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9 Different Types of Patio Surface Options

A photo collage of different Patio Surface Options.

The patio originated as part of the Spanish or Spanish-American architecture. It comes from the Latin word patere which means “to lie open.” It’s an outdoor space that’s open to the sky but it can also have an overhead roof and can be attached to a structure or detached.

Square central patios surrounded by galleries and porticos were popular in many Spanish homes during the 15th century. During the post-World War II era, concrete patios were popular and were sometimes embellished with other materials such as brick, bluestone, and gravel.

Types of Patios

Your patio’s surface material gives it a distinct look as well as enhances the time you spend outdoors.

Factors such as location, size of the outdoor space, budget, personal preference, and local building codes will guide you on choosing the right surface for your patio.

Patio Materials

This list gives you an insight into the patio options you have. 

1. Gravel

Gravel patio surface with some pebbles.

Gravel may not be the first thing that you would think of when the idea of a patio is brought up. Many people assume that patios need to have a uniform and solid surface. This doesn’t have to be the case as you can actually make a really nice patio area out of the gravel.

This can wind up being a very cost-effective method for taking care of your patio needs. If you have a desire to install a patio in your home, then using gravel for the surface is going to be one of the simplest ways to make it happen.

Gravel is generally an inexpensive material so getting your hands on it is going to prove to be easy.

It is also relatively simple for you to install this type of patio. There are many people who have successfully installed gravel patios without even being all that handy. There are a few positives about gravel patios that can make it a good option to turn to as well.

The drainage of gravel is actually superb so you won’t have to worry about water pooling up in your patio area after a storm.

It can also keep weeds from growing up in your patio area as the gravel effectively chokes the weeds and makes it improbable that they will be able to grow. It isn’t all positives when it comes to installing a gravel patio, though.

Many people find that gravel simply isn’t the most comfortable option to make use of. It can look rather pretty but walking on it can be a bit of an annoyance. If you are barefoot, then it is likely going to be painful to walk on your patio.

Aside from this, gravel is also difficult to maintain as it is always shifting and you can lose some of it over time due to winds or other factors.

If you want to install a patio as easily as you possibly can, then this is going to be your best recourse. It may not give you the very best patio experience possible but it can still be rather nice.

The gravel itself can actually be very pretty and you can have a good time outside with your loved ones. If this patio surface option appeals to you, then go ahead and look into things further.

2. Concrete

Covered patio with stone brick fireplace and concrete patio surface.

Concrete might be the most affordable way to install a patio on your property. Sometimes gravel may work out to be more inexpensive but it is a pretty close call. Generally speaking, concrete is going to give you a bit more bang for your buck in terms of longevity.

It can also be a bit easier to maintain when compared to the gravel options. You should be able to rely on concrete to last you for a really long time. As long as you maintain the patio properly, it will be able to be used for many years.

There are some things that you will need to watch out for when you have a concrete patio, though. One of the most important that you should be aware of is its susceptibility to freezing. Freezing and thawing cycles can really wind up damaging a concrete patio.

This can wind up causing cracks to form in the concrete and can even weaken the overall structure over time.

This doesn’t mean that concrete patios are impractical in wintry areas but it does mean that you will need to be vigilant. You may need to perform some repairs over time to keep things operating well.

Some people also choose to use concrete slabs as a base for their patios. It is possible to put decorative tiles or other materials on top of the concrete. This can help to give your patio a more ornate look that will be more pleasing to the eyes.

If you are simply looking for a practical patio that will be durable, you can just stick with the concrete instead of looking into decorative options.

3. Pavement

Patio walkway made of pavement.

Many people assume that concrete and pavement are the same things. It’s actually a somewhat complicated subject if you don’t understand the minutiae. Concrete can be considered to be pavement but there are pavement options out there that are not technically concrete.

For instance, it is possible for someone to build an asphalt patio and this is different from concrete. There will be many different pavement options for you to consider. Most of the people who make use of these pavement driveways will be hiring professionals to do the work.

A business can come to your home and take some measurements before pouring your new patio. It can actually be a very quick and easy process but it is going to cost substantially more than simply going with one of the DIY options.

It isn’t impossible to make a DIY pavement patio but it may be a bit too impractical if you don’t have the right experience.

Even so, this pavement patio option is going to be something that will appeal to many people. The idea of getting it done by professionals is going to be a lot simpler than having to tackle a large project by yourself. You can have a patio that is ready to use in a matter of days in some cases.

Pavement options will be prone to many of the same problems as the concrete that is listed above. This can wind up causing you trouble if you live in a wintry area. You may need to repair cracks over time due to freezing and thawing cycles.

The asphalt patch being shown here should work nicely to fix any issues that you encounter. The patio should be quite durable otherwise so it will be a good experience.

4. Clay Bricks

Patio walkway made of clay brick surface.

If you want a patio area that is going to look really impressive, then using clay bricks as the primary surface material is a good idea. Bricks have a classic look to them that will allow you to create a gorgeous patio area.

It really does give you the feeling of something from the past when you decide to install a feature such as this.

It can be a bit more expensive and difficult to accomplish than some of the other patio methods on this list but it may be worth it to you based on how nice it will look.

As mentioned, this is going to be one of the more expensive options. This means that you are going to want to have a significant budget before you set out to build a patio using clay bricks.

If you want to use reclaimed bricks, then things are likely to be slightly more costly still. Many people like to go with the reclaimed bricks since they are more environmentally friendly. Whatever you decide to do, it shouldn’t be too tough to get things installed.

Sometimes people use mortar to install clay brick patios. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it can ensure that everything will stay firm. It is also possible to install a clay brick patio on top of a bed of sand.

It’s a good material that will allow you to do many things too. Clay bricks make it easy to install patios in different patterns. Some people like to have their patios be in different geometric shapes.

It shouldn’t be too tough to form a circle or make a patio that is oval-shaped. Whatever you want to do should be more than possible so long as you have the right amount of materials.

5. Flagstone

Flagstone patio walkway.

Flagstone is another decorative patio option that can be very nice. If you have the money to spend, then creating a patio out of flagstone is going to give you a really pretty patio area. There are many different types of flagstone on the market and they all have different qualities.

You should be able to find the perfect color that will suit your desires for the patio surface. Working with flagstone can be a bit difficult, though. This is likely going to be an option that you will want to hire professionals for.

They will be able to install your flagstone patio properly while ensuring that everything is completed in a timely fashion.

They have all of the right equipment that can make working with this type of material more manageable. What makes flagstone so difficult to work with is that many types of flagstone are very heavy.

The heavy nature of the stone makes it impractical for people without special means to use it. It really is in your best interests to seek out professional help unless you have experience and the proper tools.

Once you have reached out to a patio company that specializes in flagstone patios, you’ll be able to pick out some truly stunning options.

Flagstone patios can be a little on the pricey side too. It is likely going to be one of the most costly options that you could consider for your new patio. If you are working on a budget, then you would likely be better served by looking into one of the many other options that are available.

If your heart is set on flagstone, then it will certainly be a beautiful patio surface material. You may want to do some research on specific types of flagstone in order to get the best type for your area.

Some types of flagstone are better for warm weather and others are better at dealing with wintry temperatures.

It’s a good idea to know what you are getting into before making a purchasing decision so exercise some vigilance and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. The professionals should be able to recommend a good type of flagstone for you if you need help.

6. Tile

Garden patio with tile surface.

A tile is an option that many people choose to go with for their patio areas. When you want to have a patio surface that is easy to clean and feels pleasant to walk on, tile is very hard to beat. It has many positive qualities that make it a sought-after option.

Usually, tiles will be placed upon another surface that will act as the base. As mentioned earlier, concrete slabs can provide an excellent base for these tiles. Installing a concrete slab to use as a base should be fairly inexpensive and you will be able to install your tiles with ease.

The tiles are going to give you a wide range of different visual options. You’ll have many different color options and even different textures and patterns that you can pick out. For people who care about the general aesthetics of the patio area, tiles are really going to work out nicely.

It winds up helping you to create a tidy-looking patio area that will fit in with all of your other planned decorations.

Tile can actually be really affordable, too, so it is a more cost-effective way to get the look that you want. This is a lot simpler than laying something such as flagstone and it still has the potential to look really great.

The problem with this tile patio idea is that it can be unsafe in some ways. Tile is going to be rather slippery when it gets wet. Since patios are an outdoor feature, it is likely going to get wet fairly often.

This can cause you to slip and fall if you are not careful so be advised that this method will come with some risks. Even if these risks are somewhat unfortunate, the overall visual appeal of tile is worthwhile. Tile is going to be able to offer you a variety of different looks.

You can replicate stone looks with tile or you can go with something that looks very opulent. The choice is up to you and you will have plenty of time to think about what is going to work best for your new patio.

7. Sand

Beach style patio with sun loungers and beach umbrella on sand surface.

Sand is another loose patio option that many people like to make use of. If you want to be able to make a patio as easily as possible, then creating one out of sand is going to rival gravel as the best option.

Purchasing sand is very inexpensive so you will be able to get plenty of this material without having to spend too much money.

You will then simply need to level it out in order to create a good area for you to have your patio. Using sand as a surface material for a patio isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. There are some problems that can arise when compared to some of the more high-end patio options.

For example, this loose material can sometimes shift while you are sitting in a chair. It might cause patio furniture to be uneven at certain points in time. Also, if your patio is exposed to the elements, it is going to get a little messy.

When sand gets wet, it can definitely be less practical to use your patio area. This might make things a bit annoying when you want to be able to use your patio after you have had a storm. This causes some people to shy away from the idea of using sand as a primary patio surface.

There are some design benefits of using sand as your patio surface, though. You can actually create a fun beach-themed patio that will look very appropriate if you have a nearby pool.

Some people even choose to go with tropical-themed patio environments when they use sand as the surface material.

It can be a fun material to use even if there are some negative aspects associated with it. It should also be said that sand is used to help make other patio surfaces possible. People often use sand as a base before laying other types of patio surfaces.

This is the case with many clay brick patios and people also use sand underneath many cut stone patios. It’s a material that you will likely be becoming familiar with if you are installing your own patio.

8. Cut Stone

Closeup of a patio cut stone surface.

Sometimes the cut stone is referred to as a stone tile. This is essentially stones that are cut into tile shapes so that you can easily use them to form a patio surface.

Using these cut stone tiles is actually very easy and should wind up giving you a simple experience if you are handling the installation by yourself.

It can still be a lot of work but it won’t be as arduous as some other methods. There are many different types of cut stone that you will be able to choose from. This is one of the best aspects of this type of patio.

You can pick out something really impressive such as marble or you can go with a more practical option such as sandstone.

Whatever decision you make, you should be able to find a cut stone tile solution that will work within your budget. This can either be a fairly expensive patio surface option or it can be a fairly affordable one.

It really depends on what kind of cut stone you choose to go with. Marble is definitely one of the more expensive options available to you but it can look absolutely stunning if it is installed properly.

Even some of the more affordable cut stone options such as sandstone can look really incredible so you can’t go wrong either way.

Being that these cut stone tiles are made in squares, you will be able to place them in rows. Some people decide to fit the tiles tightly together and others will have a small gap between the tiles. You can fill this gap with sand or another loose material.

How you decide to go about this process is going to be up to your discretion. The cut stone tile that is being shown here is made out of travertine. Travertine is a good material to use when you want something that is reliable and fairly cost-effective.

You’ll be able to get this cut stone tile at a good price and it will look really nice as a patio surface. You can definitely make use of this tile to create a really desirable patio area so purchase it today if it suits your sensibilities properly.

9. Patio Pavers

Patio with paver surface.

Patio pavers are another simple option that can make installing a patio by yourself a bit more manageable. These patio pavers are actually made to interlock with one another, making installation a breeze.

This means that you can install your patio without even having to use materials such as grout or mortar.

It is really convenient and saves you a lot of time. There are plenty of different styles of patio pavers to choose from too. If you want to replicate a wooden look, then you will be able to find several options that fit the bill.

There are patio pavers that resemble bricks and patio pavers that resemble cut stone. It is a pretty versatile patio surface material that is going to look good. Sometimes it is best to just try to make things as easy on yourself as possible.

Patio pavers are simple to install and will look great. It may not be as simple as installing a gravel patio or a sand patio but it has its advantages over those two options. This is a great patio surface that will allow you to be able to host many events outside.

The patio pavers being shown here are made to resemble wood. They are a really pretty option that will look very good in your backyard. If you like the look of these patio pavers, then they might be exactly what you need to finish up your patio project.

The right patio surface is going to be able to ensure that you have plenty of fun outside in the near future. Note that these patio pavers can be used as decking as well. Sometimes people make use of these patio pavers for various other purposes.

They are so convenient to work with that they make sense as materials for decking and any type of outside flooring. They are cost-effective too as you will be able to purchase them at a reasonable price.

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