The 11 Most Popular Flooring Options for Your Outdoor Space

April 15, 2013 Patio Design

Quick: Close your eyes and picture yourself standing on the perfect patio. What’s under your feet? Flagstone? Travertine? According to Texas Custom Patios, there are 11 flooring options that account for more than 99% of the patios, gazebos and decks they create. Which one did you choose?

Concrete is one of the most durable building materials available. Concrete is often used as a base for materials like tile, but it can serve as a stand-alone option as well. Concrete is long-lasting, inexpensive and easy to maintain. However, if it does crack, it’s difficult repair.

Today’s concrete flooring can be stained or pigmented to accentuate your d├ęcor. You can even surface-coat your concrete floor with paint.

Stamped concrete adds embellishments such as pattern or texture to regular concrete. Stamping can replicate stone, slate, bricks, flagstones, or even wood by imprinting patterns in freshly poured concrete. Stamped concrete can offer the authentic look of these materials – with the added benefits of an economical price, faster installation, and permanent durability.

stampedconcrete

Stamped concrete

Cool decking helps keep your outdoor floor cool, so your bare feet don’t burn on the way to the pool. Kook Deck technology, invented in 1962, lowers the surface temperature of concrete and withstands a good deal of thermal expansion and contraction. Cleaning and maintenance is easy, but Kook Deck tends to fade in the sun over time, making patch jobs tricky to match. Acrylic, or polymer modified cement, has become a popular alternative to Kool Deck because of its ease of use, stain resistance, and customizability. While Kool Deck must be applied to freshly poured concrete to bond properly, acrylic can be used on old concrete as well – but it costs twice as much and doesn’t cool as well.

Travertine is a natural limestone and a common building material throughout the world. Color depends on the mineral deposits in the stone, and can range from white, tan, and cream to gold to dark chocolate to vivid red. Travertine tiles provide a naturally rustic aesthetic that will last for many years with occasional maintenance and resealing. The stone is characterized by pitted holes and troughs in its surface, and requires regular cleaning. Some claim that travertine flooring is cooler to walk on than other types of flooring.
Travertine

Travertine

Tile will typically last for generations with proper application and easy care. They can be applied right on top of your concrete floor. Natural stone, ceramic, and porcelain are common outdoor tile flooring choices that are available in hundreds of colors, sizes, and patterns. Choose tiles designed for outdoor use with slip-resistance and low absorption ratings to enable them to withstand freeze-thaw cycles.

Slate is an eye-catching and strong stone flooring. It’s easy to maintain and comes in a range of earth tones from grey to terra cotta. Installing a slate floor will require a level surface, with an underlayer of compacted sand and/or gravel. Slate’s natural texture can become slick when wet.

slate

Slate

Flagstone is a natural sandstone composed of feldspar and quartz, which is durable and readily available in several earthy shades. Flagstones are quarried in all different shapes, lending a truly unique look to your outdoor lounge. Installation is comparable to putting together a giant puzzle over a base layer (we use a concrete base so the flagstones don’t shift), and requires removal of grass and existing pavement. Plus, depending on the size and shape of the stone, the pieces can be very heavy and difficult to work with.
Because it is a layered sedimentary rock, flagstone should be adequately sealed – and occasionally resealed – to fend off peeling and deterioration of the surface layers from sunlight and rain.
Stamped concrete patio with flagstone around the tree

Stamped concrete patio with flagstone around the tree

Pavers are manufactured from a number of different stones (like sandstone, granite, blue-stone, limestone, and slate) or robust materials like concrete, brick, or even interlocking rubber panels. Pavers can replicate the look of natural stone, with a lower price tag and greater number of aesthetic options. Pavers are popular for their durability, low maintenance, and ease in repair/replacement. A bonus is that they can be removed and re-installed.
Belgard pavers

Belgard pavers

Brick gives your outdoor room a traditional, old-world beauty. Installation is relatively simple – as long as the ground underneath is level and the gravel (or other base layer) is properly compacted before laying the brick.

Brick flooring is relatively low-maintenance, although be attuned to the ground shifting over time, as your brick floor could become an irregular surface.

Brick

Brick

Wood decking offers easy installation, but the wood itself requires a thorough cleaning and resealing every couple years to maintain its beauty. Douglas fir has been highlighted as a particularly sound choice of species for its stability and lack of knots. Another popular wood, Ipe is a Brazilian hardwood known for its beauty and durability. Using a local hardwood like Texas red oak can make the project more economical.

Brazilian hardwood decking

Brazilian hardwood decking

Composite decking is great if you like the look of wood, but want to cut down on maintenance. Composite decking materials mimic the look of natural wood. This combination of wood and plastic does not absorb as much water – which helps keep the material strong (but can trap moisture and cause decay to the wood joists underneath). Composite decking can be more expensive than natural wood and cannot be resurfaced when scratched.

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