A well-designed patio can become a second living room for your home, so it’s important to make smart design choices. One of the biggest decisions you will need to make is what to use for your patio flooring. With so many patio flooring options, it can be tough to decide which is best. Here’s a detailed guide to your options.
What is patio flooring?
As the name implies, patio flooring is any flooring option used on an outdoor patio. Choosing the style and color for your flooring is an opportunity to show off your personal expression. The best flooring for an outdoor patio is structurally sound, resistant to weather events and comfortable to walk on year-round.
How to buy the best patio flooring
Outdoor patio flooring ideas run the gamut from cozy wood to elaborate natural stone motifs. To choose the best flooring for your patio, consider the pros and cons of each type, as well as their costs and installation options.
Types of patio flooring
There are many different types of patio flooring. Some of the most popular types include:
- Wood: A wooden patio floor is timeless and is unlikely to go out of style. Wood flooring is an extremely versatile material, providing an excellent backdrop for patio themes ranging from coastal to rustic to modern. It can also be sanded down and refinished numerous times, making it an excellent long-term investment. If local hardwood is available, this can also be a highly eco-friendly option.
- Natural stone: If you’re creating a high-end patio with a luxurious feel, natural stone is tough to beat. Its inherent color variations add a touch of artistry to any design. Choose irregularly shaped stones for a meandering appearance, or cut modular stones for a more pulled-together look. Popular natural stone options include slate, travertine, granite, and even marble. Though natural stone is reasonably maintenance-free, it’s not as durable as other materials, so it may not be the best choice for homes with kids or pets.
- Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tile is a classic flooring material. Patio tile flooring should not be glazed, as the smooth finish on glazed tile could become slippery in rain or snow. Tile is especially popular in warmer climates, as it remains cool to the touch even in extreme heat. Consider adding a sealant to protect the tile from wear and the grout from cracking.
- Brick: A brick patio can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, depending on the pattern you select. Brick is low maintenance and slip-resistant, and it imparts an old-world feel to any patio. However, it may not be the right choice for locations that receive a lot of snow, as natural shifting and settling can create an irregular surface that is difficult to shovel. If you want the look and feel of brick without the investment, brick pavers are an excellent DIY alternative that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle without mortar.
- Concrete: Concrete is a wonderful, time-tested choice for those who want to let their imaginations run free. It can be molded to fit almost any shape, and there are plenty of options to personalize it including, coloring, stamping, brushing, painting, scoring, and patterning. You can even use concrete as a base for textural elements such as pebbles. When painting or otherwise detailing a concrete patio floor, be sure to use only materials that are designed for both concrete and outdoor applications. Also, consider adding a sealant to protect your work.
Choose the right size patio flooring
Sizing your patio flooring has three basic steps. First, you will need to decide how big you want your patio to be. Patio sizes run the gamut from spaces that can accommodate a single bistro table to massive areas that can truly function as an alternative living room. Base your decisions on the amount of room you have and the furniture you want to place.
The next step is to determine the size of the material you want. For example, ceramic tiles are available in sizes ranging from 1 inch to 24-inch squares. Hardwood flooring planks maybe 2 1/4 inches to 6 inches wide, 5/16 inch to 3/4 inch thick, and 12 inches to 84 inches long.
Finally, determine how much flooring you need to cover your chosen area. While many flooring materials are sold by the square foot, you will need a different number of pieces depending on the size of each piece.
Compare patio flooring costs
The cheapest patio flooring options vary depending on whether you will do the work yourself. Wood, concrete, and tile are among the cheapest patio flooring materials, but paying a skilled contractor to lay them can reduce the savings.
Pricing also varies depending on the exact item you choose. For example, basic untreated lumber may cost as little as $8 per square foot, but higher-end woods can run $20 per square foot. Natural stone is among the most expensive choices, at $25 to $35 per square foot.
Read patio flooring reviews
Reading patio flooring reviews can be more complex than anticipated. Since the majority of patio floors are professionally installed, it’s important to separate commentary on the installation from commentary on the material itself. Reviews are certainly important when choosing an installer, but don’t let a poor installation experience deter you from a product that is actually of excellent quality. Look for comments on durability, ease of cleaning and maintenance, and the complexity and cost of installation. Also, pay attention to whether any specific issues, such as fading or popping up, are mentioned by multiple reviewers.
Installing a patio floor is generally a job for the professionals, but handy DIY enthusiasts can often manage some materials. Wood is generally considered the most DIY-friendly patio flooring option. Brick pavers are also relatively easy to install. More experienced DIYers may try their hand at installing ceramic tile, especially if the selected design is fairly simple. Concrete, real brick and natural stone are trickier to install, and professional installation is highly recommended.
Patio flooring brands
With more than 150 years of experience, Armstrong is one of the best-known names in flooring. Under the Armstrong label, engineered tile flooring is an excellent choice for patios. The Bruce line offers 361 different types of solid and engineered hardwood, most of which are suitable for patio flooring.
- $3.59 to $7.09/square foot
- Durable – scratch and stain-resistant and not prone to cracking
- Easy to install
- $2.99 to $10.99/square foot
- Domestically sourced
- Long-lasting and durable
- $2.99 to $8.22/square foot
- More stable than solid hardwood
- Five to seven-layer construction
Founded in 1993, Lumber Liquidators has one of the biggest hardwood flooring inventories in the industry. The company has also branched out into other types of flooring, including porcelain tile. Both hardwood and porcelain tile are popular materials for patio flooring.
- $0.98 to $6.89/square foot
- Stone look or wood-look options
- $1.39 to $9.99/square foot
- Sourced directly from mills with no middleman
- Only use sources with sustainable practices
Since 1946, Shaw has been known as an innovator in carpeting. Today, the company has expanded into numerous other flooring lines and has won awards from all three top flooring publications. The company’s tile and stone products, as well as its engineered hardwood, are appropriate for patio floors.
- $2.99 to $7.36/square foot
- Sustainability and ethical sourcing
Tile and Stone
- $1.49 to $19.99/square foot
- Options range from ceramic and porcelain to slate and travertine
Also, consider locally sourced products from your area. While the top brands are reliable and worth considering, local materials may be just as high in quality.