Overall, there are probably thousands of types of concrete on the market today. The type of concrete you need for a project is primarily determined by what the project is and how much weight the final product is expected to hold. If your concrete project were to hold your whole house and is the foundation of your house, that is quite a different story and would require a different selection than a stoop on your front porch.
Basic Types of Concrete for Patios
First, consider two types of concrete:
One is ready-mix concrete, which, as the name implies, is already mixed and delivered to your patio ready to pour.
The other type of concrete is dried concrete that you mix with water yourself and then pour into the area where you want the patio.
Even with the ready mix, you’d have to have the area laid out and the form in which to pour the concrete, and you’d have to spread the concrete out once it’s poured.
But you wouldn’t have to mix the concrete yourself as you do if you were to purchase Quickcrete or a similar brand of dried concrete that you mix yourself. This quantity of concrete isn’t something you’d mix in a bucket with a stick from the backyard. It would be best if you had a real honest-to-goodness concrete mixer.
Unless you own a concrete mixer, you’ll need to rent one from your supply store.
My Recommendation for Patio Concrete
If at all possible, I recommend going with ready-mix. Why?
A First-Hand Experience
My patio is a pretty funny one. Because when I poured the slabs for my patio a few years ago, I chose the other option. I went with the dry mix.
We didn’t know what we were doing when we mixed and poured the first slab, and it’s obvious. The slab isn’t smooth but has a rocky texture because we didn’t use enough water in the mix.
The second slab turned out better and is the best of the three slabs we poured. We’d figured out the correct water to concrete ratio and were able to pour a smooth and even second slab.
The third slab is – wavy. You can stand on it today, even dry, and pretend you’re surfing. We used a bit too much water on the third slab, and it’s easy to tell that we had just gotten tired by the time we were pouring the third slab and decided it was good enough.
I’m not sad about this at all.
I love that several friends showed up to help me pour the slabs. Not just pour the slabs, but mix and pour the dry mix concrete with me, dig out the ground where it would go, and lay the gravel.
We also had to go to the supply store and load up like 80 bags of dry concrete and then unload the 80 bags of dry concrete back at the house, and then bring the cement mixer, load all the concrete into the cement mixer, and then add water, and then stir the thing forever.
Concrete is really heavy, and this was June in Texas.
I recently purchased some self-leveling concrete to smooth out the imperfections. I’m in no big hurry, though. Every time I step out on my patio, its imperfection makes me chuckle and reminds me that there were people in my life who were willing to help me do such a physically laborious thing in the dead of summer.
Other Patio Concrete Considerations
Deciding on a ready mix isn’t the end of the decision-making process. You’ll still need to make sure that you purchase the correct strength of concrete, and there are several strengths available but 4000 psi is the industry standard, and 4500 is ideal.
Since the integrity of your project will be determined by the strength of the concrete, I am unaware of any reason you would choose a weaker concrete instead of a stronger one. Now, if you were building a countertop, that would be a completely different ballgame, and you would have several more options regarding concrete selection.
Decorative Patio Concrete
Even so, once you’ve made the concrete decision to take my advice and go with a ready mix concrete, you can still do a lot with your patio.
You could go with stamped concrete, which is decorative in nature and allows your concrete finish to look like almost anything you can imagine: stone, brick, even wood. Anything is possible as far as textures and colors with stamped concrete. You can also add any color stain finish you’d like, and you can choose from glossy or matte finishes as well.
There are as many as thousands of types of concrete available when it comes to the decorative aspects of concrete for your patio. I can’t really recommend anything as far as the decorative selections go, because it’s really a matter of personal taste.
But what I do know, and what isn’t a matter of personal taste, is that you need to choose concrete with the correct strength to last, and that strength is no less than 4000 psi. I also know that you should have the ready mix delivered and not try to mix the concrete yourself because you will not like the results. That’s just my two cents on the subject.