slabs so that they would be uniformly level.
The next step in laying patio slabs is to pour about 4 inches worth of hardcore into the dug out area and compact it with a mechanical compactor plate. The slabs can now be laid using a mortar base of 1 part cement and 5 parts sand. Use a rubber mallet to tap the slab into place, making sure that it is level with the wooden pegs and leaving a gap of 1cm between slabs for pointing the joints. Clean excess mortar off the slabs and leave to set for a couple of days. The joints can be done on the second day using a wide plank to distribute the weight uniformly, but the space itself should not be used for several days.
Although this might seem complicated and time-consuming, the result is a significantly more attractive garden that can be enjoyed for a long time. As a bonus, adding a patio, a patio garden or improving an existing one by using garden patio slabs adds to the resale value of the home and is well worth the investment of effort, time and money.