A do it yourself (DIY) patio may seem like one of the more straightforward projects a homeowner can undertake. A simple flat surface, generally in a simple geometric shape. There are a lot of considerations involved though, such as which materials to use, what type of loads the patio will be required to hold, the nature of the soil subsurface, and even climate. Because of the durability of the materials used, their strength, and their weight, along with the large size of the overall finished product, you can’t feasibly expect to pick up a patio and move it out of the way if things don’t work out right. It’s also one of the most difficult projects to fix if things go wrong, so care should be taken to properly plan for the project, as well as to have some familiarity with the materials you will be working with.
First and foremost the home owner considering a DIY patio should set a budget for the project. This will have implications on many aspects of the patio, from materials that can be used to the dimensions of the patio. It may also impact the acceptable uses for the patio, so at the same time it’s important to consider what it will be used for. If you will be parking a car on the patio from time to time, it will need a much stronger base or foundation, greater thickness, and perhaps reinforcements than if at most it will be required to play host to some lawn furniture.
Once a budget has been set, and the needs that the patio will address are known, then you can go about looking at various materials that a patio can be constructed of. Perhaps the easiest material to work with, as well as the most inexpensive, would be to use poured concrete for your DIY patio. That doesn’t mean that concrete patios have to be “cheap” looking, far from it. With just a little creativity a concrete patio can actually mimic the look of just about any other material. The options abound with stamped or textured surfaces, concrete dyes, acid wash, and acid stains. So if you find yourself budget bound, consider a faux look for that more expensive material that’s caught your eye.
Of course, there are benefits to having the real thing. While the material costs may be higher, it cuts out quite some labor (and chance for mistakes) if you’re, for instance, using actual stone pavers instead of trying to mimic the look with concrete. Of course there is always the gray area in between, where you may use concrete pavers or faux stone flags to keep down costs, while moving some of the artistic burden from yourself onto the manufacturer.
Stone pavers, or any pavers for that matter, are a good option for a DIY patio. Bricks can also be used to create beautiful patios. In both cases the basic techniques used are much the same. They can be set in cement, but often are simply laid on a firm subsurface of sand, and then tamped down and locked together with more sand filling the cracks between pavers.